Azores, Portugal

The Azores or Autonomous Region of the Azores is a region and archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean, with 236 413 inhabitants (2021 census), being the seventh most populous region in the country, with a population density of 101.8 inhab./km², being the fourth largest urban area in the country, and a total area of 2,322 km², making it the sixth largest region in the country.

It is one of the seven regions of Portugal, consisting of 155 parishes, comprising 19 municipalities and being at the same time constituted by the same and only subregion, having the same name.

The Political-Administrative Statute of the Autonomous Region of the Azores is one of the two national autonomous regional governments, which coordinates the policies of the region.



Eastern Group - Closer to the European mainland, it comprises the islands of Santa Maria and São Miguel.
Central Group - Consisting of five islands: Terceira and Graciosa, which are joined by the islands of Faial, Pico and São Jorge, the latter three, due to their relative proximity, are called the "Islands of the Triangle".
Western Group - It is made up of the Corvo and Flores Islands, the westernmost territory in Europe.

Angra do Heroísmo, World Heritage city and seat of the diocese of the Azores.
Ponta Delgada, the administrative capital of the archipelago.
Horta, the legislative capital
Praia da Vitória
Ribeira Grande


Other destinations

Lagoa das Sete Cidades;
Lagoa do Fogo;
Furnas Lagoon;
Capelinhos volcano.
Pico Mountain


Getting here

To enter the archipelago, a passport and a valid visa are required in some cases, except for citizens of the European Union, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, for whom only an identity card is required.

Citizens of countries with which Portugal does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations must address their visa application directly to the Portuguese authorities.

Of boat
Many cruises stop in the archipelago on transatlantic voyages.

By airplane
All islands have airport facilities, with four international airports in the archipelago:

João Paulo II Airport - in Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel (PDL)
Santa Maria Airport - in Vila do Porto, on the island of Santa Maria (SMA)
Horta Airport - in Horta, on the island of Faial (HOR)
Lajes Airport - in Lajes (Praia da Vitória), on Terceira Island (TER)
Azores Express connects New England with the archipelago. Part of Grupo SATA, which connects the Azores with mainland Europe.
SATA Internacional - Connects the Azores and the main European centres, such as Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Lisbon, Porto, as well as other destinations such as Gran Canaria, Madeira, Boston, New York and Monreal.
TAP - Connects the Azores with Lisbon, Porto and Funchal.
Sata Air Azores ( - Connects the various islands of the Azores to each other.
There are airports on every island. Thus, in addition to the aforementioned international airports, there are airport structures on the islands of Pico, Graciosa, São Jorge, Flores and Corvo.



On most of the islands, particularly on the larger ones - São Miguel, Terceira or Pico - the most advisable means of travel is by car. There are "rent-a-car" companies on virtually every island. Those wishing to stay several days on one of the smaller islands may benefit from opting for the "per kilometer" rental method instead of "unlimited mileage". All islands have a modern bus service.

Connections between the islands are ensured by plane, throughout the year. But the most pleasant way to travel between the islands, particularly in summer, is by boat. The AtlanticoLine company provides ferry connections between the various islands from April to October. Between the islands of Faial, Pico and São Jorge there are daily boat connections, throughout the year, provided by Transmaçor - on weekdays, there are at least three connections a day (early morning, midday and late pm). It is also possible, with local operators, to rent sailboats or speedboats with and without a "skeeper", but for this it is advisable to book in advance. For those wishing to travel to the Azores by yacht, there are excellent marinas and harbors on virtually every island. The main marinas are the Marina of Horta (Faial), which is among the busiest marinas in the world, the Marina of Angra do Heroísmo and the Marina of Praia da Vitória (Terceira), the Marina of Ponta Delgada (São Miguel), There are also marinas and well-equipped recreational harbors in Vila do Porto (Santa Maria), Vila Franca and Povoação (São Miguel), Lajes (Pico), Santa Cruz (Graciosa) and Velas (São Jorge). The main marinas are managed by the company Portos dos Açores. Ponta Delgada (São Miguel) is home to the most modern cruise port in the Azores, the Portas do Mar complex.

As these islands are volcanic, in many parts of the archipelago the terrain is steep and mountainous. Many of the roads are on steep hills. The bicycle may be an option for circulation in cities and towns. To travel around the islands, a bicycle will only be an option for those who are in very good physical shape. There are companies that rent bicycles on virtually every island.

Azorean Taxitours, Sao Miguel, Azores



Each of the nine islands is a world.

In São Miguel, see:
The Lagoon of the Seven Cities
The Lagoon of Furnas
The Lagoon of Fire
The Gorreana and Porto Formoso tea plantations (the only tea plantations in Europe)
The Terra Nostra botanical park (which is among the best botanical gardens in the world)
The "pineapple greenhouses", where what are still considered "the best pineapples in the world" are planted.
The "Gruta do Carvão" - an extensive lava tube under the city of Ponta Delgada
The dazzling views from the very landscaped viewpoints in the municipality of Nordeste.

