The materials described above were analysed and combined with other indicators in order to provide a framework for the discussion of the urban dimension issue for policy making and respective planning actions, considering territorial cohesion.
The analyses were carried out looking first at the classification of the urban in morphological terms, with COS and CRUS being the main sources of information, and later for the classifications based on the administrative status of the parishes, as defined by Statistics Portugal and Eurostat (TIPAU and DEGURBA).
3.1. Concerning the Morphological Classification of the Urban
The artificial territories class for the COS map, within the urban perimeters defined by the master plans (CRUS), occupy 3501 sq.km, corresponding to 3.9% of the Mainland Portuguese territory (Figure 4
A). These artificial territories, even though only those within the urban perimeters were considered, do not necessarily show the urban character of a human settlement per se. The physical or architectural objects of small rural villages are, according to the COS classification, artificialized surfaces, but lack an extent, or a number of inhabitants, to have that character. Even in terms of planning issues, rural settlements are classified as rural land (Decree Law No. 15/2015).
As the delimitation of this land use class is derived mainly from aerial photo interpretation and therefore does not take in to account any administrative or statistical units from census surveys, the determination of the number of inhabitants residing in these areas cannot be precise. However, in considering the statistical subsections that have their centroid within these artificial territories, to look at the resident population, 6,441,202 inhabitants lived within these areas, in 2011. This means that 64.1% of the Mainland Portuguese population lived in artificialized territories with an urban perimeter defined by the Master plan, which does not necessarily mean urban population. If only the set of these territories that falls within localities with more than 5000 inhabitants are considered, then just 1.4% of the Mainland Portuguese territory would be urban, i.e., 47% of the total population.
Urban perimeters defined by the master plans and gathered in the 2016 CRUS map, along with other land use regime classes, demarcate areas that are urbanised or for urban development. Despite certain omissions and disparities identified by General Directorate for Territory Development, 6458 sq.km were delimited throughout the Mainland Portuguese territory and 7,887,055 inhabitants (78% of the total population) lived within these areas. Like COS, these urban perimeters do not necessarily mean delimitations of urban areas, but rather human settlements of different sizes and hierarchical importance in the urban panorama of the country, marked off for planning purposes. Moreover, expansion areas are considered here and despite the guidelines of the National Programme for Spatial Planning Policies, in order to contain areas intended for urbanisation, these areas were often oversized in view of the population decrease verified [53
], and in other situations corresponded to mere expectancies for further urbanisation developments, often associated with second residencies and tourist activity.
Following the same methodology used for COS, considering only the set of these territories which are within localities with more than 5000 inhabitants, the urban area is then 1961 sq.km (2.2%) and the population 5,370,705 (53.4%).
3.2. Concerning Administrative Classification of the Urban
Comparing TIPAU and DEGURBA classifications of ‘the urban’, 357 parishes, out of the 2882 Portuguese mainland parishes, were classified differently (Figure 7
). It is noteworthy that 131 parishes have a diametrically opposed classification, i.e., classified as urban by one institution and rural by the other: 98 parishes were classified as rural (Code 3) by DEGURBA while TIPAU considered them urban (APU); on the other hand, there were 33 parishes that DEGURBA classified as urban (Code 1 and 2) and TIPAU as rural (APR).
shows the geographical distribution of this discrepancies. Where parishes are classified as urban by TIPAU (APU), DEGURBA classifies them as rural (Code 3). In contrast, where parishes are classified as urban by DEGURBA (Code 1 and 2), TIPAU classifies them as rural (APR). Although there is no well-defined pattern of distribution of discrepancies, it can be seen that parishes with a larger area, especially in the southern half of the country, tend to be classified as urban by TIPAU. Regardless of the low population densities and the tendency of negative growth that most of these parishes have shown in the last decade, the criterion of the existence of the headquarters of the municipal council was decisive in classifying them as urban.
Several examples could be given to show the mismatching of one of the classifications assigned, taking into account the demographic and territorial reality. The parishes of Vale da Porca and Santa Barbara de Nexe are two of these examples that are illustrated here. Neither has the municipal headquarters within their territories (TIPAU criterion) and both also have less than 5000 inhabitants (DEGURBA criterion). Vale da Porca is located in the northern interior of the country, in the municipality of Macedo de Cavaleiros. TIPAU classified it as predominantly urban (APU) and DEGURBA as rural (Code 3). Between 2001 and 2011, this parish lost 18.1% of its population, recording, in the 2011 census, 286 residents. Figure 9
A shows that land use is mostly agricultural and forestry. In fact, only 2.8% of the parish area consists of artificial territories.
