North (Portugal)

The Northern Region of Portugal is located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, it is known for its abroad accessibility and external promotion, its extensive experience in international trade and a tendency to receive migratory population flows. 144 miles of the Atlantic coast belongs to Portugal, offering new opportunities for international expansion and economic interaction. This connection to the sea is the source of its remarkable cultural and historical heritage.


The Northern Region of Portugal is divided into 8 sub-regions: Alto Trás-os-Montes, Ave, Cávado, Douro, Entre Douro e Vouga, Grande Porto, Minho-Lima and Tamega. It is worthy of mention, because of the size of the metropolitan area of Grande Porto, which is the economic, commercial, political and educational centre of northern Portugal and covers an area of 817 km 2 with a population density of 2056 inhabitants / km 2.

In the North of Portugal live 3.7 million inhabitants and the population density is about 1.5 times more than the average for Portugal.

Basic Data

Official Name :  North
Sub-regions: Alto Trás-os-Montes , Ave, Cávado, Douro, Entre Douro e Vouga, Grande Porto, Minho-Lima y Tamega
Capital: Porto
Area: 21,278 km2
Population: 3,7 million of inhabitants
Population Density: 173 hab/km²
Official Language:  Portuguese
GDP per capita:  12.800 euros


Indutrial and exporting Vocation

The strong industrial and exporting vocation of the territory is reflected in its trade balance with exports representing 43 percent of all national exports. 

The main economic sectors responsible for their export strength are textiles, electrical equipment, machinery and footwear. Also remarkable technologies based on business areas, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, biochemistry and biotechnology are a great export potential. 

The main exporting markets of the North of Portugal are demanding and highly competitive, just like Spain, France, UK, USA and Germany


To the Northern Region belongs the stretch of Atlantic Coast with the highest level of international freight traffic from the EU, through five miles of the docks of the port of Leixões.

Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto, also known as Oporto Airport, is the most important of the north of the Iberian Peninsula in traffic numbers, influence and connectivity with enough capacity to handle six million passengers a year and Connections to more than 25 destinations.

About territorial border, it is the main channel of communication between Portugal and Spain, with a possible link to Galicia (Spain) through Chaves, which is going to include a strong logistic platform that would provide an increase of the entry and exit of goods.

Excellence of Research and Development

The Northern Region of Portugal has research centres of recognized international standing in a wide range of scientific and technological areas, which have arisen because of the specialisation of senior management and capital creation critic at universities in the region, where 100,000 students receive better education and high quality of human resources is provided.

The main research centres in the region that have already achieved international accreditation and are the preferred choice of foreign researchers are:

Health Sciences: Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC)], Institute of Biomedical Engineering (INEB) and the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP).

Engineering: Institute of Polymers and Composites, 3B's Research Group - Biomaterials, Biodegradable and Biomimetics, and the Institute of Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Management (INEGI).

Computation Technology and Communication: Institute of Systems and Computer Engineering of Porto (INESC Porto).

Creative and cultural industries

The Northern region of Portugal is also characterized by its cultural and artistic creation, with several centres of culture in the region and in Portugal as a whole: such as the Casa da Música, designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the Serralves Foundation or the “Centro Cultural Vila Flor” (Culture Centre of Vila Flor).

Its cultural vitality is also due to the important role that is played by public theaters like the National Theatre S. João in Porto, Teatro Municipal de Vila Real and the “Teatro Municipal de Bragança.”  


The Northern region is one of the most promising tourist destinations of domestic and international development, with significant areas declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, like the historic centres of the cities of Porto and Guimarães, the cave paintings of Foz Coa and the Alto Douro wine region.

Cultural tourism benefits from its rich historical heritage, with the Roman route of “Vale do Sousa” (spanning six communities, including more than twenty Roman monuments of great historical value) as example.

On the other hand 40 percent of the region is protected by nature, which makes noteworthy the Peneda-Gerês Natural Park and other natural reserves such as Montesinho, Alvão or Douro International as mandatory sightseeings.

The region has certified products with designation of origin: wine, olive oil, smoked, honey and other food products, as well as bobbin lace and filigree, and many other hand-made products of high quality. The great cultural heritage associated to these products has generated creation of specific promotional tools, such as Olive Oil Route in Trás-os-Montes, Vinhos Verdes Road and Port Road.

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