In Santa Maria, see:
The Pico Alto viewpoint
The Village of Porto
The Barreiro da Faneca
The bay of São Lourenço

On Terceira, be sure to see:
The monumentality of the city of Angra do Heroísmo, World Heritage
The Museum of Angra do Heroísmo
The "Algar do Carvão"
"Black Mysteries"
The Viewpoint of Serra do Cume
The Viewpoint of Serra do Facho

In Faial, you must visit:
Horta Marina with its hundreds of murals left by sailors who pass by;
Mount Guia;
The Capelinhos Volcano and its Interpretation Center
The cauldron
The Porto Pim Museum and Interpretation Center
The mythical Café Peter Sport where sailors have a tradition of drinking "the best gin in the world"

In Pico, be sure to visit:
The Protected Landscape of Vinha do Pico, a World Heritage Site
The Wine Museum
The Museum of the Whaling Industry, in São Roque
The Whaling Museum, in Lajes
The Museum of Naval Construction, in Santo Amaro
The town of Lajido
Pico's Mountain
The Captain's Lagoon

In São Jorge, you must visit:
Fajã do Santo Cristo
The Fajã dos Cubres
Fajã do Ouvidor

In Flores it is mandatory to visit:
The Poço da Alagoinha
The Rock of Bordões
The Rasa and Funda lagoons

In Corvo, it is unmissable:
The village of Corvo itself
The Cardirão

In Graciosa you must visit:
Furna do Enxofre and its Interpretation Center
The Graciosa Museum



Noa Açores, be sure to do:

Whalewatching, with operators on all islands and a network of museums linked to the theme of whaling, particularly on the islands of Pico and Faial;
Pedestrian walks (hiking), with the possibility of resorting to the precious help of Trails Azores, where you will find detailed information on the various footpaths available on each island, as well as cartographic maps for download and technical and safety information.
Diving, with more than 90 spots and certified operators in practically all the islands;
Visit caves and tunnels of volcanic origin open to the public. There are hundreds that are not open to the public, although they can exceptionally be visited as long as the visit is authorized and accompanied by specialists. The "Montanheiros" association, located on Terceira, may be the right entity to help organize some less common expeditions, even on other islands. There are several interpretation centers connected to the caves and tunnels open to the public.
Take a boat trip between islands. The islands of the "Triângulo" (Faial, Pico and São Jorge) are connected by boat throughout the year, with at least three trips a day. In spring and summer, ferries connect all the islands.



In all islands the language used is Portuguese, which facilitates communication.

Many people speak English thanks to contact with the United States and Canada, where many people of Azorean descent live.



Local crafts made from hydrangea pith and fish scales
Honey from the Azores - Beekeeping is favored by the climate of the archipelago and the absence of serious diseases in bees, enabling the production of high quality honey, considered by many to be the best in the country.
Queijo do Pico - It is a cheese from Pico Island, made with raw cow's milk, obtained by draining the curd after using animal rennet.
São Jorge Cheese - Cheese from the island of São Jorge.
Sweets/Pastry - Covilhetes, honey amelia and pretzels.
Pico Wine - One of the best wines in the country. Consumed by the czars of Russia and the kings of England, its fame was such that doctors recommended it and Leo Tolstoy mentioned it in "War and Peace". In the 19th century, the vineyards (a World Heritage Site) were affected by diseases, which reduced their production to home consumption only. However, a few years ago a group of farmers renewed this tradition, producing the wine that now takes the name "Lajido".



Cozido das Furnas - Undoubtedly the most emblematic dish of São Miguel. Consisting of various meats, the typical sausages from São Miguel and vegetables, it is very similar to "Cozido à Portuguesa", from which it is distinguished by being cooked very slowly in a pot buried in the earth that takes advantage of the heat produced by volcanic activity, making this dish unique in the world. world.
Alcatra à moda da Terceira - One of the most traditional dishes of the archipelago, probably originating in Chanfana das Beiras. The recipe, characteristic of Terceira, varies from region to region of the island.
The rump of fish, when done well, is also not to be missed.
Fish and Seafood: lobster, barnacles, "cavaco", "barnacles".
Grilled limpets or, if you can find limpet rice, are to be tried.
Queijo do Pico - It is a cheese from Pico Island, made with raw cow's milk, obtained by draining the curd after using animal rennet.
São Jorge Cheese São Jorge - the so-called "Island Cheese", exclusively produced on the island of São Jorge, with DOP certification (Denomination of Protected Origin), is a cured hard or semi-hard cheese, with a clean flavor, slightly spicy and intense aroma.
Do not miss, in São Miguel, the "massa sovada" and "bolos levedos".



