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Map of the Algarve sub-region
Basic data
Country PortugalPortugal Portugal
region Algarve
Capital Faro
population 451.006 (2013)
Population density 90.3 inhabitants per km²
surface 4,996.79 km²
Circles 16
Communities 67
ISO-3166-2 code PT-150
The Algarve coast from around 10 km above sea level

The Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal . It has an area of ​​4989 km² (5.6% of mainland Portugal) and around 441,000 inhabitants (4.30% of mainland Portugal). The Algarve is one of seven regions in Portugal ( Região do Algarve ) . It is also congruent with the statistical sub-region of the Algarve, the Algarve metropolitan region ( Grande Área Metropolitana do Algarve ) and the Faro district , one of 18 districts in the country ( Distrito de Faro ) . The largest city and administrative center of the region is Faro. The western part of the south coast is particularly well developed for tourism .

Name and etymology

Since the old German name "Algarbien" fell out of use, "die Algarve" became naturalized in German, which essentially means the Algarve coast, even though the name of the entire landscape is masculine in Portuguese ( o Algarve - so the Algarve means ) . The Duden names both the female and the male form. As with many toponyms on the Iberian Peninsula, the initial sound in Al- testifies to the Arabic origin of the name in the Algarve : The Arabic word al-gharb  /الغرب / al-ġarb means 'the West' in German.

The Algarve

The designation "Algarve" is used for different geographical, political and historical regions, often only indistinctly differentiated from one another:

The southern Portuguese kingdom, together with the Moroccan overseas territories, was known as the Algarves (plural: the Algarves ), formerly also known as the Algarbia .


Panorama of Ponta da Piedade , one of the most famous destinations for tourists
Beach in the Algarve near Ferragudo (1994)
Algarve coast

The Algarve is a region in the extreme southwest of Europe . At Cabo de São Vicente near Sagres is the most south-westerly point of the continent and the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina . The Algarve is bounded in the north by the Alentejo region , in the west and south by the Atlantic and in the east the Rio Guadiana forms the border with Spain . The Algarve's coastline stretches 155 km from east to west and 52 km from south to north.

In terms of nature, the Algarve is divided into three areas from north to south

  • Serra
  • Barrocal
  • Littoral

The Serra is a hill country consisting of sandstone and clay slate , stretching at an altitude of between 300 and 500 m. In the northwest the Serra de Monchique rises up with the highest point Pico da Foia (902 m). The Serra makes up about half of the area of ​​the Algarve, it is sparsely populated and, with the exception of Monchique and the surrounding area, is hardly visited by tourists. The Barrocal foothills adjoins to the south and covers about a quarter of the region. The hill country, which is up to 400 m high and made of sand-lime brick, is mainly used for agriculture. The densely populated coastal strip "Litoral" forms the tourist center of the Algarve. This in turn can be found in the Sotavento (literally ' Lee ', 'wind away') in the eastern part between the Spanish border and Faro, the Barlavento (' Luv ', 'facing the wind') between Faro and the Cabo de São Vicente and the Costa Vicentina on the west coast of the Algarve and beyond that of the Alentejo Litoral . The Barlavento is called the “Felsalgarve”, as it is a furrowed 20-50 m high cliff with picturesque formations of yellow and reddish brown limestone and sandstone rocks and small bays. The Sotavento is also known as the "Sand Algarve" because the area is characterized by sandy beaches and lagoon landscapes. To the east is the wide bay of the Gulf of Cadiz .

