Compared to many other countries, the native population in Portugal is quite homogeneous. Since the end of the Moorish period in the Algarve in 1249 the entire country has shared a common Roman Catholic religion and a common Portuguese language. The great past of the Portuguese Empire is the most important foundation of the Portuguese identity.
That’s why Portugal, so far, has been spared major ethnic or religious conflicts in modern times. This is despite the significant immigration from the former colonies after the end of the colonial regime, but these people share the same cultural background (language and religion).
We would like to feature some typical local residents representing daily life in the Algarve
Year by year millions of tourists from all over the world come to the Algarve to spend their holidays here or to enjoy a long weekend. Today’s busy tourist scene sometimes obscures the reality of those people living and working in the area for generations.
Development of the population 2001 - 2011
During the last 10 years (2001 - 2011) the population in the Algarve has grwon by 14%, primarily in the municipalities on the coast
|Albufeira||31 543||40 828||Alcoutim||3 770||2 917|
|Aljezur||5 322||5 884||Castro Marim||6 593||6 747|
|Faro||58 051||64 560||Lagoa||20 651||22 975|
|Lagos||25 398||31 048||Loulé||59 160||70 163|
|Monchique||6 974||6 045||Olhão||40 808||45 396|
|Portimão||44 818||55 614||São Brás||10 032||10 662|
|Silves||33 830||37 126||Tavira||24 997||26 167|
|Vila Real d. S.A.||17 956||19 156||Vila do Bispo||5 349||5 258|
Many tribes have left their footprints in the Algarve in the course of history
The presence of mankind in the Algarve has been known since homo erectus arrived via the Straits of Gibraltar. The best known findings dating back to the New Stone Age (Neolithic era) are the menhirs near Raposeira and Vila do Bispo and the Megalithic Monuments of Alcalar near Mexilhoeira Grande.
At the beginning of the first millennium B.C. Celtic tribes invaded the Iberian Peninsula from a northerly direction. At the same time the first trading relations with other Mediterranean nations came about. The Phoenicians built several harbours along the Algarvian coast, and around 550 B.C. Portimão was founded by the Carthaginians. During the following centuries the south of the Iberian Peninsula was colonized by the Greeks and Carthaginians, until the Romans occupied the region during the second Punic War. It became part of the Roman Empire as a province of Hispania ulterior, later known as Lusitania.
During the barbarian invasions in Europe several German tribes invaded the Iberian Peninsula, among them the Suebi and the Visigoths. In 711 Berber tribes cross the isthmus of Gibraltar and conquered almost the entire peninsula until 719. During the Moorish period of 500 years the Algarve experienced a great economic and cultural pinnacle.
The Moorish government ended in 1249, when the Algarve was reconquered by an alliance of Christian troops. Moors and Jews, who were not expelled from the country, were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism.
Portuguese is a global language
Portuguese is a global language, spoken by more than 215 million people. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Príncipe.
Portuguese is a Latin language and belongs to the family of Ibero-Romance languages together with Spanish, Catalan and other idioms spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. It has evolved from Vulgar Latin spoken during the time of the Roman Empire. The first documents in the Portuguese language were recorded in the 11th Century, and Portuguese literature has been in existence since the 15th Century.
Religion in Portugal
According to the 2011 Census, a large majority of the Portuguese population, 81 % , is Roman Catholic. Many Portuguese holidays, festivals and traditions have a Christian origin or connotation.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the Roman province of Lusitania also became Christian. At that point in time a large Jewish minority had already existed on the Iberian Peninsula for centuries. The situation did not change during the barbarian invasions, because the invading German tribes had already converted to Christianity.
When the Moors conquered most of the Spain and Portugal we know today, the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula was under Islamic government for several centuries. After the reconquest by Christian troops the Moors had to convert or were forced to leave the country. In 1492, the Jewish minority (Sephardim) were expelled from Spain and some decades later also by the inquisition in Portugal.