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Political / Social
Continental Portugal or mainland Portugal (Portuguese: Portugal Continental) is the colloquial term used to distinguish the portion of the Portuguese unitary state located in the Iberian Peninsula (and so in Continental Europe). Mainland Portugal is commonly referred to, by residents living in the archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, as simply the Continent (Portuguese: O Continente) referring to both the socio-geographic and political status that exists between the islands and Lisbon. Before 1975, when the Portuguese territory also included several now independent states in Africa, the designation metrópole was also used.
The designation Mainland Portugal is used to differentiate the continental territory of Portugal from its insular territory. The latter comprises the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores, situated in the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores and Madeira are also commonly referred to as the autonomous regions (Portuguese: as regiões autónomas), insular Portugal (Portuguese: Portugal Insular) or, simply, the islands (Portuguese: as Ilhas).
Continental Portugal is divided in 18 districts. Madeira and Azores are Autonomous Regions of Portugal.
The European Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics defines the geographic plurality of the mainland Portugal and the islands as the primary NUTS I territorial division (see administrative divisions of Portugal: NTUS for details).
While in modern Portugal the difference between continental and total territory is not significant (in terms of area), it mattered during the existence of the Portuguese Empire, when this terminology was used. Continental Portugal has an area of 89,015 square kilometres (34,369 sq mi) or 96.6% of the Portuguese national territory (92,145 square kilometres (35,577 sq mi)) and 10,047,083 inhabitants (or 95.1% of the total population of 10,561,614).
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