Beira (bāˈrə) [key], region and former province, N central Portugal, S of the Douro River. The old capital was Coimbra. The province extended to the Atlantic coast between the Douro and the Mondego and SE of the Mondego to the upper Tagus. The region is now occupied by the provinces of Beira Alta (capital Viseu), Beira Baixa (capital Castelo Branco), and part of Beira Litoral (capital Coimbra) and is further subdivided into the districts of Aveiro, Viseu, Coimbra, Guarda, and Castelo Branco. The region is traversed by the Serra da Estrela, Portugal's highest mountain range. Grains, fruits, and olives are grown. Industries include fishing and the manufacture of textiles and forest products. The area had been recovered from the Moors even before Portugal was formed, but Moorish attacks continued into the 13th cent. Later Beira was contested in the incessant Portuguese-Castilian wars.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.