Portugal Table of Contents
Portugal's First Republic (1910-26) became, in the words of historian Douglas L. Wheeler, "midwife to Europe's longest surviving authoritarian system." Under the sixteen-year parliamentary regime of the republic with its forty-five governments, growing fiscal deficits financed by money creation and foreign borrowing climaxed in hyper-inflation and a moratorium on Portugal's external debt service. The cost of living around 1926 was thirty times what it had been in 1914. Fiscal imprudence and accelerating inflation gave way to massive capital flight, crippling domestic investment. Burgeoning public sector employment during the First Republic was accompanied by a perverse shrinkage in the share of the industrial labor force in total employment. Although some headway was made toward increasing the level of literacy under the parliamentary regime, 68.1 percent of Portugal's population was still classified as illiterate by the 1930 census.
Data as of January 1993