Região Norte (pronounced|ʁɨʒiˈɐ̃ũ ˈnɔɾtɨ; English: 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 4,034,271 inhabitants (2007), 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.
The region has been inhabited since
prehistorictimes. There are prehistoric Rock-Art sites in the Côa Valley. Historically it had been the southern realm of Galicia (see Gallaecia), which in the 11th century formed part of the combined Kingdom of Galiciaand León being this area known as the County of Portucale- It was here, that Portugal's first king, Dom Afonso Henriques, was born in the beginning of the 12th century, having then extended the kingdom to the south, in what was considered as one of the most heroic feats of the Christian Reconquest. The inheritance of a distant past is seen everywhere.
The region has a number of manor-houses and mansions with
coats of arms. Regional cuisine is renowned and varied - light wines (vinhos verdes) and rich wines, and a variety of handicrafts that mingles the shine of` the filigree with the colour of the local embroideries.
The country's longest motorway (A1, from
Lisbonto Porto) goes up to Braga(A3), in the heart of Costa Verde. Following the coastline on the road from Vila do Condeto Valença, there are beaches, seaside resorts and pictoresque villages such as Caminhaand 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 Parkand two World Heritage Sites: the Alto DouroWine 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.
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, footware, food processing, mechanical, electrical, electronicsand chemicalindustries, as well as financeand 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 capitaof 12,648 euros or 58.8% of the European Unionaverage. It is also the Portuguese NUTS IIregion with the highest unemploymentrate (9.5% as of 2007). [http://diarioeconomico.sapo.pt/edicion/diarioeconomico/nacional/economia/pt/desarrollo/1009999.html]
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