The Alentejo region is located in the south of Portugal. Literally the word Alentejo means “Além-Tejo” (Beyond Tagus). In fact the Alentejo is located south of this river and is the biggest province of Portugal, occupying 1/3 of the national territory. It borders the river Tagus on the north side, the Atlantic Ocean on the west side, the Spanish border on the east side, and the “Algarve” region on the south side. The province is subdivided into four regions: Alto Alentejo (Upper Alentejo), Alentejo Central (Central Alentejo), Baixo Alentejo (Lower Alentejo) and Alentejo Litoral (Coastal Alentejo). The region is composed by 46 municipalities spread over the districts of Portalegre, Évora, Beja and part of Setúbal.
The Alentejo is a vast area, mainly rural, with a low demographic density. It offers an exceptional environmental quality and a well-preserved landscape: vast plains covered with large olive groves and vineyards, oak groves and groves of holm-oaks, natural parks, hunting areas and lakes.
The Alentejo is the main agricultural region of Portugal, representing almost half of the agricultural land use in the country:
- The main crops produced in large volumes are cereals, olives and grapes (vineyards), apart from some important niches such as the one for horticultural products.
- The olive oil sector plays an important role in the region as it accounts for 30% of the national production.
- Regarding silviculture oak groves and groves of holms-oaks are the trees which stand out the most. They represent around 70% of the total national production, symbolising 40% of the total amount exported worldwide.
- The Alentejo has the necessary conditions to produce authentic quality wines. Concerning the national market for bottled wines with DOC or Regional designations, the Alentejo currently holds a 42% market share.
- The breeding of cattle also plays an extremely important role – bovines, pigs, goats and ovines alone represent around 50% of the total national breeding of cattle.