This year, Portugal held steady at 22. Portugal certainly hasn’t wavered from its global reputation as a tourist hotspot, known for its coastal beauty and easy lifestyle. International visitors are flocking to Portugal’s cities and beaches, enjoying port and Pastéis de Nata as they watch the sun set over the Atlantic. Following a challenging period of recession and stagnation since the eurozone crisis, Portugal appears to be on the road to recovery and is exhibiting signs of economic growth. This trend is expected to continue through 2018. New economic measures have reignited domestic investment, and Portugal regained its investment-grade credit status from international rating agencies. The upturn has also seen unemployment in Portugal fall to 8.5 percent, down from 17 percent in 2013. If Portugal’s recovery continues on the same trajectory – and if the country makes strategic investments in key areas such as digital infrastructure and higher education – there’s no reason why Portugal’s soft power standing can’t rise in the near future.
From Lisbon to Porto, Sintra to the Algarve, the Portuguese lead an enviable lifestyle. It’s no wonder that Portugal performs best in our international polling. The beauty of its landscapes and the richness of its culture continues to attract hoards of tourists from Europe and beyond. The number of international visitors to Portugal rose nearly 12 percent in 2017, to a record 12.7 million people.
In the midst of the eurozone crisis, Portugal’s education budget was slashed by 23 percent as part of austerity measures. As the country’s economy rebounds, the government should consider investing greater resource into its education sector. With its oldest university dating back to the 13th century, Portugal has a long academic tradition to build on and be proud of.
Portugal has the assets and potential to climb in The Soft Power 30 index. Increased investment in its higher education institutions, as well as a greater emphasis on digital infrastructure and engagement, could propel Portugal back into the top-20.