What’s Azores?

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The Azores are a group of nine islands and eight islets located 950 miles off the coast of Portugal. They are volcanic and have a mild climate. The islands were colonized in the 15th century and have a unique culture. The main industries are dairy farming and horticulture. Many Azorean people emigrated in the 19th century, leading to an estimated 19 million Azorean descendants in the New World.

The Azores are a series of nine islands and eight islets located approximately 950 miles (1,500 kilometers) off the coast of Portugal. The main islands of the archipelago are São Miguel, Terceira, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Santa Maria, Graciosa, Flores and Corvo. The smaller islands are known as formigas or ants. About 240,000 people live on the islands.
The Azores are an autonomous region of Portugal which, together with the island of Madeira, constitutes the Portuguese Republic. The islands are volcanic and sit atop the Atlantic Ridge, a tectonic plate that separates the North American plate and the Eurasian plate, as well as the South American plate and the African plate. The Atlantic Ridge has been subject to both underwater and elevated volcanic eruptions, as well as multiple earthquakes. The climate is generally mild, although rain and wind can be frequent. Temperatures generally range from the upper 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-30 degrees Celsius) during the summer and the lower 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit (13-18 degrees Celsius) during the winter.

There is evidence that people knew about the islands as early as the 14th century, but colonization of the once uninhabited islands didn’t begin until the 14th. Colonization continued over the next two centuries. Most settlers came from mainland Portugal, but other settlers came from Flanders, North Africa and Spain. Although the main language of the Azores is Portuguese, there are still people who speak dialects descended from Flemish and African languages.

The Azores are picturesque, surrounded by the brilliant blue of the Atlantic and dotted with green hills and farms, white houses and barns, lava rocks and lovely beaches. The main industries are dairy farming and horticulture. The United States has had a naval base, Lajes Field, on Terceira Island since World War II. It’s still active.

The relative isolation of the islands has allowed them to develop a unique culture, including differences from island to island. The Azores is strongly Roman Catholic and a number of cultural celebrations on the islands are centered around religious ceremonies, especially those honoring saints. The islands have a variety of food specialties, including locally produced wines and spirits. The Azores are also known for their unique pineapple greenhouses specializing in the small crown fruit which is a favorite on the islands.

Many Azorean people emigrated from the islands in the 19th century, making landfall in places as diverse as Hawaii, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the Central Valley of California, and Canada. It is estimated that there are more than 19 million Azorean descendants in the New World, leading to the nickname “the tenth island”.

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