Demographics of Póvoa de Varzim

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As of 2004, there were 65452 inhabitants in the whole of Póvoa de Varzim. According to the 2001 Census, there were 63470 inhabitants that year, 61.2% of which lived in the city (composed of three civil parishes). In comparison to 1991, the urban population had grown 23%, with the number of families increasing considerably - by about 44.5%.

Population of the municipality of
Póvoa de Varzim (1801 – 2004)
1801 4676
1849 15300
1900 24527
1930 28780
1960 40444
1981 54248
1991 54788
2001 63470
2004 65452

However, about 50,000 people live in the same area of the municipality, in the city and adjacent rural areas. The number goes up to 100,000 when all areas are taken into account. During the summer the resident population in the city doubles, this seasonal movement from neighbouring cities is due to the draw of the beach.

According to the Urbanization Plan, the city will have a population of 46,170 inhabitants in 2011, representing an increase of almost 19%. The population will continue to be predominantly young (17.5%), though there will have been a shift upwards, given that the aged population will grow to 14.2%.

The population of the entire municipality grew only 1% between 1981 and 1991, increasing to 15.3% between 1991 and 2001. In 2004, about 1420 babies were born in the city's hospital, which represents an increase in the birth rate, and it is expected that the 1500 babies per year mark will be reached again soon .

In 2005, in a study published by the Expresso newspaper, Póvoa de Varzim was considered as the seventh most developed among the Portuguese municipalities, and as the most developed in Porto district. Following the Expresso survey, more developed than Póvoa de Varzim were Cascais, Sintra, Oeiras, Santa Maria da Feira, Albufeira, and Aveiro. At national level, the city was seen as the foremost in social development (index of 0.98); second in the distribution of recycling bins (26 for 1000 inhabitants); third in birth rate (13.5 for 1000 inhabitants); fourth in the aging index (64.4) and occupies fifth place in the number of doctors per inhabitant (3.4 for 1000 inhabitants) and in the unemployment rate (6.2%). The newspaper Primeiro de Janeiro honoured Póvoa, on the same occasion, as the "city of future" of Douro Litoral (Porto district) in fields such environment, cultural heritage, music, sport and literary events.


Due to practice of endogamy and the caste system, Póvoa's fishermen community kept local ethnicity characteristics; such that, at the beginning of 20th century, anthropologists had classified the local population as being a Semitic-Norman community, that is, composed of descendants of Phoenicians and Vikings.

In a research published in "O poveiro" in 1908, Fonseca Cardoso considered that a dolichocephalous anthropologic element, that of the aquiline nose, was of Semitic-Phoenician origin.[1] Anthropological and cultural data also indicate Nordic fishermen settling during the period of the coast's resettling.

Due to that caste system that lasted until the 20th century, the population, itself, remained heterogeneous for centuries: the man of the coastal area was devoted to fishery, red-haired and well-built; the man from the interior was a farmer with Galician character (typical Northern Portuguese). However, this caste system ended due to urban growth and the population is now becoming homogeneous.

Civil parish Population Area (ha)   Density h/km²  
P. Varzim 27 613 525 5 297,1
A Ver-o-Mar 8 943 521 1 720.0
Aguçadoura 4 519 347 1 305.5
Beiriz 3 223 431 749.2
Amorim 2 848 565 505.5
Estela 2 601 1 173 221.3
Rates 2 534 1 388 182.9
Terroso 2 475 463 533.9
Balasar 2 463 1 157 213.9
Argivai 2 153 232 942.7
Laundos 2 140 999 219.9
Navais 1 676 423 397.9

The first settlers were the Castro people (of mixed Celtic and pre-Celtic origin) that maintained commercial relations, especially, with the Phoenicians/ Carthaginians, but came into contact with the Romans after the annexation of the region for the Roman Republic. With the fall of the empire some other peoples had arrived, of which the Suebi and the Vikings were the most important settlers.


Póvoa de Varzim has supplied populations to other places from the time of the Reconquista until recently. One should note that the Poveiros tend to form their own associations, in that there are Casa dos Poveiros - "house of Poveiros" - in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo), South Africa and Canada. Due to mixed marriages and movements of the fishing communities, Caxinas in Vila do Conde and the fishery area of Esposende suffer from strong and old cultural influences from Póvoa. This migratory feature attenuated the population growth.

On the other hand, during the emigration period of the 20th century, many Brasileiros (Portuguese emigrants to Brazil) returned to their native land, in the 20th century the Northern area of the city saw significant influx of people from the Ave Valley (Vale do Ave) and during its prosperity as a fishing town it also received a significant number of newcomers from Galicia in Spain, noteacable in locals that bare the Galician surname Nóvoa, that later became Nova. In the 21st century, there is a growing community of Ukrainians, Brazilians (nationals), Chinese and Russians. However, movement of people from neighbouring municipalities match these increases (with more advantages due to National government policies) and these now make up the most significant population increase (and which the city now tries to attract).


  1. ^ Fonseca Cardoso: "O Poveiro", Portugália, t. II. Porto, 1908.