Coastal erosion in Portugal is a complex issue that relates not only to its main causes, but also to a number of other factors, namely the inherited physiographic coastal characteristics, the type of human development and its evolution over time, and the options of past coastal zone protection. Human development and tourism Human occupation of Portugal is very varied: the most densely populated areas are found in the west coastal zone and in the Algarve south coast. At the south coast of Portugal dominant waves drive an easterly directed littoral drift of about 104 to 105 m3/yr, depending on coastal orientation. Coastal protection Portugal has been a pioneer in the development of laws for protection of the coastal zone, with the establishment of the Public Maritime Domain (DPM) at the end of the nineteenth century. Until the late 1980s, there was no integrated coastal management perspective in Portugal.