On the other hand, Santa Bárbara de Nexe is classified as rural (APR) by TIPAU and urban (Code 1) by DEGURBA. It is situated in the southern part of the territory, in the Algarve region and, when considering the land use (Figure 9
B), 8.2% of the area corresponds to artificial territories, associated with dispersed settlements. It also lost population between 2001 and 2011 (−0.1%), registering 4116 inhabitants in 2011.
Other examples having a DEGURBA classification as urban (Code 1) with a differing classification by TIPAU (APR) are the 13 distant parishes of the municipality of Viseu (Figure 10
As previously stated, Portugal underwent an administrative reorganisation of its territory in 2012, leading to a considerable reduction in the number of parishes through a process of aggregation. Following the application of the TIPAU classification to the new administrative map of the parishes, the territory of Mainland Portugal went from 996 parishes classified as urban (APU), out of a total of 4050 parishes (before administrative reorganisation), to 678 parishes classified as APU, out of a total of 2882 parishes (after administrative reorganisation). In relative terms, this maintained practically the same representation of urban parishes (24.6% and 23.5%, respectively). However, in terms of territorial size, there is now 17% more area classified as urban (APU), which means that the process of aggregating parishes along with the underlying criteria, forced a reclassification of a territorial reality which, in essence, remains identical. At the same time, the methodology used by Statistics Portugal, although setting out morphological and spatial planning criteria, was transposed to an administrative unit resulting from the aggregation of geographical realities that can be very heterogeneous (concerning density, land use, etc.), and that the mere joining of parts may result in an administrative area classified in a way that is not representative of its somewhat urban character.
The consideration of an administrative criterion (existence of the municipal headquarters) for the classification of the parish as urban is in many cases determinant and, consequently, a factor distorting territorial reality when it comes to the urban issue. The administrative reorganisation process brought together significantly rural parishes with others which included the village or the main city of the municipality, creating new spatially vast and heterogeneous parishes.
The case of the parish of Meixedo (Figure 11
A), which joined the parishes of the city of Bragança (Sé and Santa Maria), to become part of a parish considered urban, is paradigmatic of the aforementioned distortion. At a distance of more than 10 km from the city of Bragança, having lost 13.3% of its population between 2001 and 2011, and having only 1.5% of its area artificialized (0.5% of the new parish), the territory of Meixedo is currently classified as urban both by TIPAU (APU) and by DEGURBA (Code 2).
Most of the area (80%) of the former parish of Meixedo consists of Montesinho Natural Park (Figure 12
), a protected area characterised by its immense biodiversity and small community villages which still preserve the memory of rural life.
Another example of the distortion introduced by the administrative reorganisation regarding the classification of parishes is Alcácer do Sal. The new parish (resulting from the aggregation of Santa Maria do Castelo, Santiago, and Santa Susana) is the most extensive Portuguese parish and is classified as urban (APU) by TIPAU and also by DEGURBA (Code 2). Although it had 8831 inhabitants in 2011 (above the DEGURBA threshold of 5000 inhabitants), the population density is 10.2 inhabitants per sq.km. Between 2001 and 2011 the decrease in its population was significant (6.1% in total, but −29.5% in Santa Susana, which is now classified as urban following the aggregation). Considering land use in Alcácer do Sal, only 1.3% of this vast area is artificialized (Figure 11
Overlaying the urban parishes classified as urban either by TIPAU and by DEGURBA with the population grid cells classified as containing more than 300 inhabitants per sq.km grid, the incongruities persist and reinforce the findings stated above (Figure 13
Considering this 1 sq.km grid, only 6.7% of the territory has a population density greater than 300 inhabitants per sq.km, but 15.1% is specified as urban by at least one of the two classification typologies. Regardless of the geographic reality, in respect to the distribution of the population across the territory, the two classifications, based on administrative boundaries, label parishes, mainly those of larger area, in an artificial way. Table 1
shows the number of parishes in terms of DEGURBA classification and population density thresholds.
