Norte Region, Portugal

Norte Region, Portugal
Região Norte
NUTS II Region (Região)
Emblematic of the northern frontier region of Portugal, the Peneda-Geres National Park
Name origin: norte, Portuguese for north
Country  Portugal
Region Norte
Capital Porto
 - coordinates 41°8′59″N 8°36′36″W / 41.14972°N 8.61°W / 41.14972; -8.61
Lowest point Sea level
 - location Atlantic Ocean
Area 21,278 km2 (8,215 sq mi)
Population 3,689,173 (2011)
Density 173.38 / km2 (449 / sq mi)
Timezone WET (UTC+0)
 - summer (DST) WEST (UTC+1)
GDP per capita (PPS) € 14,300[1]
Location of the Norte Region in context of the national borders
Statistics from INE (2005); geographic detail from Instituto Geográfico Português (2010)

Norte (Portuguese: Região Norte, IPA: [ʁɨʒiˈɐ̃w ˈnɔɾt(ɨ)]; "North Region") is a region in the northern part of Portugal. It is a land of dense vegetation and profound historic and cultural wealth. Its capital is the city of Porto. The region has 3,689,173 inhabitants according to the 2011 census[2], and its area is 21,278 km² (density of 173 inhabitants per square kilometre). It is one of five regions of Mainland Portugal (NUTS II subdivisions). The Norte is a culturally varied region, thus historical rivalry between different neighbouring cities and towns are very common, although with a strong common Portuguese identity, but unlike other Portuguese regions where every city and town are culturally very similar.


History and culture

The region has been inhabited since prehistoric times and is a key area for the understanding of both Atlantic European Megalithic and Castro Cultures. Historically, Northern Portugal had been the southern realm of Galicia (see Gallaecia), which up to the 12th century formed part of the combined Kingdom of Galicia and León, being this southern area known as the County of Portugal. It was in the County of Portugal where Portugal's first king, Dom Afonso Henriques, was born in the beginning of the 12th century. The Kingdom of Galicia at the time of the Swabian Dynasty (5th-6th C AD) had its capital in the now northern-Portuguese city of Braga. The original Galician-Portuguese language was developed in the Galicia/North-Portugal area, taken down south as the Portuguese Kingdom expanded, namely after Afonso Henriques era.

The region has a number of manor-houses and castles featuring coats of arms as an indication of a very intense medieval period. Regional cuisine is renowned and varied offering products such as light wines (vinhos verdes) and rich wines, and a variety of handicrafts that mingles the shine of filigree with the colour of the local embroideries. Northern Portugal is also very rich in folklore and traditions dating back to antiquity.

Galicia and Northern Portugal have been promoting the official candidacy for the recognition of the common "intangible heritage" by UNESCO. The project is backed by the Galician Government, a number of Galician institutions and associations, together with local and regional governments and institutions in Northern Portugal. The official name is "Candidatura de Património Imaterial Galego-Português".


The country's longest motorway (A1, from Lisbon to Porto) goes up to Braga (A3), in the heart of Costa Verde. Following the coastline on the road from Vila do Conde to Valença, there are beaches, seaside resorts and pictoresque villages such as Caminha and Vila Nova de Cerveira. There are also scenic natural parks and mountain ranges, such as the Peneda-Gerês National Park, the Montesinho Natural Park, the Alvão Natural Park and two World Heritage Sites: the Alto Douro Wine Region and the Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley. Throughout the region the rivers, waterfalls, vineyards and fertile plots combine with the ancestral monuments in urban centres.


Distribution of the Norte Region's smaller political divisions


Norte is highly industrialized within its densely populated western half, where well developed subregions such as Ave, Cávado, Entre Douro e Vouga, Grande Porto, and Tâmega have a notable business activity and state-of-the-art infrastructure. Textiles, footwear, food processing, mechanical, electrical, electronics and chemical industries, as well as finance and construction, are some of the main economic activities. However, the region Norte is the poorest of the 7 NUTS II regions of Portugal, with a GDP per capita of 12,648 euros or 58.8% of the European Union average. It is also the Portuguese NUTS II region with the highest unemployment rate (9.5% as of 2007). [1] Northern Portuguese authorities have intensely promoted tourism as a means to attract external investment and further incomes in rural areas.

North Portugal and Galicia form a Euroregion, based on the common historical, cultural, linguistic and economic similarities. The Euroregion has its origins in the Galicia-North Portugal Work Community, established in 1991. This Euroregion is also backed by the so-called Eixo Atlântico ("Atlantic Axis"), a lobby of Galician and North Portuguese cities and municipalities.



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