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Vila Real District

The District of Vila Real is a district of northern Portugal. With an area of 4,239 km², the district is located east of the port city of Porto and north of the Douro River. Vila Real has always belonged to the historical province of Trás-os-Montes. Approximate population in the 2001 census was 230,000. The population has shown negative rates in recent years due to emigration and aging. Many of the villages have lost population and have become deserted while the district capital has gained in population.Geographic and socioeconomic characteristicsVila Real is a rugged area of low mountains and narrow valleys. Historically it had always been cut off from the coast by the Marão, Gerês, and Cabreira mountains until a highway was cut through in the eighties. Due to poor soil, agriculture has always been a struggle, although wine grapes are produced in the south near the Douro River. Potatoes, corn, and rye have always been the traditional crops, as well as limited dairy farming. Extensive areas are covered in pine forest. Granite and the manufacture of mineral water—the waters of Vidago and Pedras Salgadas are nationally famous—are two important industries.There was formerly a narrow gauge railway (the Corgo line) which linked the town of Vila Real with Peso da Régua on the Douro River. Until 1990 the railway reached as far north as Chaves. The remaining, southern part of the Corgo line closed in 2009.
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