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|Algarve||Azores||Costa de lisboa|
Geography and Landscape
The Azores (Portuguese: Açores), an autonomous region of Portugal since 1976, are located in the Atlantic Ocean at a distance of 1448 km from the Iberian Peninsula at the height of the Portuguese capital Lisbon, and about 2300 km from the east coast of North America.
The nine inhabited islands are São Miguel and Santa Maria in the southeast (grupo oriental), Terceira, Pico, Faial, São Jorge and Graciosa in the middle (grupo central), Flores and Corvo in the northwest (grupo ocidental) and the archipelago has a total land area of approximately 2328 km2. The greatest distance between two separate islands, Santa Maria and Corvo, is 585 km;the distance between Faial and Pico is only 8 km.
The eight uninhabited Formigas Islands (official name: Banco das Formigas e Recife do Dollaborat or Ilhas Formigas), 43 km northeast of Santa Maria and south of São Miguel, are also counted among the Azores. The largest island of the Formigas is Formigão.
Azores Satellite PhotoPhoto: Public Domain
Distances between all inhabited islands in kilometers
|Santa Maria||São Miguel||Terceira||Graciosa||São Jorge||Pico||Faial||Flores||Corvo|
Corvo is the smallest island with 17 km2, São Miguel is the largest island with an area of 757 km2. Ponta Delgada is the capital and also the largest city and is located on São Miguel. The location of the village of Fajã Grande on the island of Flores is special, because it is officially the most westerly place in Europe. The uninhabited rock island of Ilhéu de Monchique off the west coast of Flores is said to be the most westerly point in Europe.
In the ocean around the islands are also several other uninhabited islands, including the Ilhéu in addition to the eight Ilhas Formigas islands mentioned above. the Vila Franca, the Ilhéu Maria Vaz (Flores), the rocky island of Ilhéu do Romeiro, the rocky island groups Ilheu do Topo and Ilhéus da Alagoa (São Jorge), the two 'goat islands' Ilhéus das Cabras (Terceira), Ilhéu de Baixo (Graciosa) ), Ilhéu da Baleia (Graciosa), Ilhéu Lagoinhas (Santa Maria), the islands of Deitado and Em Pé (Pico) and the bird island Ilhéu de Praia, with the richest and most diverse population of seabirds in the Azores, including many migratory birds.
Ilhéu de Vila Franca, uninhabited island from the AzoresPhoto: Lusitana CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Details of all inhabited islands
|area||distance from mainland||highest point|
|São Miguel||757 km2||1584 km||1103 m|
|Pico||433 km2||1,860 km||2351 m|
|Terceira||402 km2||1764 km||1023 m|
|São Jorge||246 km2||1,832 km||1053 m|
|Faial||172 km2||1908 km||1043 m|
|Flores||142 km2||2152 km||915 m|
|Santa Maria||97 km2||1588 km||587 m|
|Graciosa||62 km2||1,844 km||402 m|
|Corvo||17 km2||2148 km||718 m|
Azores LandscapePhoto: Björn Ehrlich CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Ilha de São Miguel, the largest island of the Azores (757 km2, length maximum 64 km, width maximum 17 km, coast length 220 km) and together with Santa Maria belonging to the grupo oriental, has many volcanic phenomena and is geologically about 4 million years old. São Miguel actually consists of two islands that only joined together 50,000 years ago. The nearest islands are Santa Maria at 102 km and Terceira at 167 km.
São Miguel satellite photoPhoto: Public domain
Huge craters are filled with lakes and there are healing thermal springs scattered around the island. São Miguel is also called the 'Ilha Verde', the 'green island';especially the central part of São Miguel is very green and fertile. São Miguel has three so-called stratovolcanoes (Sete Cidades, Água de Pau and Furnas), high cone-shaped volcanoes made up of layers of solidified lava and tephra. These types of volcanoes have steep slopes and are characterized by frequent explosive eruptions. Between the Sete Cidades and Fogo, there is a monogenetic (one eruption, then never active again) so called by geologists a volcanic area with 270 volcanoes.
Famous are the crater lakes in one of the largest craters in the Azores, the Caldeira das Sete Cidades (circumference 12 km), especially the two largest lakes, Lagoa Azul, the 'blue lake' and Lagoa Verde, the 'green lake'. The two special colors are caused by the algae and water plants, which provide the green color in the smaller lake Lagoa Verde. The crater is at its widest 5 km in diameter, and the highest mountain of the crater rim is Pico das Éguas (873 m). The highest mountain in São Miguel, located in the Serra da Tronqueira, is Pico da Vara (1103 m), the second highest mountain is Pico da Barrosa (947 m). Lagoa das Furnas is the second largest lake in São Miguel with an area of 1.9 km2, a length of 2 km, a width of 1.6 km and a depth of 12 meters. The thermal springs on the shores of the lake reach a temperature of 61.5°C.
The Ribeira Grande is the wildest river in São Miguel and is therefore used for generating electricity. Other rivers and streams are the Ribeira Quente, Ribeira do Faialda Terra, Ribeira da Praia, Ribeira das Barrelas, Ribeira das Très Voltas, Ribeira do Cachaço, Ribeira do Guilherme, Ribeira do Mato, Ribeira Purgar, Ribeira dos Pelanos, Ribiera dos Migueis and Ribaira Funda. After Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde, Lagoa do Fogo is the largest crater lake in São Miguel. Other crater lakes are the Lagoas Empadas, the Lagoa do Canário, the Lagoa do Fogo (the highest lake in São Miguel at an altitude of 570). Waterfalls, often in hidden places, include the Salto do Cagarrão, Salto do Prego and Salto do Cabrito.
The other island of the grupo oriental is Santa Maria (capital Vila do Porto), which was the first island of the Azores to be colonized by the Portuguese and is geologically the oldest island in the Azores with a respectable age of 8-10 million years. Santa Maria, also known as the 'yellow island', is also the only island of the Azores where fossils have been found.
With an area of 97 km2, Santa Maria is the third smallest island in the Azores;Santa Maria is maximum 16 km long, 10 km wide and has a coast length of 76 km. Santa Maria is the southernmost island of the Azores and is the closest of all the islands to Portugal. The nearest island, São Miguel, is at 89 km.
Parohie Vila do Porto in the capital of the same name Vila do Porto Photo: Julen Iturbe-Ormaetxe CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
Santa Maria is not at all touristy yet, although the climate is very mild and sunny. The coasts could also appeal to tourists, one even speaks of the coastal strip with its white beaches, quite unique for the Azores with its predominantly black beaches, as the 'Alsheaf of the Azores, although much of the coasts descend steeply to the sea.
The interior of Santa Maria, which is no longer volcanically active, is hilly and covered with green pastures. In the central mountain range of Santa Maria, covered with Japanese cedars, tree heather, juniper and laurel, lies the highest peak of the island, Pico Alto (587 m). During the rainy months, the Cascata do Aveiro waterfall is a tourist highlight, as is the Foz da Ribeira Grande waterfall. The barely inhabited northwest coast of Santa Maria, the Barreiro da Faneca, consists of a semi-desert landscape with clayey red soil and is called the 'red desert' of the Azores. The west of Santa Maria is generally flat and in the summer this area turns into an arid steppe-like landscape, where agaves and cacti predominate. The sparsely populated east of Santa Maria is hilly and green.
Some rivers are the Ribeira do Engenho, Ribeira de Santa Bárbara, Ribeira do Salto, Ribeira Grande, Ribeira do Amaro and Ribeira do Cachaço.
Faial (grupo central) is with an area of 172 km2 the fifth largest island in the Azores, has a length of 21 km, a width of 14 km and the coast length is approximately 80 km. The nearest island, Pico, is only 8 km. Faial is not a very pleasant place to live;the island's history is interspersed with volcanic eruptions and severe earthquakes, up to the 20th century. For example, in 1998 much of the buildings in eastern Faial were destroyed. Furthermore, the once wooded island now consists largely of grassland and meadows with some bushes here and there.
Satellite photo of part of Pico, with the Caldeira crater on the leftPhoto: Public domain
Nevertheless, Faial is a real tourist island and owes its nickname 'ilha azul', the 'blue island', to the flowering period of the hydrangeas, which sometimes cover entire hills. In the west of the island, on the Capelo peninsula, is the youngest volcano in the Azores, the Vulcão dos Capelinhos. The eruption created approximately 2.5 km2 of new land (two-thirds of the original surface has already disappeared due to the powerful surf), which has a desert-like character but after many years finally shows some vegetation. To the west of Castelo Blanco, just off the coast, there is a huge rock (about 150 meters high), the Morro de Castelo Branco, made of the volcanic rock trachyte.
The south coast of Faial is steep with caves and rock arches. Special is the gigantic Caldeira crater, 400 meters deep with steep walls and a diameter of 1450 meters. The entire crater area belongs to the Reserva Natural da Caldeira do Faial. The highest point in Faial is Cabeço Gordo (1043 m). The north coast is a rural agricultural area with many meadows right up to the slopes. To the west of this area is the wooded Zona do Mistério. The former volcano Monte da Guia overlooks the city of Horta and the caldiera do Inferno crater is filled with seawater.
Montanha de Pico, highest mountain in the Azores on the island of PicoPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa in the public domain
Pico (grupo central) is with an area of 422 km2 the second largest island of the Azores with a maximum length of 46 km, a maximum width of 16 km and a coast length of about 147 km.
The very special landscape of the par excellence volcanic island of Pico, the 'Ilha Montanha' (the mountainous island), is completely dominated by the volcano Montanha de Pico, which forms a height of 2351 meters. This makes the volcano not only the highest point in the Azores, but also in all of Portugal. The central crater of the Pico is called the Pico Grande and has a diameter of about 700 meters. Inside the crater is a volcanic cone, the Pico Pequeno, which rises about 50 m above the crater rim of the Pico.
Remarkable in the landscape of Pico are the so-called 'mistérios', congealed lava flows that after centuries are covered with fertile soil and are therefore hardly usable for agriculture. What remains is a rocky landscape where only a few lichens grow, interspersed with dense areas. The most recently created mistério dates from 1720. Also special are the stone heaps or 'maroiços' that can be found mainly on the west coast of Pico. These lava heaps were created when the inhabitants of Pico wto create mining land and are now part of Pico's protected history.
The Gruta das Torres is a volcanic tunnel complex over five kilometers long and up to 15 meters high beneath a solidified lava flow, one of the longest volcanic tunnels in the world. More than 80 other, albeit smaller, volcanic caves can be found on Pico, including the Furna de Frei Matias and the Gruta das Canárias.
The eastern point of Pico is suitable for agriculture, with the village Piedade as its center. The central and eastern mountain area of Pico is called the Planalto Central or Planalto da Achada, an almost uninhabited plain up to 800 meters high with a number of crater lakes (including Lagoa Seca, Lagoa do Caiado, Lagoa do Paul and Lagoa Peixinho), flat volcanic cones and a mountain ridge with a series of extinct volcano peaks, including the Grotões (1008 m), the Cabeço Escalvado (1004 m) and the Caveiro (1076 m). In total Pico has about a hundred volcanoes. The Lagoa do Caido is the largest lake on the Planalto Central, the largest crater lake in Pico is the Lagoa do Capitão. The western coastal region descends much less steeply in many places and here is the harbor town of Madalena.
São Jorge, next to the island of Flores, a true hiking paradise with many coastal paths and other hiking routes, is with 246 km2 the fourth largest island of the Azores, has a maximum length of 55 km, a narrow maximum width of 7 km and a coast length of approximately 140 km. São Jorge is located 35 km south of Graciosa, 17 km north of Pico, 26 km east of Faial and 52 km west of Terceira.
