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Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, and is a Romance language originally derived from Latin. In Portugal's period of colonial empire in the 16th century, the language spread worldwide, and for this reason Portuguese is now the official language in countries such as Brazil, Mozambique, East Timor and Angola. The language of Mirandese is recognised as a regional official language in some areas of the northeast of the country, and is spoken by some 5000 people.
Officially recognised as the 13th most globalised country in the world, Portugal was a founding member of the EU in 1960, as well as of the Euro in 1999. Surprisingly, it has the lowest GDP in Western Europe, at $236.967 billion (2008 est.), but despite this it has a stable and for some time a quickly growing and modernising economy. It is also a member of organisations such as NATO, OECD and the UN. 60% of Portugal's workers are employed in the service industry, for example in tourism. Industry employs 30% of workers,in trades for export such as textiles, footwear, paper, metals, oil refining, ship construction and aerospace development, as well as the country's famed Port wine. The country's imports include machinery, textiles and agricultural produce. The country has such natural resources as fish, forest, metal ores and hydropower, and its major trading partners are bordering Spain, France, Germany, US, UK and the Netherlands. Currently, the country's focus on high-tech industry means that Portugal exports more technology than it imports.
In 1985 Anibal Cavaco Silva was elected prime minister, heralding an era of free-market economic policy, however during the 90s the country voted in a Socialist government, and in 1999 Portugal became founding member of the European Economic and Monetary Union.
Science and Technology
Much of Portugal's technological and scientific research takes place in Research and Development departments of universities and state-run institutions, with research centres dealing in the biosciences receiving worldwide renown, for example the Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular. The Lisbon Oceanarium is the largest aquarium in the world, one of many examples of the promotion of science and culture in the museums sector, for example elsewhere in the National Museum of Natural History and the Science Museum.Portugal has expanded a series of science parks across the country.
Portugal is a key proponent of renewable and sustainable energy sources, as proved by its founding in 2001 the E4 Policy (Energy Efficiency and Endogenous Energies). As well as looking for sustainable options for future energy sources, and so helping to slow climate change by reducing gas emissions , the programme was also designed to increase Portugal's competitive status on the world economic stage. In the next ten years, the programme will focus on the supply and demand sides of energy efficiency, and the use of endogenous energy. Portugal currently uses such renewable energy sources as hydropower, wind power and geothermal energy.
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