The city of Tavira, headquarters of one of the biggest municipalities of the Algarve, is situated at the estuary of a small river (Asseca or Sequa or Gilão), at the same distance from Faro (25 km) and Vila Real de Santo António. The geography of the municipality presents three very well defined units: the coast, the barrocal (the area of slopes) and the mountain. The coast, which can be identified by a narrow strip between the EN 125 (the national road 125) and the sea, integrates itself almost in its totality, in the Natural Park of Ria Formosa. It stretches among marshes, lagoons, streams and salines from Olhão (near Fuzeta) as far as the place of Fabrica, very near Cacela Velha.
Tavira was founded long ago. Like other places along the Algarvian coast, the Phoenicians established a fortress here. From the Roman period there still exist remains of the old city of Balsa, a few kilometers westards.
From the conquest onwards (1242), the city grew. It profited from the commerce with the North of Africa. In the 16th century the harbour of Tavira was the most important one in the Algarve. Now the routes of trade (from Portugal and Spain) are directed towards the West Indies (the Americas); the traders have moved away to Sevillle and Tavira has, therefore, lost the importance it had in the old days.
The city reached the 20th century with its economy based upon fishing, canning industry, exploration of marine salt and on the agriculture (dry mediterranean fruits: figs, almonds and locust beans).
Tourism arrived in Tavira only at the end of the 20th century when it was already the basis of the Algarve's economy.
The potentialities of this municiplaity, enriched by careful and well orientated policies of territorial management, by valuating the rich and well preserved environment and architectonic patrimony, as well by the proximity of Faro and Huelva; by its excellent beaches and the presence of world famous hotel chains have transformed Tavira into one of the most attractive councils for the investors. Tavira is in fashion
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