The distribution of parishes according to their population does not follow the established DEGURBA density thresholds. There is a total of 319 parishes labelled Code 1 by DEGURBA. However, 91 show density figures below 300 inhabitants per sq.km, and 118 show density figures ranging between 300 and 1500 inhabitants per sq.km. Only 110 parishes, out of 319 (slightly more than a third) seem to match this DEGURBA criterion and be classified as Code 1. As for Code 2, only 307 out of 506 parishes show population density values according to the established criterion. For Code 3, the deviation is much less pronounced, i.e., 2031 out of 2057 parishes match the criterion. Nevertheless, in this group there is a parish, with more than 1500 inhabitants per sq.km, completely misplaced within Code 3. This parish, Borba (in the municipality of Borba, NUTS III Alentejo Central, NUTS II Alentejo), has 98% of its land use as “artificial territories”, and a population of 758 inhabitants in an area of 0.2 sq.km (density 3720.2 inhabitants per sq.km).
Matching the two DEGURBA criteria (population density and number of inhabitants thresholds) the results are not always consistent: 76 parishes out of the 319 classified as Code 1 (23.8%) simultaneously show population densities below 300 inhabitants sq.km and inhabitants below 5000 (Table 2
Taking a concrete example within this set of 76 parishes, the parish of Amonde (in the municipality of Viana do Castelo, NUTS III Alto Minho, NUTS II Norte), has 5% of its land use as “artificial territories”, a population of 293 inhabitants in 2011 (14.8% less than in 2001) and a population density of 46.9 inhabitants per sq.km (with an area of 6.25 sq.km), is labelled as Code 1.
Looking from the perspective of the population threshold, there is a total of 146 parishes (Code 1) and another total of 313 parishes (Code 2) that do not have the minimum of 5000 inhabitants. Those two groups of parishes account for 18.6% of parishes with less than 5000 inhabitants. According to the DEGURBA criteria, the 163 parishes labelled as Code 1 that range from 5000 to 50,000 inhabitants should not have that classification. Given this, only 2121 parishes (grey background), corresponding to 73.6% of the total, follow the DEGURBA criteria.
In relation to the TIPAU classification, the criteria established was built upon a wider set of conditions and requisites involving interdependencies and combines a mix of quantitative (number of inhabitants), morphological (the parishes containing certain localities (totally or partially)) and administrative (the parish contains the headquarters of the municipality) criteria.
Although it is almost impossible to analyse the matching of TIPAU classification to quantitative criteria, as it was above for the DEGURBA classification (which relies on objective and measurable criteria), it is however possible to analyse the results for TIPAU according to the thresholds defined by DEGURBA.
As shown in Table 3
, 174 out of the total 678 labelled as APU (25.7%) present population density figures below 300 inhabitants per sq.km.
Taking a concrete example, the parish of Vale Benfeito (in the municipality of Macedo de Cavaleiros, NUTS III Terras de Trás-os-Montes, NUTS II Norte), located more than 10 km away from the headquarters of the municipality, with 181 inhabitants in 2011 (21.6% less than in 2001), an area of 15.14 sq.km (12 inhabitants per sq.km), was labelled as APU (Figure 14
A). The criterion for the inclusion of its small village within the perimeter of the location of the head of the municipality (despite its population representing only 2.1%) prevailed.
The land use data (COS) shows a minimum level of urbanisation, with only 0.7% of artificialized areas. DEGURBA attributed this parish with Code 3, the opposite extreme. The introduction of the locality and administrative criteria is also responsible for other similar situations not only in this municipality (since the locality containing the headquarters of the municipality is over 5000 inhabitants and spreads over eight parishes), but also in other areas of Continental Portugal.
3.3. Demographic and Socio-Economic Indicators of the Urban
Considering the results of the research presented above (Section 3.2
), 10 parishes were analysed, consisting of a subset of the 98 where DEGURBA and TIPAU classifications differ (all of them being Code 3 for DEGURBA and, at the opposite extreme, APU for TIPAU). These 10 parishes also have in common the fact that they were labelled as APU (TIPAU) because all of them partially or totally contain the locality where the headquarters of the municipality is located (the administrative criterion for TIPAU), and all of them have more than 5000 inhabitants. These 10 parishes do not refer to a specific Portuguese mainland area or region; instead, they cover a wide spectre of territorial locations, in the north, centre and south, being both coastal and inland territories.
