Algarve is a region located in the southernmost portion of Portugal. This region covers an area of fifty-four hundred square miles and has over four hundred thousand permanent residents. Algarbe contains sixteen municipalities and the city of Faro contains the region’s administrative center. Other cities in the region include Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Albufeira, Loule, Portimao, Lagoa, Quarteira, Lagos, Olhao, Tavira and Silves. Most of Algarve’s economy hinges on tourism, especially during the summer months when tourism is at its peak. Other economic activities in the region include fruit and vegetable, seafood and fish production. Fruits and vegetables grown in the region include almonds, oranges, figs and carob beans. Algarve is one of the most important regions for tourism in Portugal and its population doubles during the holiday season. The Algarve Region has many rolling hills and is also dotted with many valleys. The region’s tallest point is Foia Mountain. Foia Mountain is located in the Monchique Mountain Range and has a elevation of almost three thousand feet. The Algarve contains many municipal areas which include villages, towns and cities. The region is also dotted with several islets and islands as well.
The Cynetes established roots in the Algarve Region during the sixth century BC. They were a pre-Roman people who originally hailed from the Iberian Peninsula and were greatly influence by a Celtic tribe known as the Celtici. Fifty years later, the Carthaginians founded the city named Portimao (Which was originally known as Portus Hanibalis. During the second century BC, the Roman Empire extended its reach into the Iberian Peninsula and erected many monuments. Some of the ancient ruins can still be seen to this day. It was not uncommon for the Romans to construct salting tanks and bath complexes along the shoreline in many parts of the region. Notable bath complexes can be seen in Vilamoura and Praia da Luz.
During the fifth century, Visigoth tribes entered the area and took control of it. They would maintain this hold on the Algarve Region until the Moors invaded during the eighth century. The Moors called the area ‘Al Gharb Al Andalus’, which meant simple “The West”. The twelfth century saw an end to the Moorish occupation of the region. This was due in part to several successful military actions that were undertaken by the Kingdom of Portugal against the Moor invaders. Within a hundred years, the Portuguese had stabilized the area and thwarted several attempts by the Moors to retake the region. Between the sixteenth and nineteen centuries, Algarve was an autonomous region of the country and had a completely seperate system of taxes from the rest of the country. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Portuguese First Republic was established and Algarve became its southernmost area.
During the 1960s, the Algarve Region would become very popular among tourists, especially those from the United Kingdom. Nowadays, its not only popular among the British, but also receives many visitors from Germany, Holland, Ireland and the United States. There is such a predominance of English speaking people in the region, there are several newspapers and other publications catered to those speaking that language. Many tourists come to Algarve to experience its beautiful natural splendor, exquisite beaches and a large collection of golf courses. The area has also become well known for its hotel spas and luxury resorts. There are also many European residents who buy property in the region. This is due not only to its beauty and low costs of living, but also because of the ease in which property can be bought. Since Portugal is a member of the European Union and Algarve is one of its regions, European residents can purchase property here without much hassle.
A prominent attraction in the Algarve Region is the resort town called Vilamoura. This resort town was founded by a banker from Lisbon who started it in 1974. Its situated fourteen miles from Faro and it covers twenty or so kilometers of land, making it one of the biggest beach resorts in Europe. Contained within its center is the Vilamoura Marina. This marina can accommodate over a thousand boats and is surrounded by luxury hotels, restaurants, bars and a casino. Many tourists charter vessels at the far end of the marina to be used for big game fishing. Also located here are jet skiing and parasailing rental facilities. And if all that doesn’t suit your taste, then there is a shooting range, a ton of nighclubs and even sport clubs. For history buffs there are also Roman ruins and a museum.
Another popular attraction in the region is Praia da Luz. This is a resort village that is situated about six kilometers from Lagos. Not only is this a small fishing village, but it is also a resort thanks to the villas that have sprouted around its perimeter. The beach located here goes by the same name and is a Blue Flag beach (given by the Foundation for Environmental Education) and has two seperate areas. One area has the sugar white sands that is characteristic of beaches in the region and the other area is mostly rocky soil. Notable sights at Praia da Luz include Nossa Senhora da Luz Church and a Roman archaeological dig.
Other attractions in the Algarve Region include Quinta da Ria, Rua Dr. Francisco Gomes, Quad Ventura, Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, Algarve Seafaris, The Old Tavern, Delphinus Divers, Quinta do Lago South, Fortress at Sagres, Holistic Riding Center Quinta Creativa, Montechorro Strip, Zoo Marine Algarve, Flannery’s Irish Bar, Erin’s Isle, Loule Castle, Palmares, Angelus Bar, Chapel of Bones, Vilamoura Old Course, Quinta dos Vales, Santa Bernarda, Body & Skincare Center, Vale do Lobo Tennis Academy, Silves Castle, Costa Vincentina National Park, Church of St. Anthony, Pinhal Golf Course, Faro Archaeological Museum, Museu Municipal Dr. Jose Formosinho, San Vicente de Albufeira Statue, San Lorenzo Golf Course, Pego Do Inferno, Palacio Nacional de Mafra, Parque da Floresta, Monte Velho Nature Resort, Forte da Ponta da Bandeira, Vilamouratenis Center and Olhos de Agua Beach.