Fatima Esprito Santo Rita Guerreiro Vanda Cabrinha Pires Lus E V Pessanha And Isabel M Gomes

Mainland Portugal (37°-42° N latitude) is located in the transitional region between the subtropical anticyclone and the subpolar depression zones. In addition to latitude, its orography and the effect of the Atlantic Ocean are the major factors affecting the climate of the mainland Portugal. The highest altitudes vary from 1000 m to 1500 m, with the exception of the Serra da Estrela range (figure 14.1), whose peak is just below 2000 m. The regions farthest from the Atlantic Ocean are around 220 km away.

Portugal has a total area of 9.2 million ha, 41% of which is devoted to cropland. Although agricultural practices in some regions are still traditional and not competitive, they are slowly becoming more and more industrialized and employ about 20% of the active population, which includes employment in agricultural industries as well. The inclusion of Portugal to the European Community in 1986, on the one hand, provided financial resources, but, on the other hand, caused agricultural policy to become more dependent on community policies. Farm size has doubled since the 1970s with increased mechanization.

Wine production is the most important agricultural activity, which contributes significantly to Portugal's economy (GPPAA, 1999). Among fruit trees, apples and citrus fruit have the highest productions, about 250,000 tons and 230,000 tons per year, respectively. Olive trees produce about 40,000 tons of olive oil per year (GPPAA, 1999). Food grain production is relatively low and not enough for domestic use. This is mainly due to the prevailing climate.

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