According to the latest statistics of 2023 provided by worldometer.info, Population of Portugal is around 10.11 million people on a land area of 92,212 square kilometers. While the overall population density seems reasonable at slightly over 109 people per square kilometer, the reality is that Portugal’s interior is sparsely populated, with low population densities and large uninhabited areas. It is estimated that up to 70 percent of Portugal’s land is uninhabited, meaning the majority of its population is concentrated within just 30 percent of the land, primarily in the western and southern coastal regions.
Various factors have contributed to this uneven distribution in Population of Portugal. Portugal’s topography, characterized by rugged mountainous terrain, has played a significant role. The interior is home to mountain ranges like the Estrella, Pico do Arieiro and Caldeirão, making it challenging to construct infrastructure and access resources. Harsh climates, such as cold winters and snowfall in Estrella, deter settlement in these regions.
The interior’s forests, like the expansive cork oak forest in the Alentejo region, also pose challenges for cultivation and settlement. Furthermore, transportation infrastructure development has been limited in the interior, with highways predominantly located along the coast and winding roads as the primary means of access to interior areas. This transportation disadvantage discourages businesses and residents from choosing these regions.
Photo: Population Density of Portugal
Portugal’s diverse climate is another factor contributing to the sparsely populated areas. The northern and central regions experience cooler and wetter climates, while the south has a warmer and drier Mediterranean climate. The southern region, including the Algarve, faces water scarcity, impacting agriculture, especially for crops like olives, figs, almonds, and grapes that require substantial water resources. Periodic droughts have also affected crop yields in the south.
Historically, Portugal’s population distribution has favored the coastal regions over the interior, influenced by strong regional identities and reduced willingness to relocate among those in the interior. Immigration has further impacted population distribution, with coastal regions experiencing significant influxes of immigrants, primarily from Portuguese-speaking countries like Brazil and Angola. While this brings diversity, it also strains resources in already densely populated areas.
To address these challenges, the Portuguese government has implemented policies and programs to promote development in the interior regions. Regional development agencies, investment funds, and incentives have been established to attract businesses and individuals to less populated areas. Upcoming infrastructure projects, such as improved connectivity through highways, railways, and airports, aim to facilitate access and mobility across regions.
However, attracting new residents and businesses to the interior remains challenging due to limited economic opportunities and other constraints. Despite these difficulties, the government remains committed to achieving a more balanced population distribution, ensuring a sustainable future for all citizens.
Through continued investment and innovative policies, Portugal seeks to achieve a more regional equality on population of Portugal, promoting economic growth in the interior regions while alleviating strain on the coastal areas. The objective is to create a balanced and prosperous nation with improved living conditions for all its residents.
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