The Alentejo Region is divided into two Provinces, Upper Alentejo (Alto Alentejo) and Lower Alentejo (Baixo Alentejo). The name ALENTEJO means beyond the Tejo (River Tagus in English). Baixo Alentejo is the province directly north of Algarve. The capital of Lower Alentejo is Beja. The capital of Upper Alentejo (the province just north of Lower Alentejo ) is Evora. The River Tagus (Tejo) is the natural northern and northwestern border, the Caldeirão Mountains the southern frontier. This river is also the separation between the originally Roman Christian population to the north and the moorish ruled population to the south.
This region is known for producing about 50% of the world’s cork. It is also a large producer of olives and olive oil, wheat, cheese, wine, sausages and honey. Sheep, horses, cattle and pigs are raised in this region. Alentejo (upper and lower) make up a large percentage of the whole of Portugal measuring over 10200 square miles.
It is a slow pace region, where even the pronunciation of the language drags out. It is a place of calm and simple life with open spaces and few roads. Population density is very low and in decline. Although this region is known for its open plains, slow pace, farm life, it is also a rich historic region. Like the rest of Portugal, it is also known on the southwestern side for its beautiful beaches. I will address in more detail its subdivisions, products, history and culture in future posts.