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Definition: Algarve from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(Әlgär'vӘ), historic province, 1,958 sq mi (5,070 sq km), extreme S Portugal, coextensive with Faro dist. The capital is Faro, and other important cities are Silves, Portimão, and Lagos. Much fruit (almonds, citrus, grapes, olives, figs, pomegranates) is grown in the Algarve, and there is also mining, offshore fishing, cork processing, and salt harvesting. The region is the chief resort area of Portugal. The region was settled by the Phoenicians and later prospered under the Moors, who made it their last stronghold in Portugal. Alfonso III completed its reconquest in 1250.

Summary Article: Algarve
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Ancient kingdom in southern Portugal, bordered on the east by Spain, and on the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean; it is co-extensive with the modern district of Faro, the provincial capital of the Algarve; area 5,071 sq km/1,958 sq mi; population (2003 est) 393,700. The population increased during the 1980s and 1990s as a result of inward migration. Tourism is the largest employer in the area. It is based mainly on beach resorts although there has been a shift towards cultural and golfing tourism. Regional agriculture is mainly citrus fruits, due to the use of modern irrigation methods, although traditional crops of grapes, olives, figs, almonds, and carobs are still grown. Other economic activities include mining, offshore fishing, and cork processing. The hilly areas are heavily forested with pine and eucalyptus trees.

The once important tuna fishing industry has collapsed. Nearly all the (formerly busy) sardine-canning factories along the south coast are also closed and derelict. The Algarve region includes Cape St Vincent, the southwest extremity of Europe, where the British fleet defeated the Spanish in 1797. Parts of the Algarve were successively in the hands of the Phoenicians, Romans, and Visigoths. In 1140 it became a Moorish kingdom, and it was the last stronghold of the Moors in Portugal; it was captured by Alfonso III of Portugal in 1250 and was united with Portugal as a kingdom in 1253.

The Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator established a school of cartography and navigation at Sagres, near Cape St Vincent, in 1416. From here ships sailed out and landed on Madeira (1419) and the Azores (1432), explored the west coast of Africa and later, after Henry's death, visited the Cape of Good Hope and India.


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