The Algarve is made up of two areas. One is the coastal Algarve, which is the strip of land closest to the Atlantic Ocean, and the other area is the interior of Algarve, called “Barrocal.” This division, which is geographic more than anything else, tends to also describe the difference between the cultures of the people, especially the local people, who live in the province of the Algarve.
In the Barrocal, there are many more local traditions. You will find people who still practice local agriculture by growing or having small holdings of garden crops. They produce the local “fire water,” which we call “medronho.” In certain areas, they may be involved in citrus farming, carob or maybe in cork production. You will find small communities, which are linked to their little towns or village. The town or village tends to be traditional in that they live in a predominantly Christian Catholic country in which there will be communities built around the local church, and the people of the area attend church quite frequently. Younger generations attend catechism and so on. This way of life and culture is particular to the interior of the province of Algarve. The traditional roots are very strong, and are linked to the religion, the agriculture, and the work of the people.
On the coast of Algarve, it is very different. The culture of people on the coast is eclectic; a neutral international society. A comparison I can make to Algarve is when we lived in Florida, it was a transient international society so people used to come and go and they used to build their networks with other international people originally within the local community and then when they move on, other people would come in to take their place. In the Algarve it’s different than that in the sense that people do not tend to move in and out frequently. People come here and they tend to stay because they like it. They build their culture in Algarve, which is very much a multinational culture built around sports, wellbeing, reasonably healthy living, and gastronomy. People love to eat here. Algarve has an international society that lives a sub-urban living, which you might observe in any international destinations.
(Bottle of Portuguese "fire water," medronho, pictured.)