Pico Wine - One of the best wines in the country. The czars of Russia and the kings of England drank it, and its fame was such that doctors recommended it and Leo Tolstoy mentioned it in "War and Peace". In the 19th century, the vineyards (a World Heritage Site) were affected by diseases, which reduced their production to home consumption only. However, a few years ago a group of farmers renewed this tradition, producing the wine that now takes the name "Lajido".
White wines ["Frei Gigante" (Pico), "Terras de Lava" (Pico) and "Curral Atlantis" (Pico)]
Strawberry scented wine, served in a pitcher.
Wine from Caloira (São Miguel)
Cookie Wine (Third)
Terra brandy and Graciosa brandy
Muffled Wine
Passion fruit, blackberry, pineapple and milk liqueurs are some of the most traditional in these parts.
Passion Fruit or Pineapple Kimas (local soft drinks with a distinctive taste)
At night:

On Terceira, head to the restaurants, bars and terraces of Praia da Vitória.
In São Miguel, the night (and the day) always passes at "Portas do Mar", in Ponta Delgada and at the multiple terraces on Avenida Marginal. For meals after 10 pm, leave Ponta Delgada and look around. The terraces on Pópulo's beaches are an alternative in hot weather. A trip to Furnas for a bath in Poça de Beja, in warm running water, outdoors, becomes even more desirable if it is raining (but pay attention to closing times).
In Faial, there are some interesting restaurants in Horta and, particularly in summer, terraces and bars next to the Marina and on the Marginal. And, be it summer or winter, there is always the unavoidable Peter Café Sport with its gin and snacks for the comfort of the night.



Casa do Contador is located in the historic center of Ponta Delgada, side by side with the main tourist attractions of the city. Built in the 17th century, Casa do Contador has been adapted and offers modern suites with air conditioning, free high-speed Wi-Fi and daily cleaning service. You can make your reservation through the website:

An excellent network of high quality "Rural Tourism" houses offers accommodation in the Azores islands. They are organized in the association "Casas Açorianas" (, constituting an accommodation alternative in distinctive, traditional and typical buildings, of high quality, available in practically all the islands, although with predominance in the islands of São Miguel, Terceira, Faial and Pico. These rural tourism houses can be a more economical option, particularly for families with more than 3 members or the best solution for those who want a more personalized or calm stay. Most houses have a minimum capacity for 4 people, and it is normal to find houses with a capacity for 6 or more people. Reservations can be made through the association "Casas Açorianas".



With almost six centuries of continuous human presence, the Azores gained an important place in the History of Portugal and in the history of the Atlantic: they constituted a stopover for the expeditions of the Discoveries and for ships of the so-called Carreira da Índia, of the silver fleets, and from Brazil; contributed to the conquest and maintenance of the Portuguese squares in North Africa; when the succession crisis of 1580 and the Liberal Wars (1828-1834) became bulwarks of resistance; during the two World Wars, in vital strategic support for the Allied forces, remaining, until today, a center of communications and support to military and commercial aviation.

The discovery of the Azores archipelago, like Madeira, is one of the most controversial issues in the history of the Discoveries. Among the various theories about this fact, some are based on the appreciation of various Genoese maps produced since 1351, which lead historians to state that those islands were already known when the expeditions to the Canary Islands returned around 1340-1345, in the reign of Afonso IV of Portugal. Others state that the discovery of the first islands (São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira) was carried out by sailors in the service of Infante D. Henrique, although there is no written document that confirms and proves this fact. To support this version there is only a set of later writings, based on oral tradition, which was created in the first half of the 15th century. Some more daring theses consider, however, that the discovery of the first islands already took place at the time of Afonso IV of Portugal and that the trips made in the time of Infante D. Henrique were nothing more than mere reconnaissance. Additionally, allegedly, recently discovered temples excavated in the rocks dating from the 4th century BC, of possible Carthaginian authorship. These alleged findings are being disputed by experts.

What is concretely known is that Gonçalo Velho arrived on the island of Santa Maria in 1431, and in the following years the (re)discovery - or recognition - of the remaining islands of the Azores archipelago took place, in the sense of progression from east to west. A letter from Infante D. Henrique, dated 2 July 1439 and addressed to his brother D. Pedro, is the first reliable reference to the exploration of the archipelago. At that time, the islands of Flores and Corvo had not yet been discovered, which would only happen around 1450, thanks to Diogo de Teive. In the meantime, Infante D. Henrique, with the support of his sister D. Isabel of Portugal, Duchess of Burgundy, had the island of Santa Maria populated.

The Portuguese began to populate the islands around 1432, coming mainly from the Algarve, Alentejo, Estremadura and Minho.

From the outset, and given the need to defend the people, the maintenance of a strategic Portuguese position in the middle of the Atlantic and the immense wealth that passed through this land from the Portuguese Empire and later also from the Spanish Empire, the Azorean islands were heavily fortified practically since the beginning of settlement. Thus, there are 161 military infrastructures on the islands, including castles, fortresses, forts, redoubts and trenches, distributed as follows: 78 on Terceira, 26 on the island of São Miguel, 15 on the island of São Jorge, 12 on the island of Flores , 12 on the island of Santa Maria, 7 on the island of Graciosa, 7 on the island of Faial and 4 on the island of Pico.

It is known, however, that many of these immigrants who populated the Azores would have been New Christians, that is, Sephardic Jews who were forced to convert by the persecutions of the Catholic Church. Through the Alfonsine Ordinances, Portugal sought to attract both Jews and Flemings to the archipelago through the distribution of land. Thus, away from continental Europe, these groups would be free from religious persecution.

