The Algarve is divided into three large strips, each of great scenic beauty:
– The coastline (litoral), where most of the region’s economic activity is centred. The Algarve coast is highly diverse; you will find steep cliffs dropping sharply into the sea, extensive stretches of sand, lagoons with many inlets, marshes, dunes and more. The rocks are predominantly sedimentary, such as sandstone and conglomerates. Morphologically, the coastline has a low altitude and mostly consists of flat terrain such as grasslands and plains;
– The barrocal is the transitional zone between the coast and the uplands, and consists of limestone and schist rocks. Also known as beira-serra (“edge of the uplands”) it is, traditionally, the main supplier of the Algarve’s agricultural produce, including the renowned medronho brandy, honey and cork;
– The uplands (serra) occupy 50% of the territory. They consist of schist rocks and some granite. The main upland ranges are the Serra do Espinhaço de Cão, the Serra de Monchique, where the highest point in the Algarve is located at 902 metres, and the Serra do Caldeirão, also known as Mú.
The Algarve’s geographical location confers special bioclimatic conditions on the region. The climate is temperate with Mediterranean characteristics. The sun shines for over 3,000 hours a year and the average annual rainfall is low.
The most important activity sector is the tertiary sector (commerce and services) due to the main economic activity - tourism.