The islands of the Azores are situated in the Atlantic Ocean and have a population of 245.000
on 2247 sq km. The Azores are administratively an autonomous region of Portugal.
The nine main islands are Sao Miguel (the largest) and Santa Maria in the southeast;
Terceira, Pico, Faial, Sao Jorge, and Graciosa in the center; and Flores and Corvo in
the northwest. Ponta Delgada is the largest and most important city.
The fertile soil yields many crops and supports vineyards.
The islands are also a resort area, although there is volcanic activity.
The islands offer a nature in its original splendor.
The Azores may have been known to the ancients and were included on a map in 1351.
Portuguese sailors reached them in 1427 or 1431, but colonization did not begin until
1445 under Diogo de Sevilha or Goncalo Velho Cabral. During the colonial period, the Azores
were a stopover point for treasure fleets returning from the New World, and many ships were
lost there due to hurricanes or pirates. The islands were used as a place of exile and were
also the site of naval battles between the English and the Spanish.
In the 20th century, there has been a large outmigration to the United States.
There is a major Nato air base in the islands.