Districts

Portugal has an administrative structure of 308 municipalities (Portuguese singular/plural: concelho/concelhos), which are subdivided into more than 4,000 parishes (freguesia/freguesias). Municipalities are grouped for administrative purposes into superior units. For continental Portugal the municipalities are gathered in 18 Districts, while the Islands have a Regional Government directly above them. Thus, the largest unit of classification are the ones established since 1976 into either mainland Portugal (Portugal Continental) or the autonomous regions of Portugal (Azores and Madeira).

Districts

The district, although in process of being phased out because of the decentralization process, remain as the most relevant subdivision of the country, serving as a base for a series of administrative divisions like the electoral circles or the district football associations. There are 18 districts in mainland Portugal:

  • Aveiro
  • Beja
  • Braga
  • Bragança
  • Castelo Branco
  • Coimbra
  • Évora
  • Faro
  • Guarda
  • Leiria
  • Lisbon (Lisboa in Portuguese)
  • Oporto (Porto in Portuguese)
  • Portalegre
  • Santarém
  • Setúbal
  • Viana do Castelo
  • Vila Real
  • Viseu
  • Regions

Regions and Subregions

Although the districts are still the most relevant subdivision, the regions are growing in importance, and gaining some autonomy and power. Portugal is divided into five regions, administered by the Commissions for Coordination and Regional Development (Comissões de Cooperaçao e Desenvolvimento Regional) in mainland Portugal, plus the two autonomous regions that are their own NUTS II regions. These 7 regions are subdivided into 30 subregions (subregiões, singular: subregiao) with statistical relevance only. Each region is listed (north to south) with its subregions below.

Norte

  • Alto Trás-os-Montes
  • Ave
  • Cávado
  • Douro
  • Entre Douro e Vouga
  • Grande Porto
  • Minho-Lima
  • Tâmega

Centro

  • Baixo Mondego
  • Baixo Vouga
  • Beira Interior Norte
  • Beira Interior Sul
  • Cova da Beira
  • Dao-Lafões
  • Médio Tejo
  • Oeste
  • Pinhal Interior Norte
  • Pinhal Interior Sul
  • Pinhal Litoral
  • Serra da Estrela

Lisboa

  • Grande Lisboa
  • Península de Setúbal

Alentejo

  • Alentejo Central
  • Alentejo Litoral
  • Alto Alentejo
  • Baixo Alentejo
  • Lezíria do Tejo

Algarve

  • Algarve

Autonomous Region of Azores

  • Autonomous Region of Azores

Autonomous Region of Madeira

  • Autonomous Region of Madeira

Metropolitan areas and Intermunicipal Communities

The present (as of 2006) political intentions are to create a territorial division based on association. This system, while requiring territorial continuity, allows for the free association between neighbouring municipalities to form an entity with some degree of autonomy from the central government.

Great Metropolitan Areas

The Greater Metropolitan Areas are territorial units formed by grouping municipalities. Their purpose is to economise on municipal investments and services. New Portuguese laws approved in May 2003 give the metropolitan areas greater autonomy. They are required to include at least nine municipalities with a total of at least 350,000 inhabitants.

Lisbon (Lisboa)

The Lisbon Metropolitan Area consists of 18 municipalities (largest to smallest, by population): Lisbon, Sintra, Loures, Amadora, Cascais, Oeiras, Almada, Seixal, Odivelas, Vila Franca de Xira, Setúbal, Barreiro, Moita, Mafra, Palmela, Montijo, Sesimbra, and Alcochete.

By the 2001 census, its population was 2,547,665 inhabitants. It is also known as Grande Lisboa (Greater Lisbon), but this term, normally, refers to the territory north of the Tagus river.

The capital is Lisbon.

Porto

Greater Porto consists of 14 municipalities (largest to smallest, by population): Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Matosinhos, Gondomar, Santa Maria da Feira, Maia, Valongo, Vila do Conde, Santo Tirso, Povoa de Varzim, Trofa, Espinho, Arouca and Sao Joao da Madeira.

By the 2001 census, its population was 1,509,958 inhabitants. Oliveira de Azeméis and Vale de Cambra will soon join Greater Porto.

The capital is Oporto

Minho

The Greater Metropolitan Area of Minho has 12 municipalities (largest to smallest): Braga, Guimaraes, Vila Nova de Famalicao, Barcelos, Fafe, Vila Verde, Vizela, Celorico de Basto, Amares, Cabeceiras de Basto, Vieira do Minho and Terras de Bouro.

By the 2001 census, its population was 754,830 inhabitants.

Braga is the capital.

