Border: Portugal-Spain

Date(s) of establishment: 1143 (Current demarcation in 1926)
Length of border: 1214 km
Regions concerned: Spain – Provinces of Pontevedra, Ourense, Zamora, Salamanca, Cáceres, Badajoz, Huelva
Portugal – Norte region; Districts of Viana do Castelo, Braga, Vila Real, Bragança, Guarda, Castelo Branco, Portalegre, Évora, Beja, Faro

European programme(s):

The Spanish-Portuguese border stretches from the lower portion of the Minho river to the north of the mouth of the Guadiana river, finishing in the Atlantic Ocean, 1214 km further down. It is one of the oldest borders in Europe. Referred to as "la Raya" in Spanish and "A Raia" in Portuguese, the current demarcation is almost identical to that defined in 1297 by the Treaty of Alcañices.


Apart from a few Portuguese-speaking villages in Spanish territory, the border follows the linguistic separation between the two countries almost exactly. However, a problematic situation remains around the disputed territory of Olivenza within the autonomous community of Extremadura.

Designated as belonging to Portugal in 1297, the town was ceded to Spain in 1801 with the treaty of Badajoz, which ended the War of the Oranges. In 1807, Charles IV of Spain and Napoleon I of France signed the treaty of Fontainebleau, in which they agreed on the partition of Portugal. In reaction to this treaty and the conflict that followed, the return of Olivenza was demanded in 1808 by the king of Portugal, who considered that the terms of the treaty of Badajoz had been broken. The king of Spain ignored this demand, and the town remains under Spanish control to this day, despite several Portuguese attempts to recover the town, notably at the Vienna Congress of 1815 and during the Spanish civil war. Use of the Portuguese language was gradually repressed in the region.

This portion of the border thus remains undefined, as Portugal does not recognise Spanish sovereignty over the territory, but the subject does not raise any particular tensions in relations between the two countries.

Cross-border cooperation

Cross-border cooperation on the border as a whole is particularly advanced, and is developing in various fields. Cooperation is taking on a new dimension on the border between the north of Portugal and Galicia. At the central level, a “cross-border correspondent” is present in each ministry of foreign affairs, either side of the border, and a joint commission on cross-border cooperation is run by those same ministries. At the regional level, there is also a cross-border correspondent on either side, as well as a Commission for coordination and Norte regional development on the Portuguese side.

Several cross-border structures have emerged such as the EGTC "Galicia-Norte Portugal" created in 2010, completing the Euroregion of 1992 and the Working Community "Galicia-Norte Portugal" also established in 1992.

On other parts of the border, cooperation is also becoming institutionalized with the creation of legal structures such as the EGTC Duero-Douro between Salamanca and Zamora in Spain and the districts of Bragança and Guarda in Portugal. This cooperation may take the form of Eurocities (Chaves-Verin or Elvas-Badajoz) or Euroregions (Alentejo-Algarve-Andaluzia).

Territory projects and institutional bodies for cooperation

Cross-border cooperation at the regional level

Communauté de travail Galicia-Norte Portugal
Eurorégion Galicia-Norte Portugal
Eurorégion Algarve-Alentejo-Andalucia

Cross-border cooperation at the local level

Chaves-Verín Eurocity
Badajoz-Elvas Eurocity