In the process of populating the remaining islands, mainly Faial, Pico, Flores and São Jorge, the presence of a large number of Flemings is noted, whose presence was reflected in artistic production and in the customs and modes of exploration of the lands. . Remember the name of Joss van Hurtere, Flemish captain, who was entrusted with the settlement of part of the island of Faial: the city of Horta received its toponymic designation from its patronymic. There is also a parish in the municipality of Horta called Flamengos, in addition to the mills and models of agricultural exploitation.

As in the archipelago of Madeira, the administration of the Azorean islands was carried out through the system of captaincies, at the head of which was a captain of the donee. The first captaincies were formed on the islands of São Miguel and Santa Maria. In 1450, following the western progression of the discovery of the islands, another captaincy was created on Terceira Island: the administration of this island was also attributed to a Flemish, named Jácome de Bruges. The remaining islands were also under the administration of captaincies. The administration and spiritual assistance of the islands was subordinated to the Order of Christ, which also held the temporary lordship of the islands, but the presence of other religious orders did not fail to be noted in the settlement process from the beginning, as in the case of the Franciscans in Santa Maria and Terceira since the 1490s of the 15th century.

The climate of the Azorean archipelago is less hot when compared to the Madeira archipelago. So that the settlers could cultivate the land, it was necessary to thin out dense trees that provided raw material for export, for sculptural production (cedar) and for shipbuilding. Growing cereals and raising livestock were the predominant activities, with wheat recording considerable production. The production of pastel and its industrialization for export destined for dyeing also played an important role in the economy of the archipelago. Exploitation of pastel and heather, the latter also for dyeing, reached its peak precisely when the production of sugar cane (attempted but without great economic results) and wheat began to decline.

In the 17th century, dyeing raw materials also suffered a recession, being replaced by flax and oranges, which, in turn, recorded an extraordinary boost. At this time, maize production was introduced, which was significant for improving the population's diet and also as a support for livestock. The first export of oranges appeared in the 18th century, at a time when the potato crop was also introduced. At the end of the 1700s, one of the most expressive and emblematic Azorean economic activities began: the hunting of sperm whales and other cetaceans. On the island of São Miguel, both tea production and tobacco production would prove to be very important for the island's economy.

In the 18th century, the Azores already had a population large enough for the Portuguese Crown to encourage the emigration of Azorean families to Brazilian lands, especially to the southern part of their then colony in South America. In the following century, the Azores played a very important role in the resurgence of cod fishing. Azorean fishermen who emigrated to the United States introduced the dory line fishing technique used by Portuguese fishermen on the Grand Bank until the 1960s.

It should be noted that the Azoreans have always aimed to gain greater political and administrative autonomy, which for centuries was denied, giving rise to some movements in favor of the emancipation of the archipelago.

The autonomous regions were enshrined in the Portuguese Constitution of 1976. This is a special political-administrative status reserved for the Azores and Madeira archipelagos, due to their special geographical - and, consequently, socio-economic - conditions. Under the terms of the Constitution, regional autonomy does not affect the integrity of state sovereignty. It is incumbent upon the autonomous regions to legislate on all matters that are not reserved for sovereign bodies and that are part of the list of powers contained in their Political-Administrative Statutes; pronounce on the most diverse matters concerning them; and exercising its own executive power, in areas such as the promotion of economic development and quality of life, the defense of the environment and heritage, and the organization of regional administration.

The governing bodies of each region are the Legislative Assembly and the Regional Government. The first is elected by direct universal suffrage and has fundamentally legislative powers, in addition to supervising the acts of the Regional Government. The President of the Regional Government is appointed by the Representative of the Republic, who for this purpose considers the electoral results, and is responsible for the internal organization of the body and for proposing its members. The attributions of the Regional Government are fundamentally executive.

The representative of the Republic is the representative of the head of state in each autonomous region. He is appointed by the President of the Republic, after consultation with the Council of State. It is responsible for signing and having published the decrees of the Assembly and the Regional Government, having, however, the right of veto, which can be overridden by qualified vote of the Legislative Assembly. The term of office of the Representative of the Republic lasts for the term of office of the President of the Republic.


Geographic location

The Azores are an archipelago that, although located precisely on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, due to its proximity to the European continent and its political integration in the Portuguese Republic and the European Union is generally included in Europe.

The archipelago is located in the northeast of the Atlantic Ocean between 36º and 43º North latitude and 25º and 31º West longitude. The closest territories are the Iberian Peninsula, around 1 400 km to the east, Madeira to 930 km to the southeast, São Pedro and Miquelon to the northwest, 2 200 km to Nova Scotia to 2 400 km to the northwest and Bermuda to 3 100 km southwest. It integrates the biogeographical region of Macaronesia.


Territory and climate

The Azores archipelago consists of nine main islands divided into three distinct groups:

Western Group

Core Group
Saint George

eastern group
Santa Maria
São Miguel

The Eastern Group also includes a group of rocks and oceanic reefs, located northeast of Santa Maria, called Ilhéus das Formigas, or simply Formigas, which, together with the Dollabarat reef, constitute the Natural Reserve of Ilhéu das Formigas, one of the places most important for the conservation of the marine biosphere in the Northeast Atlantic.