São Jorge satellite photoPhoto: Public domain
São Jorge (grupo central) is a 'green' island with beautiful nature, volcano tops, meadows, steep cliffs and very narrow built-up coastal plains, the 'fajãs', of which 46 can be found on São Jorge, 30 on the north coast and 16 on the south coast. The houses on most fajãs have been abandoned over time, especially after the 1980 earthquake, only the larger fajãs are still inhabited. The central mountain ridge of São Jorge, Serra do Topo, has as its highest peak the Pico dos Frades (942 m) and further strings one volcano crater after another. The fertile highland of the island, with an average altitude of 700 meters, is used for grazing cattle and there are also a number of waterfalls in this area.
The north coast of São Jorge is rugged with almost vertical cliffs of 700 meters high, making the coastal plains quite inaccessible and sometimes only accessible on foot. Here you can also find the highest peaks of São Jorge, the 1053 meter high Pico da Esperança and the 1019 meter high Morro Pelado. São Jorge has several rivers and streams, including Ribeira do Belo, Ribeira do Almeida, Ribeira das Queijades, Ribeira da Casa Velha, Ribeira do guadalupe, Ribeira do Jogo, Ribeira do Ferro, Ribeira do Capadinho, Ribeira dos Vimes, Ribeira do Cavalete, Ribeira dos Cedros, Ribeira de São João, Ribeira dos Bodes and Ribeira Funda.
Green landscape in São Jorge, AzoresPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa in the public domain
Terceira is with an area of 402 km2 the third largest island of the Azores, after São Miguel and Pico. The maximum length of Terceira is 30 km, the maximum width is 18 km and the coast length is 124 km. The nearest islands are São Miguel at 145 km and Faial at 106 km.
Satellite Photo TerceiraPhoto: Public Domain
Terceira (grupo central) is a volcanic island with a variety of volcanoes, volcano pipes, lava caves, crater lakes (including Lagoa das Patas, Lagoínha da Serreta, Lagoínha do Vale Fundo, Lagoa do Negro), lava tunnels, congealed lava flows, fumaroles, sulfur fumes and steam vents. You can swim in the many lava pools. The west of Terceira, with much more forests than in the east of the island, is completely dominated by the massif of the last active and youngest volcano of Terceira in 1762, the Serra de Santa Bárbara, with a height of 1023 meters also the highest point of Terceira. To the northeast of this lies a vast forest area, Mata da Serrata.
In the northeast of Terceira lies the mountain ridge Serra do Cume, from where you have a good view of the bay and the long sandy beach at the place Praia da Vitória. The north of Terceira is generally rugged and inaccessible with volcanic caves such as Furna das Pombas, with the exception of the coastal plain of Alagoa da Fajãzinha, a rural area where wine-growing is possible. This plain, located between the Serra do Cume and the Serra da Ribeirinha, is the largest plain in the entire Azores archipelago. The oldest volcano of Terceira is the Cinco Picos, the caldera of this volcano that collapsed 300,000 years ago, with a diameter of 7 km, is the largest of the Azores.
In the central highlands there are primeval forests, volcanic caves (including Gruta do Natal, Algar do Carvão), fumaroles (including Furnas do Enxofre), but especially countless volcanoes. Also special here are the Mistérios Negros, black lava hills that were created after the eruption of the Santa-Bárabara volcano in 1761. The Terra Brava, the 'wild land' is characterized by a large number of bull pastures. Biscoito das Fontinhas is a densely wooded lava field with deeply carved ancient wagon tracks or 'relheiras'. The Pico Alto is the second highest peak in Terceira at 808 meters.
Nature and agriculture side by side Terceira Island, AzoresPhoto: Public domain
Graciosa (grupo central) is the second smallest island of the Azores, Corvo is the smallest island, with an area of only 62 km2, a maximum length of 12 km, a maximum width of 8 km and a coastal length of 43 km. Graciosa in its entirety has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The nearest island is Terceira at 50 km.
Satellite photo Graciosa, AzoresPhoto: Public domain
Three mountain ridges can be distinguished across the island, the Serra Dormida, the Serra Branca and the Serra das Fontes. Striking is the mountain range in the southeast of Graciosa with the Caldeira and the enormous volcanic (sulfur) cave Furna do Enxofre, the Furna do Abel and the somewhat smaller volcanic tunnel Furna da Maria Encantada. The crater rim of the Caldeira is a maximum of 402 meters high, 1600 meters long and 800 meters wide, and this is the highest point of Graciosa. Other 'peaks' are the Pico Timão (398 m) and the Pico do Facho (375 m). The Furna do Enxofre is 95 meters deep and 130 meters wide and houses a small crater lake about 22 meters below sea level, the Lagoa do Styx. The fairly flat northwest of Graciosa is characterized by meadows and vineyards.
The village square of the capital Santa Cruz da Graciosa is surrounded by gigantic New Zealand Christmas trees that were planted as far back as the 19th century.
Caldera of Graciosa, AzoresPhoto: Angrense in the public domain
Besides the 'flower island', Flores is also the most scenically rugged but also the most beautiful island of the Azores with many mountains, valleys, crater lakes, waterfalls and very steep up to 600 meters high cliffs. Flores is also the westernmost and fourth smallest island of the Azores with an area of 142 km2. Flores has a maximum length of 17 km, a maximum width of 12 km and a coast length of approximately 72 km. Flores is unique to the Azores because, unlike the other islands, it has no caldera and no long gorges. And just like Corvo, Flores lies between two tectonic plates and therefore has no earthquakes.
Flores, together with the small Corvo, belongs to the western group (grupo ocidental) inhabited islands of the Azores and, like the island of Graciosa, is UNESCO declared a biosphere reserve. Like Corvo, Flores belongs geologically to America, because it lies on a North American plate and slowly drifts towards the American mainland. In general, Flores has a rugged, steep and therefore inaccessible rocky coast in the west, where, especially in the winter months, many waterfalls fall down;there are also surf caves such as Gruta dos Enxaréus and Gruta do Galo. Many waterfalls can also be found further inland, including Lake Poço das Patas to the east of the town of Fajãzinha, which is fed by many waterfalls of the Ribeira do Ferreiro. One of Flores' mountain streams, the Ribeira das Casas, flows into the 90-meter-high Cascata do Poço do Bacalheu waterfall. TheRibeira das Casas has its source on the highest peak of Flores, the Morro Alto (915 m).
Waterfall 'Cascata do Poço do Bacalhau' in Flores, AzoresPhoto: Unukorno CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Other high peaks on Flores are the Pico da Burrinha (886 m) and the Pico dos Sete Pés (849 m). The steep slopes of the green west coast, which can be hundreds of meters high, are covered with forests and meadows. The mountainous interior of Flores is characterized by the presence of forests, swamps, crater lakes, volcanic cones, and is brightened by juniper bushes and hydrangea hedges. The entire east side of Flores is cut through deeply cut valleys. The rock formations on the Ponta da Caveira headland are rugged and spectacular.
The crater lakes area is called Sete Lagoas, the 'seven lakes'. The seven lakes are Lagoa da Lomba (15 m deep), Lagoa Comprida (17 m deep), Lagoa Negra (the deepest lake, 105 m), Lagoa Seca (seca = dry, so the lake with the least water), Lagoa da Água Branca (very shallow, 2 m), Lagoa Funda (22 m deep) and Lagoa Rasa (16 m deep). The basalt massif Rocha dos Bordões is impressive.
In addition to the aforementioned rivers Ribeira do Ferreiro and Ribeira das Casas, Flores has a number of rivers and streams: Ribeira do Mouco, Ribeira da Badanela, Ribeira Grande, Ribeira da Lapa, Ribeira do Monte Gordo, Ribeira Funda, Ribeira da Esguilhão, Ribeira da Fazenda, Ribeira da Silva, Ribeira do Loureiro, Ribeira Seca, Ribeira da Lapa, Ribeira do Fundão, Ribeira do Mosteiro, Ribeira da Caldeira, Ribeira Grande, Ribeira do Pomar, Ribeira das Lajes, Ribeira d'Além, Ribeira do Moinho and Ribeira da Privada.
Lagoa Funda, with in the background Lagoa Rasa, Flores, AzoresPhoto: Luisa Madruga CC3.0 Unported no changes made
Corvo or the 'crow island' is the smallest inhabited island of the Azores with an area of only 17 km2 The maximum length of Corvo is 6.5 km, the maximum width is 4 km and the coast length is approximately 21 km. Geologically, Corvo belongs to North America, as it is located on the North American continental plate.
Satellite photo of Corvo, AzoresPhoto: Public domain
The landscape of Corvo (grupo oriental) is totally dominated by the gigantic and only crater (275 m deep and a diameter of 2000 m) in the middle of the island, the Caldeirão. In the crater, one of the largest in the Azores, meadows have been created and cows graze there. The highest points of the crater rim are in the south Morro dos Homens (718 m), also the highest point of Corvo, and in the north Serrão Alta (663 m). At the bottom of the crater is an eight-shaped lake.
Some streams on Corvo are the Ribeira Funda, the Ribeira do Poco de Agua, Ribeira da Lapa and the Ribeira da Fonte Doce. Corvo has the highest cliffs in the Azores, up to 700 m high, especially in the north and northwest of the island.
Volcanic rock for the volcano Capelinhos, AzoresPhoto: Feliciano Guimarães CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
The Azores archipelago is unmistakably of volcanic origin, with the formation of the youngest volcano in 1957-1958 and the last major earthquake in 1998 with deaths, injuries and nearly 20,000 homeless.
The Azores are basically mountain peaks of an underwater mountains that rise above the ocean. hot liquid magma flows continuously at the bottom of the ocean and solidifies as soon as it comes into contact with the much colder seawater. This continuous supply of new rock ensures that the continents of Europe and Africa and America on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are being pushed apart at a rate of 1 cm per year. This plate tectonics is causing the western archipelago, Flores and Corvo, to move awayof the other islands of the archipelago and is no longer a volcanically active area.
The islands of the 'Grupo Central' and the 'Grupo Oriental', on the other hand, except Santa Maria, are very volcanic. These two groups of islands are sandwiched between a number of large continental plates and there are still frequent eruptions and earthquakes. The youngest volcano, Capelinhos, was born in the years 1957-1958 and quite 'heavy' earthquakes still occurred in 1980 and 1998, the latter having a magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale and killing eight people from Faial Island. More than 3,000 aftershocks were recorded in the weeks after the great quake. In total, the archipelago has been hit by more than thirty major volcanic eruptions since colonization in the 15th century, and often devastating earthquakes in connection therewith.
Caldeira das Sete Cidades on Sao Miguel, AzoresPhoto: Ulrik Sverdrup CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
A variety of volcanic activity can also be observed throughout the Azores, including mud volcanoes, hot water springs and fumaroles, holes or crevices in the bottom from which volcanic effluents with temperatures between 100 and 1000°C escape. If hydrogen sulphide stinking like rotten eggs is present, fumaroles are called solfatars.
In addition, there are many caves on the islands, sometimes formed from a fumarole, and craters. Crater walls collapse due to eruptions and so 'caldeiras are created, including on São Miguel de Caldeira das Sete Cidades and on Faial de Caldeira. There are two types of caves on the archipelago: lava tunnels (for example, the Gruta do Carvão which cuts through Ponta Delgada for a length of 1,650 meters) under cooled lava flows and a series of cracks called crater pipes, which connect to a magma chamber deep in the ground. Shapes such as lava cones, basalt stalactites and quartzite drip stones can be found in tunnels as well as in craters.
In the coming decades, energy production from geothermal energy will become increasingly important for the Azores. At the moment, about 22% of the electricity comes from a number of geothermal power stations, on the largest island of São Miguel, that percentage is already reaching 50%. Although there are also possibilities to extract geothermal energy on the other islands, this is not happening yet.
Climate and Weather
Azores High Pressure AreaPhoto: Public domain
Due to the dampening influence of the Gulf Stream, the Azores have a moderate climate all year round with few temperature differences, but especially in the summer months of August and September it can be oppressive heat due to the high humidity. Maximum daytime temperatures and nighttime temperatures are about 5°C lower in both summer and winter, from 14°C (9°C at night) in the coldest month of February to 27°C (22°C at night) ) in the hottest month of August.