Largest municipalities (2008 census)

Moorish faces in the coats of arms of numerous Algarve towns are reminiscent of the subjugated Muslims who then merged with the Portuguese
local community Residents
Faro 58,305
Portimão 50,454
Olhão 42,272
Albufeira 35,281
Silves 33,830
Lagos 28,890
Vila Real de Santo Antonio 17,956
Loulé 24,995
Tavira 13,112

Prehistory and History

Lagos slave market , the oldest in Europe.
Watchtower in Lagos

The presence of humans in Portugal has been documented since Homo erectus . From Neanderthals , the tracks are by a camp at Vilas Ruivas in the district of Castelo Branco already apparent. Clamshell heaps, called Køkkenmøddinger by archaeologists , were created from the Mesolithic to the early Neolithic by eating mussels in the same place. Burials are also known from these clam heaps. From around 5000 BC Agriculture is documented ( cardial or imprint culture ). The numerous megalithic systems ( Alcalar ) were built later .

Around 1000 BC The Celts invaded here and mixed with the locals to form Celtiberians . Around the same time, the Phoenicians built the first ports along the Algarve coast. The Carthaginians founded about 550 BC. Portimão (lat.Portus Hannibalis). In the second century BC In the course of the Roman colonization of the Iberian Peninsula, numerous villas were built, the ruins of which (Abicada, Boca do Rio, Milreu-Estói , Vilamoura) can be visited - mainly in the area of ​​Faro and Lagos.

After the conquest by the Goths in the fifth century, the Algarve was settled by the Muslim Moors from 711 . The Arabic name al-gharb (the west) is explained from the geographical point of view of Andalusia . Until the Portuguese conquest ( Reconquista ) in the 13th century, at least in the west of the Algarve (Silves), the majority of the population was Arab-Moorish. Slaves introduced since the mid-15th century made up more than half of the Algarve's population by the end of the 16th century. From 1595 or 1640/66 to 1808, the Algarve was a semi-autonomous area with its own tax sovereignty under the crown of Portugal. The Portuguese kings held the title of King of Portugal and Algarve during this period. When Napoleon invaded northern Portugal in 1807 , the Algarve was occupied by Spanish troops and the Spanish minister Manuel de Godoy became Prince of the Algarve . This occupation ended with the Olhão rebellion in 1808.


Most sunny days in Europe are counted in the Algarve. Summers are hot and dry; even in winter the temperature rarely drops below 10 degrees Celsius. Even January offers sunny days around 20 degrees. The night temperatures are consistently pleasant. Strong summer heat usually only sets in for a few days when instead of the cool winds from the Atlantic, the so-called Levant blows from Africa. The risk of fire has increased in recent decades.

Average monthly temperatures, hours of sunshine and rainy days for Faro
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 14th 15th 17th 20th 21st 24 27 28 26th 21st 17th 15th O 20.4
Min. Temperature (° C) 7th 8th 10 12 13 15th 17th 17th 16 15th 11 9 O 12.5
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 5 6th 6th 8th 10 11 12 11 9 8th 6th 5 O 8.1
Rainy days ( d ) 11 9 11 7th 6th 2 1 1 4th 7th 9 11 Σ 79
Water temperature (° C) 15th 15th 15th 16 17th 18th 19th 20th 20th 17th 17th 16 O 17.1
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Source: missing


The vegetation no longer corresponds to the original natural conditions, because Portugal was covered with forest with the exception of the dunes and marshes on the coast. The clearing began in part as early as the Neolithic and reached its peak around 1550, when the Spanish needed more and more wood for ships and crafts as well as fuel.

Today there is mostly only maquis . At the end of the 1970s a large reforestation campaign began, in which mainly conifer and eucalyptus seedlings were planted. Among other things, hardy oak species and cork oaks still grow there . In the southern coastal area you can also find carob , fig , almond , laurel and pomegranate trees . They were introduced by the Romans , who also spread the olive tree typical of the Mediterranean area . From South America coming Palisanderholzbäume (Jacaranda mimosifolia) one finds frequently than urban street trees that stand in the spring by its blue-violet flower. The Algarve region is also a growing area for cork oaks.


In comparison with the GDP per capita in the EU expressed in purchasing power parity , the region achieved an index of 79 (EU-28 = 100) (2015). In 2017 the unemployment rate (according to Eurostat definition) was 7.7%.


