Algarve (English: /ɑːlˈɡɑːrvə/;
Portuguese: [aɫˈɡaɾvɨ], from Arabic: الغرب al-Gharb
"the west") is the southernmost region of continental Portugal. It has
an area of 4,997 square kilometres (1,929 sq mi) with
451,006 permanent inhabitants, and incorporates 16
municipalities. The region has as its administrative centre in the
city of Faro, where both the region's international airport (FAO) and
public university, the University of Algarve, are located. Tourism and
related activities are extensive and make up the bulk of the Algarve's
summer economy. Production of food, which includes fish and other
seafood, different types of fruit like oranges, figs, plums, carob
beans and almonds, is also economically important in the region.
Lisbon surpasses the
Algarve in terms of tourism revenue,
Algarve is still, overall, considered to be the biggest and most
important Portuguese tourist region, having received an estimated
total of 7.1 million tourists in 2017. Its population triples in
the peak holiday season thanks to seasonal residents. The
also increasingly being sought after, mostly by central and northern
Europeans, as a permanent place to settle. An American-based study
concluded that the
Algarve was the world's best place to retire.
Algarve is one of the most developed regions of
Portugal and, with
GDP per capita 86% of the
European Union average, the third richest
Lisbon and Madeira).
2.2 Human geography
7 Notable citizens
9 See also
11 External links
Estácio da Veiga's 1878 Archeological map of the Algarve
The Roman temple of Milreu in Estói.
The city of Silves, the first capital of the Algarve.
Human presence in southern
Portugal dates back to the
Neolithic periods. The presence of megalithic stones in the area of
Vila do Bispo
Vila do Bispo attests to this presence.
The Cynetes, influenced by Tartessos, were established by the sixth
century BC in the region of the
Algarve (called Cyneticum). They would
be strongly influenced by the Celtici. Those Indo-European tribes,
Celtic or pre-Celtic, founded the city of Lagos (then called
Lacóbriga). The Phoenicians had established trading ports along the
coast circa 1000 BC. Some sources claim that the Carthaginians founded
Portus Hanibalis – known today as
Portimão – in about 550 BC.
Much of the
Iberian Peninsula was absorbed into the
Roman Republic in
the second century BC (despite the resistance of the
other tribes), and the
Algarve region similarly came under Roman
control. Many Roman ruins can still be seen, notably in Lagos, but
also at Milreu. Roman bath complexes and fish salting tanks have
been found near the shore in several locations, for example the ones
Vilamoura and Praia da Luz.
In the 5th century, the
Visigoths took control of the
the beginning of the
Umayyad conquest of Hispania
Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711. When the
Moors conquered Lagos in 716, it was named Zawaia. Faro, which the
Christian residents had called Santa Maria, was renamed Faraon, which
means "settlement of the knights". Due to the conquest of the Iberian
Peninsula, the region was called Gharb Al-Andalus: Gharb means "the
west", while al-Andalus is the Arabic name for the Iberian Peninsula.
For several years, the town of Silves was the capital of the region.
In the mid-13th century, during the Reconquista, the Kingdom of
Portugal conquered the region in a series of successful military
campaigns against the Moors. Al-Gharb became the Kingdom of the
Algarve, and the moors were expelled, but battles with Muslim forces
persisted. It was not until the early 14th century that the Portuguese
finally secured the region against the subsequent Muslim attempts to
recapture the area. King Afonso III of
Portugal started calling
himself King of
Portugal and the Algarve. After 1471, with the
conquest of several territories in the
Maghreb – the area considered
an extension of the
Algarve – Afonso V of
Portugal began fashioning
himself "King of
Portugal and the Algarves", referring to the European
and African possessions.
Prior to the independence of Brazil, the United Kingdom of Portugal,
Brazil and the Algarves (1815–1822) was an official designation for
Portugal which also alluded to the Algarve. Portuguese monarchs
continued to use this title until the proclamation of the First
Portuguese Republic in 1910. Between 1595 and 1808, the
Algarve was a
semi-autonomous area of
Portugal with its own governor, as well as a
separate taxation system.[verification needed].
The walls of the ancient town of Lagos.
In the 15th century, Prince
Henry the Navigator
Henry the Navigator based himself near
Lagos and conducted various maritime expeditions which established the
colonies that comprised the Portuguese Empire. It was also from Lagos
Gil Eanes set sail in 1434 to become the first seafarer to round
Cape Bojador in West Africa. The voyages of discovery brought Lagos
fame and fortune. Trade flourished and Lagos became the capital of the
historical province of
Algarve in 1577 and remained so until the year
of the fabled 1755
Lisbon earthquake. The earthquake damaged many
areas in the
Algarve and an accompanying tsunami destroyed or damaged
coastal fortresses, while coastal towns and villages were heavily
damaged except Faro, which was protected by the sandy banks of Ria
Formosa lagoon. In Lagos, the waves reached the top of the city walls.
