The N255 municipal road, which collapsed in 2018 due to the landslide at a nearby marble quarry, is a thorn in the side of the inhabitants of Borba. This open crater increased distances and further isolated a population who say they were abandoned by the central government long ago.

The trip to Vila Viçosa, once a straight line that meant it took just over five minutes to go to the market or have a day out, now requires a detour and takes half an hour.

“Couldn’t the State have used its machines to cover the hole? They talked about building a bridge, but so far, nothing… They declared Borba a city, but it’s not even fit to be a town. Services are shutting down.

They built a multipurpose arena that no one uses, the market only gets used in the winter when the weather forces the stalls inside, because it’s hard for old people to get up the stairs.” José Panasco (64, retired civil construction worker) gives his analysis of the situation. But many inhabitants repeat the same complaints.

The entrance of the municipal market, the multipurpose arena and the primary school are decorated with signs with the logos of European funds giving more thanks to Europe than the people who live there feel. For the inhabitants of Borba, the European Union is a type of distant cousin you feel you owe nothing and only think of occasionally, and not always in a good way.

Matriz is the historic centre of the city, and the largest of the four civil parishes that comprise the municipality. It also was in the five Portuguese parishes with the lowest voter turnout in the 2019 European elections.

52% of the population of the city of Borba lives in the parish of Matriz.

Source: Census 2021

The majority of residents are over 40 years old. Only 15% of the population are under 18.

Source: Census 2021

José, 64 years old, retired civil construction worker

Carla, 51 years old, pre-school teacher

In Portugal in the European elections, Borba is in the top five for abstention. Nine of every ten inhabitants did not vote in the 2019 elections.

Source: Secretariat General Ministry of the Interior

Abstention in the 2024 parliamentary elections (31%) and 2021 local elections (34.9%) is lower than the national average (34% and 46% respectively).

Source: Secretariat General Ministry of the Interior

Olímpia, 90 years old, retired small-scale farmer

Matriz has three times more workers in agriculture and fishing than the national average. (3%).

Source: Census 2021

Paulo, 53 years old, agricultural technician
José, 79 years old, retired

Foreigners make up only 2% of the total population of the parish (3,387 people).

Source: Census 2021

Silvana, 59 years old, café employee
Susana, 47 years old, seasonal agricultural worker

The unemployment rate is lower than the national average (8%).

Source: Census 2021

The percentage of inhabitants who completed obligatory schooling is higher than the median for Portuguese parishes (47%).

Source: Census 2021

Laureta, 54 years old, stallholder
Pedro, 20 years old, university student