A land of long ago on the brink of tomorrow. That is the Algarve, the southernmost province of Portugal, a land that knew the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Moslems—and yet retained its own distinctive personality. In the 1950s it first felt the impact of industrialization, and from that situation the author developed this book.
In presenting this descriptive geography of the Algarve, Dan Stanislawski offers no thesis, except that geographers, economists, politicians, humanists—all those interested in the way the world is developing—should watch the small, culturally disparate areas of the world, to learn what they have of value to teach, to enjoy the qualities of their independent ways of living, and to observe and evaluate their reaction to modern change. This book, the result of detailed observation of one such region, is a valuable contribution to the knowledge necessary to form sound value judgments on the future development of these areas.
From this account the charm of the Algarve emerges in all of its picturesqueness. With the aid of Stanislawski's vivid descriptions, his eighteen helpful maps and graphs, and his more than ninety photographs, the reader moves leisurely through this appealing, but unpublicized, region: along roadways bordered by rock walls and blooming almonds, traveled by sturdy burros bearing their loads of produce; through colorful landscapes of the Lower Algarve, with their pastel-calcimined dwellings and their intensively cultivated plots of olives, figs, carobs, grain, and vegetables; along the rugged cliff coast near Portimão, and the boat-filled port of Faro; past the canyon gardens of the Caldeirão; along the Arade River with its cork barges; northward past Cape S. Vicente to the area of wind-sheared trees.
Guided by Stanislawski, the reader comes to understand Algarvian problems inherent in soils, topography, climate, location, and history. He sees the Algarvians following the occupational practices that have produced for them, in the midst of difficult conditions, a stable culture: fishing, netmaking, shipbuilding, farming, herding, and so on. He realizes that these people, with their unique cultural background and environment, desire to live, and to change, in their own way. Finally, he learns how it is possible to communicate effectively with the Algarvians and with millions of other people whose peculiar problems tend to isolate them from the rest of the world.
Dan Stanislawski (1903–1997) was head of the Geography Department at the University of Arizona. He was deeply interested in unique cultures around the world, particularly in those of Spanish and Portuguese extraction. He traveled widely in Europe and in the Americas searching for reasons for the persistence of individuality in regional cultures, and he lived for extensive periods in Latin America and in Mediterranean areas.