The highest point of the archipelago is located on the island of Pico - hence its name, the Mountain of Pico - with an altitude of 2352 m. The Azorean orography is very rugged, with relief lines oriented in an east-west direction, coinciding with the fracture lines that are at the origin of the islands. This archipelago is part of the submarine mountain range that extends from Iceland to the south and southwest, with an orientation roughly parallel to the inflection of the continental coasts.

The volcanic origin of the Azores has its maximum expression on the island of São Miguel, in the famous Vale das Furnas and had its most recent terrestrial activity in the Capelinhos Volcano, on the island of Faial, in 1957-1958. At sea, the last eruption took place off Serreta (Terceira Island) in 1998-2000.

The climate is temperate, with average temperatures of 13 °C in winter and 24 °C in summer. The Gulf Stream, which passes relatively close by, keeps sea water at an average temperature of between 17°C and 23°C. The air is humid with an average relative humidity of around 75%.

The islands are visited relatively frequently by tropical storms, including some strong enough to be considered hurricanes.


Physical geography

The Azores archipelago was formed by volcanic activity during the late Tertiary. The first island to emerge above the mean sea water line was Santa Maria, around 8.1 million years ago (Ma), during the Miocene. They were followed, in chronological order, by São Miguel (4.1 Ma), Terceira (3.52 Ma), Graciosa (2.5 Ma), Flores (2.16 Ma), Faial (0.7 Ma), Corvo (0.7 Ma), São Jorge (0.55 Ma) and, the youngest, Pico (0.27 Ma).


Geostrategic importance

Their location in the central part of the North Atlantic made the Azorean islands a true crossroads on transatlantic routes for centuries.

In the sailing phase, due to the regime of winds and currents that forced them to "turn offshore", vessels coming from the South Atlantic (from India, the Far East and other parts of Asia, Africa, Brazil and other parts of South America) and the Caribbean (the so-called "West Indies") made a wide clockwise rotation that brought them to the vicinity of the Western Group, then crossing the archipelago towards Europe. This is the route that recreational sailing still takes today, using the port of Horta, on the island of Faial, as a support point.

With the advent of steam navigation, the ports of the Azores, particularly those of Ponta Delgada and Horta, the only ones with protective piers and berths of appreciable size, assumed an important role in the supply of coal.

With the advent of aviation, the Azores soon gained importance as a support point. The first air crossings of the Atlantic reached the Azores, and Horta, with its sheltered bay and intercontinental telegraph connections via submarine cable, was an important stopover in the connections between Europe and America by seaplane (the clippers) in the period immediately before the Second World War.

After the war, the North American base on the island of Santa Maria quickly became an international airport and a center for technical stopovers for aircraft crossing the Atlantic between the Americas, southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The same role, but for military aviation, played (and continues to play) the Lajes Base, on Terceira Island, where, after the departure of the British contingent that arrived in 1943, a US military detachment settled in what is now the Base Area No. 4 of the Portuguese Air Force (still in full operation).

Discussions around the geo-strategic role of the Azores and the function of the archipelago as a border point between the North American and European spheres of interest still play a relevant role in the Azorean political discussion and in the attitude of the political class towards Portuguese interests in the Atlantic . Questions surrounding the allocation of compensation granted by the United States for the use of Lajes Air Base, on Terceira Island, have occupied parliamentary activity, albeit in a sterile manner, and are a constant presence in negotiations with Portugal and the United States.

More recently, the fact that the waters of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Azores are by far the largest in the European Union, with their 994 000 square kilometers, and therefore make up the bulk of the so-called "western waters" of the Union, has led to heated debates on the advantages of Azorean integration in the European Union. Under the terms of the treaties in force, and the draft treaty for the European Constitution, the management of marine biological resources is an exclusive competence of the Union, which has already led to the partial opening of fishing (between 100 and 200 nautical miles) to vessels communities against the will of the Azorean government.

To understand the position of the archipelago, consider the following distances measured along the orthodrome (great circle) from a point located in the geographic center of the Azores (38º 35' N; 28º 05' W):
Funchal, Madeira - 1 206 km;
Lisbon - 1 643 km;
Mizen Head, Ireland - 2011 km;
Cape Race, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada - 2,253 km;
London - 2,595 km;
Praia, Cape Verde - 2 668 km;
Paris - 2673 km;
Reykjavik, Iceland - 2,871 km;
Hamilton, Bermuda - 3,371 km;
Boston, Mass, USA - 3,618 km;
New York, N.I., USA - 3,889 km;
João Pessoa, PB, Brazil - 4 994 km;
Brasilia - 6 385 km.


