An archipelago of nine islands that extend for 370 miles in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, 900+ miles east from Lisbon? What is this? It’s the Azores, home to some of the most stunning scenery you’ll ever experience – and it’s an autonomous region of Portugal. All nine of the islands are mountainous – indeed, volcanic (either currently or historically), and were formed from volcanic and seismic activity during the Neogene period (around 23 million years ago). Mount Pico, one of the most recognizable symbols of the Azores, is the highest point in Portugal; the Azores are included in the tallest mountains on the planet, if you measure from the base of the island underwater to their peaks. The nine islands are, from west to east, Flores, Corvo, Graciosa, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico, Sao Miguel (with the largest population, more than all the other islands combined), and Santa Maria. The Azores also includes the Formigas Reef.
The Azores were settled by the Portuguese in the 15th century. Many famous people passed through the Azores in its early history, including French writer Chateaubriand, Portuguese poet Almeida Garret, and American author Mark Twain.
- One of the things the Azores is known for is a diversity of outdoor experiences. From scuba diving to hiking to sailing to water sports, the Azores has it all. Read this account of an unforgettable whale watching experience in the Azores. As with any activity involving wild animals, there can be a lot of down time in between excitement. Would you like to go whale watching? Do you think it is an ecologically friendly way to learn about nature?
The Azores are full of beautiful towns as well as natural beauty! In particular, the designs in the pavement and squares are well-known and quite distinctive. Take a 360 look at the Azores – explore some city scenes, as well as nature. What aspects of the Azores were you most interested in? What surprised you? Discuss where you’d like to go first (and why).
This photo is of Lagoa do Fogo (Lagoon of Fire, or Fire Lake). Located on Sao Miguel Island, Lagao do Fogo is a crater lake within a dormant volcano, and is also a nature preserve. Check out this webcam of the area. Most people view the Lagoon from up high (where there is a brisk wind, as you can see from youtube videos on this location), and then some hike down rustic trails to swim. You can also hop into hot waterfalls. Discuss the importance of nature preserves, and limiting development in such areas. How will this affect the island culturally, financially, and developmentally, over the years?