Subdivisions of Portugal

The subdivisions of Portugal are based on a complicated administrative structure. The second-level administrative division, after the 5 regions and 2 autonomous regions, is 308 municipalities (concelhos) which are further subdivided into 3091 civil parishes (freguesias).

The current administrative divisions of Portugal: the Northern region, the Center region, the Lisbon region, the Alentejo region, the Algarve region, and the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira.

Administrative divisions of PortugalEdit

Subdivisions of PortugalEdit

Subdivision Total Mainland Description
Regions 5 5 Territorial divisions of the continental unitary state
Autonomous Regions 2 0 Sub-territorial divisions comprising Azores and Madeira
Subregions 25 23 Autonomous and sub-regional co-ordination commissions (CCDR)
Municipalities 308 278 Municipal authorities
Civil Parishes[1] 3091 2882 Local area authorities

Urban hierarchyEdit

In Portugal, urban centers (cities, towns and hamlets) have no legal authority and are social constructs based on a series of institutional functions. In fact, administrative power lies within the extraterritorial municipalities and parishes. These have authority in the constitution and may include various towns within each territory and may have their own constituent assemblies and executives. The town or city, generally, does not correspond to the boundaries of various municipalities, with the exception of the entirely urban municipalities (such as Lisbon, Porto, Funchal, Amadora, Entroncamento and São João da Madeira). The municipality with the most cities is Paredes Municipality which contains four cities.

Sub-division Total Mainland Description
Metropolitan areas[2] 2 2 Agglomerations of metropolitan or urban regions
Intermunicipal communities[2] 21 21 Association of municipal authorities for coordination
Cities 151 141 Population centres
Towns 533 ??? Population centres

Former subdivisions of PortugalEdit

Sub-division Total Mainland Description
Province (Medieval) 6 6 1325 territorial administration instituted by Afonso IV
Province (1832) 11 8 1823 reorganization attributed to Mouzinho da Silveira
Province (1936) 11 11 1936 reorganization based on nationalist geographer Amorim Girão
Districts 18 18 1835 reorganization based on prefectures: phased-out in 20th century

Ancillary divisionsEdit


Sub-division Total Mainland Description
NUTS 1: National 3 1 Continental Portugal, the Azores and Madeira
NUTS 2: Regions 7 5 Regional Coordination Commissions, and Autonomous Regions
NUTS 3: Subregion 25 23 Metropolitan areas, intermunicipal communities and autonomous regions
LAU 1: Municipal 308 278 Municipalities
LAU 2: Local 3092 2882 Civil Parishes


Sub-division Total Mainland Description
Postal codes 9 8 First-digit postal codes
Area codes 51 48 Telephone area codes


Due to changes throughout history, the Portuguese unitary state has seen a continuous process of centralisation and de-centralisation, resulting in changes to the toponomy of various territorial divisions. Consequently, the many names have been appropriated at different levels to represent alterations to the geographic map of the country. This is particularly the case with the transitive period between the medieval provinces and 19th century Liberal reforms. Further, the influence of the Nationalist movement during the 20th century, resulted in the re-appearance of toponymic names long since abandoned.

The modern unitary state is influenced considerable by names passed between generations, and have been applied and re-applied, resulting in a historical ambiguity in the historical record, where one name may be used for two different areas. As is the case with the following examples:

Even between administrative level there several instances where the same name is used to represent a territorial division at the local, municipal or regional level.


  1. ^ IGP, ed. (2017), Carta Administrativo Oficial de Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto Geografico Portugues, retrieved 5 November 2018
  2. ^ a b "Decree Law 75/2013" (pdf). Diário da República (in Portuguese). Assembly of the Republic (Portugal). Retrieved 13 August 2014.