Is Portugal A First World Country?

Portugal is one of the first countries to sail across the oceans and establish colonies on the other side of the world. The country is located in Western Europe, and has a close ties with Spain, with whom it shares historical, cultural and geographical similarities. Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula; a semi island which it shares with Spain.

Portugal has a population of 10.5 million people, and a land area of 92,212 km2. This is quite a popular country, it is a favorite destination for holidaymakers from north America, and other parts of Europe. It is also a preferred second country for many high net worth individuals.

For all the popularity this country has attained, there is still a lot of mystery about it. People often ask if Portugal is a wealthy country, or if citizens of Portugal enjoy a very good standard of living.

Is Portugal A First World Country?

Yes, Portugal is a first world country. But do you ask by the old definition of the term or by its current use? It seems that it is important to properly address this issue of the definition of the term “First World” and meaning it had in the old days, as well as the meaning it has today.

The Old Meaning

The term “First World” was invented in the days of the “Cold War,” at that time it was used to describe countries that supported the US and its allies as they fought against the Soviet Union and its allies.

Incidentally, that meant countries that accepted capitalism, had democratic governments, and whose citizens enjoyed relative freedoms.

On the other end of the stick you had countries that did not support the US and its capitalist friends, but who actually supported the USSR (Soviet Union) and thus earned the title of “Second World” countries.

Therefore the use of that term was purely political. By the use of the old definition, you would therefore be asking “Did Portugal supporting the US and its allies during the cold war?” to which the answer would be yes.

The New Meaning

When the Cold War ended the term “First World” was assigned a new meaning, but still meant basically the same countries as before. This time it meant countries with evolved societies, strong economies, healthy populations, high standard of living, and high carbon output.

So now the term “First World” has been given an economic connotation. However, it highlights to the world the relationship between politics and economics.

Most of the so called First World countries are capitalist countries. To further buttress this; they have very stable societies which have attracted investors (from the first “First World” Countries) to put in billions of dollars in these countries in the form of industries, which have also provided jobs, and raised the standard of living of the people.

First world countries also usually have high life expectancy, and high literacy rates. First world countries also enjoy social freedoms, freedom of the press, as well as freedom of speech and expression.

By the new definition, Portugal is a First World country because:

Good Socio-Political Structure

Portugal is a democratic republic; it has both a president and prime minister, as well as Parliament which is made up of 230 members elected on 4 year terms. The parliament is a single chamber parliament, and the country has a multiparty democracy.

Portugal has a very efficient system of government; and the judicial system is also very good. Portugal is not a corrupt country, and the elected officials work in the interest of the people.

Strong Economy

Portugal has a developed, high income economy. The GDP per capita is $36,381.  Portugal’ economy is boosted by the services sector, followed by manufacturing, including textiles, clothing, footwear, and so on. Some of Portugal’s key exports include cars, vehicle parts, trucks, petroleum, footwear, and electrical parts.

Unemployment is also very low in Portugal; there are many companies who have invested huge resources into the economy of the country. Authorities on the subject have stated that Portugal has the 19th-best quality of life in the world. Portugal is even better than some countries with better economies.

Healthy Population

Portugal has an excellent healthcare system, there are excellent hospitals manned by excellent healthcare professionals. The Portuguese even welcome people from all over the world who visit for medical reasons. Portugal has a universal basic healthcare system which is funded by the government, and which guarantees access to medical treatment for every citizen.

Portuguese citizens thus have everything they need to be healthy and happy, and to enjoy a very good quality of life.

Press Freedom

Press Freedom is guaranteed by law in Portugal. The country has a stable democratic government, and the risk of government interference in the media is very low. There are state sponsored media houses, but there are also private news agencies throughout the country. The people thus get news and information without any manipulation.



Portugal is mostly known for its warm weather, sandy beaches and the part atmosphere that tourists get to enjoy when they visit. However, this is a first world country by any definition, and a wonderful place to live.