The Ria Formosa lagoon, located in the Algarve, in southern Portugal, is a system of barrier islands that communicates with the sea through six inlets. Five of these inlets are natural and have mobility characteristics. The sixth is an artificial inlet that was opened with the purpose of allowing easier access to the port of Faro. Within the Ria Formosa system, different and sometimes antagonistic uses may be found. Part of the system is a Natural Park but Ria Formosa also plays an important role in the region's economy. Beyond the tourist use the system also supports other economic activities like seafood farms (including grooved carpet shell harvesting) and the port of Faro. The Ria Formosa is also a designated Natural Park of over 170 km² and a stopping place for hundreds of different birds during the spring and autumn migratory periods. Besides being a natural park, Ria Formosa is classified as a Ramsar site Ria Formosa is also listed by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area, both in its lagoon area with 23,296 hectares and the oceanic zone with 19,900 hectares. (Wikipedia)

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