As shown in Table 4
, the localities with the municipal headquarters contained within (the reason why these parishes were labelled as APU) occupy a very small part of the parishes’ territory—in some of the cases not even 1% of the whole territory (as is the case in Redondo, UF de Ferreira do Alentejo e Canhestros and UF de Castro Verde e Casével). In contrast to these are the “other territories” that can reach as far as 99.5% of the whole parish territory (“Other territories” includes all the surface of the parish excluding the area belonging to the locality where the municipal headquarters is located. This vast territory may have all types of land use, mainly agricultural, forestry, natural landscapes, water bodies, and can also contain inhabited places—usually exceedingly small villages (under 10 inhabitants)—and isolated dwellings).
The figures for the artificial territories of these parishes are also extremely low. In the three parishes mentioned above, they represent just over 1% of the whole area. The artificial territory of the locality, depending whether the locality is more compact and denser in terms of building and construction, varies between 35.4% and 83.1% of the locality surface area. Nevertheless, the area of artificial territories of the “other territories” is also extremely low (between 0.7% and 9.2%).
shows that the proportion of the population belonging to the locality where the municipal headquarters is located varies to a large extent (in this sample, from 23.1% to 78.6%), to the same extent as the part of the parishes’ population living outside the locality varies (from 21.4% to 76.9%).
In these parishes the population living in small villages, sometimes not more than small clusters of rural dwellings (with less than 100 inhabitants) or a farm, or even in isolated dwellings, which may be distant from the main locality by more than several dozen kilometres, can be significantly representative, but the urban character of this population is very arguable. For example, in the parish of Soure, 23.1% of the population lives in only 2.5% of the parish territory and the rest of the population (76.9%) lives in scattered places spread all over the parish territory (97.5% of the total territory), with the 27.5% being in villages under 100 inhabitants and in isolated dwellings.
Combining data shown in Table 5
and Table 6
, and regarding this same parish, it is possible to detect that almost a fourth (24.6%) of the parish’s population lives scattered in 39 localities where the population level is below 100 inhabitants. As a whole, the population density for this parish (85.8 inhabitants per sq.km) is rather below any standards for an urban classification, but the prevailing TIPAU administrative criterion classified it as APU. For DEGURBA, as stated before, this parish was labelled Code 3 (a rural area).
The data shown in Table 7
and Table 8
illustrate how the indicators related to the parish populations differ when this concerns the population living in the locality or the population living in the remaining part of the parishes’ territory. In all of them the Youth Index (YI) is higher in the locality than within the population residing in the remaining territory; as for the Ageing Index (AI) the situation is precisely the opposite: the numbers are always higher within the population residing in the remaining territory (over 50% in three of them) and almost two times higher, as can be observed in the parish of UF de Castro Verde e Casével. As for the Old-Age Dependency Ratio (ODR), the pattern is almost the same as for the Ageing Index. With only one exception (Mira), the numbers are higher in the population figures of the “other territories” and, for the Ageing Index, the largest amplitude was found in the parish of UF de Castro Verde e Casével.
As Table 8
also illustrates, illiteracy rates are always higher amid the population residing in “others territories” than in the locality (sometimes three or almost four times higher as is the case in the parish of UF de Aljustrel e Rio de Moinhos and in the parish of UF de Castro Verde e Casével). As for the distribution of the employed population, according to CAE-Rev.3 (Portuguese classification of economic activities [56
], corresponding to NACE Rev.2, the statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community [57
]), with only one exception (Miranda do Corvo), the percentage of the population in the Primary Sector is always higher among the population residing in “other territories” than in the locality, sometimes considerably higher (six or seven times higher as is the case in the parish of UF de Castro Verde e Casével and in the parish of UF de Aljustrel e Rio de Moinhos). This percentage frequently reaches values such as those in the parishes of UF de Ferreira do Alentejo e Canhestros, Redondo, and UF de Castro Verde e Casével (38.3%, 34% and 25.2%, respectively).
Not included in this set of 10 parishes, where the TIPAU and DEGURBA classifications are discordant (APU and Code 3, respectively), there are other situations where both classifications labelled the same parishes differently as they do not extensively match DEGURBA criteria and can hardly be considered APU (TIPAU) taken into account its main land use and rural occupation and their demographic and socio-indicators.
