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Emigration and Portugal's ghost villages

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 01:42

Mass emigration to wealthier countries like France and Switzerland, high unemployment and poorly-paid local jobs, combined with falling birth rates, have caused some Portuguese parishes to lose about three-quarters of the population in the past few decades. Mia Reakes reports.

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No shops. A grocery truck just once a week. Elderly residents sharing taxis to travel many miles to the doctor. Bled by emigration, these abandoned Portuguese villages are losing all hope of surviving. Reuters Andrey Khalip has been to visit. (SOUNDBITE) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, ANDREY KHALIP, SAYING: "When you arrive there it feels almost like a ghost village at first, which can be sad and slightly creepy at same time, some old stone houses are dil, date back to 18/19th century, you spend 15 minutes in the street and you don't see any signs of life, then an elderly resident appears and they would greet you and start talking to you." It's all down to mass emigration to wealthier countries like France and Switzerland High unemployment and poorly-paid local jobs. A falling birth rate also means many parishes have lost up to three quarters of their population in the past few decades. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) HEAD OF LOIVOS PARISH, CECILIA ALVES, SAYING: "Yes, it's a problem for the local economy, it's a big problem, there are no people, there's no work, there's no production, we can't sell our products. These villages are dying and each day it's getting worse." The country's Parliament deputy says that two-thirds of Portugal's territory could become depopulated. Trying to reverse the process isn't easy. In Chaves, a town of 40,000, residents have reported a trend of locals returning from larger cities, attracted by business opportunities in tourism. But for each person coming back, a hundred still leave.

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Emigration and Portugal's ghost villages

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 01:42