Aveiro

The Greater Metropolitan Area of Aveiro has 13 municipalities (largest to smallest): Aveiro, Oliveira de Azeméis, Ovar, Águeda, Ílhavo, Anadia, Estarreja, Vale de Cambra, Albergaria-a-Velha, Vagos, Oliveira do Bairro, Sever do Vouga and Murtosa.

By the 2001 census, its population was 460,157 inhabitants. Both Oliveira de Azeméis and Vale de Cambra will soon exit Greater Metropolitan Area of Aveiro.

Aveiro is the capital.

Coimbra

The Greater Metropolitan Area of Coimbra has 16 municipalities (largest to smallest): Coimbra, Figueira da Foz, Cantanhede, Montemor-o-Velho, Soure, Mealhada, Penacova, Lousa, Condeixa-a-Nova, Miranda do Corvo, Mira, Tábua, Mortágua, Vila Nova de Poiares, Penela and Gois.

By the 2001 census, its population was 430,845 inhabitants.

Algarve

The Greater Metropolitan Area of the Algarve has 16 municipalities (largest to smallest): Loulé, Faro, Portimao, Olhao, Silves, Albufeira, Lagos, Tavira, Lagoa, Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Sao Brás de Alportel, Monchique, Castro Marim, Aljezur, Vila do Bispo and Alcoutim.

By the 2001 census, its population was 391,819 inhabitants.

Faro is the capital.

Viseu

The Greater Metropolitan Area of Viseu has 21 municipalities (largest to smallest): Viseu, Tondela, Seia, Mangualde, Sao Pedro do Sul, Castro Daire, Gouveia, Nelas, Sátao, Santa Comba Dao, Vouzela, Moimenta da Beira, Oliveira de Frades, Carregal do Sal, Penalva do Castelo, Tarouca, Aguiar da Beira, Sernancelhe, Vila Nova de Paiva, Fornos de Algodres and Penedono.

By the 2001 census, its population was 354,162 inhabitants.

Viseu is the capital.

Urban Communities

They are also metropolitan areas, but smaller.

Oeste

Oeste (Eng. West) is a community northwest of Lisbon in the central-litoral part of Portugal. The capital is Caldas da Rainha and it has 12 municipalities (largest to smallest): Torres Vedras, Alcobaça, Caldas da Rainha, Alenquer, Peniche, Lourinha, Nazaré, Cadaval, Bombarral, Óbidos, Arruda dos Vinhos and Sobral de Monte Agraço.

By the 2001 census, its population was 338,747 inhabitants.

Vale do Sousa

Vale do Sousa is a community just east of Oporto, the first to be formed (January 2004) and it has a growing economical and industrial environment. Vale do Sousa consists of 6 municipalities (largest to smallest): Paredes, Penafiel, Felgueiras, Paços de Ferreira, Lousada and Castelo de Paiva.

By the 2001 census, its population was 327,768 inhabitants.

Penafiel is the capital.

Leiria

It has 8 municipalities (largest to smallest): Leiria, Pombal, Ourém, Marinha Grande, Porto de Mos, Batalha, Ansiao and Alvaiázere.

By the 2001 census, its population was 317,271 inhabitants.

Leiria is the capital.

Lezíria do Tejo

It has 11 municipalities (largest to smallest): Santarém, Cartaxo, Benavente, Almeirim, Coruche, Rio Maior, Azambuja, Salvaterra de Magos, Chamusca, Alpiarça and Golega. Santarém is the capital.

By the 2001 census, its population was 240,322 inhabitants.

Baixo Alentejo

It is the largest political division of Portugal (by area) and has 18 municipalities (largest to smallest): Beja, Santiago do Cacém, Odemira, Serpa, Moura, Grândola, Alcácer do Sal, Sines, Aljustrel, Ferreira do Alentejo, Mértola, Almodôvar, Castro Verde, Ourique, Vidigueira, Cuba, Alvito and Barrancos.

By the 2001 census, its population was 234,481 inhabitants.

The capital is Beja.

Trás-os-Montes

It occupies the northeastern area of Portugal and has 15 municipalities (largest to smallest): Chaves, Bragança, Mirandela, Valpaços, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Montalegre, Mogadouro, Vinhais, Miranda do Douro, Ribeira de Pena, Boticas, Alfândega da Fé, Vimioso and Freixo de Espada à Cinta.

By the 2001 census, its population was 227,883 inhabitants.

The capital is Bragança.

Valimar

Valimar is a community, north of Oporto (formed March 2004) in the historical region of Entre-Douro-e-Minho. Its name suggest sea (Port. mar), Valleys (Port. vale) and Lima River. Valimar gathers 6 municipalities: Arcos de Valdevez, Caminha, Esposende, Ponte da Barca, Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo.