Administrative division

Politically, the Azores are since 1976 an autonomous region integrated in the Portuguese Republic. The Autonomous Region of the Azores has its own government and broad legislative autonomy, embodied in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and in the Political-Administrative Statute of the Autonomous Region of the Azores. The governing bodies are the Legislative Assembly, a unicameral parliament composed of 57 deputies elected by universal and direct suffrage every four years (last election on 14 October 2012), and the Regional Government, of parliamentary legitimacy, composed of a president of the Government, a vice-president, and seven regional secretaries. The Portuguese Republic is especially represented in the Azores by a representative of the Republic, appointed by the President of the Republic.

This position was created by the 2004 constitutional revision, which extinguished the position of Minister of the Republic, creating in his place a representative of the Republic, appointed by the President of the Republic, on his own initiative, after hearing the Council of State, and with a mandate coinciding with that of presidential. This new constitutional device took effect with the end of Jorge Sampaio's mandate as President of the Republic, in March 2006. Judge Counselor Álvaro José Brilhante Laborinho Lúcio entered history as the last minister of the Republic, being succeeded by Judge Counselor José António Mesquita as a representative of the Republic.

The islands have no legal existence in the Azorean territorial order, except in the electoral law, in which they serve as the basis for electoral circles, a fact that has raised criticism since it promotes the over-representation of the less populous islands in the Legislative Assembly and distorts proportionality, and the existence of an advisory body called the Ilha Council. The main administrative subdivision of the archipelago is therefore made at the level of its 19 municipalities.

In addition to the municipalities listed in the table below, the following existed in the Azores, until the administrative reform of the 19th century: Topo (now part of the municipality of Calheta de São Jorge); Praia da Graciosa (now part of the municipality of Santa Cruz da Graciosa); São Sebastião (now part of the municipality of Angra do Heroísmo); Capelas (now part of the municipality of Ponta Delgada); and Água de Pau (now part of the municipality of Lagoa). The parishes that were the headquarters of those municipalities recovered, by Regional Legislative Decree n.º 29/2003/A, of June 24, from the Legislative Assembly, the category of "village". The populations of Capelas and neighboring parishes claim the restoration of that municipality.

In turn, the municipalities are subdivided into parishes, with the exception of Corvo where, given its small size, the Political-Administrative Statute of the Autonomous Region of the Azores establishes that the functions entrusted to that level of administration in the rest of the territory are carried out directly by the correspondents municipal bodies. The area and population distribution for each island and municipality are as follows:


Resident population

Contrary to the trend seen in recent decades, the resident population reached 236,440 inhabitants in 2021, 4.2% less than in 2011. In 2001 and 2011, there was moderate growth in the resident population (1.7% and 1.8% , respectively), standing at 241,763 inhabitants in 2001 and 246,772 inhabitants in 2011.

However, the increase in population is not evenly distributed across the different islands, with significant negative variations on the islands of Graciosa, Flores and Santa Maria, denoting a tendency towards population concentration on the islands where the main administrative and economic functions are located. The demographic growth that has occurred in recent years can be explained, to a large extent, by migratory flows, which have registered positive values, due to the sharp decrease in emigration and the increase in immigration, given that the natural balance has been declining .

Growth was concentrated essentially on the island of São Miguel. The growth in Faial is merely cyclical and results from the displacement of civil construction workers resulting from the reconstruction works of the earthquake of 9 July 1998. Whatever the scenario considered, it is estimated that the population of the Azores will continue to grow slowly in the next years.

In terms of the evolution of the structure of the population by age groups, and based on the latest censuses and existing projections, it can be seen that demographic growth tends to be concentrated in the group corresponding to the potentially active population (15-64 years), on the other hand, the age group relative to young people, with the relative weight of the elderly remaining practically unchanged in the context of the population residing in the Azores.

The tendency in the next decade is for the aging of the resident population to increase, due, above all, to the decrease in the relative weight of young people resulting from the combined effect of the decrease in birth/fertility rates and the increase in life expectancy. Indeed, through the comparative analysis of some demographic indicators, it appears that the evolution of these indicators has been decreasing in recent years. The general mortality rate remains practically constant, with the annual value in the vicinity of 11 deaths per thousand inhabitants. With regard to infant mortality, the Azores continues to see a downward trend, reaching 2.9 per thousand births in 2003. With regard to the number of marriages recorded in 2003, it appears that there was an increase in the number of weddings, going against the downward trend of previous years.

In final terms, the demographic projections point to a stabilization or population decrease, associated with a continued aging of demographic structures, resulting from the decrease in fertility/birth rates and the increase in life expectancy. This trend has been attenuated by the reversal of migratory behaviour, which, since the mid-1990s, has registered positive values associated, above all, with an increase in immigration. The Autonomous Region of the Azores could be one of the regions that will most benefit from the entry of foreigners, provided that the average fertility levels shown are maintained, counteracting the sharp downward trend in the number of residents.

These changes in demographic dynamics raise serious questions and challenges at an economic and social level, since society will be increasingly diversified and aging, which not only compromises future generations, but also causes changes in consumption habits, social relations and economy. The increase in the active population will exert pressure on the labor market, in the sense of creating more jobs, and will cause an unequal distribution of the population between urban centers and rural areas. The increase in immigration will also increase the pressure on the labor market, which is why it is essential to follow training policies and professional requalification of the active.


