Portugal is a Roman Catholic country, with 84% of the population nominally members of the church -- but only 20% can be persuaded or frightened into attending mass regularly. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that refusing to attend mass without good reason is a mortal sin and can lead to Hell. Apparently, the Portuguese do not follow this teaching.
Portugal was a fascist state from 1926 to 1974, when communist soldiers overthrew the government. The communists then held free elections, expecting a grateful nation to sweep them into legitimate power. Mistake (for them). Portugal has been a democracy ever since, and joined the European Union in 1986.
Portugal has taken the war on drugs to a new level - by decriminalising all personal use. Although the law was passed by the socialist government in 2001, the conservatives kept the law when they gained power the following year, and transferred the country's drug and addiction institute from the justice ministry to the health ministry.
The effect of the law has been a reduction in teenage use of the drugs, and a reduction in HIV cases caused by sharing needles. The country has also saved money - originally part of the law's intention - as treatment of drug takers costs less than imprisonment.
 See also
- Portugals drug reforms discussed at Salon
- Comcept - Comunidade Céptica Portuguesa (Portuguese Skeptical Community)
- ↑ Andorra, high in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, is defined, perhaps arbitrarily, as not part of the peninsula
- ↑ Or they all have "good" reasons every week not to go to mass
- ↑ Only after a counter-coup by the non communist military, of course.
- ↑ How Portugal dealt with drug reform
- ↑ Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?