The seawater temperature is also influenced by the Gulf Stream running along the south of the Azores, and is between 17 and 23°C. On average there are about five to six hours of sunshine in the winter and eleven to twelve hours in the summer. The southern sides of the islands are generally a bit warmer and sunnier than the northern parts and the humidity is also a bit higher there. The islands in the east of the archipelago are the warmest, the islands in the west have lower temperatures due to the stronger wind. Santa Maria, the southernmost island of the Azores, is the island with the most sunshine and is therefore not called 'Ilha do Sol' for nothing.
Rain can fall all year round, but more and more often in the winter months December and January, but also in March it can still rain regularly. Characteristic of the climate in the Azores is the wide variety of weather conditions, sun and rain, in a short period. The average rainfall per year is between 1000 and 1600 mm. The island with the least rainfall is Graciosa, most rainfall falls on the western islands of Corvo and especially Flores (1600 mm).
The mountains in the Azores are often shrouded in mist, so it is better to stay on the coast. In winter, stormy depressions sometimes cause extremely bad weather with large amounts of rain. These showers can be so severe that landslides occur, such as in 2010 on the island of Flores, where the town of Fajãzinha was completely cut off from the outside world. Atop the highest mountain in the Azores, Montanha do Pico, in winter it often freezes and snow can fall.
Weather table Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island
|maximum day temperature||maximum night temperature||water temperature||hours of sunshine per day||rainy days per month|
In the weather talk on television, the so-called Azores high is often mentioned. a subtropical high pressure area around the Azores. The Azores high is created by the exchange of heat between the North Pole, the South Pole and the tropics.
Plants and Animals
From a botanical and zoological point of view, the Azores belong to Macaronesia, the name for the island groups of volcanic origin located in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and west of West Africa. In addition to the Azores, Macaronesia also includes the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira (including Porto Santo and the Ilhas Desertas) and the Ilhas Selvagens. now only 10% of the islands are covered with forests. Agriculture and housing have almost completely destroyed the original forests. Instead, the Japanese cedar, which is not much appreciated by ecologists, was planted, which, however, feels very much at home in the Azores, now makes up almost half of all forests and is used to combat erosion, retain rainwater, provide shade for livestock and used for wood.
The vast majority of seeds are spread across the island through the feathers of migratory birds. In addition, many plants from many countries have been brought to the island by people;about two thirds of the 1,300 plants, ferns, mosses (more than 400 species) and herbs have ever been introduced, only about 60 species are endemic and often in danger of extinction. Every year new beautiful flowers and plants are discovered such as the Azores Bell and Daphne flax spurge or Euphorbia stygiana. Other native species include tree heather, large-leaved blueberry, Pau Branco, bloodwood tree, Portuguese cherry laurel, changeable flower, sea fennel, pale yellow dried flower, gluey herb, stag horn plantain, wall finch, tar guichelle, wood-huckleweed, knotweed, arrow cane, stripe fern, double-headed fern, Indian lilac and ironwood tree Tamujo tree.
Daphne flax spurge or Euphorbia stygianaPhoto: Daderot in the public domain
In the lower parts, a macchia species predominates with mainly evergreen vegetation. Where the average altitudes are between 600 and 1000 meters, the image is determined by the native short-needle juniper and the Azores laurel or Laurus azorica. Of the native protected Azores laurel forests, although the 'trees' do not exceed shrub height, large parts are still preserved on the islands of São Miguel, Pico, Terceira and Flores.
Laurus azorica or Azorean laurelPhoto: Consultaplantas CC 4.0 International no changes made
Other typical varieties are the shrub Viburnum tinis, bilberry and Azores holly. These species all grow to a height of approx. 1000 meters, on the island of Pico, Azores tree heather, which grows to tree height on the coast, and broom heather also occur up to 2000 meters. The wax gale is threatened by the cruciferous sticky seed imported from Australia.
The hydrangea, especially in spherical shape, is the most famous and most typical plant species of the Azores. Especially on the blue island 'ilha azul' Faial you can enjoy a blue-white hydrangea splendor in the flowering period from June to September.
Hydrangea, typical of the AzoresPhoto: Nono vlf CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Other beautiful flowering plants are marshmallows, belladonna lily and amaryllis. An annoying immigrant is the giant rhubarb from Brazil, which displaces other plants. Since 2008, a program has been started to prevent further spread of the plant. Another very serious threat to the native Azorian flora is ornamental ginger, native to the Himalayas.
Giant rhubarb threatens other plants in the AzoresPhoto: Basher Eyre CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
Other special plant species include wax myrtle, snowball laurel, Azores buckthorn, Portuguese cherry laurel, large-leaved blueberry, rooting chain fern and tree fern. The largest dragon tree in the Azores is on the island of Pico at the former Carmelite monastery Casa Conventual dos Carmelitas in the town of Madalena.
Azores batPhoto: Felipe Lopes CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Due to the great distance between the mainland and the islands, the Azores are and will remain isolated and therefore difficult to reach for mammals. Only the Azores bat and the eared bat are native to the Azores, the other mammals were introduced by human influences. The Iberian lake frog is also not originally found in the Azores, but was probably introduced for the control of mosquitoes.
In total there are nine mammal species in the Azores, the aforementioned Azores bat and the long-eared bat and one insect-eater, the hedgehog, one lagomorph, the rabbit, three rodents, brown rat, black rat and house mouse, and two predators, the ferret and the weasel. The native, protected Azores bat or Nyctalus azoreum is one of the few bat species that is active not only just after sunset, but also during the day.
About 185 bird species have been spotted in the Azores, 35 of which are brothers. Of those brethren, ten subspecies are endemic and one are endemic. Many birds use the islands as a stopover during their winter or summer migration. A changing climate worldwide means more exotic species are arriving in the Azores, often due to the increasing activity of hurricanes between North and Central America and the Caribbean. And that not only concerns water birds, but for some time also increasingly species that only occur on land. Regular migrants are common tern, black-headed gull and the great mayor. Wagtail, rock pigeon, turnstone, sandpiper, little egret and whimbrel occur along the coast and in the shallow waters created by lava flowing into the sea. The Kentish plover is more common on the sandy beaches, the high inaccessible cliffs are a nice territory for different species of petrels and shearwaters. The Kuhl's petrel is found on all islands, as well as various tern species, including Rose's tern. In mixed forest and meadow areas we see finch species, blackbirds, blackhead, great yellow wagtail and canary. The golden rooster is found in forests, with three different subspecies, including Santa Maria, that only occur on those specific islands. Sparrows and starlings are the most common birds in the Azores.
Characteristic of the Azores is a subspecies of the buzzard, the 'Buteo buteo rothschildi', which, however, is getting more and more difficult and traditionally did not occur on Flores and Corvo, but is now also extinct on Santa Maria and Graciosa. Another rare species is the Azores bullfinch or 'priolo' in Portuguese, of which only a few hundred to more than a thousand can be found in the east of the island of São Miguel, in the protected area of Serra da Tronqueira.
The Azores goldfinch occurs only in the AzoresPhoto: Public domain
On the cliffs of the 'new' Vulcão Capelinhos, between 150-200 pairs of the Larus michahellis atlantis, a subspecies of the yellow-legged gull, nest. Variations on the European mainland species include Azorean blackbird, Azorean finch, and Azorean wood pigeon. The uninhabited island of Ilhéu de Vila Franca is on the international list of Important Bird Areas (IBA) because of the huge numbers of seabirds that hatch their offspring there, including the Roseate Tern and the Kuhls Shearwater. On two islands off the coast of the island of Graciosa, including Ilhéu da Praia, the endemic and very rare Monteiro's petrel breeds.
List of common birds in the Azores
|Red-billed Chough||sandwich tern||Monteiro's Petrel|
|Ringed Plover||Rose-ringed parakeet||Arctic shearwater|
|American sandpiper||stock pigeon||arctic tern|
|American wigeon||wood pigeon||Caspian Gull|
|American Black Duck||house sparrow||long-eared owl|
|Azores bullfinch||Gannet||ring-billed duck|
|Blue Heron||canary||Ring-billed Gull|
|Blue-winged Teal||knot||red partridge|
|Ringed Plover||lapwing||red-billed tropicbird|
|Spotted tern||Little Mayor||red phalarope|
|variegated sandpiper||Little Yellow-legged Rider||rock pigeon|
|forest pheasant||little hunter||wigeon|
|buzzard||lesser black-backed gull||snow bunting|
|Bulwer's petrel||little shearwater||Spanish sparrow|
|Roseate tern||little sandpiper||Sparrowhawk|
|three-toed sandpiper||Linnet||Kentish plover|
|Yellow-legged Gull||Fieldfare||Collared Dove|
|striped sandpiper||curved sandpiper||pale storm petrel|
|golden rooster||Crested Duck||Skylark|
|greenfinch||Tufted Duck||common tern|
|green-legged rider||crested maina||fire gold rooster|
|Great Yellow Wagtail||Madeira Storm Bird||snipe|
|great hunter||coot||Wilson's Petrel|
|great black-backed gull||blackbird||silver plover|
|Great Shearwater||middle hunter||blackcap|
Due to the warm gulf currents, numerous species of fish can be found in the water, about 50 of which are edible species. The Azores are among the most fish-rich areas in the world, including swordfish, barracuda, mackerel, real bonito, garter or silver swordfish, blue marlin, white marlin, blue throats, forkbeard, wreckfish, spotted wrasse, red sea bream, mullet, brown grouper, red scorpionfish, yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna. The old crater of the Formigas Islands is inhabited by peacock wrasse, rainbow wrasse, sergeant major fish, itajara and long-beaked spearfish, among others.
Peacock WrassePhoto: Matthieu Sontag Cc3.0 Unported no changes made
Furthermore, the Azores offer an excellent opportunity to spot whales and dolphins. Especially in the period June-September, there are a lot of cetaceans in the ocean around the Azores. Many whale watching excursions are offered, especially from the islands of Pico, Faial and São Miguel. In the spring you can see blue whales, in the summer many sperm whales and smaller whale species such as the Indian pilot whale. A total of 24 whale and dolphin species have been seen in the waters around the Azores, including Cuvier's dolphin, northern bottlenose whale, common or North Sea beaked whale, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, gramper or gray dolphin, Atlantic spotted or spot dolphin, striped dolphin, beaked whale dolphin of the Blainville, True's beaked whale, Gervais beaked whale, sei whale, humpback whale, fin whale, minke whale, Bryde's whale. Sometimes one sees an orca, black killer whale, beaked dolphin, dwarf sperm whale, smallest sperm whale or northern right whale. The last species was once again spotted in the waters around the Azores in 2009 after more than 110 years.
Whale watching is popular in the AzoresPhoto: Luca Nebuloni CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
The Gruta das Torres volcanic tunnel, discovered not so long ago (1990), is home to a special fauna, including an endemic ground beetle species and a glass-winged cicada.
Cow from the Azores: Ramo Grande
From the 15th century onwards, domestic animals were soon introduced to the Azores by Portuguese settlers. The cow was the most important in this, not only because of the milk, but they were also used for plowing and pulling carts. Breeds of cows then importedThe Alentejana, the Mirandesa, the Minhota and the Algarvia were honored. It is suspected that species were also imported from Flanders, but it is not known which species.
The following five centuries continued breeding between all these species and eventually a specific species for the Azores emerged, the Ramo Grande. In the 1950s, Frisians were imported from England and America and a breeding program was set up on the islands of São Miguel and Terceira through artificial insemination. A few decades later, Holsteiners (dairy cows), Limousin, Charolais and Fleckvieh (all beef cows) came from the Netherlands, Germany, France and Canada. This influx of races seriously oppressed the Ramo Grande and was in danger of extinction. However, a number of concerned farmers stepped in to defend the Ramo Grande and try to keep the breed for the Azores. All individual cows are now registered and the breed characteristics are officially recorded.