The parishes of UF de Alcácer (Sta. Maria do Castelo e Santiago) e Sta. Susana and UF de Moura (Sto. Agostinho e S. J. Baptista) e Santo Amador were selected to illustrate these situations. Both parishes have in common with the former 10 parishes the fact that they are the result of the administrative reorganisation of the Portuguese territory implemented in 2013. In these two examples, as in other situations, two former parishes where the headquarters of the municipality were located, merged with a third parish, labelled APR by TIPAU before 2014.
In spite of the inhabitant figures being between 5000 and 50,000, the population density of 10.2 and 30.7 inhabitants per sq.km, respectively, are significantly below the thresholds defined by the DEGURBA criteria (300 to 1500 inhabitants per sq.km). According to the other criterion established by DEGURBA, the parish of UF de Alcácer (Sta. Maria do Castelo e Santiago) e Sta. Susana includes only eight 1 × 1 sq.km grids with more than 300 inhabitants and the UF de Moura (Sto. Agostinho e S. J. Baptista) e Santo Amador contains six of those grids. Regarding the area of those territories, this means that only 0.9% of the territory of the first parish is covered by the said grids, and also only 2.1% of the territory of the second parish.
An analysis of the data of these two parishes shows the same patterns present in the former 10 parishes. The main localities, the administrative reason why it was labelled APU by the TIPAU, represent only 0.8% and 1.3% of the territory of the parishes. Regarding the artificialized surface of these parishes, it represents less than 2% of the whole territory of the parishes. The size of artificialized surfaces in the rest of the parish territories (excluding the main localities) are very low (1.2 and 0.6%), since the main land uses are agricultural, forest and natural land, water bodies and wetlands (Figure 11
Concerning the socio-indicators, the proportion of the population resident in the locality where the municipal headquarters is located (68.1% and 90.8% of the population live in 0.8% and 1.3% of the parish’s territory, respectively for UF Alcácer do Sal and UF Moura), means that the remaining 31.9% and 9.2% of the parish’s population lives in the remaining vast extensions of the territories (881.2 and 283.8 sq.km, corresponding to 99.2% and 98.7% of the parish’s territory, respectively). This percentage lives in very small villages/localities (Table 9
), the largest containing no more than 200 to 399 inhabitants and most of them with less than 100 inhabitants. Significant percentages of the whole population (4.8% and 4.4%) can be found living in residual places, in agricultural or natural environments and considerably distant from the municipal headquarters.
The figures shown in Table 10
and Table 11
illustrate how distinct the populations living in the locality or in the remaining territories are: the population in the urban centres/localities is younger and the ageing and dependency ratios are lower. Regarding illiteracy rates, the population living in urban centres/localities shows high values, but less than half of the values found in the remaining territories. The active population employed, according to economic sectors for the locality and for the remaining territories is distinctly unequal. Although figures are high, the percentages of the employed population in primary activities in the localities are well below the figures for the population living in the remaining territories, where percentages range from 26.8% and 44.6%.
The conclusions that can be drawn by these last two examples is that inconsistencies and arguable classifications do not restrict themselves to a specific classification attributed by TIPAU or DEGURBA, but extend to the set of the given six classifications (APR, AMU and APU for TIPAU; Code 1, 2 and 3 for DEGURBA). Additionally, parishes like UF de Alcácer (Sta. Maria do Castelo e Santiago) e Sta. Susana (the largest parish in Portugal with 888.35 sq.km) were classified the same way as parishes of cities in Lisbon and Oporto.
Other cases of parishes classified as urban by both classifications could be similarly presented. For example, a group of 10 parishes (UF de Caminha (Matriz) e Vilarelho; Tábua; UF de Ponte da Barca, Vila Nova de Muía e Paço Velho de Magalhães; UF de Constantim e Vale de Nogueiras; Armamar; Poiares (Santo André); UF de Santa Comba Dão e Couto do Mosteiro; UF de Oliveira de Frades, Souto de Lafões e Sejães; UF de Tarouca e Dálvares; Nelas), belonging to the same subset of the 98 (all of them designated as Code 3 for DEGURBA and, in contrast, APU for TIPAU) have similar characteristics to those above, except that they have less than 5000 inhabitants, show the same inconsistency—perhaps at a higher level—since they have a smaller population. All of them were also labelled as APU (TIPAU) because they partially or totally contain the locality where the headquarters of the municipality is located (the administrative criterion for TIPAU). However, the indicators for occupation and land use are quite similar to those 10 parishes seen above.