The Portuguese are a combination of several ethnic elements, principally
Iberians, Romans, Visigoths, and later Moors. The people still live,
for the most part, in rural villages.
The population of Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira Islands,
is (1997 estimate) 9,931,045. The overall population density is
108 persons per sq km (280 per sq mi).
Portuguese Language, one of the Romance languages. Like all other
languages of the group, Portuguese is a direct modern descendant
of Latin, the vernacular Latin of the Roman soldier and colonist
rather than the classical Latin of the cultured Roman citizen.
It developed in ancient Gallaeci (modern Galicia, in northwestern
Spain) and in northern Portugal and then spread throughout present-day
Portuguese resembles Spanish more than it does any of the other
Romance tongues. Like Spanish, it contains a very large number of
words of Arabic origin, and like other modern languages, its vocabulary
contains also a great many words of French and Greek origin.
A very small number of words are derived from Carthaginian, Celtic,
and Phoenician. Portuguese is spoken in Portugal; Galicia (in a
dialect called Galician); Brazil; several islands in the Atlantic
Ocean; Angola, Mozambique, and other former colonies in Africa and
Asia; and parts of Indonesia.
Roman Catholicism is the faith of more than 94 percent of the Portuguese
people. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and some
Protestant churches have been established.