Since the 1960s, Algarve has been experiencing a large development due to the need to accommodate its visitors. The region started the construction of better infrastructures, mainly roads, sanitation, power grids, telecommunications, hospitals and better housing. Sadly due to the austerity measures introduced in 2011, tolls have now been put in place on the main motorway that crosses the region which has reduced the use of the new infrastructure and is expected to seriously affect the local economy. It also started the construction of a huge variety of hotels, resorts, golf courses (which are considered to be some of the best in Europe) and villas. All this led to a huge development in the region, especially for locals who had previously lived in poorer circumstances. Today, Algarve is amongst the regions in Portugal with best quality of life and safety. And it's one of the many reasons why millions of tourists, mostly European, choose this sunny part of Portugal as their holiday destination.
In the 1960s the Algarve became a very popular destination for tourists, mainly from Britain. It has since become a common destination for Germans, Dutch and Irish people. Many of these tourists own their own property in the region. There are Algarve-based English-written publications and newspapers specifically addressed to this community. In addition to the natural beauties and plenty of beaches, the Algarve has invested in the creation of a network of golf courses. Well-known beaches in the Algarve range from Praia da Marinha to Armação de Pêra. A well known spa town is Caldas de Monchique.
The Algarve is a popular destination for tourism, primarily because of its beaches, Mediterranean climate, safety, cuisine and relatively low costs.
Algarve's mild climate has attracted interest from Northern Europeans wishing to have a holiday home or residence in the region. Being a region of Portugal, and therefore in the European Union, any EU citizen has the right to freely buy property and reside with little formality in the Algarve. British expatriates, followed by German, Dutch and Scandinavians, are among the largest groups wishing to own a home in this sunny region of Portugal.
Tourism plays an important role in the economy of the Algarve. A large number of seasonal job opportunities are tourism-related and are fulfilled by thousands of immigrant workers from countries like Brazil, Ukraine and Cape Verde, among others.
In March 2007, the Minister of Economy, Manuel Pinho, announced the creation of the "Allgarve" brand, as a part of a strategical promotion of the Algarve as a tourism destination for foreign citizens.
Accommodation in the Algarve ranges from high rise resorts in places like Albufeira to traditional guesthouses, located in the small towns and villages surrounding the Algarve coast. Over the past 50 years the Algarve has seen an increase in development, particularly from non-Portuguese developers. Over the past few years many tourists visiting the Algarve have moved away from the resorts, and have chosen the comfort of a traditional Algarve guesthouse, many of these run by ex-pats from England, Holland, and Germany who have escaped to the Algarve for a higher quality of life.
The University of the Algarve, headquartered in Faro with an extension in Portimão, is a public university which awards all academic degrees in fields ranging from marine biology to economics to environmental engineering. There are also several higher education private institutions, state-run and private secondary education schools, including a number of international schools, and a wide network of kindergartens and primary schools.
The Algarve has many sports clubs, including football teams which play in the first (Olhanense, Portimonense), second and third layers of the main national football championships' pyramid. SC Farense is the most successful football club in the Algarve, however, after financial troubles it is currently (season 2012/2013) playing in the 3rd level of Portuguese football. The Clube de Ciclismo de Tavira is a noted Portuguese cycling team. The major stadium in the Algarve is the Estádio Algarve, where SC Farense and Louletano play their home matches. The region is also host to the annual Algarve Cup invitational tournament for national teams in women's football. The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, a 4.692 kilometres (2.915 mi) race circuit, is located in Portimão.
The Algarve is famous for its pottery and ceramics, particularly hand-painted pottery and azulejos or tiles. There are numerous ceramics and pottery outlets throughout the Algarve. For working potteries/ceramics workshops the main, or best-known, pottery centers are located in the towns of Almancil, Porches and Loulé. But there are many other potteries and workshops in the Algarve region.