Centre Region

Portugal’s Centre Region, which covers 25.7% of the country and contains 16.8% of its population, is very centrally located within the country. Two transit corridors, between the country’s two major metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto, pass through the region providing structure to the country and its urban areas. There are also European transit corridors giving access to northern Portugal and the centre of Europe. As a region with an Atlantic coast and two medium sized ports, it also guarantees maritime access to Europe and the rest of the world.

The Centre Region’s population model and its urban network are strongly determined by its physical characteristics. The central mountain range (Cordillera Central), with the Serra da Estrela of special note, crosses the region in a north easterly to a south easterly direction. The population model has two distinct facets in the region. One is a concentration of population on the coast but well spread out. The second consists of a polarization of the principal urban centres in the interior of the region. An urban network of medium sized towns and cities distributed over the whole territory provides balance to the region.

Centre Region is also an area with a vast and diversified natural heritage of recognized landscape and environmental quality. The classified areas of the Centre Region occupy almost 16% of the region’s territory. On the other hand, Centre Region is one of the Portuguese regions with the best hydraulic resources, both surface and underground. It enjoys excellent geomorphologic and hydraulic conditions for generating hydroelectric power. However, even more outstanding is its capacity for producing wind power.

Centre Region conserves historical and cultural heritages from different periods and civilizations. Lusitanians, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs all left their mark in this region, as the vast and diverse historical and architectural heritage spread through the whole region testifies.

Accordingly tourist resources are relevant in the Centre Region of Portugal. We find buildings and both urban and natural areas classified as world heritage sites by UNESCO, The proximity of the most important tourist and religious site in the country (Fátima) produces an important flow of visitors to the region. We can add rural tourism to the mix, with specialized products typical of the region, such as the network of river side beaches, historical hamlets or slate built hamlets.

Compared to other Portuguese regions, Centre Region is characterized by a very diversified and regionally heterogeneous industrial base, comprised of a variety of traditional specialties, some of which are strongly export orientated (ceramics and glass production; food industries; basic metallurgy and the manufacture of machines, equipment, plastics, etc.).

In addition, the region shows good levels of school attendance and conditions for developing scientific research, particularly in the areas of health, materials engineering, electronics, biotechnology and information technology. There is also an excellent network of universities, technology centres and institutions partially or wholly dedicated to scientific research and the development and transfer of technology.

The dynamism of its business world, together with the capacity of its regional innovation system, means that new companies are beginning to appear in promising sectors and getting established in some of the most competitive international markets.

Finally, Centre Region offers its population a very high quality of life. The presence of services of excellence in education and health, the existence of infrastructure and activities in the area of culture and leisure, as well as the presence of good sized urban centres and urban and rural landscapes, constitute the attributes that make Centre Region a privileged place to live and work.