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The Algarve is the name of the southern coast of Portugal, incorporating, amongst others, the towns of Faro, Lagos, and Sagres.

The Algarve is a popular tourist destination, primarily because of its clean beaches with their warm water, Mediterranean climate, and low costs.

The Algarve is composed of 5,411 square kilometres with approximately 350,000 permanent inhabitants. This figure increases to over a million people at the height of summer due to the tourist influx. The region's administrative centre is the town of Faro, which has its own international airport. The length of the south-facing coastline is approximately 155 kilometres and stretches about 52 kilometres to the north on the west. The coastline is also notable for picturesque limestone caves and grottoes, particularly around Lagos, which are accessible by power boat.


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 Goths 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.

In the 15th century, Henry the Navigator based himself in Sagres and conducted various maritime expeditions which established Portugal as a colonial power.

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.

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