Chief town: Lisbon (Lisboa)
The historical Portuguese province and region of Estremadura (from the Latin "extrema durii" "farthest land on the Douro"), consists of the districts of Lisboa (Lisbon), Leiria and Setúbal, together with the national capital Lisbon, comprising in its center the estuary area of the Tagus as far as the basin of the Ribatejo. It extends to the north by way of the Serra de Sintra and the southwestern outliers of the Serra da Estrela, dropping steeply to the sea just south of Coimbra. To the south it includes the Setúbal peninsula (Serra da Arrábida) as far as the mouth of the Rio Sado.
Because of its fertility and diversity of landscape within a relatively small area, Estremadura, together with Ribatejo adjoining it on the east has since Roman times been central to the development of Lusitanian and later Portuguese culture. This area contains Lisbon, the intellectual focal point, as well as the religious centers of Alcobaça and Batalha, and the former royal seats of Queluz, Mafra and Sintra.
The intricate geological and landscape makeup of this region, affected in many places by tectonic action, is reflected in a degree of economic and cultural diversity scarcely to be found in any other province of Portugal.
The northern uplands, part of a massif of Mesozoic limestones, show typical karst landscape features, with poljes and swallowholes, sparse undergrowth in the depressions and mainly the herding of sheep and goats.
To the west of this area is a chain of hills of fertile clay and sandstone, the agricultural heartland of the province where, around Alcobaça, there is mostly mixed Mediterranean type farming (wheat, maize, citrus fruits, vegetables, olives).
To the south of this rises the Serra de Sintra, a range of volcanic hills where the fertile soils and mild, damp maritime climate have resulted in a beautiful park type landscape which, with the many thermal springs (Caldas da Rainha, Estoril, etc.), has helped this to become one of Portugal's leading holiday regions.
The narrow coastal strip in the north and the areas around the mouths of the Tagus, the Sado, the Mondego and the Vouga, with areas of marshland, lagoons and long sandspits, are chiefly orientated towards the sea. Here are the old established fishing ports which are used by the deep sea fishermen sailing to distant waters, especially Newfoundland, with their fish canning and drying establishments and their extensive saltpans. The marshy land in the river basins is also good for rice growing.