The Ramo Grande is also used to drive tourists in the AzoresPhoto: Public domain
Geological history of the Azores
Just south of the North Pole to near the South Pole is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a mountain range, the longest on Earth, which is mostly submerged, but emerges here and there. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge plays a major role in the origin and geological future of the Azores. Mid-ocean ridges pull tectonic plates away from each other and the resulting space is filled with magma. This magma solidifies on the surface, causing volcanoes and other forms of volcanism to form. The separation of plates is an ongoing process and so there will always be the formation of new oceanic crusts.
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which moves apart up to 2 centimeters per year, separates the Eurasian and African plates in the east and the South and North American plates in the west. Some islands or archipelagos that live near or on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge include Jan Mayen (Arctic Ocean), Iceland (largest landmass ever created from oceanic crust), Bermuda, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, Bouvet and the Azores.
Mid-Atlantic Ridge positionPhoto: United States Geological Survey in the public domain
The situation for the Azores is a bit more complicated because there are three tectonic plates converging, so that the western islands of Flores and Corvo are on the North American plate and the other islands on the African plate, the Eurasian plate. lying on an Azorian microplate, that is still not entirely clear. The earthquakes that can be felt in the Azores, almost always less than 5.0 on the Richter Scale, are caused by magma flowing out through new cracks and fractures in the Earth's crust. These tremors may or may not be regular and six of the nine islands of the Azores have recently experienced eruptions and earthquakes, Corvo, Flores and Santa Maria are considered inactive.
Of the Central and Eastern Islands. Santa Maria first rose above sea level about five million years ago, but disappeared again under water due to tectonic activities. Approx. 4 million years ago, the Formigas Islets (located between São Miguel and Santa Maria) emerged, which is now the east of São Miguel and again Santa Maria. The marine fossils are from this time, which can only be found on Santa Maria. Originally composed of two islands, eastern São Miguel was formed from 290,000 years ago. Faial, Graciosa, São Jorge and Terceira are all younger than 1 million years, Pico is the 'youngest' island because it was only created about 300,000 years ago. The two western islands, Corvo and Flores, lie on the western flanks of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge;the oldest rocks in Flores date back to 2.5 million years ago and are below sea level;the youngest rocks are less than 3,000 years old.
As late as 1811, in barely a month, a completely new island appeared just to the east of São Miguel, 1.5 km long and about 100 meters wide. A British frigate was around there at the time, claimed the island and named it after the frigate's name, Sabrina. However, the British had already lost the island four months later, what it was swallowed up again in that short time by the sea and what remained was a sandbank some 40 meters below sea level. Recently, in 1957, an eruption west of Faial expanded the island with an additional 2 km2 of land.
Portuguese explorers discover the Azores
Until the 15th century, the Azores were an unspoilt area with no original inhabitants, no one had ever set foot on one of the islands or settled on it. The islands of the Azores were already well known in the 14th century, because the Medici Atlas from 1351 included the seven islands of the central and eastern group. The islands of Corvo, Flores and São Jorge were drawn on a Catalan map from 1375.
Less than a century later, the era of Portuguese voyages of discovery began and Madeira (c. 1419), the Azores (c. 1427), Cape Verde (1456-1460), Saint Helena and Asciension (1501-1502) and Tristan da Cunha (1506) further mapped and eventually colonized. At that time Bartolomeu Dias (c. 1450-1500) rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, opening the way to the Indian Ocean; Pedro Álvares Cabral (c. 1467-c. 1526) landed in Brazil in 1500 and many native expeditions took place in Africa.
Map of the Azores from 1584Photo: Public domain
In 1419, the island of Madeira was discovered by a captain of Henry the Navigator (Portuguese name;Henrique, o Navegador), João Gonçalves Zarco (c. 1390-1471). Madeira was uninhabited and was used as a starting point for other voyages of discovery, one of which resulted in the discovery of the Azores. It is still not entirely certain when that was exactly. Some historians believe that the Azores were accidentally found by returning Portuguese sailors sailing along the African coast or sailing to or from Madeira. However, given the prevailing winds that blow in that region, this is a very unlikely scenario.
Henry the Navigator, 'discoverer' of the Azores Photo: Lonpicman CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
More realistic is the theory that Henry the Navigator sent Goncalo Velho Cabral on a voyage in 1431 with orders to sail west until he encountered an island, knowing that islands were drawn on the Catalan map mentioned above. In 1431 Cabral found a number of volcanic rocks that he called the 'Formigas', and at that time he was only a few dozen kilometers from one of the Azorian islands. He returned to Henry and was immediately ordered to re-explore the area around the present-day Azores archipelago in 1432.
On August 15, 1432, which happened to be the Assumption Day, Cabral found the easternmost island of the Azores, and named it after Maria, Santa Maria. In a letter from Alfonso V, King of Portugal, dated 2 July 1439, the name Azores is mentioned for the first time. The letter mentions seven islands and Henry the Navigator was given the right to colonize the islands. São Miguel was discovered a little later and Terceira was the 'third island' to be discovered. Another popular theory is that the first island, Santa Maria, was discovered in 1427 by Diogo de Silves, also a Portuguese explorer. In any case, Flores and Corvo were the last to be discovered, that's for sure.
Statue of Goncalo Velho Cabral in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores Photo: Carlos Luis M C da Cruz in the public domain
The colonization of the islands was in a typically medieval way. King Alfonso V gave the islands to his nephew, Henry the Navigator, who was awarded the military order 'Ordem Militar de Avis'. The organization behind this military order sponsored, as it were, the Portuguese voyages of discovery in the 15th century and in return were given the opportunity to colonize and exploit the new lands. Henry the Navigator in turn delegated control of the islands in terms of administration, defense, justice and land allocation to the colonial governor, the 'Capitão Donatário'. This figure also collected a number of taxes and had a monopoly over mills, salt production and bread ovens.
Ordem Militar de Avis, AzoresPhoto: Chancelaria da Presidência da Republica in the public domain
Furthermore, there was an almost fixed pattern when colonizing new land: cows, goats and pigs were imported for meat and the landscape was tackled to start agricultural activities, for example. And for the Azores, tackling the often very dense vegetation was an enormous task. The first islands to be permanently inhabited, the immigrants mainly came from the regions of Algarve and Alentejo on the Portuguese mainland and from the island of Madeira, Santa Maria and São Miguel, followed by Terceira in about 1450. Because there are too few immigrants from Portugal ventured the voyage, Hendrik the Navigator stimulated immigration from Flanders, where many sought refuge to escape the poverty and the scourges of the Hundred Years' War between the French houses of Valois and Plantagenet, which was also fought on Flemish territory. The Flemish gladly accepted this request and in 1466 Josse Van Huerter (Portuguese: Joss de Utra or just Dutra) received the islands of Faial and Pico in concession, a few years later Flores and São Jorge by the Bruges merchant Willem van der Haegen ( Portuguese: Guilherme da Silveira or Guilherme Vanderaga) and Terceira by the Flemish noblehusband Jacob van Brugge.
In total, around 2000 Flemish people left for the Azores, which were soon known in Northern Europe under the name of the Flemish Islands. into the fire. That was sometimes very rigorous, and an island like Pico even got a somewhat rocky character. Settlements were built close to the coast wherever possible, which was not easy due to the inhospitality of the coastline. From here, the interior was gradually colonized and agricultural activities were started that were soon so successful that even in the course of the 16th century it was possible to start exporting, including wheat, sugar and widow blue, which was mainly used as a coloring agent for the textile industry in Flanders. Each island had its own specialties, depending on climate and soil conditions, and exports only really started at the end of the 17th century, when the population started to feed more and more on maize and (sweet) potatoes imported from America.
In the mid-16th century, the Azores benefited from the return of trade ships from India, but it was not until the Portuguese colonization of Brazil and the voyages of discovery to America that accelerated the development of the islands. The coastal town of Angra on the island of Terceira in particular played an important role in this, partly because the sheltered harbor generated a lot of harbor money. Ships returning from Brazil gathered in Angra and set out in convoy and protected by warships towards Lisbon, fearful of the many pirate ships that infested the sea between the Azores and mainland Portugal.
In 1580, the Spanish annexed Castile Portugal. The Azores supported Dom António (António I de Portugal or Anton van Crato), a Portuguese pretender to the throne, who, with the help of France, held out on Terceira, the last stronghold in the fight against the Castilians.
In July In 1582 the Spanish defeated the French fleet at Terceira and in 1583 all the islands of the Azores were conquered and occupied. In 1588, the Spanish Armada suffered a dramatic defeat against the English fleet led by Admiral Charles Howard (1536-1624) and Vice Admiral Francis Drake (ca.1540-1596), while Dutch watergeuzen prevented the Duke of Parma from moving from Flanders to join the Armada. As a result of this defeat, Spanish power in the Azores, also known as the 'Babylonian captivity', was waning and the islands were regularly attacked by English privateers.
In 1591, Spanish rule came to an end, the English attacked the Spanish and from about 1640 until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 the Azores became a staging post for English merchant ships and a strategic base for English warships. In the same year, a new king was elected by Portuguese nobles from their own ranks, Johan IV (João IV) of Portugal (actually Duke John II of Bragança) of the House of Bragança.
Joao IV of Portugal (1604-1656) Photo: Public domain
A war of independence with the Spaniards ensues, the so-called Portuguese Restoration War (1640-1668), and as early as 1642 the Spaniards are expelled from the Azores. It was not until 1668 that Spain recognized the independence of Portugal. From 1656 to 1683, son of Johan IV, Alfonso VI of Portugal (Portuguese: Dom Afonso VI de Portugal) was king of Portugal. The physio and mentally weak Alfons. However, the real leadership was in the hands of Mother and Regent Louisa Maria. Alfons found out through the media that his mother even wanted to remove him from the throne and that was the signal for him to take matters into his own hands, and as the first powerful act he sent his mother into the monastery. After the divorce with his wife Maria, his younger brother Peter, who got married with the same Maria, forced him to surrender power to him and appoint him regent. This Peter was King of Portugal from 1683 to 1706 under the name of Dom Pedro II de Portugal. Alfons had meanwhile been exiled to Terceira for seven years and died the same year his brother became king of Portugal.
For centuries, the Azores did not have a central government, and it was not until 1766 that a governor and captain became appointed general by the statesman and above all economic reformer Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis de Pombal, prime minister since 1750 under King Joseph I of Portugal (Portuguese: Dom José I de Portugal, 1714-1777), nicknamed the 'Reformer' ( Portuguese: o Reformador).
Important for the Azores was that he also introduced administrative reforms by Portgal to be divided into districts and provinces. Thus the Azores became one province, governed by a capitão-general (Portuguese: capitão-general) with Angra on Terceira as the capital. What was not much appreciated by the other islands was the removal of a great deal of autonomy that the islands and their lords had built up over the centuries. Especially the economically important and wealthy São Miguel protested strongly because they were used to solving their problems directly with the central government in Portugal.
In 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte's French troops entered Portugal;Napoleon wanted to end Anglo-Portuguese trade, and demanded that Portugal close its ports to the English ships. However, the Portuguese refused and that triggered the Spanish War of Independence (1807-1814), in which the Portuguese, Spanish and British took on Napoleon's French. The Portuguese royal family and other important figures fled to Brazil, making Rio de Janeiro the temporary capital of Portugal. Portugal was ruled by a military junta during that war with a request not to oppose the occupiers.
