Regions & Cities
The islands of the Azores lie in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The climate of the Azores is delightful, lying in the same general climatic zone as Lisbon. Moderate rainfall with little season variation makes it particularly attractive as an agricultural center, but even more important, as a tourist and retirement location.
The Azores naturally are grouped into three geographic areas. The Eastern Group consists of São Miguel, Santa Maria and Formigas Islets. The Central Group is Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial. The Western Group includes Flores and Corvo.
São Miguel is the largest and most populous of the islands with over half the population of the Azores living here. Its nickname is the Green Island. The nickname comes from the verdant lowlands and the laurel forests in the hills. Numerous geysers and hot springs add geological and botanical interest to the island.
The islands encompass every shade of green divided by borders of the blue hydrangea. Many flowers sprinkle the slopes running down to the sea. Chestnut, beech and other trees intersperse the remains of the Laurisilva forest that predated human settlement. And there are volcanic features of craters and cones, lava flows, cliffs, ravines and caves, fumaroles and lagoons.
The flora of the Azores is one of the most interesting in Europe. About sixty plants are unique to the Azores. Since the Azores is a natural stopover place between North America and Europe for migrating birds, the Islands have been enriched by some of these feathered creatures. Many nests in or near the marshes, lake shores and waterways of the islands.
Also the waterways around the Azores are one of the richest fish grounds of the Atlantic Ocean. Here you can find swordfish, sharks, bras, tuna, bonito’s, eels, murray eels and mackerel. Often you can find flying fish sailing over the sea surface, trying to escape predators. Sperm Whales are the largest and most numerous in these waters. The Dolphins sighted regularly in these waters are Common, Atlantic Bottlenose, Risso, Atlantic Spotted and Striped Dolphins.
The heritage of the Azores dates back to the mid 1400’s, so it is not surprising that the museums of the Azores represent a wide range of interests, subjects and value of the collections. Sometimes the location of the museums is of as much as interest as the collection itself. The entire core of the city of Angra do Heroísmo has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Architectural details from the early settlers’ churches and buildings make fascinating viewing. Since several of the islands were settled originally by Portuguese and Flemish families, writings, books, household furnishings and decorations, and personal items from the founding families can be found in some of the collections.
For more information on the Azores, please visit the Azores Web Portal
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