Direccao Regional de Turismo
Casa do Relogio - Colonia Alema
9900 Horta
Tel: 351 91 23801/4. Telex: 82125 Grazor P.
Fax: 351 92 31496/22004

Physical geography

The Azores archipelago is located in the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of nine islands covering a distance of 600 kilometres. The most easterly island, Santa Maria, is situated at 1,460 kilometres from the European mainland. Flores, the most westerly, is located 3,750 kilometres from the North American mainland. The volcanic origin of all islands is revealed by their volcanic cones and craters. Their individual areas vary between 747km2 and 17km2.


The climate is mild throughout the year without great variations in annual temperature. Temperatures range from 14°C Celsius (57° Fahrenheit) in winter to a pleasant 22°C Celsius (71°C Fahrenheit) in summer. There are occasional showers especially in the months from October to April. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Economic geography</H3> Cattle and dairy farming occupy about 22.2 per cent of the working population. The cattle are grazed in fine pastures which remain green all year and most beef animals are exported. Milk is processed in modern factories and most of the cheese is shipped to Lisbon and the USA. Fishing also plays an important part in the economy of the islands, the most valuable export being tuna, processed and canned in the Azores. Tourism has increased in importance, having been set up by the regional government as a key industry. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> There are 243,410 inhabitants, 50 per cent of whom live on the island of Sao Miguel. The active population numbers about 95,904. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> The Azores were discovered in the 15th century by Portuguese navigators. The first people to come upon the islands were from Portugal, although small groups of Flemish settled on some of them. Legend has it that the common buzzard, which was mistaken by the early settlers as a vulture - <I>açor</I> in Portuguese - gave its name to the islands. Because of its geostrategic position in the Atlantic the Azores became an important link between the old and new worlds, particularly for whaling vessels from New Bedford, the transatlantic submarine cables and planes, and as an allied base in the First and Second World Wars, up to modern-day international cruises and leisure and competition yachting. Based on geographic, historical, social and economic factors, the Azores Archipelago was made an autonomous region by the Portuguese Republic in 1976. The region has self-government through the Regional Assembly and the Executive and is able to share in the national and European plans for the execution of common fiscal, monetary, financial and exchange policies. <P>Flora: There are about 850 vascular plants in the Azores islands. The Azorean vegetation is related to that found on Madeira, but is still widely different. With its large number of endemic species, several of the Azorean natural plant communities should be regarded as unique and may be treated as endemic. <P>The natural vegetation in the Azores from west to east above 100m (Flores and Corvo), 500m/700m (Sta Maria and S Miguel) is a laurel/juniper shrub and forest vegetation. Dominant tress as <I>Juniperus brevifolia, Erica azorica</I> and <I>Laurus azorica</I>, all endemic trees. <P>Fauna: Sae birds and various other types, including the 'priolo', a sort of grey bullfinch that is endemic to the region, constitute the most attractive elements of the land fauna, although it is in the ocean that the greatest wealth of the Azores lies, with an abundance of hundreds of species of fish and shellfish and large mammals such as the sperm whale and the dolphin. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <H3>Religions</H3> The great majority of the population is Roman Catholic. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> Portuguese is the official language. Hotels have English and French-speaking staff. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> One hour earlier than Greenwich Mean Time. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> Banks are open between 08.30am and 02.45pm, Monday to Friday. The unit of Portuguese currency is the escudo, and is divided into 100 centavos. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays (all offices and shops closed) and Azorean feast days</H3> 1 January, New Year's Day; Carnival - all the islands - 40 days before Easter Sunday; Holy Ghost Festivities on all the islands, From Easter Sunday up to the end of the summer months. Bullfights - namely, on Terceira - go from May up to October. 25 April, Liberty Day; Our Lady of Angustias on Faial, sixth Sunday after Easter; Holy Ghost Sunday - all islands, seventh Sunday after Easter; Autonomy Day - all islands, Monday after Holy Ghost Sunday; Holy Trinity - al the islands, eighth Sunday after Easter; 1 May, Labour Day; St George - on S Jorge at Velas, 29 May; 10 June, Portugal Day; St John's - namely on S Miguel (Vila Franca), Terceira (Angra do Heroismo), Faial and Flores (Sta Cruz) 24 June; St Peters - on San Miguel (Ribeira Grande) - 29 June; Mary of Magdalas - on Pico (Madalena) - 22 July; Miraculous Good Jesus - Pico S Mateus - 6 August; Sea Week on Faial begins on first Sunday of August; Miraculous Christ - on Graciosa (Sta Cruz) - second week of August, Lady of Miracles - on Corvo - 15 August. Lady of the Assumption - on Sta Maria - 15 August; S Roque Festivity - on Pico (S Roque) - 16 August; Our Lady of Lourdes - on Pico (Lajes) - 27 August; 15 October, Proclamation of the Republic; 1 December, Restoration of Independence; 8 December, Immaculate Conception; 25 and 26 December, Christmas Days. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> </P><BR>Each of the nine islands of the Azores has its individualised landscape. They have one point in common, however: the presence of luxuriant, exuberant greenery which includes all the colours of the rainbow and is speckled with bright flowers. Then there are the wonderful lagoons at the bottom of craters. A pace of life in which there is time to stop and appreciate living. Nature in all its original splendour. Invitations to discover and experience a different world, repeated on each of the nine islands of the Azores. <P>Sao Miguel: The transparent waters of lagoons with legends of kings and lost cities. The inviting fragance of tropical fruits. The unique experience of enjoying a meal cooked by the earth's heat. <P>Santa Maria: The dots of whitewashed houses with lace-like chimneys. The gold of the sandy beaches. <P>Terceira: The network of streets in the town that is a monument in itself. The colourful 'imperios', or chapels, that bear witness to popular devotion. The constant presence of history. <P>Pico: The green of the vines embellishing the black of the basalt. Places recalling the deeds of the whalers who voyaged over the seven seas. The dark and dramatic blotches of the 'misterios', or lava formations. <P>Faial: The white houses of a town mirrored on the sea. The masts of sailing boats that have come from all over the world. The marina. The unforgettable sight of sunrise with the island of Pico in the background. <P>S Jorge: The vertical line of tree-covered cliffs. The green of the broad pastures sprinkled with wild flowers. Discover the silence of nature. <P>Graciosa: The arms of the windmills revolving in the wind. The mirror formed by a lagoon hidden in the depths of the earth. The peace and quiet of country life. <P>Flores: The long, dense clumps of hydrangeas winding over hills and dales. The refreshing tranquility of the lagoons. The island of Flores is nature in all its exuberance. <P>Corvo: The simple, calm life of a small community. The bottom of volcanic cones with legends that speak of the unknown. <P>This is the welcoming picture of the nine gardens in the blue ocean that are the islands of the Azores, for different, active holidays. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> Azores' year-round mild climate eliminates the need for winter clothing but a raincoat may sometimes be necessary. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday resorts</H3> Some 4,629 beds divided among five-star hotels (172 beds), four-star hotels (1,020 beds), three-star hotels (622 beds), two-star hotels (211 beds), four-star residential hotels (49 beds), three-star residential hotels (200 beds), one-star residential hotels (60 beds), three-star apart-hotels (164 beds), two-star apart-hotels (34 beds), inns (154 beds), four-star pensions (169 beds), three-star pensions (713 beds), two-star pensions (122 beds), one-star pensions (41 beds), 2Ct Tourist apartments (116 beds), manor houses (116 beds), boarding houses (250 beds) and private lodging (416 beds) covering all the islands. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Big game fishing with European and world record-breaking catches; a paradise for yachtsmen with the marinas of Horta (Faial) and Port Delgada (Sao Miguel) and numerous ports that take in the whole archipelago; diving and underwater observation - all the islands are served by extremely interesting marine depths all year round; the 18-hole courses on Terceira and Sao Miguel offer the golfer green lawns edged with flowers; tennis courts offer the visitor plenty of exercise; each island has paths for strolls through a well-preserved and flower-filled background where you can breathe fresh, healthy air washed by sea breezes. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> Local dishes are very popular, the following being much in demand: linguica (chopped pork sausage) with yams, mixed fish stew, stewed squid and shellfish. <P>During Whitsuntide celebrations a traditional soup known as 'Sopas do Espirito Santo' is served, as well as an enriched bread known as 'Massa Sovada'. The butter and cheeses are of excellent quality, several varieties being available. 'Verdelho' wine from Pico and pineapple from Sao Miguel are compulsory on a gastronomic itinerary of the Azores. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to buy</H3> Each island has its own form of expression in folk art, using traditional and centuries-old techniques and models. Particularly noteworthy are the colourful pottery of Lagoa, the embroideries and lace of various kinds, the articles of cedar wood, the delicate works in fig tree pith, fish scales and wheat straw. <P> </P>The scrimshaws, works of art carved from the teeth and jaws of the sperm whale, are highly appreciated. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> See Portugal. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> <I>By air</I><BR> <B>Scheduled flights between Europe/Azores</B><BR> Lisboa/Ponta Delgada, Oporto/Ponta Delgada, Frankfurt/Ponta Delgada, Lisboa/Terceira, Lisboa/Horta. <P> <B>Scheduled flights between Madeira/Azores</B><BR> Funchal/Ponta Delgada.<BR> <P> <B>Charter flights between USA-Canada/Azores</B><BR> Suntrips, Relvas, Air Columbus, Azores Express, Sata Express, Lawson Tours.<BR> Sata, the airline of the Azores, flies between all the islands. Air taxi (to all the islands) and an inter-island boat service (between the islands of Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial) is also available. On all the islands, (except Corvo), there is an extensive system of public buses, taxi and cars to be hired. <P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Representatives abroad</H3> See Portugal sheet.<P></P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><P> </P><I>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Azores thanks to the co-operation and the participation of the direccao de Turismo in Horta.</I> <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>