ⓘ Azores. The Azores is an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean; they are about 1.500 km west of Lisbon and about 1.900 km southeast o ..


ⓘ Azores

The Azores is an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean; they are about 1.500 km west of Lisbon and about 1.900 km southeast of Newfoundland. The islands, and their Exclusive Economic Zone, form the Autonomous Region of the Azores, one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal.

There are nine major Azores islands and several very small islands islets, in three main groups. They extend for more than 600 km 370 mi and lie in a northwest-southeast direction.

The archipelago is part of the Macaronesia islands.


1. History

Officially, the islands were discovered in the 15th century in 1431 by Gonçalo Velho Cabral a Captain in the service of Infante Dom Henrique, although credit is also given to the explorer Diogo de Silves in 1427.

The archipelago was settled over the centuries, mostly from mainland Portugal. Portuguese settlers came from the provinces of Algarve, Minho, Alentejo and Ribatejo, as well as Madeira.

In 1976, the Azores became the Autonomous Region of the Azores Portuguese: Região Autonoma dos Açores, an autonomous region of Portugal.


2. Geography

The archipelago is in the Atlantic Ocean between 36º and 43º latitude North and between 25º and 31º longitude West. They have a very humid oceanic climate with relatively small annual variations.

The nine islands are in three natural geographic groups, each group separated by more than 160 km 99 mi of water. These groups are:

  • The central group, with the islands of Faial, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, and Pico;
  • The eastern group, with the islands of São Miguel and Santa Maria;
  • The western group, with the islands of Flores and Corvo.

The eastern group also has, to the northeast of Santa Maria, a group of very small islands islets and reefs that are named Ilheus das Formigas Islets of the Ants, or just Formigas "Ants"; these smalls islands, together with the Dollabarat reef, form the Reserva Natural do Ilheu das Formigas.

The nine islands have a total area of 2.333 km 2 901 sq mi. Their individual areas vary between 759 km 2 293 sq mi of the largest island São Miguel to 17 km 2 6.6 sq mi of the smallest Corvo.

All the islands have volcanic origins, although some, such as Santa Maria, have had no recorded activity since the islands were settled. The last volcano to erupt in the archipelago was the Capelinhos Volcano Portuguese: Vulcão dos Capelinhos in 1957, in the western part of the island of Faial. Earthquakes are common on most of the islands.

The Azores are on place where three of the worlds large tectonic plates the North American Plate, the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate meet. The westernmost islands of the archipelago, Corvo and Flores, are in the North American Plate, while the remaining islands are located within the region where the Eurasian plate is separated from the African Plates.

The volcano Mount Pico, on the Pico island, is the highest point in Portugal, at 2.351 m 7.713 ft.


2.1. Geography Climate

Daily maximum temperatures usually range between 15 °C 59 °F and 25 °C 77 °F. The average annual rainfall increases from east to west, and it ranges from 700 to 1600 annual millimetres 27.6–63 in on average, reaching 6.300 millimetres 250 in on Mount Pico.

The sea around the Azores is warmed by the Gulf Stream and sea water temperature varies from 14 °C 57 °F to 22 °C 72 °F.


2.2. Geography Hurricanes

A total of 11 tropical or subtropical cyclones have affected the region in history. Most of them were either extratropical or tropical storms when they impacted the region, although several hurricanes of Category 1 have reached the Azores.


3. Administration

When the Azores became an Autonomous Region of Portugal, the cities of Ponta Delgada, Angra and Horta were considered capital/administrative cities to the regional government: homes to the President Ponta Delgada, the Judiciary Angra and the Regional Assembly Horta.

The Azores are divided into 19 municipalities Portuguese: concelhos; each municipality is further divided into parishes Portuguese: freguesias, of which there is a total of 156 in all of the Azores. The municipalities, by island, are:


3.1. Administration Cities

There are five cities Portuguese: cidades in the Azores:

  • Horta 38°32′07″N 28°37′52″W, Faial island, with 14.994 inhabitants: 7.324 men and 7.670 women.
  • Ponta Delgada 37°45′01″N 25°40′12″W, São Miguel island, with 68.809 inhabitants: 33.516 men and 35.293 women.
  • Praia da Vitoria 38°43′48″N 27°03′36″W, Terceira island, with 21.035 inhabitants: 10.434 men and 10.601 women.
  • Angra do Heroismo 38°39′37″N 27°13′12″W, Terceira island, with 35.402 inhabitants: 17.270 men and 18, 132 women.
  • Ribeira Grande 37°49′08″N 25°31′31″W, São Miguel island, with 32.112 inhabitants: 16.187 men and 15.925 women.

4. Population

According to the 2011 Census, the total population in the Azores was 246.746: 121.533 men and 125.213 women. The density for the whole Archipelago is 106 persons/km 2.


5. Economy

The Azores economy is based mainly on agriculture, fisheries and tourism.

In the agriculture sector, cattle-raising is very important. Some of the most important crops in the Azores are pineapples, grapes, potatoes, tobacco and tea. Fisheries are an important economic activity on all islands. Fishing methods are highly traditional among Azorean fishermen. Industry in the Azores is based mainly on the production of dairy products milk, cheese and transformation of fisheries products, such as tuna.

It is tourism, however, that has been growing more in recent years. It is far less developed than those industries of its Macaronesian neighbours, Madeira and Canary Islands.