In 1808, British and Portuguese troops, led by Sir Arthur Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington), captured Lisbon and the French troops were allowed to leave the country without further violence. At the same time, Napoleon forced the Spanish King Charles IV (1748-1819) to resign and replaced him with his brother, Joseph Bonaparte (1768-1844). The French made two more attempts to invade Portugal, but failed both times and even had to leave Spain in 1814 after a series of defeats. Portugal, and therefore the Azores, had been severely affected by the war violence. And with a king, at that time Johan VI of Portugal (Portuguese: Dom João VI de Portugal), and a government in Brazil, the country was in fact ruled by the English Marshal William Carr Beresford (1768-1856) and British companies had major economic interests in Portugal. The feeling in Portugal and especially in Lisbon was that they had actually become a kind of colony of Brazil.
William Carr Beresford, ruler of Portugal and the Azores Photo: Public domain
In 1820, that sentiment led to the 'Liberal Revolution', which spread across the country from Porto and aimed at the return of the king from Brazil, the declaration of a constitutional monarchy and that Brazil regain colony status. with Portugal's monopoly to trade with Brazil. William Beresford was replaced by a junta and in 1821 a constituent assembly was elected in Lisbon and the first Liberal constitution was published. A few months later, Johan VI returned to Lisbon and his grandson Peter I (Portuguese: Dom Pedro) remained as regent in Brazil. That same year, the Empire of Brazil was dissolved and brought back under the direct control of Lisbon. At least, that's what they thought, because in 1822 Peter proclaimed himself Emperor of Brazil and detached the colony from the motherland by defeating the last Portuguese troops in 1824.
In Portugal, the new constitution left the king hardly any more. power, much to the dissatisfaction of Johan VI's wife, Carlota-Joaquina, who organized an uprising with her son Dom Miguel. A period of great unrest followed, which worsened after the death of Johan VI in 1826, after which Peter I was proclaimed King of Portugal for a very short period (March 10, 1826- May 2, 1826) and was then succeeded by his eldest daughter., Dona Maria II. In 1828 the Portuguese throne was taken over by Prince Dom Miguel, youngest brother of Peter I. The Liberals in the government, dissatisfied or even persecuted by the new absolute regime, left for loyal Terceira.
Meanwhile, Brazil was also facing a political crisis and Peter I resigned on April 7, 1831 in favor of his son Peter II. Peter I left for Europe in July 1832 to take on his brother Dom Miguel, this is called the Miguelist War. He first went to England because many Liberals had fled there, and from there to Terceira to set up a government-in-exile there. In July of the same year he, together with the French and English, conquered Porto in the north. The Duke of Terceira conquered Lisbon and in 1834 took control of all of Portugal. Peter I died of tuberculosis on September 24.
Tombe Peter I van PortugalPhoto: Public domain
Reforms were now the order of the day and the Azores officially became a province of Portugal with Angra as its capital. The island of São Miguel protested strongly against Terceira's dominance and this conflict was eventually resolved by creating first two districts and then a third. São Miguel and Santa Maria were then under the Ponta Delgada District, while Angra controlled Terceira, Graciosa and São Jorge. The Horta district was in charge of Faial, Pico, Flores and Corvo. Each district was independent from the other and negotiated and consulted separately with the central authority in Lisbon. The provincial governor was appointed by Lisbon.
Already at this time the idea of territorial division started which later led to districts with far-reaching autonomy until 1974. Matters such as taxes triggered that process, such as in 1869 the 'Dízimo'. tax that required the population to hand over 10% of income to the Church. Later, a tax on Azorian alcohol followed to protect the beverage industry on the mainland. In 1864, orange cultivation was killed by insect pests, but the pineapple, grown in greenhouses, became a new export product, especially from the island of São Miguel. Important for Portugal and the Azores in 1893 was the construction of the first sea cable between the island of Faial and mainland Portugal. The city of Horta later became important as a relay station for transatlantic communications.
Portugal manages to avoid the violence of World War II, with the exception of a number of Allied bases in the Azores. Whaling from the Azores benefited enormously from this without the presence of competition, especially from the United States. Prime Minister and later President Salazar led the authoritarian right-wing government that ruled Portugal from 1932 to 1974. Despite his dictatorship, he ensured in those years for peace among the population and for political and financial stability. There was primary education for everyone and a lot was invested in the infrastructure. Many of the popular schools in the Azores date back to this time. After his death, a left-wing coup changed the regime towards democracy, free elections and the first constitutional government took office in 1976. In the same year, the Azores became an autonomous region with its own president and government, who also elected five delegates to the rural parliament in Lisbon.
In 1980, the historic city of Angra do Herosmo on the island of Terceira was largely destroyed and later rebuilt with the help of UNESCO and American aid. UNESCO also immediately declared the city a World Heritage Site. A few years later, in 1984, another setback for the Azores. Whaling causes so many losses that it is no longer economically viable to maintain a whaling fleet. On the island of Pico, the last whale processing factory also closed its doors, which meant that from that date onwards, whales became increasingly important to the Azores only from a tourist point of view.
In 1986 good news for the Azorean economy. Portugal joined the European Union (then the European Community) in that year and the Azores received large sums from Brussels in subsidies for infrastructure and job creation, especially in tourism.
In 1998, the Azores, and in particular the islands of Faial and Pico, shaken by an earthquake that killed eight people and caused extensive damage to the houses on those islands.
The Ribeirinka Lighthouse on Faial before the 1998 earthquake Photo: Public domain
The Ribeirinha lighthouse on Faial after the 1998 earthquakePhoto: Public domain
The winegrowing area on Pico with its characteristic wine farms and walled vineyards was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004;After Graciosa and Corvo a few years earlier, Flores was declared a Biosphere Reserve.
In 2013, the economic crisis that started in 2008 was also felt in the Azores. Holidaymakers from Portugal, who account for half of all tourists, stay away in large numbers, fortunately the number of foreign tourists remained fairly stable during those difficult times.
Brief history of the islands
São Miguel was discovered almost at the same time as Santa Maria in 1427 by the Portuguese explorer Diogo de Silves. The first settlers on São Miguel not only came from the Portuguese provinces of Extremadura, Alentejo and Algarve, but Jews, Moors, French and Madeira residents also settled on São Miguel. The island's first capital was Vila Franca do Campo, but an earthquake and violent mudslides in 1522 devastated the city, killing almost all residents.
Coat of arms of Vila Franca do Campo, Azores Photo: Sérgio Horta CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
In 1546, Ponta Delgada, with an important port and located in a more earthquake-resistant location, became the new capital of São Miguel. At that time there were already wealthy merchants on the island who traded with Portugal, Madeira, the Canary Islands and Flanders, among others. but there was also trade with England, in one year dozens of English merchant ships called São Miguel. Agricultural products of the time were mainly wheat, woad (for making the color widow blue), sugar cane and dairy products. From 1582 São Miguel was occupied by Spanish troops and exploited for years until independence in 1640. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the port of São Miguel was fortified against the attacks of pirates and corsairs. Terceira was the main island of the Azores at the time, but that changed in favor of São Miguel after the Portuguese independence in 1640. During the 18th and early 19th century the island flourished economically, mainly due to the cultivation of oranges, mainly exported to England were exported. At that time many houses, but also the necessary churches were built.
In 1831-1832 the resistance against the absolutist regime of that time was organized from São Miguel. From Ponta delgada 3,500 liberal Azorians left for Northern Portugal. From 1860, orange cultivation collapsed due to cheaper alternatives from Portugal and Spain and harmful insects that transmit diseases. This eventually resulted in an economic crisis and increased emigration to North and South America. Instead of oranges, tea, pineapples, chicory, sugar beets and tobacco were now grown, along with livestock farming and, later, fishing. In 1861 the port of Ponta Delgada was modernized, which in turn attracted industrial activity. In 1947, the port was again majorly tackled. On January 9, 1976, the first and so far only university in the Azores, the 'Universidade dos Açores' in Ponta Delgada, opened its doors.
Logo of the Universidade dos Açores Photo: Universidade dos Açores in the public domain
Santa Maria is believed to have been the first island of the Azores to be discovered in 1427, in this case by the Portuguese explorer Diogo de Silves. The name Santa Maria would have been chosen because on the day the island was first seen, it was the Assumption of Mary on that day. Santa Maria was also the first island to be settled by colonists, initially by Gonçalo Velho Cabral. That was in the year 1439 and they mainly came from the Portuguese regions of Algarve and Alentejo. They initially settled on the northwest coast at a place called Praia do Lobos, west of present-day Anjos, by the river Ribeira do Capitão (now Ribeira de Santana).
Gonçalo Velho Cabral (c. 1400- c. 1460), colonizer of Santa Maria, AzoresPhoto: Carlos Luis M C da Cruz in the public domain
Between 1460 and 1474 Vila do Porto developed, in 1472 it was granted city rights, however, it became the administrative center of Santa Maria and exported woad (blue) and urzela, two dyes that were frequently used in the textile industry at the time. At the time, Santa Maria acted as a sort of commercial satellite of São Miguel, supplying that larger island with wheat, orseille (purple dye from lichen), woad (dye for dyers in Flanders), pottery clay and cheese. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Santa Maria was severely affected by constant attacks from French, Turkish and Moorish pirates, which also destroyed settlements. At the beginning of the 19th century, demand for the products produced on Santa Maria virtually came to a standstill and dealt a serious blow to the island's economy. As a result, many residents of the islandd left for other countries, especially North and South America.
It was not until World War II that Santa Maria came into the picture again with the construction of an American air base on the island, which was later expanded into an airfield suitable transatlantic flights;in 1977 the first Concorde landed at the airport. An air traffic control center for North Atlantic airspace is currently located at Santa Maria.
Terceira's original name was 'Ilha de Jesus Cristo' (Jesus Christ), but was later called Terceira because it was the third Azores island to be discovered in 1434, after São Miguel and Santa Maria. The first settlers arrived and were led by Jacob van Brugge, the son of a wealthy merchant family from Bruges. As on São Miguel and Santa Maria, agriculture was important to Terceira, mainly cereals and woad (blue) were grown there. The first settlements were founded in the vicinity of the current places Porto Judeu and Praia da Vitória. Even more important to Terceira was the presence of a sheltered natural harbor, making it the main island of the Azores for centuries.
Map of Terceira by Jan Huygen van Linschoten (ca. 1563-1611)Photo: Public domain
In 1534, Angra became the first settlement to be considered a real city, and that same year, Pope Paul III proclaimed Angra the seat of the diocese. In 1580 Terceira managed to resist the Spaniards like a stronghold, who had already annexed all of Portugal. The Portuguese Dom Antonio was helped by the French. But this last stronghold also became prey for the Spaniards, who defeated the French fleet near Terceira in 1582 (Battle of Punta Delgada or Battle of Terceira). In 1583 Terceira was finally taken by the Spaniards and the population was severely punished for their resistance to the Spaniards. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the port became increasingly important to the Spaniards. The ships loaded with gold and silver from the Americas gathered in the port of Terceira and then sailed in convoy and under protection to the Spanish port of Cadiz, afraid of being ambushed by pirates. Later in the 17th century, the Spanish no longer needed Terceira and the island's economy collapsed like a plum pudding, followed by massive emigration to the 'promised' land of Brazil.
After the Portuguese Restoration War (1640-1668) bringing an end to Spanish rule, the Azores became a staging post for British merchant ships until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1863. The economy also recovered from the export of oranges, but there too came again. an end to cheaper alternatives from Spain and Madeira and harmful insects. The result was again that an emigration wave started. Together with the island of São Miguel, Terceira played a major role in the so-called Miguelist War between the Liberals and the Absolutists and eventually Terceira was the only Liberal stronghold left in all of Portugal. In 1829, the Absolutists tried in vain to land on Terceira near the town of Villa da Praia and the Liberals' triumph resulted in a name change: Praia da Vitória. In 1832, Liberal units left Terceira and São Miguel and advanced north of Portugal in their fight against the absolutists.
