Azores Country Guide
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The Azores Archipelago is a group of nine
distinct islands, lying on the same latitude as New York and Lisbon, around 950
miles from the Portuguese capital. Legend has it that they are the tips of the lost
continent of Atlantis but the stunning craggy scenery points to volcanic rather
than mythical origins.
Weather is of a mild maritime Mediterranean type and summers are generally very
good. Average temperatures range from 15-22C (59-71F) with extremes being tempered
by the passing gulf stream and although they do get rain year round the weather
is generally very pleasant.
The Azores (Portuguese: Açores pronounced [ɐˈsoɾɨʃ] or [ɐˈsoɾʃ]) are a Portuguese
archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 km (950 mi) from Lisbon and about
3,900 km (2,400 mi) from the east coast of North America. The two westernmost Azorean
islands (Flores and Corvo) actually lie on the North American plate and are only
1,925 km (1,200 mi) from St. John's in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and
Labrador. The Azores' most significant industries are tourism, cattle raising for
milk and meat, and fishing.
The nine major Azorean islands and the eight small Formigas extend for more than
600 km (373 mi) and lie in a northwest-southeast direction. The vast extension of
the islands defines an immense exclusive economic zone of 1.1 million km². The westernmost
point of this area is 3,380 km (2,100 mi) from the North American continent. All
of the islands have volcanic origins, although Santa Maria also has some reef contribution.
The mountain of Pico on Pico Island, at 2,351 m (7,713 ft) in altitude, is the highest
in all of Portugal.
The Azores are actually the
tops of some of the tallest mountains on the planet, as measured from their base
at the bottom of the ocean. The archipelago forms the Autonomous Region of Azores,
one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal.
You can fly direct to the Azores from either Lisbon, Boston or Frankfurt with TAP
Air Portugal and SATA International. Connecting flights are available from the UK,
the US and many airports across Europe.
The most instantly recognisable of the islands, Pico is dominated
by majestic Mount Pico, itself a steep-sided dormant volcano soaring to 7,200ft
on an island barely 10 miles wide.
Pico is the highest mountain in Portugal and its peak is often
shrouded in clouds. However, views from the top over the central group of islands
are unbeatable on a clear day.
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