Capital of Portugal since the middle of the 13th century (1255), Lisbon gradually became the centre of Portugal’s most important metropolitan area. The Wider Territorial Unit (WTU) as defined for the Urban Audit is composed of five “Concelhos” (municipalities) and is the centre of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (LMA), a larger complex urban system, which expands on both sides of the Tagus River and includes a population of more than 2.5 million people. In 1991, the city of Lisbon had a resident population of 663,000 inhabitants whilst the WTU had a total resident population of 1.6 million inhabitants. The WTU does not cover the entirety of the NUTS III region comprising the group of municipalities and called “Grande Lisboa” (Great Lisbon) but includes 80% of the population and 42% of the area of the Great Lisbon.
The economic activity is based on the services sector which represents 84% of employment at city level and 77% at WTU level. The vast majority of national or international firms represented in Portugal are based in Lisbon. In 1993, some 41% of the registered companies in Portugal were located in the LMA. Within the LMA, the City concentrates 26% of the companies and 40% of those with a turnover above 5 million Euro. The LMA is also the national centre for “know how” as it accommodates 40% of the professors and 37% of students of the public universities as well as 67% of personnel and expenditure in R&D. In terms of infrastructure, partially as a result of EXPO 98, both the city of Lisbon and the surrounding area experienced an ambitious programme of improvement including the construction of a new bridge over the Tagus (Vasco Da Gama bridge), a new railway link between both margins of the Tagus, the construction of a network of peripheral motorways and the extension of the underground network. As well as improving the accessibility and mobility within the LMA, this infrastructure also allows traffic in the North-South axis to avoid the central area of the city.
In 1994 Lisbon was chosen as one of the European cultural capitals, this reinforced its predominant position in the country and the role it has at the European level. The construction of new cultural infrastructure such as the Cultural Centre of Belém, the new facilities built for the EXPO 98 and the renovation of others combined with a high cultural tradition and a steady demand for cultural goods help to maintain the city’s cultural status. For several years, urban renovation has been an important area of intervention, several programmes were launched (some of those supported by specific EU interventions such the Urban Pilot Projects and the Urban Community Initiative) focussing in particular on the recovery of damaged urban districts and improvements of living conditions.
There are two levels of administrative responsibilities, local and central, corresponding respectively to the “Junta de Freguesia” and “Câmara Municipal” (municipality). The Lisbon municipality is composed of 53 Freguesias (close to the definition of parish and corresponding to NUTS V) and is governed by two bodies: The legislative body « Assembleia Municipal » (municipal assembly) is composed by 120 elected members (elected presidents of the « junta de freguesia » are members of the municipal assembly) whilst the executive body “Câmara Municipal” is directed by an elected council composed of 16 members (one “Presidente” and 15 “Vereadores”). Competences of the municipal bodies are broad including town development, commerce, public sanitation, health, education, youth and elderly protection, culture and sport, environment and civil protection.
HISTORYLisbon has been inhabited since immemorial times. Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs have been among its peoples. Portugal became independent in 1139 ant its first king, D. Afonso Henriques conquered the city from the Moors in 1147. It became the capital of the kingdom in 1255. Its position in relation to River Tagus and the sea had a favourable and marked effect on its characteristics. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries Lisbon was the starting point for the discovering made by Portuguese navigators, which rapidly changed the city into an international trading centre for the merchandise that flowed from the newly discovered lands: the Atlantic islands, East and West Africa, India and Brazil, etc.
Over the centuries Lisbon naturally grew and changed. In 1755, an earthquake destroyed about two-thirds of Lisbon and killed more than 60,000 people. The Marquês de Pombal, who thus created the Baixa Pombalina that still retains much of its original character, rebuilt the city.
Lisbon is a city of surprises and contrast: twisting, narrow streets in the older quarters, spacious avenues dating from the beginning of the century and, close to the centre, famous monuments, some of which have been classified by UNESCO.
GEOGRAPHYLisbon is lying about 9ºW longitude and 39ºN latitude in the Southwest of Portugal and this is one of the southern capitals in Europe. Situated on the Atlantic coast, it distances approximately 300 km to Algarve in the South and 400 km to the northern border with Spain.
Due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon has a temperate climate throughout the year. Lisbon enjoys of a moderate amount of sunshine all year and the days are particularly hot in the summer months.
Rainfall is fairly heavy in the winter months in Lisbon, and then drops steadily until the height of summer, when there is almost no rain at all. The autumn, although still warm, can produce some wet days, the wettest month on average is November.
Lisbon is rarely very cold, and maintains a pleasantly mild climate, even during the winter months. However, the summer months bring days of consistent heat.
POPULATIONToday, approximately 600,000 people live in Lisbon. However, if one includes the various satellite towns, the population of Greater Lisbon rises to approximately 2.1 million people within an area of about 1,000 km2. During the last decade the number of habitants in Lisbon city decreased due to the migration of population to suburban residential zones.
TRANSPORTThe Subway has seen the most significant improvement. To date, it has four lines operating that link the metro to major bus, train and ferry services, and also provide transport from Lisbon’s suburbs to the commercial heart of the city, along the north bank of the river.
There are a large number of tram and buses circulating in Lisbon. Their services are supplied by Carris company.
Trams are one of the most pleasant ways of sightseeing in Lisbon. However, they only operate in a very limited area of the city, along the river and around the hilly part of Lisbon. New trams with much greater capacity have recently been introduced to replace the much loved but ageing predecessors, built at the beginning of the 20th century.
Bus transport system in Lisbon is presently more extensive than either the metro or the tram system and offers better access to sights. However, it is more expensive and less reliable then travelling in metro.
The state-owned railway company, Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses (CP), which operates all trains in Portugal. There are four main lines that connect Lisbon and suburban zones with regular trains.
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