ALGARVE, or ALGARVES, an ancient kingdom and province in the extreme S. of Portugal, corresponding with the modern administrative district of Faro, and bounded on the N. by Alemtejo, E. by the Spanish province of Huelva, and S. and W. by the Atlantic Ocean. Pop. (1900) 255,191; area, 1937 sq. m. The greatest length of the province is about 85 m. from E. to W.; its average breadth is about 22 m. from N. to S. The Serra de Malhao and the Serra de Monchique extend in the form of a crescent across the northern part of the province, and, sweeping to the south-west, terminate in the lofty promontory of Cape St Vincent, the south-west extremity of Europe. This headland is famous as the scene of many sea-fights, notably the defeat inflicted on the Spanish fleet in February 1797 by the British under Admiral Jervis, afterwards Earl St Vincent. Between the mountainous tracts in the north and the southern coast stretches a narrow plain, watered by numerous rivers flowing southward from the hills. The coast is fringed for 30 m. from Quarteira to Tavira, with long sandy islands, through which there are six passages, the most important being the Barra Nova, between Faro and Olinao. The navigable estuary of the Guadiana divides Algarve from Huelva, and its tributaries water the western districts. From the Serra de Malhao flow two streams, the Silves and Odelouca, which unite and enter the Atlantic below the town of Silves. In the hilly districts the roads are bad, the soil unsuited for cultivation, and the inhabitants few. Flocks of goats are reared on the mountain-sides. The level country along the southern coast is more fertile, and produces in abundance grapes, figs, oranges, lemons, olives, almonds, aloes, and even plantains and dates. The land is, however, not well suited for the production of cereals, which are mostly imported from Spain. On the coast the people gain their living in great measure from the fisheries, tunny and sardines being caught in considerable quantities. Salt is also made from sea-water. There is no manufacturing or mining industry of any importance. The harbours are bad, and almost the whole foreign trade is carried on by ships of other nations, although the inhabitants of Algarve are reputed to be the best seamen and fishermen of Portugal. The chief exports are dried fruit, wine, salt, tunny, sardines and anchovies. The only railway is the Lisbon-Faro main line, which passes north-eastward from Faro, between the Monchique and Malhao ranges. Faro (11,789), Lagos (8291), Loule (22,478), Monchique (7345), Olhao (10,009), Silves (9687) and Tavira (12,175), the chief towns, are described in separate articles.
The name of Algarve is derived from the Arabic, and signifies a land lying to the west. The title "king of Algarve," held by the kings of Portugal, was first assumed by Alphonso III., who captured Algarve from the Moors in 1253.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)