Lisbon Metropolitan Area

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map showing the Lisbon Metropolitan Area

Lisbon Metropolitan Area (Portuguese: Área Metropolitana de Lisboa, or AML) is a territorial zone that includes 18 municipalities (concelhos) in Portugal. The smaller Grande Lisboa (Greater Lisbon) area is a subregion of the NUTS II Lisbon Region by its own right.

The Lisbon Metropolitan Area, centered in the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon, is the largest population concentration in Portugal. Preliminary data from the 2001 Portuguese census puts the population of the metropolitan area at 2,815,851 (about ¼ of the Portuguese population), of which 19.4% lives in the city of Lisbon. About 27% of the population of continental Portugal lives in the 2,957.4 km2 of AML (3.2% of the continental territory of Portugal), which has an active population of about 1.3 million people. With 32.7% of the national employment being located in its territory, the contribution of AML for the Gross Domestic Product surpasses 36%.

Today, Lisbon Metropolitan Area (AML) territory is almost the same as Lisbon Region territory, being AML a union of metropolitan municipalities, and Lisbon Region a NUTS II region.

The municipalities north of the Tagus River are from Lisbon District (Grande Lisboa), those south of the river are from Setubal District (Península de Setúbal).


Municipality Area Population (2011) Density N.U.T.S. III inclusion District inclusion Cultural Region inclusion
Amadora 23.8 km2 175,558 7,376.4/km2 Grande Lisboa Lisboa Estremadura
Cascais 97.2 km2 205,117 2,110.3/km2 Grande Lisboa Lisboa Estremadura
Lisboa 84.6 km2 545,245 6,445.0/km2 Grande Lisboa Lisboa Estremadura
Loures 169.0 km2 205,577 1,216.4/km2 Grande Lisboa Lisboa Estremadura
Mafra 291.5 km2 76,749 263.3/km2 Grande Lisboa Lisboa Estremadura
Odivelas 26.6 km2 143,755 5,404.3/km2 Grande Lisboa Lisboa Estremadura
Oeiras 45.8 km2 172,063 3,756.8/km2 Grande Lisboa Lisboa Estremadura
Sintra 319.4 km2 377,249 1,181.1/km2 Grande Lisboa Lisboa Estremadura
Vila Franca de Xira 323.5 km2 136,510 422.0/km2 Grande Lisboa Lisboa Ribatejo
Alcochete 132.8 km2 17,565 132.3/km2 Península de Setúbal Setúbal Estremadura
Almada 70.2 km2 173,298 2468.6/km2 Península de Setúbal Setúbal Estremadura
Barreiro 32.0 km2 79,042 2,470.1/km2 Península de Setúbal Setúbal Estremadura
Moita 54.6 km2 66,311 1,214.5/km2 Península de Setúbal Setúbal Estremadura
Montijo 348.0 km2 51,308 147.4/km2 Península de Setúbal Setúbal Estremadura
Palmela 465.9 km2 62,549 134.3/km2 Península de Setúbal Setúbal Estremadura
Seixal 95.7 km2 157,981 1,650.8/km2 Península de Setúbal Setúbal Estremadura
Sesimbra 195.7 km2 49,183 251.3/km2 Península de Setúbal Setúbal Estremadura
Setúbal 193.6 km2 120,791 623.9/km2 Península de Setúbal Setúbal Estremadura
Total 2,957.4 km2 2,815,851 952.1/km2


The Metropolitan Area of Lisbon was a semi-official structure. Recently, Portugal has been incrementing the powers held by these territorial organization organs. In the officialization of the Lisbon Great Metropolitan Area, Azambuja left due to being mostly a rustic zone, more kindred to the city of Santarém which lies just 23 km NE, while Lisbon is 45 km away from Azambuja, SE.

In the official AML site is said:

As stated on the law 10/2003, of the 13 of May, the Grande Área Metropolitana de Lisboa (Lisbon Great Metropolitan Area) is a public collective person of associative nature, and of territorial scope that aims to reach common public interests of the municipalities that integrate it, that includes (18 City Halls) – Alcochete, Almada, Barreiro, Cascais, Lisboa, Loures, Mafra, Moita, Montijo, Odivelas, Oeiras, Palmela, Sesimbra, Setúbal, Seixal, Sintra and Vila Franca de Xira.

The Grande Área Metropolitana de Lisboa was constituted, by public scripture, in 2004 and published on 5 July 2004, in the III series of the Diário da República. It is composed by three organs: ·

Junta Metropolitana, executive organ, composed by the 18 Presidents of the City Halls that it integrates. They elect among themselves, a President and two Vice Presidents.

Assembleia Metropolitana, legislative organ, composed by the chosen representatives in the Municipal Assembly of the City Halls, in odd number, over the triple of the number of the towns that it integrates, in a maximum of 55.

Conselho Metropolitano, consultative organ, composed by representatives of the State and by the members of the Junta Metropolitana.


Portugal has been through a period of administrative changes since the 1974 revolution. More recently, new standards of territorial administration have been implemented to match European Union criteria.

After some years of indefinitions, municipalities are now encouraged to associate in metropolitan areas (more than 350,000 inhabitants), ComUrbs - urban communities (150,000 inhabitants and 3 municipalities required) or intermunicipal communities (less than 150,000 inhabitants or less than 3 municipalities).

These new regional divisions are colliding with the traditional Portuguese regional structures: Distritos (Districts). Districts were implemented in the 19th century by Mouzinho da Silveira after the Liberal Revolution, to replace clerical dioceses (which held the intermediate authority between the absolute monarchy and the municipalities), and still are the official regional authorities in Portugal, thus leaving the new metropolitan authorities with no authority at all. For instance, the District of Lisbon and the District of Setubal collide and interfere with the Lisbon Metropolitan Area authority. Each District is ruled by a Governador Civil (Civil Governor). These Governors are empowered by the Prime Minister of Portugal and have most of the administrative power over the Municipalities comprised, leaving the Metropolitan Areas with a passive status and communitarian tasks.

To definitely end with these anomalies, a national Referendum was held on November 8, 1998, in order to approve a new regionalization (Referendo à Regionalização), which was rejected by over 60% of the voting population on account of disagreements over the loss of sovereignty of some districts to others (e.g. by the time of the Referendum it was not known where would be the Seat of Government of the new "Estremadura & Ribatejo" region which was a fusion of the District of Leiria with the District of Santarém, being Leiria and Santarém cities of the same size and importance).

Regionalization experiment in Portugal was only successful among insular regions when in 1976, districts of Angra do Heroísmo, Horta and Ponta Delgada were substituted by the Autonomous Region of Açores with seat of government in Ponta Delgada, while district of Funchal was replaced by the Autonomous Region of Madeira with seat of government in Funchal.

Portuguese Cultural Regions[edit]

Portuguese Cultural Regions and their limits were officially drawn during the 19th century after slight variations since the foundation of Portugal and still there is no agreement about where one region ends and other starts. Cultural Regions in Portugal have symbolic importance and no kind of authority. Once again there is no exact geographical conformity between Cultural Regions, Districts or between any of those and the Metropolitan Areas.

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