Ethnic origin

From a genetic point of view, the population of the Azores is quite similar to the population of mainland Portugal, where most of its inhabitants originated. Influences from other European populations (particularly from Northern Europe), from populations in the Near East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa were detected. Analyzing the mitochondrial DNA of Azoreans from three regions of the archipelago (eastern, western and central), 81.3% had mitochondrial DNA of European origin, 11.3% of African origin and 7.5% of Near Eastern or Jewish origin . The group that most presented non-European contributions was the oriental (about 25%), mostly African (18.2%). In the core group, on the other hand, non-European contributions stood at 15%, mostly Jewish or Near Eastern (10%), while the African contribution stood at 5%. The Western group was the one with the lowest degree of non-European ancestry (6.5%), mostly African. Regarding male lineages, there was also a predominance of European contributions, but once again African, Near Eastern/Jewish and even Indian contributions were detected (1.1%).

Historical documents reveal that the Azores were populated mainly by Portuguese, and the regions of the Algarve, Alentejo and Minho were highlighted as suppliers of settlers. The presence of settlers from the Madeira archipelago was also reported, as well as individuals of Jewish origin. The presence of people from other European countries is also reported, with particular emphasis on Flemish settlers, who would have had a greater presence in the central islands, especially in Faial Island. The presence of slaves (Moorish and black) is also widely documented. The typically African lineages found in the inhabitants of the Azores, despite the reduced frequency, are the highest within the Portuguese population, which denotes a possible greater integration of black slaves in the Azorean population.


Macroeconomic Aspects

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Azores reached, in 2002, 2400 million euros, according to the most recent data from the regional accounts. Given that, in relation to the previous year, it registered a nominal growth (8.2%) higher than the national average (4.8%), the Region notably reinforced its relative importance in the national whole. As a result of this behavior of the regional economy, from 2002 onwards, the Azores ceased to be the last NUTS II region in the country in terms of GDP per capita. There is a real convergence of GDP per capita with the national average and that of the European Union, now representing 82% of the national average value.

Regarding the comparison with the European Union, after the entry of two new Member States, Bulgaria and Romania, we can see that the Purchasing Power Parity in percentage of Europe at 27, dropped from 71.3 in 2002 to 65.9 in 2004 , breaking the cycle of growth. Compared to the national average, this indicator stands at 88 of the national average when ten years earlier it was 77, growing more or less steadily over this period.

In terms of the sectoral breakdown of gross value added in the production of goods and services, in recent years for which statistical information is available, there has been a certain strengthening of the tertiary sector, in contrast to a lower relative expression of the remaining sectors of economic activity .


Job market

The evolution of the labor market in the Azores has been characterized by a continued increase in the active population, greater activity in the female segment of the population and the maintenance of relatively low unemployment rates, indicative of a situation of almost full employment.

Taking the last full year for which information is available, it can be observed that, in 2003, the unemployment rate was around 2.9%. The Azores are the second region of the European Union (after Tyrol, Austria) that in that time period had the lowest unemployment rate.

In terms of sectoral breakdown of the employed population, it is the services sector that absorbs the majority of employees, with the primary sector of the economy still retaining some weight.



In terms of changes in consumer prices, the inflation rate in the Region has been low and in line with the general trend in the country and in the European Community.

In 2004, the average change rate of the last twelve months of the consumer price index was 2.7% in the Azores.


Public finances

Budgetary execution for the year 2004 fully achieved the objectives initially set, insofar as an effective containment of regional administration operating expenses was ensured (+2.1%) and, at the same time, a rate of growth in investment expenditure (+6.5%), higher than that observed in the last five years.

The Region's Account for 2004, excluding the current accounts, will show a positive balance of around 22 million euros, fundamentally as a result of various adjustments made in terms of tax revenue generated in the Region and, also, of the restraint imposed on operating expenses. In fact, there was a significant improvement in the coverage ratio of operating expenses by the Region's own revenues, which went from 90.2% to 98.2% between 2003 and 2004.

Within the scope of the Region's revenues, it was own revenues, with a value of 497.2 million euros, which registered a more significant growth rate, +11.2%, also observing an increase in their relative weight in the total of revenue, which went from 63.1% in 2003 to 65.9% in 2004.

In the calculation of own revenues, emphasis should be given to tax revenues whose execution reached 488.7 million euros, 14.9% more than the respective value of 2003.

The two major aggregates of public expenditure - operating and investment plan - maintained in 2004 a structure similar to that they had in 2003, translating a slight change that is considered positive, since there was an increase of around one percentage point in the relative weight investment expenditure against operating expenditure.

The investment plan reached an execution of 226.1 million euros, which translates into a growth rate of 6.1%, compared to 2003 and an excellent realization rate of 97.2%, if we do not consider the allocations of the plan which were earmarked for the revenue from the reprivatisation of EDA (Electricidade dos Açores, SA) and the payment of interest subsidies on mortgage loans, which were not transferred in 2004.


Economic sectors


The volume of milk production received at the factories is around 500 million liters. Industrialized milk is predominantly consumed in the form of UHT.