By the 2001 census, its population was 220,799 inhabitants.

The capital of the community is Ponte de Lima.

Centro Alentejo

It has 16 municipalities (largest to smallest): Évora, Elvas, Montemor-o-Novo, Estremoz, Vendas Novas, Reguengos de Monsaraz, Vila Viçosa, Campo Maior, Borba, Arraiolos, Redondo, Portel, Alandroal, Mora, Viana do Alentejo and Mourao. The capital is Évora. By the 2001 census, its population was 204,798 inhabitants.

Baixo Tâmega

It has 7 municipalities (largest to smallest): Amarante, Marco de Canavezes, Baiao, Cinfaes, Celorico de Basto, Resende and Mondim de Basto.

By the 2001 census, its population was 198,058 inhabitants.

The capital is Amarante.

Douro

It has 15 municipalities (largest to smallest): Vila Real, Lamego, Peso da Régua, Alijo, Torre de Moncorvo, Sao Joao da Pesqueira, Santa Marta de Penaguiao, Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Vila Flor, Carrazeda de Ansiaes, Armamar, Sabrosa, Tabuaço, Murça and Mesao Frio.

By the 2001 census, its population was 195,203 inhabitants.

The capital is Vila Real.

Médio Tejo

It has 11 municipalities (largest to smallest): Tomar, Abrantes, Torres Novas, Entroncamento, Alcanena, Ferreira do Zezere, Maçao, Vila Nova da Barquinha, Sardoal, Constância and Vila de Rei.

By the 2001 census, its population was 191,617 inhabitants.

The capital is Tomar.

Beiras

It has 12 municipalities (largest to smallest): Covilha, Guarda, Sabugal, Pinhel, Trancoso, Celorico da Beira, Almeida, Belmonte, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Penamacor, Meda and Manteigas.

By the 2001 census, its population was 183,592 inhabitants.

The capital is Guarda.

Intermunicipal Communities

Pinhal

Pinhal (Eng. Pinewood) has 7 municipalities (largest to smallest): Oliveira do Hospital, Serta, Arganil, Figueiro dos Vinhos, Pampilhosa da Serra, Pedrogao Grande and Castanheira de Pera.

By the 2001 census, its population was 73,185 inhabitants.

The capital is Serta.

Vale do Minho

The Minho Valley Community has 5 municipalities (largest to smallest): Monçao, Valença, Melgaço, Paredes de Coura and Vila Nova de Cerveira.

By the 2001 census, its population was 62,373 inhabitants.

The capital is Valença.

Undefined Areas

So far (May, 2004), there are still to be defined the municipalities of:

Beira Interior Sul

Not a definitive list: Castelo Branco, Fundao, Idanha-a-Nova, Proença-a-Nova, Oleiros, Vila Velha de Rodao.

The total population is 119,263, by the 2001 census.

Alto Alentejo

Not a definitive list: Portalegre, Ponte de Sor, Nisa, Sousel, Avis, Gaviao, Crato, Marvao, Alter do Chao, Castelo de Vide, Fronteira, Monforte and Arronches.

The total population is 95,086 by the 2001 census.

Autonomous Regions

Since 1978, Portugal conceded political autonomy to its archipelagos (Madeira and Azores) due to the great distance from Lisbon. The regional autonomies have Regional Governments that are constituted by the Presidente do Governo Regional (Regional Government President) and by Secretários Regionais (Regional Secretaries).

Azores

The Azores (Açores, in Portuguese) is an archipelago of nine islands and some islets discovered and settled by the Portuguese in the 15th century. The Azores lies a third of the distance between Europe and North America. Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Azores has the only active volcano in Portugal, although there are several underwater volcanoes. The Azores also has the highest mountain in Portugal, Pico (2,351 metres).

The Azorian parliament is located in the town of Horta on Faial Island the political capital of the islands, but Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island is seen as the capital of the islands, while Angra do Heroísmo on Terceira Island is considered as the historical and cultural capital. Pico Island has vineyards protected by UNESCO and classified as a World Heritage site.

Madeira

Madeira is an archipelago formed by two islands - Madeira and Porto Santo - plus two smaller groups of islands - Desertas and Savage (in Portuguese, Selvagens). The archipelago is closer to Africa than Europe. Madeira has a unique kind of forest (Floresta Laurisilva) known in Portugal as Pérola do Atântico (Pearl of the Atlantic) because of its natural beauty. It is now protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The main city of Madeira is Funchal.