Miño River Border
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The Disputed Border between Portugal and Spain in the Minho River
The Minho River (Miño) rises in Serra de Meira, in Galiza (Galicia, Spain), and it meets the Atlantic Ocean between A Guarda (Galiza) and Caminha (Portugal). Its total extension is 300 km. In the last 75 km it forms the border between the Portuguese Province of Minho and the Spanish Autonomous Region of Galiza.

This shows the river "seen" from the ocean to upriver. The Ínsua island, at the mouth, is no doubt Portuguese territory. The Boega island, on top, is
refered to in Portuguese documents.

(Source: http://www.riasbaixas.org/html/es/15/1/014-1.shtml)

Concerning the zone of the Minho River, the Treaty of Limits of 29 September 1864 established the border between Portugal and Spain in the deepest points of the riverbed (thalweg?). This solution would only have some usefulness in case the river it dried up - something unlikely in the zone of the estuary, since the medium limit of penetration of the tidewater goes up to 35 km from the river mouth.

Here you have some islands not shown in picture above. The border line
is not shown. The smaller island to the west of Ínsua is called Ínsua Nova (New Ínsua); I guess it belongs to Portugal too. Ínsua is now also called Ínsua Velha (Old Ínsua).

(Source: )
In 1906 it was made an addendum to the treaty, dividing among the two countries the waters of the river and respective small islands in the zone of the estuary, in agreement with the margins then existent.

Another view
of the mouth of Minho River.

(Source: http://www.manorhouses.com/ports/caminha.htm )

Along the years the configuration of the river shifted, mainly from middle of the XX century, due to the dams constructed upriver. It increased the sedimentation, there were formed new sandbanks, appeared some new islands and another disappeared. There was erosion in the riverbanks and there were islands that moved northwards. The dynamics of the rivers was again altered, since 1994, when begun the periodic dredging to allow the sailing of a new ferry between Caminha and O Pasaxe.

In this photo
of the river mouth you see Ínsua and the sands of Ínsua Nova. Please notice the conic Sta. Tecla mountain in the Galician side.

(Source: http://www.erin.utoronto.ca/~eparra/profile/Other%20links.htm )

Nowadays the official Portuguese and Spanish maps no longer agree on the imaginary line of 1906 in the middle of the river, originating a dispute among the two countries for the ownership of the small islands of the estuary. According to the Spaniards, Portugal claims islands that are now on the north side of the original border line of 1906.

This shows the Minho
estuary and the river mouth seen from the Galician side towards the ocean. Sta. Tecla is in the background at right.

Source: http://es.geocities.com/ec3cec/page10.htm

The solution of this problem of sovereignty of the Minho islands has been postponed by the Portuguese and Spanish authorities. In the meanwhile, some islands have been used for farming and cattle rising. Other are tourist attractions for people who demand the riverside for leisure purposes. The Grande island, with 110,000 m2, seems to be the main litigation point between Portugal and Spain. The Galician municipality of Salvaterra de Miño intends to establish a nature park there.

guess this is seen from Sta. Tecla towards upriver.

Source: http://www.crtvg.es/ingles/natureza/priportadaflash.htm )

As above.

Source: http://www.crtvg.es/ingles/natureza/priportadaflash.htm )

Between Tui and Monção, is my scan from RV Reise- und Verkehrsverlag
GmbH; scale 1:300.000. Here the border line is not clearly set (this is a road map), but most islands seem to be on Portuguese side. The Grande island, referred in the text, is in this area.

etween Vila Nova de Cerveira and the sea, is also my scan from RV
Reise- und Verkehrsverlag GmbH; scale 1:300.000. Again, the border line is not clearly set and it is even over some islands. Ínsua islands are on Portuguese side, correctly.

The Minho estuary, is my scan from the road map of the Automóvel Club de Portugal; scale 1:350.000. The border line is not shown, but all the islands are on Portuguese side. Perhaps because it is a Portuguese map.

Text by Francisco Santos.

This page was last time updated 27/10/11 .