Q. Name of area
Q: What is the current status of your answer to the previous question - is it: a nation state? (e.g. France) a legally-defined division of a nation state?
Q: Outline history. Describe the historical development of the unit, as it affected its external borders and internal boundaries:
Portuguese frontiers were defined in the 12th and in the 13th centuries and have been quite stable since 1297. The only major change took place in 1801. Regarding the internal boundaries, in Modern times the decisive change dates from 1832-1835
Q. Describe the MODERN hierarchy of geographical areas used for civil administration:
From bottom to top level: parishes (n=4005; mean area=22.16 km2), municipalities (275; 322.69 km2) and districts (18; 4930.12km2). Note the average area of the municipalities when compared with other EU countries
Q: How long has this system existed?
This system was created in 1835 and was the outcome of the Liberal Revolution
Q: Describe earlier administrative geographies:
The system described above (B1) replaced an older one based on the municipalities and the comarcas. However, those municipalities were much smaller and far more numerous than the ones that survived to the Liberal reform (804 to 382). Until 1835 the parishes were merely religious units
Q. When was the first national census of population carried out?
The fist modern census was in 1864
Q: Outline the later history of the census. Have censuses been carried out at regular intervals, and if so with what frequency?
Prior to 1864 there was a census in 1527 and another one in 1801 carried out by the church. Between 1849 and 1864 several other censuses were made as a result of the cooperation between the civil authorities and the church. After 1864 there has been a census every ten years
Q: What are the main geographical units used in published reports? Have these changed over time?
The reports use the administrative units. The latter changed deeply between 1801 and 1849 as explained in answers B2 and B3. The need of producing comparable statistics in the EU context lead to the introduction of new statistical units in the 1990’s
Q: Is there access to more detailed unpublished information? If so, what geographical units do these refer to?
Q: What publications descibe the history of the census, and of census geographies? Are any available in English?
Fernando de Sousa – História da Estatítica em Portugal, Lisboa, INE, 1995
Q. When was the recording of vital events (births, marriages and deaths) first required by law?
The recording was first required in 1832, but the government wasn’t able to enforce the law for a long period. The deaths recording didn’t really begin until 1860 and the births and marriages until 1911.
Q: What organisation was responsible for recording vital events? How has this changed over time?
Since the 16th century the church was the institution responsible for the recording. The situation only changed with the progressive introduction of the civil registration as described above
Q: What geographical units were used in recording vital events?
The parishes were the units used until the introduction of the civil registration
Q. What historical taxation records exist for your area?
The publication of taxation statistics began in 1877. However, their quality is very bad
Q: What geographical units do these use?
Q. What other major sources exist, and what geographical units do they use?
The information on land use in Alentejo (south of Portugal) for 1891-1910. Industrial statistics for 1845, 1852 and 1890, organized according to municipalities and districts. Electoral statistics both for the national parliament and the municipalities, the former published by constituencies and the latter by municipalities
Q. When was the first computerised map of administrative units created?
Q. What does it show?
Parish boundaries and their names
Q. How easy is it to obtain a copy?
It is freely available on the Internet
Q. Who was responsible for changing boundaries? How has this changed over time?
The church was responsible for parish boundaries at least until 1878. The creation or extinction of municipalities and districts was an exclusive attribution of the Parliament after 1834. The government was responsible for boundary changes
Q: Who was responsible for creating a legal record of boundary changes?
I’m not sure if that record exists
Q: What records have been preserved of boundary changes? Are they published or unpublished? How do they describe the old and new boundaries? How accurately do they give the dates of changes?
Q: Who was responsible for mapping your area? When was this organisation created?
After 1852 several services held the responsibility of mapping the Portuguese territory
Q: When did systematic mapping of boundaries begin?
Q: What maps are available showing boundaries?
Q: For periods before maps are available, are there descriptions of boundaries in words? Where are they preserved? How easy are they to interpret?
I’ve never seen such descriptions
Q. What research projects have gathered information on HISTORICAL boundaries for your area?
There is a project concerned with the publication of the 1527 population census that collected detailed information on administrative boundaries
Q. What historical gazetteers are available for your area, in published or unpublished form? How do they indicate the location of the places listed? Do they cover variant forms of names?
Several dictionaries have been published since the 18th century. Most of them locate the place names within its administrative unit. Usually they inform us of the different forms of names, if they exist
Q. Are more specialised geographical thesaurii available?
No, we don’t have such geographic thesaurus, but we may use the laws on the different administrative reforms that specify all the existing units and their hierarchy. There is also an important publication by the Instituto Nacional de Estatística that tries to trace parishes history between 1864 and 1960
© Luís Silveira (Lisboa, May 2000)