Geography and Climate

Continental Portugal is split in two by its main river, the Tagus (Tejo). To the north the landscape is mountainous in the interior areas with plateaus, cut by four breaking lines that allow the development of relevant agricultural areas. The south down as far as the Algarve features mostly rolling plains with a climate somewhat warmer and drier than the cooler and rainier north. Other major rivers include the Douro, the Minho and the Guadiana, similar to the Tagus in that all originate in Spain. Another important river, the Mondego, originates in the Serra da Estrela (the highest mountains in mainland Portugal - 1,991 m).

The islands of the Azores and Madeira are located in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, some of the islands had recent volcanic activity. Originally two islands, São Miguel Island was joined by a volcanic eruption in 1563. The last volcano to erupt was the Vulcão dos Capelinhos (Capelinhos Volcano) in 1957, in western part of Faial Island, increasing the size of that island. Dom João de Castro Bank is a large submarine volcano that lies midway between the islands of Terceira and São Miguel and rises 14 m bellow the sea surface. It last erupted in 1720 and formed an island, it remained above the water for several years. A new island can be formed in a not so distant future. Portugal's highest point is Mount Pico in Pico Island, an ancient volcano, with 2,351 meters.

The Portuguese coast is extensive, it has 943 km at continental Portugal, 667 km at the Azores, 250 km at Madeira and the Savage Islands . The coast developed fine beaches, the Algarve ones are worldwide famous. In Porto Santo Island, a dune formation is appealing to many tourists. An important feature in its coast is the Ria de Aveiro (near Aveiro), a delta with 45 km in length and a maximum of 11 km width, rich in fish and sea birds. There are four main channels, between them several islands and islets, and it is where four rivers meet the ocean. A sort of narrow headlands formed a lagoon, seen has one of the most remarkable hydrographic features of the Portuguese coast. Portugal possesses one of the largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in Europe, covering 1,727,408 km².

Portugal is one of the warmest European countries. In mainland Portugal, average temperatures are 13ºC in the North and 18ºC in the South. Madeira and Azores, due to their location in the Atlantic, are rainy and wet, and have a narrower range of temperatures. Spring and Summer months are usually sunny and the temperatures very high during July and August, with highs in the centre of the country between 30°C and 35°C, reaching sometimes 45°C in the southern interior. Autumn and Winter are typically rainy and windy, yet sunny days are not rare either, the temperatures rarely fall below 5°C, usually staying at an average of 10°C. Snow is common in the mountainous areas of the north, especially in Serra da Estrela. Portugal's climate is classified as Atlantic-Mediterranean.