For many Portuguese coastal regions, including the Algarve, the
destructive effects of the tsunami were more disastrous than those of
the earthquake proper.
In 1807, while
Jean-Andoche Junot led the first Napoleonic invasion in
the north of Portugal, the
Algarve was occupied by Spanish troops
under Manuel Godoy. Beginning in 1808, and after subsequent battles in
various towns and villages, the region was the first to drive out the
Spanish occupiers. During the Portuguese Civil War, several battles
took place in the region, specially the battle of Cape St. Vicente and
the battle of Sant’Ana, between liberals and Miguelites. Remexido
was the guerrilla Algarvian leader that stood with the Miguelite
absolutists for years, until he was executed in Faro (1838).
The establishment of the
First Portuguese Republic
First Portuguese Republic in 1910 marked the
end of the Kingdom of
Portugal and the Algarve.
A panoramic view from the highest point Fóia of the mountain range of
Algarve covers 4997 square km, extending just south of the
Tagus valley to the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Its
highest point is Fóia, 902 metres (2,959 ft), in the mountain
range of Monchique. It also includes some islands and islets. The
region is also the home of the
Ria Formosa lagoon, a nature reserve of
over 170 square kilometres and a stopping place for hundreds of
different species of birds. 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.
The maximum recorded temperatures in the
Algarve fluctuate between
25 °C (77 °F) in winter and 48 °C (118 °F) in
summer, with the temperature rarely falling below zero in the winter
months. The winter of 2008–09 was exceptionally cold and wet.
Temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) were recorded in coastal
areas for the first time in many years.
Climate data for Faro
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source: Instituto de Meteorologia, World Meteorological
Organization (precipitation days), Hong Kong
Aerial view of Cape St. Vincent, the southwestern edge of the Algarve
A view of Odeceixe, in Northwestern Algarve.
The interior of the
Algarve consists of small villages and is sparsely
There are about 450,000 permanent inhabitants (90 residents per square
kilometre) in the area, although this figure increases to over a
million people at the height of summer, due to an influx of tourists.
Algarve has several cities, towns and villages: the region's
capital is the city of Faro, while other cities include Albufeira,
Lagoa, Lagos, Loulé, Olhão, Portimão, Quarteira, Silves, Tavira,
and Vila Real de Santo António, in addition to various summer
retreats such as Vilamoura, Praia da Rocha, Armação de Pêra, Alvor,
Monte Gordo, Tavira, and Sagres.
Before 2004, the
Faro District was the administrative unit governing
the Algarve. In 2004 the Greater Metropolitan Area of the
formed, which was converted into an intermunicipal community in
Algarve is also a NUTS II and NUTS III statistical region.
The intermunicipal community of
Algarve is subdivided into 16
São Brás de Alportel
Vila do Bispo
Vila Real de Santo António
A complex of apartments overlooking the beach in Praia da Rocha,
Algarve relies heavily on the tourism industry.
A panoramic view of Faro, the capital of the Algarve.
Algarve has some of Europe's Top
Agricultural products of the region include fig, almond, orange, carob
bean, strawberry tree and cork oak. Horticulture is important and the
region's landscape was known for the large areas of land covered with
plastic greenhouses which are used for that end. Fishing and
aquaculture are important activities in the coastal area of Algarve,
with sardines, soles, cyprinids, gilt-head bream and various seafood,
including the grooved carpet shell, being the major productions.
Algarve's wines are also renowned. There are four wines in the region
Protected Designation of Origin
Protected Designation of Origin (Denominação de Origem
Controlada – DOC): Lagoa DOC, Lagos DOC,
Portimão DOC and Tavira
DOC. Food processing, cement and construction, are the main
industries. Tourism related activities are extensive and make the bulk
of Algarve's economy during summer time. The Algarve's economy has
always been closely linked to the sea, and fishing has been an
important activity since ancient times. Only since the 1960s has the
region embraced tourism, which has become its most important economic
activity. With the increase in life quality and purchasing power, many
Shopping Malls have been constructed, mostly in the past 15–20
years. Recently, an
Ikea opened in Loulé, one of five in Portugal.
In 2017, the
Algarve was the Portuguese region that experienced the
biggest economic growth, an increase of 4.6% of its GDP. 
