Algarve is arguably one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. A vast majority of all tourists to Portugal make a point to visit this Southern region of the country. Many people touring neighboring countries, too, often make a detour to Algarve. At the peak of the tourism season in Algarve, visitor figures tend to hover at around 1,000,000 – leading a situation where at such a time, the number of visitors to Algarve ends up being almost triple the number of natives to the region!
1) One of the most interesting facts about Algarve is to be found in the name itself. As it turns out, Algarve is one the very few popular places in Europe that bear an Arabic name: seeing that Algarve (like most names start with ‘Al’) is an Arabic name, simply meaning the west. To be sure, the right Arabic name is Al Gharb, which the westerners corrupted to Algarve, but the meaning and the roots still hold true. How the region comes to have such a name is a matter of conjecture: but it is thought to be probably due to Phoenecian and Moorish influences earlier in the history of the region.
2) Another interesting fact about Algarve lies in its history: it being one of the earliest settled regions in Europe. Trade in this region, mainly involving the Phoenicians, goes as far back as a thousand years before Christ: making Algarve one of the regions in Europe with the longest provable histories in Europe.
3) Yet another interesting fact about Algarve is to be found in its demographics: it being one of the least densely populated regions of Portugal, and probably Europe as a whole. With about 76 resident in each square kilometers, this is hard to argue with. The figure of 76 residents per square kilometer is found by dividing the city’s resident population of just over 420,000 souls by its total surface area of just over 5,400 square kilometers: to arrive at the said 76 residents per square kilometer. Of course, the actual density of people in Algarve is likely to go up considerably when you factor in visitors to the region (since the 76 per square kilometer only takes permanent residents and not the visitors). And it is worth noting – as mentioned earlier – that at the height of high tourism season, the area can end up with as many as 1.5 million souls living in it, driving the density to over two hundred souls per square kilometer.
4) Looking at the geography of Algarve, we discover another interesting fact: that this is one of the most extensive tourist traps in Europe, and indeed in the world. As it were, most other popular destinations tend to be cities or beaches, normally spread out over just a few kilometers. In the case of Algarve, however, the whole region is a popular tourist attraction in the realest sense of the word. And the whole area happens to be an upwards of 5,400 square kilometers, as mentioned earlier.