In 1766, the Azores received a central government, which was stationed in Angra, which remained the capital until 1833. time the Azores were divided into three districts. A short time later, Angra was even proclaimed the capital of Portugal when King Peter IV resided briefly on Terceira and the name of that city was changed to Angra do Heroísmo. In 1943 Lajes airfield was built to support the Battle of the Atlantic Ocean and to drop airborne troops in Europe. At present, the airport is still serving in a strategic NATO role, in addition to a civil aviation target. On New Year's Day 1980, an earthquake caused serious damage to Terceira, Graciosa and São Jorge. Many important buildings in Angra do Heroísmo were seriously damaged and it took a long time for the city to be restored to all its splendor. When that was completed, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It is worth noting that the Faculty of Agriculture of the Universidade dos Açores is located in Terceira.
Overview of the historic inner cityCity of Angra do HeroísmoPhoto: Martin Herbst CC 2.0 Duitsland no changes made
No doubt sailors who discovered Terceira have also discovered the island of Graciosa, because the distance between the two islands is less than 100 km, but that is not certain. In any case, it is certain that Hendrik de Zeevaaerder had cattle released to Graciosa in 1440. The most famous settler who also immediately tackled the dense vegetation of the island was Vasco Gil Sodré, who originally lived in Montemoro-o-Velho on the west coast of Portugal and settled on Graciosa in the town of Carapacho on the far south coast of Graciosa since 1450. He did not eventually become governor, he became Christopher Columbus's brother-in-law. Most of the settlers came from the Beiras and Minho regions of Portugal and from Flanders. Santa Cruz received city rights in 1486.
Santa Cruz da Graciosa, AzoresPhoto: Angrense in the public domain
Graciosa soon turned out to be extremely suitable for growing grains and grapes, and wheat, barley, wine and brandy were already being exported within a century of the first settlers' settlement. These products were first shipped to the Azorean economic and administrative center, Terceira, which could also receive large ships in its port, and from there to Portugal and other export destinations around the world. The prosperity that this brought naturally also attracted pirates, and thirteen fortresses were built for defense and grain was hidden in underground cellars. The grape louse collapsed viticulture in the second half of the 19th century, immediately resulting in a wave of emigration. Today, Graciosa, as on almost all islands, mainly produces meat and dairy products. Fishing is hampered by the severe decline in the numbers of fish still found in the waters around the Azores.
Graciosa had about 14,000 inhabitants at its peak, but emigration caused this number to drop rapidly. Even in the 1950s, despite measures taken by the government to combat this, there was still a considerable flow of emigration, so that in the end there were only about 4000 people living on Graciosa.
São Jorge, along with other islands of the central archipelago, was discovered by Portuguese navigators around 1430. Topo, located in the far east of São Jorge and also called Nossa Senhora do Rosário, was founded by the Flemish colonizer, merchant and nobleman Willem Van Der Haegen, who later called himself 'Guilherme da Silveira'. At that time, Isabella of Burgundy asked her brother Alfons V of Portugal the right to usufruct of the Azores. The population of Flanders was very poor and they saw a solution by allowing Flemish people to live on the islands of the Azores and to build a life there. Willem Van Der Haegen was assigned São Jorge, sailed to the island with two ships and some traders in 1466, later he also colonized Flores.
Velas was founded in the mid-15th century and developed so quickly that it was barely fifty years old. later already received city rights. The economy of this city was based on the export and production of wool, orseille (purple dye from lichen), wheat and grapes. Three centuries later, oranges became a lucrative export product, being shipped to England by boats at the same time. In 1850 viticulture was affected by grape lice and orange cultivation ten years later by mildew. Both disasters were followed by a flow of emigration, which reduced the population by half in less than a hundred years.
Until the construction of an airport in the 20th century, São Jorge remained a fairly isolated island. The main products of the island are currently meat and especially cheese, three factories are engaged in the production of the famous São Jorge cheese. Economically, things are not going so well with São Jorge at the moment. Like all the other islands of the Azores, São Jorge suffered from pirate attacks, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as many as six times over time, between 1580 and 1907. In 1980 São Jorge was hit by the worst earthquake in history, 7.0 on the Richter Scale. Most fajãs (coastal villages) were abandoned after the disaster and were left as ghost villages.
Door of the chapel Solar dos Tiagos, where Willem Vander Haegen is buriedPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa
On old maps, the current Faial is mentioned as 'Insule de Ventura', which was discovered by the Portuguese in the first half of the 15th century and immediately colonized. Under the leadership of Josse Van Hurtere, a small number of Flemings settled on the island, a number that had risen barely twenty years later to about 1500. They initially settled in Praia do Almoxarife, later mainly in Vale dos Flamengos, now Flamengos, not far from the capital Horta.
Coat of arms of the House of Utra, descendants of the Van Hurtere familyPhoto: Alvexibl in the public domain
The Azores have always held an important position in the history of the Atlantic Ocean. Numerous Portuguese ships returned from their voyages to the West Indian area and sought protection from piracy. The port of Horta then also became an important refuge for the English settlers in North America, but Horta was also a focal point for the provision and repair of ships and the embarkation of sailors. In addition to exports to other countries, there were also many trade activities between the islands and mainland Portugal.
In 1583, the Spanish attacked Faial and captured Santa Cruz Fort. During the Spanish occupation, the English attacked the island several times. Sir Walter Raleigh succeeded, destroying in passing a Spanish fleet that had been to Mexico. In 1672, Faial was shaken by an earthquake that caused major devastation. A peaceful guest was Captain James Cook, who checked his equipment in 1775 before traveling to the southern seas. All the whalers also came to visit Horta to replenish their supplies, recruit crews, and later warehouses and other facilities were built that brought more ships to Horta. One of them was the American John Dabney (1766-1826), who arrived on Faial in the early 19th century and whose family had a major influence on commercial activities for a century, including the export of oranges, wine from Pico Island and whale products.
In 1866 the first reliable transatlantic telegraph cable was laid from Faial, connecting many parts of the earth fifty years later. In 1892 an English company laid the first cable between Ponta Delgada and further to the coast south of Lisbon. From 1900 cables were laid between the United States, Germany, Ireland, Cornwall in England and via Cape Verde connections were made with cables to Africa and South America. At the time, British, Germans, Americans and Portuguese technicians worked and the last cable from Horta was laid in 1928. Horta remained one of the most important cable centers in the world until 1969, but in that year the last cable company left because modern systems did not need to run via the Azores.
The cable laid in the late 19th century also allowed weather data transmitted faster for accurate weather forecasts. In addition, the Prince Albert of Monaco Observatory was built in 1901. In 1919, via Horta, among others, the first transatlantic crossing by plane was realized by the pilot Albert Cushing Read (1887-1967). The famous pilot Charles Lindbergh also reported to Faial, he investigated in 1933 whether the Pan-Am planes could land on Faial. That turned out to be possible and Pan-Am was followed by Lufthansa, Air France and Imperial Airways, now British Airways. In 1957/1958 Faial was hit by very violent volcanic eruptions, resulting in the creation of a new 2.4 km2 headland. Thousands of people emigrated to safer places.
On January 9, 1976, the first and only university in the Azores, the Universidade dos Açores in São Miguel, opened its doors. The Faculty of Oceanography and Fisheries started its classes at Faial on the same day. The first non-natural harbor on Faial was built in Horta on 3 June 1986. In 1998 the east of Faial was badly hit by a major earthquake. Faial's economy currently revolves around agriculture, dairy, fishing, trade and tourism.
Faculty Building Oceanography and Fisheries on FaialPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira in the public domain
Pico was discovered in 1450 by the Flemish nobleman Jacob van Brugge. The first houses on the island of Pico were probablybuilt in Ribeiras, but the real colonization started around 1460 in the current region around Lajes, which for many years was the most important (port) place on Pico. Later, Lajes would become the center of the whaling industry in the Azores. São Roque dates back to 1542, probably by inhabitants of the island of Graciosa. São Roque would also become an important place for the whaling industry.
Until the second half of the 19th century, the production of wine would also be important for the economy of the island, especially the Pico Madeira was in large quantities, via the port of Horta on Faial Island, exported to England, the United States and especially to Russia. The vineyards along the west coast south of the town of Madalena were in fact owned by six families from Horta on the island of Faial. Pico by the Phylloxera aphid. This was a major blow to the economy and many islanders fled to countries such as Brazil and the United States, especially California, to build a new future. Later, returning islanders brought with them the American Isabella grape, which started again on a modest scale with the production of wine, the 'Vinho de Cheiro', for local consumption.
Ilha do Pico Benjamin Russell&Caleb PurringtonPhoto: Public domain
At that time whaling became increasingly important to Pico and whale-related factories were also opened there. But this economic activity also came to an end due to the sharply reduced demand for whale products. Many factories closed and in 1984 the last whale was killed. At the moment, livestock and dairy production is important to Pico, Madalena still has a fleet for tuna fishing and tourism is becoming increasingly important.
The name Flores probably derives from the many yellow flowers that the Portuguese discoverers of Flores found on the coast. The so-called 'cubres' are in reality Solidago sempervirens, a goldenrod species native to the North American coasts. In about 1452 Flores was discovered by Captain Diogo de Teive and his son João de Teive, of which he became captain for some time. For a few years he passed the rights of Flores over to his son João, who sold the rights on again in 1474 to Fernão Teles de Meneses and his wife Maria de Vilhena.
Tomb of Fernão Teles de Meneses (1431-1477) in Coïmbra, PortugalPhoto: Manuelvbotelho CC 4.0 International no changes made
The first colonization attempt, however, was made by the Flemish nobleman Willem Vander Haegen. He tried to grow woad on Flores to produce widow blue, a colorant that was gladly used in the Flemish textile industry. Unfortunately, that failed for him due to the remoteness of Flores and the lack of a natural harbor, after which Vander Haegen withdrew to Topo on the island of São Jorge.
Permanent residence did not start until 1504 under the leadership of Captain João da Fonseca with people from Portugal, Terceira and Madeira, supplemented by Spaniards, Germans, English, Jews and Moors. Around 1515 Lajes received city rights, thirty years later Santa Cruz and at the end of the 16th century Ponta Delgada. It is estimated that at that time about 1,300 inhabitants lived on Flores in very primitive conditions, with only occasional visits from a ship from Terceira in the climatically favorable times.
Flores was also regularly attacked in the 16th century. by English pirates and in June 1587 Lajes was destroyed by five English ships. In 1591, a battle was fought near Flores between a British squadron and a Spanish convoy that returned from Mexico loaded with gold and silver. The Spanish organized two large protected convoys each year, the 'Flota' and the 'Galeones', and the Flota convoy was attacked by the English. However, many Englishmen were ill and stayed ashore at that time, and eventually the English had to surrender under the leadership of the mortally wounded Sir Richard Grenville (1542-1591).
Battle of Flores (1591), AzoresPhoto: Public domain
In 1770 Lajes was created from the seabombed by two American privateers, but Flores was able to hold its own and later that century trade between Flores and America was resumed. Early economic activities focused on self-preservation, sweet potato or yam, potatoes and other vegetables, fish and bread. For export, widow blue was mainly produced, along with some dragon's blood (red resin) and wool. In addition, some ship repairs, and in the mid-18th century whalers were supplied, in the mid-19th century meat, fruit and vegetables were exchanged or sold to the other islands of the Azores, Madeira and mainland Portugal. The population of Flores peaked around that time, but has now dropped to less than 4,000 over the course of 150 years. Whaling from Flores began in 1860 and peaked in the 1930s. Some factories were built in Santa Cruz and later in Lajes, but due to the lack of a good port, this industry did not really get off the ground. The last whale was killed in 1981 and the whaling and whaling industry was finally over.
Boqueirão whale factory, active from the late 19th century to the early 20th century in Flores, AzoresPhoto: Angrense in the public domain
In 1906, Flores made the headlines when the cruiser Slavonia sank off the coast of Flores and sent an SOS signal for the first time in world history. For a long time, the infrastructure on Flores was far below standard, it was not until the 1950s that this started to change. The isolation that Flores has suffered throughout its history came to a definitive end with the construction of an airport, improved port facilities and the establishment of a French observatory and telecommunications post, which operated until 1994. French scientists have been studying the formation of depression since 1890, followed by 35 French soldiers and their families in 1964. In 1994 the military left Flores again.
