THE EVENT.. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake (magnitude c. 8-5Mw) killed between 15,000 and 20,000 people, of whom an estimated 1020 lived in the Algarve. The earthquake cost Portugal between c.32 and 48% of its Gross Domestic Product, probably making it financially the greatest natural catastrophe to have affected western Europe. Using a combination of archival information and data collected in the field, this article discusses: the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunami on the economy, society and major settlements in the Algarve; and recovery of the region in the years that followed.
The earthquake <ul><li>The earthquake struck on the morning of November 1, the All Saints Day Catholic holiday. Contemporary reports state that the earthquake lasted between three-and-a-half and six minutes, causing gigantic fissures five meters wide to rip apart the city center. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Lisbon was not the only Portuguese city affected by the catastrophe. Throughout the south of the country, in particular the Algarve, destruction was. </li></ul><ul><li>Tsunamis up to twenty meters in height swept the coast of North Africa, and struck Martinique and Barbados across the Atlantic. A three meter tsunami hit the Southern English coast. </li></ul><ul><li>Of a Lisbon population of 275,000, up to 90,000 were killed. Another 10,000 were killed across the Mediterranean in Morocco. Eighty-five percent of Lisbon's buildings were destroyed, including its famous palaces and libraries </li></ul>
TODAY… <ul><li>Today the Algarve is one of Europe’s principal tourist destinations and a region vital to the Portuguese economy. The 1755 earthquake was not a one-off event and the Algarve, which now houses a resident population of over 400,000 – a figure that more than doubles with tourists in the summer months – is highly exposed to earthquakes and tsunamis. An earthquake of similar size (minimum estimated recurrence 614±105 years), is viewed as a worse-case future scenario. Although strict building codes which apply to the whole country were pioneered in Portugal following the 1755 earthquake, and have been revised on many occasions, there is a recognised need for more detailed hazard maps and emergency plans for the Algarve. These have already been produced for Lisbon and in the Algarve a start has been made, where a tsunami risk map has recently been completed for Portimγo concelho </li></ul>