The Natural Park of Ria Formosa occupies the extensive lagoon area delimited by "Ancão" and "Manta Rota" peninsulas. In one side there is the ocean contained by a barrier of narrow and sandy islands, more or less parallel to the line of coast. These islands are called: Barreta, Culatra, Ármona, Tavira and Cabanas.
Ria Formosa is an area protected with the statute of Natural Park, legally created by the Act nº 373/87 of 9 of December. This Act´s objective is to preserve the lagoon´s system, to protect the specific fauna and flora of the region, the migratory sorts and the habitats and to promote the orderly use of the territory and it´s natural resources.
The Act also strives to contributing to the economical, social and cultural development and to the order of the recreational activities and what stretches out for the Districts of Loulé, Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Stº António, an area of around 18400 ha along 60km from the Ancão to Manta Rota.
Ria Formosa is a wet zone of international importance and the habitat of aquatic birds: It is a zone of winter pasture of birds from Europe´s north and center; It is a zone of important passage for the migrations between the north of Europe and Africa; It´s a shelter for rare species in Portugal.
Besides being important for birds, Ria Formosa is a place of shelter and food for several aquatic sorts, particularly in their youthful phases.
It has a fixed population of 7.500 inhabitants that may triplicate in summer. An expressive percentage of resident population is dedicated to activities straightly connected with Ria Formosa, like fishing, salt production, shellfish breeding, amongst others.
Algarve´s coast has many white sand beaches and Atlantic´s warm waters. Algarve is a very popular touristic destination in Europe and has a wide offer of hotels, resorts, villas and typical restaurants. The warm weather starts in June and lasts until October.
Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, Serviço Nacional de Parques, Reservas e Conservação da Natureza, Lisboa, 1989, p. 4.