In 2009, Flores was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. At the moment, meat and tourism is the main source of income for Flores.
Of all the Azorian islands, Corvo and Flores were the last two to be discovered by the Portuguese explorers. Corvo was discovered in 1452 by Captain Diogo de Teive, and in that early period it often changed its name: 'Ilha de Santa Iria', 'Ilha do Marco', 'Ilha de São Tomas' and Ilhéu das Flores'. After that, the island gradually took its current name, from 'Insula Corvi Marini' to 'Ilha dos Corvos Marinhos' or 'island of cormorants'.
Initial attempts to colonize the island failed, only in 1548, probably after the reclamation. of slaves from Cape Verde, Captain Gonçalo de Sousa managed to establish the first permanent settlement on Corvo. Because of the small area, without a safe harbor and because of the isolated location, the residents have always remained dependent on agriculture and livestock. At the time, communication with nearby Flores was done via fire signals, and in the days of pirates and privatists, the island was left alone in exchange for the provision of water and food and the ability to repair ships.
American whalers in the 18th and 19th centuries provided a lot of work for the population, and later they also went out to sea with their own boats for some income.
In 1830, about 3,000 sheep grazed on the island, in In 1832, Vila Nova received city rights, the first boys 'school was opened in 1845, the first girls' school in 1874. Corvo depended on imports for almost everything, including sugar, flour, coffee, wine, vinegar, brandy, port, cheese from São Jorge, figs, candles, soap and leather;cows and hides were exported. Living conditions were tough on Corvo, however, and as on other Azorean islands, emigration was commonplace, to Brazil, but especially to North America. In 1864 the population was just over a thousand, at the moment about 400. It was not until 1963 that the Corvo got electricity and in 1993 the airport was opened. In 2007, Corvo was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Fabrica da Manteiga Cooperative Agrícola Corvense, an abandoned butter factory on CorvoPhoto: Angrense in the public domain
The Azores have a total area of 2247 km² and a small 250,000 inhabitants (2017), the Açorianos, The majority, around 170,000 people, live on the main island of São Miguel with the capital Ponta Delgada (approx. 70,000 inhabitants ), and the second city of the Azores is also located on this island, Ribeira Grande with approx. 10,000 inhabitants. Only about 500 people live on the small island of Corvo, mostly elderly. On average, the Azores have about 105 people per km2.
The first inhabitants came mainly from the Algarve and the Alentejo in Portugal. Breton and many Flemish people also settled mainly on the central archipelago, but the number of immigrants from countries other than Portugal has always remained modest. Due to the bad economic situation and volcanic eruptions, for example, many Azorians have been seeking refuge elsewhere since the 16th century. In the 18th century, emigration increased, especially to Brazil. From the beginning of the 19th century, the emigrants increasingly focused on the United States;Hawaii, California and New England were very popular at the time. In the 20th century, more and more Azorians left the archipelago, with as 'peak' some 60,000 Azorians between 1970 and 1980, which was about 20% of the population at that time. The favorite destinations at the time were the United States and Canada. With all the emigration movements of the last centuries, the number of Azorians in the United States alone, including descendants, has risen to about 1 million, which is more than three times as many as currently live in the Azores!
Emigration has declined dramatically since the 1980s, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain work permits, particularly for the United States. At the same time, the Azorian (Portuguese) economy flourished after Portugal joined the European Union in 1986.
Portuguese Language MapPhoto: Jonatan argento CC 4.0 International no changes made
Portuguese is the official language in the Azores. Portuguese is a Romance language, closely related to Spanish. However, the pronunciation is very different. Portuguese has a unique sound and is immediately recognizable. Anyone who has ever listened to Fado music will recognize both the raw and melancholic of this language. Portuguese is a world language and is spoken by more than 160 million people.
Portuguese does have dialects, but they don't differ too much. Only the pronunciation of Azorian Portuguese differs slightly from mainland Portuguese, especially on the island of São Miguel, where the dialect is called 'Micaelense'. The big difference is the pronunciation of the 'oe', which is pronounced as a 'u', a sound that does not actually occur in Portuguese and has a somewhat French impression.
The name Azores is actually based on a misunderstanding. The explorers saw a common bird of prey on the islands and thought it was a hawk (Portuguese: açor). But in fact it was a buzzard, which is pontifically depicted on the flag of the Azores.
Buzzard on the flag of the AzoresPhoto: Public domain
Religion and the Festa do Espírito Santo
Santo Cristo Church AzoresPhoto: Björn Ehrlich CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
The Azores have been Catholic since the first settlers were settled. The rare Protestant churches were built much later, for example in Ponta Delgada on São Miguel in the 19th century as a result of the many English traders who turned to orange cultivation. From the beginning there was always a strong Jewish community. Not only were the Catholic priests very influential, religious orders such as those of the Franciscans were also important, they founded many churches, monasteries and the first schools. Ninety percent of the population of the Azores is still Roman Catholic. Religion plays a very important role in daily life, although the number of practicing believers, especially among the young, is decreasing every year.
Which is still widely celebrated in the Azores, from Easter to Pentecost and almost no longer on mainland Portugal, is the 13th century Feast of the Holy Spirit, the 'Festa do Espiríto Santo'. The feast is celebrated in several church congregations and every year a new emperor or 'imperador' is appointed by the brotherhoods. The highlight of the celebration is the coronation of the new emperor. Symbols of the festival are the red flag with the dove of the Holy Spirit.
King Dinis ruled Portugal from 1279 and wanted to usher in the era of the Holy Spirit foretold by the prophet Jesus, a kind of earthly paradise in which everyone would be equal and treated equally. Everyone had to renounce personal property, a way of life that was particularly popular with the Franciscan monks. In Italy and France they were persecuted for this way of life, but in Portugal their ideas gained a lot of support. King Dinis, however, went a little further and replaced the priest-led holy masses with a lay service and wanted to abolish the hierarchical ecclesiastical order. The Catholic Church obviously did not like this development at all and issued all kinds of prohibitions and in 1536 instituted an Inquisition, for many Portuguese the signal to flee mainly to Brazil. However, the festival continued to be held in the Azores, especially on the island of Terceira. There the 68 elaborately painted and often built and financed by the people, especially in the 19th century, play an important role, Holy Spirit temples that form the center of the festivities associated with the feast of the Holy Spirit. Some special impérios in Angra do Heroísmo are the Império Dos Inocentes da Guarita, the Império do Outeiro and the Império Império do Espírito Santo do Terreiro. At the moment, the celebration is tolerated by the Catholic Church.
Império do Espírito Santo do Terreiro in Angra do Heroísmo, AzoresPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa in the public domain
Remarkable religious buildings in the Azores
Igreja da Matriz de São Sebastão: main church of the city of Ponta Delgada, dating back to the 16th century and the best example of the so-called (e) Manuel style (Emanuel I, reign 1495-1521) in the Azores. The Manueline style is characterized by beautiful decorative sculptures, motifs referring to overseas regions of Portugal and nautical symbolism. Also worth seeing are blue and white typical Portuguese tiles, 'azulejos', and beautiful altarpieces. The patron saint of the church is Saint Sebastian (Latin: Sebastian, 3rd century and born in Narbonne).
Igreja da Matriz, Ponta Delgada, AzoresPhoto: Concierge.2C CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Igreja do Colégio de Todos os Santos: former Baroque Jesuit church in Ponta Delgada, which now houses the island museum Núcleo de Arte Sacra do Museu Carlos Machado. Beautiful facade, made of gray volcanic rock. Special are the ivory Indo-Portuguese figures of Christ and an altarpiece, which is considered the largest carvings in Portugal.
Igreja Matriz: main church of Ribeira Grande, the second city of the Azores. One of the largest and most beautiful churches inthe Azores, built in the early 16th century and expanded several times in later centuries. Beautiful baroque facade with thirteen altars.
Igreja Matriz in Ribeira Grande, AzoresPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa in the public domain
Igreja de São Miguel: This church in Vila Franca do Campo is dedicated to the patron saint of São Miguel Island and the main church on the island before the 1522 earthquake. After the earthquake, the church was rebuilt in its original state in the very simple Atlantic Gothic style with thick walls, massive rose windows and pointed arch portals.
Igreja de São Miguel, Vila Franca do Campo, AzoresPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa in the public domain
Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Assuncão: first church on the island of Santa Maria, with a history that dates back to around 1450. A portal with Gothic pointed arch dates back to this time. The interior is baroque.
Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Assuncão in Vila do Porto, Santa Maria, AzoresPhoto: Usercam CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Purificacão: large church dedicated to Mary in the village of Santo Espírito with a beautiful baroque facade.
Ermid de Nossa Senhora de Fátima (Santa Maria): dedicated to the virgin Fátima pilgrimage church from 1925 in the town of São Pedsro. The path to the church consists of 154 steps, which is equivalent to the beads of a rosary.
Ermida dos Anjos (Santa Maria): oldest church in the Azores, dating from the 15th century and often later renovated, most recently in 1893. Opposite the church is a statue of Christopher Columbus.
Igreja de Nossa Senhora das Angústias (Faial): Faial's oldest parish church in the city of Horta, completely renovated in the 17th century. Igreja Matriz São Salvador: main church of Horta (Faial), originally built by Jesuits with somewhat gaudy altarpieces and walls covered with azulejos, depicting the life of the founder of the Jesuit order, Ignatius of Loyola.
Igreja de São Mateus (Pico): important church for the island of Pico, built in the 19th century on the foundations of a church from the early 16th century. The church is dedicated to Senhor Bom Jesus Milagroso, of which a Brazilian statue is in the church.
Ermida de São Pedro (Pico): oldest church of Pico in the village of Lajes do Pico, late 15th century built. São Roque do Pico is home to Pico's main church, the parish church Igreja Matriz de São Roque.
Igreja Matriz de São Roque, São Roque do Pico, AzoresPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa in the public domain
Igreja Matriz de São Jorge: main church of the city of Velas, from the 16-17th century and dedicated to the patron saint of São Jorge Island, Saint George. With a beautiful altarpiece and special 17th century commoden.
Igreja Santa Bárbara (São Jorge): 18th century pilgrimage church that is frequently visited by the islanders to pray or attend a celebration. The many donations from pilgrims ensured that this church with its exuberant interior decorations is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the Azores. The interior is typical of the Portuguese Baroque with a wooden ceiling, azulejo pictures depicting the life of Saint Barbara, a basalt baptismal font from the 16th century and beautiful furniture.
Igreja Santa Bárbara, Manadas, AzoresPhoto: Unukorno CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Ermida de Santo Cristo (São Jorge): consecrated church in 1835, end point of a pilgrimage across the island, the Romaria de Santo Cristo, made every year in September by pilgrims from the island.
Sé Catedral do Santíssimo Salvador (Terceira): only cathedral and largest church in the Azores, built from 1560 and not completed until the 17th century. Reconstructed after the 1980 earthquake. A special feature is a 17th century altar covered with a relief of hammered silver.
Igreja de São Sebastião (São Sebastião, Terceira): one of the oldest churches in the Azores (1455). very ground renovated with features of the Atlantic Gothic. Beautiful frescoes that are unique to the Azores.
Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Ajuda (Santa Cruz da Graciosa, Graciosa): one of three pilgrimage churches that can be found on the 129 meter high volcanic cone. This church is the oldest of the three.
Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, AzoresPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa in the public domain
Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Flores): main church of the city of Santa Cruz das Flores from the mid-nineteenth century with Baroque style features.
