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Cidade de Silves12.jpg
The city of Silves, the old capital of the Algarve .
Name origin: algarve from Arabic: الغرب the west
Country Portugal
Capital Faro
 - elevation 11 m (36 ft)
 - coordinates 37°0′52″N 7°56′7″W / 37.01444°N 7.93528°W / 37.01444; -7.93528
Highest point Fóia
 - location Serra de Monchique
 - elevation 902 m (2,959 ft)
 - coordinates 37°18′54″N 8°35′47″W / 37.31500°N 8.59639°W / 37.31500; -8.59639
Lowest point Sea level
 - location Atlantic Ocean
 - elevation m (0 ft)
Length 143 km (89 mi), East-West
Width 63 km (39 mi), North-South
Area 4,996.80 km² (1,929 sq mi)
Population 442,358 (2013)
Density 89 /km² (231 /sq mi)
Timezone WET (UTC+0)
 - summer (DST) WEST (UTC+1)
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
- Total € 9.274 billion
- Per capita € 20,900
GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate
- Total € 7.232 billion
- Per capita € 16,300
Statistics from INE (2011)

The Algarve (from Arabic: الغرب al-Gharb "the West") is the southernmost region of continental Portugal. The capital of the Algarve is the city of Faro. There is an international airport and a public university (University of Algarve).

The present region of Algarve coincides with the old province of the same name and with the Faro district. The main economic activity in the region is tourism because its beaches and its historical buildings.


The name Algarve comes from Gharb Al-Andalus (Arabic: غرب الأندلس, gharb al-ʼandalus; "The West of Al-Andalus"), or just Al-Gharb (Arabic: الغرب, al-gharb; "The West"), the name given by the Muslims of Iberia to the region to the west of Andalusia.


Algarve has an area of 744.57 km2 (287.48 sq mi). It borders with the Alentejo region (Alentejo Litoral and Baixo Alentejo subregions) to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south, and the Guadiana river, and Andalusia (Spain), to the east.

The Algarve region is divided in two zones, each with eight municipalities:

  1. Barlavento, the western zone, with Portimão as main city; and
  2. Sotavento, the eastern zone, with Faro as main city.

The main mountain ranges are Serra de Monchique, la Serra de Espinhaço de Cão and Serra do Caldeirão. The highest point in the region is the Fóia mountain, 902 m (2,959 ft) high, in the Serra de Monchique mountain range.

The westernmost point of the region, and of continental Europa, is Cape St. Vincent (Portuguese: Cabo de São Vicente), in the municipality of Vila do Bispo.

Administrative division

Algarve is formed by 16 municipalities (or concelhos) and 67 freguesias.

Barlavento e sotavento 2
Municipalities of Algarve
Map Municipality Population
Barlavento zone
1 Vila do Bispo 5,258 179.06 29.4 4
2 Aljezur 5,884 323.50 18.2 4
3 Monchique 6,045 395.30 15.3 3
4 Lagos 31,049 212.99 145.8 4
5 Portimão 55,614 182.06 305.5 3
6 Lagoa 22,975 88.25 260.3 4
7 Silves 37,126 680.06 54.6 6
8 Albufeira 40,828 140.66 290.3 4
Sotavento zone
9 Loulé 70,622 763.67 92.5 9
10 Faro 64,560 202.57 318.7 4
11 São Brás de Alportel 10,622 153.37 69.3 1
12 Olhão 45,396 130.86 346.9 4
13 Tavira 26,167 606.97 43.1 6
14 Alcoutim 2,917 575.36 5.1 4
15 Castro Marim 6,747 300.84 22.4 4
16 Vila Real de Santo António 19,156 61.25 312.8 3

Among the 16 municipalities, Loulé is the largest of the region, with an área of 763.67 km2 (294.85 sq mi); this municipality and Silves border both the Alentejo region and the Atlantic Ocean. Vila Real de Santo António is the smallest municipality with an área of 61.25 km2 (23.65 sq mi).

Only three municipalities do not border the ocean: Monchique, São Brás de Alportel and Alcoutim.


Apartment buildings at Praia da Rocha, Portimão
Apartments overlooking the beach in Praia da Rocha, Portimão.

Farming products of the region include fig, almond, orange, carob bean, strawberry tree and cork oak. Horticulture is also important. Fishing and aquaculture are important activities in the coastal area of Algarve.

The wines of the region are well-known. There are four wines in the region which have 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.


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