Lisbon, the European capital of emptiness

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Here's an article in Spanish about the Portuguese capital (also a bit about Porto, the second city) and its current demographics and vacancy rate. Looks like the cities outside the capital would be the best place for a student of Portuguese who wishes to stay for the long term and use as little money as possible.

Some info from the article:

- There are many unoccupied houses in the historical centre, in areas such as Chiado, Baixa, Alfama, Graça and Alcántara.

- Lisbon and Porto have had the largest vacancy rates in the EU since 1999, and have the highest rate (24%) of people over 65 years of age.

- According to a recent census in 2008 Lisbon has 4000 abandoned buildings out of a total of 55000.

- Over the past 30 years Lisbon has lost some 100 000 inhabitants per decade, going from 800 000 in total to its current half a million. Reasons for this are the low quality of kindergartens, schools and health centres, as well as the high cost per square metre which is two or three times that of cities and towns nearby.

- The city has 650 000 jobs but only 500 000 residents, of which only a quarter are active (employed). This means that half a million people enter and leave the city every day, a situation almost unique in Europe except Oslo.

 - This leads to a lot of disequilibrium and noise as Lisbon has 162 000 registered vehicles but 400 000 vehicles enter the city every day. It also means that during the night or on the weekend the city becomes nearly completely empty.

The population of the country itself, however, has stayed much the same with a gradual increase over the decades.

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