Algarve has been experiencing a strong development since the
beginning of the 1960s, initially due to the need to accommodate its
foreign visitors. The region started the construction of better
infrastructures, mainly roads, sanitation, power grids,
telecommunications, hospitals and housing. Due to the austerity
measures introduced in 2011, tolls were set in place on the main
motorway that crosses the region in order to offset the expense of its
maintenance. Private investors, with the support of Municipalities,
also began the construction of a huge variety of hotels, resorts, golf
courses (which are considered to be some of the best in Europe) and
villas. All this led to a large development in the region, especially
for the locals, who had previously lived in harsher circumstances.
Algarve is amongst the regions in
Portugal with best
quality of life.
In the 1960s the
Algarve became a very popular destination for
tourists, mainly from the United Kingdom. It has since become a common
destination for people from Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland. Many
of these tourists own their own property in the region. There are
Algarve-based publications and newspapers written in English
specifically for this community. In recent years the
Algarve has seen
a high increase in tourists from Spain,
France and Italy, followed by
Americans and Australians. Portuguese people from other
parts of the country also visit the region in large numbers,
especially in the peak of the Summer (July and August).
Tourist attractions in the region include its beaches, Mediterranean
climate, safety, cuisine and relatively low costs. Well-known beaches
Algarve range from Marinha Beach to Armação de Pêra. A
well-known spa town is Caldas de Monchique. In addition to its natural
features and beaches, the
Algarve has invested in the creation of a
network of golf courses.
Algarve is also popular for religious tourism, notably pilgrimages
to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Piety (best known as the Sovereign
Mother), a Marian shrine dedicated to the patron saint of Loulé, that
attract thousands of pilgrims of the Catholic faithful to the city, or
with the international pilgrimages to the apparitions site of Our Lady
Mother of Goodness occurred near São Marcos da Serra.
The procession of the Sovereign Mother (Our Lady of Piety) attract
thousands of pilgrims to the Marian shrine of Loulé, in Algarve.
Algarve's mild climate has attracted interest from Northern Europeans
wishing to have a holiday home or residence in the region. Being a
region of Portugal, and therefore in the European Union, any EU
citizen has the right to freely buy property and reside with little
formality in the Algarve. British expatriates, followed by German,
Dutch and Scandinavians, are among the largest groups wishing to own a
home in this sunny region of Portugal.
Tourism plays an important role in the economy of the Algarve. A large
number of seasonal job opportunities are tourism-related and are
fulfilled by thousands of locals and immigrants. Due to its seasonal
nature, most of the economy relies on the good weather available
mostly for only 5–6 months (characterised by a prolonged lack of
rain and temperatures above 30 °C throughout the day), meaning
that many Algarvians go unemployed during the low season. Nonetheless,
due to the very high monetary income that the high season brings, most
people in the
Algarve are still able to have comfortable lives even
while unemployed. In March 2007, the Portuguese economic minister,
Manuel Pinho, announced the creation of the "Allgarve" brand, as a
part of a strategical promotion of the
Algarve as a tourism
destination for foreign citizens. According to World Travel
Algarve is the Europe's Leading
Golf Destination 2013 and
2014. There are over 25 top-class courses in the Algarve, most
of which were designed by legendary names such as Nick Faldo, Seve
Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus and Christy O'Connor Jr.
Accommodation in the
Algarve ranges from high rise resorts in places
Albufeira to traditional guesthouses, located in the small towns
and villages surrounding the
Algarve coast. Over the past few years
many tourists visiting the
Algarve have moved away from the resorts,
and have chosen the comfort of a traditional
The University of Algarve, headquartered in Faro with an extension in
Portimão, is a public university which awards all academic degrees in
fields ranging from marine biology to economics to environmental
engineering. There are also several higher education private
institutions (Piaget – Silves and others), state-run and private
secondary education schools, including a number of international
schools, and a wide network of kindergartens and primary schools.
Algarve Stadium (Estádio Algarve) was built as a
venue for UEFA Euro 2004.
Algarve has many sports clubs, including football teams (S.C.
Olhanense, Portimonense S.C.) which play in the first, second and
third lay tiers of professional football.
S.C. Farense is the most
successful football club in the
Algarve and play in the Campeonato de
Portugal. Some other ancient sports clubs (football teams) from the
region are Esperança de Lagos, Lusitano FC (Vila Real de Santo
António) and Silves FC.
Traditional hand-painted pottery from Porches
The Portuguese Water Dogs are native to the Algarve; they were the
fisherman's main companion and were often taken with sailors during
the Portuguese discoveries.
Algarve had the highest population of the
Iberian lynx in
Portugal. However, there have not been any reports of lynxes in the
wild in the region since 2003.
The water in the sea coast of Algarve
Algarve is famous for its pottery and ceramics, particularly
hand-painted pottery and azulejos, which are painted, tin-glazed
ceramic tiles. There are numerous ceramics and pottery outlets
throughout the Algarve. For working potteries and ceramics workshops
the main, or best-known, pottery centers are located in the towns of
Almancil, Porches and Loulé, but there are many other potteries and
workshops in the
Corridinho is the traditional dance
of the Portuguese southernmost region – Algarve.
Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Aníbal Cavaco Silva (former Portuguese president and prime minister)
Adelino da Palma Carlos (former Portuguese prime minister)
António Calvário (singer)
Bartolomeu Dias (navigator)
Bonnie Tyler (singer)
Cliff Richard (singer)
Carlos Brito (politician and writer)
Diogo Rodrigues (explorer of the Indian Ocean)
Francisco Barreto (soldier and explorer; an officer in Morocco,
viceroy of Portuguese India, he was tasked with an expedition to
southeast Africa in search of legendary gold mines.)
Gil Eannes (navigator)
João de Deus
João de Deus (poet)
João Moutinho (football player)
João Vaz Corte-Real (claimed by some accounts to have been a
pre-Columbian explorer of a land called New Land of the Codfish,
possibly part of North America)
José Mendes Cabeçadas
José Mendes Cabeçadas (former Portuguese president and prime
Júlio Dantas (writer, doctor)
Lídia Jorge (writer)
Manuel Teixeira Gomes
Manuel Teixeira Gomes (former Portuguese president and writer)
Maria Barroso (actress, wife of former Portuguese president and prime
minister Mário Soares)
Maria Margarida Pinto Ribeiro de Sousa Uva (wife of José Manuel
Barroso, President of the European Commission and former Prime
Minister of Portugal)
Nuno Júdice (poet)
Maria Keil (artist)
Clive Dunn, British film and television actor (Dad's Army), from the
1980s until his death in 2012.
Patrick Swift (Artist. Lived in
Algarve from 1962 until his death in
1983. Founded Porches Pottery/Olaria Algarve.)
Katherine Swift (Artist and ceramicist. Worked at Porches Pottery and
Estudio Destra in Silves.)
Brites de Almeida (Aljubarrota battle events)
Duarte Pacheco (engineer)
Álvaro Esteves (XV century navigator)
The city of
Tavira capital of the Costa do Acantilado
The historic centre of Lagos
Portimão at night
A street in Silves
Partial view of Carvoeiro
A beach in Albufeira
The city of Vila Real de Santo António
Marina beach in Vilamoura
Typical view of the
Beach in Quarteira
Shepherd and sheep near Lagos
Desert island near Faro
Sagres Point, in the extreme of continental Portugal
Loulé's municipal market
The bog fountain in Alte
The open fields of the
Algarve in Spring
The spa resort town of Caldas de Monchique
Kingdom of the Algarve
^ a b c "EU Regions". Eurostat.
^ "Regiões de Portugal". AICEP. Archived from the original on 22
^ a b c Direção-Geral do Território[permanent dead link]
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Diário da República (in Portuguese).
Assembly of the Republic (Portugal). Retrieved 13 August 2014.
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receitas de alojamento turístico" (Economy). O Jornal Económico.
Retrieved 26 February 2018.
Algarve com 4,2 milhões de turistas e 20 milhões de dormidas
oficiais em 2017 - AHETA" (Economy). Diário de notícias. Retrieved
26 February 2018.
Algarve once again elected best place in the world to retire". The
GDP per inhabitant ranged from 28% of the EU27 average in
Severozapaden in Bulgaria to 343% in Inner London
^ CM-FARO. "Milreu Roman Ruins". www.cm-faro.pt. Retrieved
Algarve Primeiro (in Portuguese). Retrieved
^ Faro – Instituto de Meteorologia, 1981–2010 (provisórias)
^ "Monthly Averages for Faro, Portugal". World Meteorological
Organization. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
^ "Climatological Information for Faro, Portugal" Hong Kong
Observatory. Retrieved 5 September 2012
^ AMAL. "AMAL :: Comunidade Intermunicipal do Algarve".
^ "Contributo do
Algarve para o PIB Nacional pode chegar aos 4,6% em
2017". Sul Informação. Sul Informação. Retrieved 26 February
^ "On the Rights of Citizens of the Union ...", EC Directive
2004/58 EC, retrieved 25 May 2007.
^ "Europe's Leading
Golf Destination 2013 — World Travel Awards".
Worldtravelawards.com. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
Algarve elected Europe's best
Golf Destination of 2014". The
Portugal News. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Algarve.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Algarve.
Associação de Turismo do Algarve
Film Production Algarve
Statistical divisions of Portugal
Tâmega e Sousa
Terras de Trás-os-Montes
Beiras e Serra da Estrela
Região de Aveiro
Região de Coimbra
Região de Leiria
Viseu Dão Lafões
Lezíria do Tejo
All these divisions are further subdivided into municipali