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The central part (including the provinces of Beira Alta, Beira Baixa, and Beira Litoral) varies from high and desolate mountain plateaus (the Serra da Estrela) to low coastal areas.The provinces of Ribatejo and Estemadura are low-lying regions near Lisbon and the Tagus River. Southern Portugal, drier and more Mediterranean in climate, includes the provinces of the Alentejo and the Algarve.The Alentejo, an undulating plain with cork trees and wheat fields, was traditionally an important cash-crop area.The Algarve is semitropical with almond, fig, and citrus trees. Portuguese inhabit the Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic. The name "Portugal" derives from a Roman or pre-Roman settlement called Portus Cale (the modern city of Porto) near the mouth of the Douro River.The Romans referred to this region as the province of Lusitania, and the prefix Luso (meaning "Portuguese") is still used in some contexts.In the ninth century, during the reconquest (714–1140 ), Christian forces dominated the area between the Minho River, which forms the border of modern Portugal in the north, and the Douro River, and the region became known as Territorium Portucalense .In 1095, the king of Castile and Leon granted Portucale (northern Portugal) to a Burgundian count.
The capital is Lisbon, located on a number of hills on the northern shore of the Tagus River estuary.
The original name for Lisbon, an important Roman city, was Olisipo .
Despite the diversity of invading populations and distinct regional economies and ways of living, Portugal is a homogeneous nation with a single national cultural identity and no ethnolinguistic groups. Continental Portugal at 35,516 square miles (91,986 square kilometers) occupies approximately a sixth of the Iberian peninsula.
Since the majority of the population was rural until the 1960s, geography has been an important factor in cultural adaptations and worldview.
The northwest (the province of Minho) is lush, green, densely populated, and the major source of emigrants.
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The northeast (the province of Trás-os-Montes) is more mountainous and is divided into a northern region ( terra fria ) with long cold winters and a warmer region ( terra quente ) to the south.