Carvoeiro Beach

While only 440,777 (2010) permanent residents live on the 4989 km², this number can more than triple in the summer months when the summer quarters are full. The Algarve coast is famous for its numerous fine sandy beaches and the sometimes bizarre and monumental rock formations in the western part. Because of the many golf courses, some of which are laid out right up to the cliffs, the region is particularly popular with golfers .

Popular holiday resorts in the east of the Algarve coast are Tavira and Monte Gordo . In the central Algarve there are Vale de Lobo , Vilamoura , Albufeira , further west Carvoeiro and Ferragudo . Praia da Rocha , Alvor and Lagos are also very popular . Further to the west are the surf spots at Salema , Sagres , Carrapateira and Monte Clerigo (at Aljezur ). Since the year 2000 the holiday home holiday in the Algarve has risen sharply. A variety of holiday homes and pool villas can be found near Carvoeiro, Ferragudo, Lagos and Albufeira. Since 2011, the hotel industry has been offering more all-inclusive holidays. In 2013 and 2014, the Algarve recorded double-digit percentage growth rates in the number of visitors and overnight stays. In terms of tourism, the region benefited from both foreign and domestic visitors.

The archaeological sights are in the hinterland near the coast. Roman villas are particularly interesting here.

  • Abicada (Roman villa)
  • Alcalar (megalithic necropolis with restored facilities (Alcalar VII))
  • Milreu-Estói (Roman Villa)
  • Silves (castle, Roman bridge and museum)
  • Villa of Vilamoura (Roman Villa)

The southwestern end of Europe at Cabo de São Vicente not far from the city of Sagres was formerly known as the end of the world. Tourism on the Algarve coast is the most important source of income for the entire region.


In contrast to the other Portuguese administrative units, the Algarve is both a region, a sub-region and, with the Faro district , a homogeneous administrative unit that has exactly the same area and population. The Algarve is divided into the following 16 municípios :

circle Number of
Density of
population / km²
Albufeira 4th 40,828 140.67 290 0801 Faro
Alcoutim 4th 2,917 575.36 5 0802 Faro
Aljezur 4th 5,884 323.50 18th 0803 Faro
Castro Marim 4th 6,747 300.85 22nd 0804 Faro
Faro 4th 65,019 202.57 321 0805 Faro
Lagoa 4th 22,975 88.25 260 0806 Faro
Lagos 4th 31,049 212.98 146 0807 Faro
Loulé 9 70.163 763.68 92 0808 Faro
Monchique 3 6,045 395.31 15th 0809 Faro
Olhão 4th 45,396 130.87 347 0810 Faro
Portimão 3 55,614 182.06 305 0811 Faro
São Brás de Alportel 1 10,662 153.37 70 0812 Faro
Silves 6th 37.126 680.06 55 0813 Faro
Tavira 6th 26,167 606.96 43 0814 Faro
Vila do Bispo 4th 5,258 179.06 29 0815 Faro
Vila Real de Santo Antonio 3 19,156 61.24 313 0816 Faro
Algarve 67 451.006 4,996.79 90 150 -


Web links

Commons : Algarve  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Algarve  - travel guide
Wiktionary: Algarve  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Harald Victor Livermore: A new history of Portugal , page 55. Cambridge 1976
  2. ^ Gustav Diercks: Portuguese History. Göschen Collection, Berlin and Leipzig 1912, p. 107.
  3. Helmut Brühl: When Portugal Sings - Enigmatic People of Lusitania. Dietrich Reimer, Berlin 1957, p. 32.
  4. Eurostat. Retrieved August 22, 2018 .
  5. Unemployment rate, by NUTS 2 regions. Retrieved November 5, 2018 .
  6. ^ Algarve for explorers: Tourism in the Algarve in 2013 and 2014 .

Coordinates: 37 ° 13 '23.7 "  N , 8 ° 3' 52.5"  W.