Consisting of a lagoon enclosed by a barrier beach, the part to the east of Faro, called Sotavento ("leeward"), has a wide variety of landscapes. To preserve this exceptional natural environment, the coast, from Ancão to Manta Rota, has been designated a protected area: Parque Naturale da Ria Formosa. Inhabited by a large number of birds, but also molluscs and crustaceans, is a very important place for fish reproduction. The Sultan hen, rare in Portugal and emblem of the park, breeds there.
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