Igreja Matriz Senhora da Conceição Santa Cruz das Flores, AzoresPhoto: Dreizung in the public domain
Parliament PortugalPhoto: Osvaldo Gago CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
The Azores have been part of Portugal from the very beginning. Since 1976, the Azores have been an autonomous region, a 'Região Autónoma', of Portugal, just like Madeira, with its own parliament and president. The parliament is located in the capital Ponta Delgada on São Miguel and the government is based in Horta on Faial Island. Since membership of the European Union, the Azores have increasingly focused on Europe, whereas before that time it was mainly on the United States. The Azores is a so-called outermost region of the European Union and that means that the Azores can count on extra financial support from Brussels, good for the economy and employment. The official seat of the President of the Azores is located in the Palácio dos Capitães-Generais in the city of Angra do Heroísmo on the island of Terceira.
The government is elected democratically and under the supervision of the Minister of the Republic with permanent residence, the Representante da República in Angra do Heroismo on Terceira. In the first decades this extension of the government in Portugal had a very significant influence on the administrative affairs in the Azores. Thus, the Minister of the Republic was able to torpedo all decisions of the Azorian government through a right of veto. In 2006 the situation became better for the Azores when the 'Ministro da República' was replaced by a Representante da República '. The president of the Azores always becomes the party leader who wins the parliamentary elections.
From the Azores, five deputies are elected to the national parliament in Lisbon. The regional parliament has 51 commissioners who are elected for four years.
The individual islands have no self-government;the smallest administrative unit is the district, 'município' or 'concelho', of which each island has at least one. São Miguel Island is divided into six districts of Ponte Delgada, Lagoa, Ribeira Grande, Vila Franca do Camp, Provocão and Nordeste. Pico is divided into the Madalena, Lajes and São Roque districts. São Jorge is divided into two districts, Velas and Calheta. Terceira is divided into the districts of Angra do Heroísmo and Praia da Vitória. The smallest islands only consist of one district.
Pineapples are grown in greenhouses in the AzoresPhoto: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa in the public domain
For thirty years before the economic crisis in Europe, the economic activities in the Azores were mainly in the field of infrastructure, including new airports, ports and telecommunication systems. As a result, the appearance of the Azores, and especially the capital Ponta Delgada, has changed considerably in recent years with industrial and commercial complexes on the outskirts of the city and many new shops in the city center. Most of these projects were mainly funded by the European Union, the flag of the European Union flew prominently on all of them.
The inhabitants of the fairly barren Azores live mainly from livestock farming and the production of milk, and those companies are present on every island. Wine grapes, pineapples, passion fruit, bananas and tea are also grown, but that is mainly for the islands themselves.
In the second half of the 19th century, farmers switched from orange production to pineapple production, especially in Fajã de Baixo near Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel. The pineapple plant originated in South America and was initially used only as an ornamental plant. The climate of the Azores is not suitable for this originally tropical fruit, which is why the pineapples, which have a special taste in the Azores, have been cultivated in greenhouses since 1864. At the height of the pineapple cultivation, there were about 3,000 greenhouses producing more than 2,000 tons of pineapples. The fertile region of Terra Chã on the island of Terceira is known for its sweet chestnut cultivation. The largest port in the Azores is that of the town of Praia da Vitória on the island of Terceira. São Miguel Island is the economic center of the Azores.
The Azores are actually the only place in 'Europe' where tea is grown. Two small plantations, Chá Porto Formoso (black tea only) and since 1883 Chá Gorreana (black and green tea), just east of Ribeira Grande on the island of Sãn Miguel, produce, today, about 40 tons of organically grown tea. In the 19th century there were fourteen tea factories, which, with a maximum production of 250 tons of tea, also produced for export. The reason that it is possible to grow tea in this place is because of the mild, rainy climate, comparable to, for example, the Chinese climate zone where growing tea is ideal. In some places, including São Jorge, coffee beans are grown on a small scale.
Chá Porto Formoso, tea plantation in the AzoresPhoto: Froth82 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
In the Azores, which are located in the middle of the ocean, fishing plays a smaller role than you would expect, only some canned tuna is exported from Rabo de Peixe, the largest fishing port in the Azores, to Italy. In Fajã Grande, tuna is still canned in the Fábrica Santa Catarina. Only 15 percent of the allowable catch quota is actually caught in the 38,000 square kilometer fishing area. The fishing boats are usually small and outdated and are located in the immediate vicinity of the islands. The fishing village of São Mateus da Calheta has a modern harbor on the island of Terceira with a trawler fleet. São Miguel and Graciosa, excellent wines. The wine is made from the ancient classical grape varieties Verdelho, Arinto and Terantez, which, together with the basalt walled (currais) vineyards (curraletas) and the wineries, belong to UNESCO's World Heritage. The 'currais', against the harmful wind, are a magnificent example of craftsmanship and perseverance, because if the often man-sized walls were laid one behind the other, one could easily build around the world. Lesser extent of Graciosa was exported to almost all continents from the 18th century, but this came to a cruel end when the phylloxera put an end to the export of the islands of Pico and Graciosa in the late 19th century. They mainly produce for their own use and on the island of Graciosa there is only one winery left: Terra do Conde. Well-known 'wine villages' are Biscoitos, Santa Luzia, Cabrito, Cais do Mourato, Porto do Cachorro and Lajido.
Walled 'currais' vineyard on Pico, AzoresPhoto: Unokorno CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
São Jorge is the cheese island of the Azores, and Queijo São Jorge is a trademark protected by the European Union. The first cheese recipes were introduced to the Azores by Flemish people who settled on the islands centuries ago. At the moment the Azores have about 200,000 black and white cows, of which about half are dairy cows that provide the raw milk from which the cheese is made. The special taste of the cheese is the result of mountain mint, which grows on the meadows, and the salt content of the air above the Azores.
Other well-known cheeses made from raw milk are Queijo Ilha Gracios Reserva, Queijo do Corvo and Queijo São João do Pico. The Queijo Ilha, Queijo Flamengo and Queijo Império do Pico made from pasteurized milk are of lesser quality. The various cheeses, including those from the other islands, are exported mainly to the Portuguese mainland and to Madeira.
Queijo Sao Jorge, cheese from the AzoresPhoto: Adriao in the public domain
At the end of the 19th century, Maia and Lomba da Maia were two centers of tobacco production on São Miguel. At the moment there are only two factories active in Ponta Delgada. The factory in Maia closed in 1988 and reopened in 2008 as Museu do Tabaco. On the island of Pico in the town of Santo Amaro a ship repair yard. Santa Maria and Graciosa specialize in the cultivation of sugar melons.
Tourism is of great importance to the economy of the Azores. All islands together have about 10,000 beds for tourists, half of which are located on the main island of Sao Miguel. Most tourists have come from Germany for many years and the Azores are also popular with tourists from European countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and of course mainland Portugal. Industry is hardly present in the archipelago. Furthermore, the Azores receive a lot of subsidy money from the European Union, because the remote archipelago is considered a somewhat backward fringe region.
Just like on mainland Portugal, ceramic production in the Azores is also important for the economy, even if it was just for the tourists. The big name in ceramics is Lagoa, a town on the island of São Miguel, successor of Vila Franca do Campo, where the Fábrica Cerámica Viera has been making the most beautiful things since 1862 and of very good quality. The crockery, vases and flower pots, known as Louça da Lagoa, are generally glazed in white and decorated with blue island-specific motifs. In Vila Franca do Campo there is still intact a collective ceramic furnace, where all the potters of the city used to bake their works. crochet and embroidery and woven blankets and tapestries for income not only from tourists but also from exports to countries such as Great Britain, the United States and France. A veritable industry has emerged in particular on the island of Terceira, where the finishing of the home-made hand-embroidered work is done in the factory.
Another typical handicraft of the island of Faial are works of art made from fig marrow are, the 'miolo de figueira'. Since the 16th century, the delicate artifacts have been made in women's monasteries and from 1834 by craftsmen. On the islands of Pico and São Miguel, a variant is being made, the escamas de peixe, in which the works of art are modeled with fish scales.
Whalewatching Pico, AzoresPhoto: Guillaume Baviere CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
Until 1984, the island of Pico was the whaling island par excellence of the Azores. Until the 1950s, the whalers of Pico caught about 250 whales a year, in 1984 there were only about 50, too few to make it a profitable business. Nowadays Pico earns money with so-called 'whalewatching' and furthermore, a place like Lajes do Pico is completely dedicated to whaling in the museums Museu dos Baleeiros and the Centro de Artes e de Ciências do Mar, dvarious whaling cafes and in August the whaling festival Semana dos Baleeiros.
Since August 21, 1941, the Azores have their own airline company: SATA (Serviço Açoriano de Transportes Aéreos) Air Açores, based at João Paul II Airport in Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel.
Holidays and Sightseeing
Azores BeachPhoto: Luissilveira CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
The nine islands of the Azores, which belong to Portugal, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, are a two-hour flight from Lisbon. In addition to beautiful nature and a fantastic landscape with forests, green valleys, (crater) lakes, volcanoes, geysers and waterfalls, the archipelago also has a climate with a pleasant constant temperature of around 15°C in winter to almost all year round. approx. 26°C in summer.
The Azores are not very suitable for a beach holiday, but this has the advantage that mass tourism has not yet reached the Azores. The most beautiful beach in the Azores, Praia Formosa, is located on Santa Maria. Most beaches, many with black volcanic sand, can be found on São Miguel near Ponte Delgada (Praia das Milícias, Praia do Pópulo), Ribeira Grande (Praia de Monte Verde) Praia de Baí d'Alto, Porto Formoso (Praia dos Moinhos ), Mosteiros and Água d'Alto (Praia de Baía d'Alto);on the island of Faial, the city beach Praia do Porto Pim, the Praia Grande (Terceira) and the beautifully situated Praia do Almoxarife. White sandy beaches are really only found on Santa Maria. For swimmers, there are also many rock pools in natural seawater basins on the coast.
Praia Formosa ( Santa Maria), possibly the most beautiful beach in the Azores) Photo: Carlos Luis MC da Cruz in the public domain
The Azores are extremely suitable for outdoor and water sports such as mountain biking, hiking, sailing, surfing and diving. Dive centers can be found in Vila Franca do Campo (on the island of São Miguel), Horta (Faial) and Urzelina (São Jorge). Spa facilities can be found in the seaside town of Furnas, where 22 springs supply healing water with different mineral contents. Several hot mud pools lie along the Lagoa das Furnas. The Parque Terra Nostra is said to be the largest thermal bath in Europe.
Medicinal water in the Parque Terra Nostra, Furnus, Azores Photo: Christer Johansson CC 2.5 Generic no changes made
Or of course a beautiful nature holiday, because in 2008 the Azores were named the second most beautiful archipelago in the world by National Geographic. Flower and plant lovers will get their money's worth, because about 60 plant species are only found on one or a few islands and about 700 plant species were introduced by the Spanish in the past.
There are no native animal species. a lot, but the marine fauna is beautiful and exuberant. Because of the convergence of the cold and warm Gulf Stream, the waters around the Azores are very nutrient rich and that attracts so many marine animals that the biodiversity is nowhere in the world so great here. Whale watching from Pico is an unforgettable experience.
Angra do Heroísmo AzoresPhoto: Concierge.2C CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Besides climate, nature and sports activities, culture lovers can also visit churches, fortresses and picturesque villages with houses built in Moorish and Flemish style. The mostly religious festivals are also very worth seeing, the capital Ponta Delgada has a vibrant nightlife and the city of Angra do Heroísmo on the island of Terceira is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bullfighting originally from Portugal. 'on the island of Terceira, the touradas à corda has been held since 1622 and is still extremely popular with locals as well as tourists. The approximately three hundred touradas à corda are also, but to a much lesser extent, held on the islands of Pico, Graciosa, São Jorge and São Miguel.
This bullfighting is not held in the 'Spanish' way, but bulls are released streets andyoung men then try to escape the bulls. Before the spectacle starts, the bulls are held with a rope by shepherds or 'pastors' and incited by the young men. Afterwards the bulls are returned to their pasture.
Touradas à corda in Terceira, AzoresPhoto: Algor7 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
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