The Algarve is the name of the southern coast of Portugal, incorporating, amongst others, the cities of Faro, Lagos, and Portimão. The region's administrative centre is Faro, which has its own international airport and public university.
The Algarve is hilly, but traversed with rich valleys. It is composed of 5,412 square kilometres with approximately 410,000 permanent inhabitants. This figure increases to over a million people at the height of summer due to an influx of tourists.
The Algarve is a popular destination for tourism, primarily because of its clean, warm water beaches, Mediterranean climate, safety and relatively low costs. The length of the south-facing coastline is approximately 155 kilometres. Beyond the westernmost point of Cape St Vincent it stretches a further 50 kilometres to the north. The coastline is notable for picturesque limestone caves and grottoes, particularly around Lagos, which are accessible by powerboat. Praia da Marinha, Lagoa was classified as one of the 100 most beautiful and well preserved beaches of the world. There are many other beautiful and famous summer places such as Albufeira, Vilamoura, Portimão, Lagos, Armação de Pêra, Quarteira, Monte Gordo and Tavira.
The Region is divided into 16 municipalities:
- Castro Marim
- São Brás de Alportel
- Vila do Bispo
- Vila Real de Santo António
Note: the Algarve province and the Faro district correspond exactly to the same territory. This is often a cause for confusion.
The Phoenicians established trading ports along the coast circa 1000 BC. The Carthaginians founded Portus Hanibalis—known today as Portimão—in circa 550 BC. The Romans in the 2nd century BC spread through the Iberian Peninsula, and many Roman ruins can still be seen in the region, notably in Lagos.
In the 5th century, the Visigoths inhabited the Algarve until the beginning of the Moorish invasion in 711. When the Moors conquered Lagos in 716 it was called Zawaia. Faro, which the Christian residents had called Santa Maria, was renamed Faraon, which means "the settlement of the Knights".
Due to the Moorish occupation of much of Spain, the region was called "Al-Gharb" which means " the country of the West". In the 12th century, the Moorish occupation ended: the "Al-Gharb" has been since then the Algarve. It was not until the 13th century that the Portuguese finally secured the region against subsequent Moorish attempts to recapture the area.
The Algarve was a semi-autonomous area with a governor from 1595 to 1808, as well as a separate taxation system until the end of the 18th century. During this time, to reflect the Algarve's unique status, Portuguese monarchs were known as "the King of Portugal and Algarve".
In 1807, when Junot was leading the first Napoleonic invasion in the north of Portugal, the Algarve was occupied by the Spanish troops of Manuel Godoy. The Algarve became the first part of Portugal to liberate itself from Spanish occupation, in the rebellion of Olhão in 1808.
- Official Algarve tourist information homepage
- Algarve tourist information
- Algarve Portal
- PhotoGlobe - Algarve
- Travel-Images.com - images of the Algarve (all 16 municipalities)
- FREEMAPS.net - Free tourist guide maps, and information on all major cities in the algarve.
- Vale Do Lobo- Home to the Algarve and Europe´s most exclusive sporting resort and golfing complex.
- Villas in Algarve
- Algarve Self Catering - Holiday accommodation portal.
- Villa Agency - Largest Algarve Villa Agency.ca:Algarve