Part 14. Portugal – Geography. Portugal's geography is defined by its rivers – the Minho (northern border), Douro, Mondego, Tagus and Guardiana (eastern border). Port cities were established by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, then Moors, along international trade routes, and inland settlements developed around hilly river fortifications (Santarem, Coimbra).
Roman roads linking cities established the network of roads still in existence today.
Roman Lusitania was divided and ruled from Santarem, Beja and Merida (Spain). Olissipo, Conimbriga, Bracara Augusta (Lisbon, Coimbra, Braga were the north-south backbone of Portugal, and Olisipo, Evora, Merida the west-east axis.
Medieval provinces or Cormacas:
- Alentejo (Alem Tejo – beyond the Tagus River)
- Algarve (Al Gharb – West Andalus, from “Vandals”)
- Entre Douro e Minho
- Estremadura (Extrema Durii – farthest from Douro River)
- Trás-os-Montes (Beyond the Mountains)
Prefectures of 1832 split Minho and Douro and added Azores and Madeira after the Liberal Revolution and the new constitution :
lentejo, Algarve, Beira Alta, Beira Baixa, Douro, Estremadura, Minho, Trás-os-Montes, Açores, Madeira.
The colonies were also re-organised :
Cabo Verde, Guinea, Angola, Mozambique, India, Sao Tome & Principe, Macau, Timor.
Provinces of 1936 Estado Novo:
Algarve – southernmost region of continental Portugal, capital is Faro.
Alto Alentejo – capital is Evora city
Baixo Alentejo – capital is Beja, with western area named Setubal on the coast
Beira Alta – mountains, valleys, rivers, castles, with Viseu and Guarda cities
Beira Baixa – capital Castel Branco
Beira Litoral – coastal area south of Douro river, with Coimbra the capital
Douro Litoral – centered on the city of Porto, with the coast part of the Costa Verde tourist area.
Estremadura – Lisbon and region on coast
Minho – capital Braga, famous as being the origin of vinho verde.
Ribatejo – upstream Tagus region
Trás-os-Montes – North-eastern province with, rivers, castles e Alto Douro and mountains on the northern bank of Douro river, very poor, cities of Vila Real and Braganca.
Read other parts of this series HERE.