Liberal democracy is a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of liberalism, i.e. protecting the rights of minorities and, especially, the individual. It is characterized by fair, free, and competitive elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and political freedoms for all persons. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. After a period of sustained expansion throughout the 20th century, liberal democracy became the predominant political system in the world.
A liberal democracy may take various constitutional forms: it may be a constitutional republic, such as France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, or the United States, or a constitutional monarchy, such as Japan, Spain, the Netherlands or the United Kingdom. It may have a presidential system (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, the United States), a semi-presidential system (France and Taiwan), or a parliamentary system (Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Poland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom).
The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is an international alliance that consists of 28 member states from North America and Europe. It was established at the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. Article Five of the treaty states that if an armed attack occurs against one of the member states, it should be considered an attack against all members, and other members shall assist the attacked member, with armed forces if necessary.
Of the 28 member countries, two are located in North America (Canada and the United States) and 25 are European countries while Turkey is in Eurasia. All members have militias, although Iceland does not have a typical army (it does, however, have a military coast guard and a small unit of soldiers for NATO operations). Three of NATO's members are nuclear weapons states: France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO has 12 original founding member nation states and through April 2009 it has added 16 more member nations.
A member state of the European Union is a state that is party to treaties of the European Union (EU) and thereby subject to the privileges and obligations of EU membership. Unlike the membership of an international organisation, EU membership places each member under binding laws in exchange for representation in the EU's legislative and judicial institutions. On the other hand, EU states retain considerable autonomy compared to the constituent states of a federation (such as a U.S. state), maintaining their national military and foreign policy (where they have not agreed to European action in these areas).
There are 28 member states of the EU. Six core states founded the EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community, in 1957 and the remaining states joined in subsequent enlargements. Having acceded on 1 July 2013, Croatia is the newest member state of the EU. Before being allowed to join the EU, a state must fulfill economic and political conditions generally known as the Copenhagen criteria. These essentially require a candidate to have a democratic, free market government together with the corresponding freedoms and institutions, and respect for the rule of law. Enlargement of the Union is contingent upon the consent of all existing members and the candidate's adoption of all pre-existing EU law, known as the acquis communautaire.
There are 193 United Nations (UN) member states, and each of them is a member of the United Nations General Assembly.
The criteria for admission of new members are set out in the United Nations Charter, Chapter II, Article 4:
Western Europe is the region comprising the westerly countries of Europe. While the term has a geographic context, another main definition developed during the Cold War (approx. 1945-1991) to describe the countries associated with the Western European Union (1954–2011; now part of the European Union (EU)), a defensive alliance drafted in 1948 among non-communist European nations during the Cold War, as opposed to the countries of the Eastern Bloc (or Warsaw Pact). Countries culturally and geographically associated with other European regions that steered clear of Soviet influence during the Cold War are usually included, while western members of the former Eastern Bloc (with the exception of Eastern Germany) are excluded.]citation needed[
The United Nations (UN) Statistics Division considers Western Europe to consist of just nine countries, although the United Nations Regional Groups include European countries from the UN-designated Northern and Southern Europe in its Western European and Others Group.
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant. The sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, although it is usually identified as a completely separate body of water.
The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latin mediterraneus, meaning "inland" or "in the middle of the land" (from medius, "middle" and terra, "land"). It covers an approximate area of 2.5 million km² (965,000 sq mi), but its connection to the Atlantic (the Strait of Gibraltar) is only 14 km (8.7 mi) wide. In oceanography, it is sometimes called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea or the European Mediterranean Sea to distinguish it from mediterranean seas elsewhere.
The Atlantic Ocean is the world's second largest ocean. With a total area of about 106,400,000 square kilometres (41,100,000 sq mi), it covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. The first part of its name refers to Atlas of Greek mythology, making the Atlantic the "Sea of Atlas".
The oldest known mention of "Atlantic" is in The Histories of Herodotus around 450 BC (Hdt. 1.202.4): Atlantis thalassa (Greek: Ἀτλαντὶς θάλασσα; English: Sea of Atlas). The term Ethiopic Ocean, derived from Ethiopia, was applied to the southern Atlantic as late as the mid-19th century. Before Europeans discovered other oceans, the term "ocean" itself was synonymous with the waters beyond the Strait of Gibraltar that we now know as the Atlantic. The early Greeks believed this ocean to be a gigantic river encircling the world.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Portugal:
The Portuguese Republic, commonly known as Portugal, is a sovereign country principally located on the Iberian Peninsula in Southern Europe. Portugal is the westernmost country of continental Europe and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira (including the Savage Islands) are also part of Portugal.