Cheese represents the most significant dairy product, registering a positive evolution, even in years of raw material reduction.

Meat production has registered, in recent years, a tendentially positive evolution. The meaning of this evolution is common to different types of meat. However, the intensity is mainly due to beef for export, whose growth has been bringing it closer to the levels reached before the 1997 crisis. regularity.



Fishing activity, measured by fish unloaded in ports, translates into volumes of around 10 thousand tons per year, which correspond to gross production values of around 26 million euros. Annually, there are specific variations in the conditions under which activities in the sector are carried out, with significant price fluctuations being observed.

The different varieties of more traditional fish («rest of fish» in the table below) occupy the most representative place, with the tuna fishing component being the one that is most sensitive to production conditions.

The number of registered fishermen is around 4 thousand and the number of vessels around 1 600 units. Trying to observe the current trend of evolution of these productive factors, through some ratios, there will be a tendency towards an increase in size measured by the average tonnage per vessel and per registered fisherman.



The set of traditional hotels, plus tourism in rural areas added, in 2004, the accommodation capacity of around 8000 beds, as a result of a remarkable growth in the offer of tourist accommodation, which was felt essentially in the last four years .

Demand has been systematically increasing every year, both in terms of overnight stays and in terms of revenue. From 1996 to 2004, the number of overnight stays grew by 124% and total revenues by 148%.

Today, more than 50% of the hotel offer was newly built and the remaining part was, in more than 50%, profoundly remodeled and restructured.

From 1996 to 2004 there was a significant leap in market demand. Portugal, in 1996, represented 71% of the total volume of overnight stays, while in 2004 it represented only 51%.

It is evident that although promoting tourism in Portugal is always a dominant concern, with the increase in hotel supply and given the strong seasonality of the national market, it becomes increasingly important to diversify demand. In 2004, the Swedish market accounted for 16% of demand, followed by the Norwegian market with around 8.3% and the German market with 7.1%.

Since 2015, and after the liberalization of airspace, which allowed Ryanair and Easyjet (currently only Ryanair flies to the islands of São Miguel and Terceira) - low-cost airlines - the Azores destination has become more accessible and popular. It is currently one of the favorite destinations of the Portuguese for holidays. "The liberalization of domestic air transport to the Azores, which took place at the end of the first quarter of 2015, the investment in promotion that has been carried out and the improvement of inter-island accessibility, have been effectively contributing to this growth".



The evolution of manufacturing industries, observable through company statistics, points towards a growth process accompanied by changes in production structures, at least in terms of size.

Effectively, while the turnover has been registering, in recent years, significant growth rates, the number of companies and staff, on the contrary, has been decreasing. Given that in the process of decreasing these productive elements, the number of personnel was proportionally higher than that of the companies themselves, there was, logically, an increase in the average size of the respective structures.

Despite this evolution, the average size of companies in the manufacturing industries continues to be lower than the average size of companies in the Portuguese economy. In fact, according to the latest data, the average number of people employed per production unit in the Azores stood at 10 workers per company, while the same ratio, at country level, reached 12.

The reduced size is also observable in terms of the average turnover of industrial companies, whose profitability is more dependent on the margins that are possible in terms of cost reduction.



The primary energy sources used continue to be based on imported fossil fuels (fuel, diesel, gasoline). However, renewable energy sources such as hydropower, geothermal and wind energy have registered positive developments, approaching in recent years about a tenth of the total energy consumed.

The production of electricity has grown at significant rates, with the respective annual average rates standing at around 7%.

Production of thermal origin continues to be dominant, but renewable energies already represent a share close to one fifth of the total.

With regard to electricity use, domestic consumption represents the most significant component, but commercial and service consumption has proved to be more dynamic in recent years. Industrial consumption has been characterized by a certain stability, just accompanying the overall average evolution of recent years.


Construction and housing

In recent years, local cement production has contributed with around 55% of the total cement used in works. In previous years it had a share of around 60%.

Housing work permits represent about three quarters of the total licenses granted for works in the Azores.



In the commercial sector, there was an evolution with growth in activity based more on the creation of new service units than on increasing capacity and modernizing existing ones. Effectively, the statistical data point to a significant growth in the volume of business, at the same time that the numbers of companies and personnel at work grow.

Incidentally, the intensity of growth in people working was very close to that of the growth in the number of companies, with the ratio of personnel per company remaining practically constant. This ratio of around 5 employees per company confirms the strong presence of small business units and the atomistic nature of this type of service.

Taking into account the characteristics of the commercial sector, in national terms, the differences between the structures in the various regions will result more from small differences in evolution and circumstantial adaptations, than from structural factors such as size that are more evident in organizations of material and industrial production.

Sales of new cars in 2004 performed positively, reversing the previous trend. In 2004, light car sales in the Azores accounted for around 77% of total new car sales.


Transport and Communications

Available data on passenger movements point towards a trend towards a reduction in traffic in collective land transport and an increase in maritime and air transport. Passenger movements at airports have been revealing changes in their composition according to different types of traffic.

Internal passenger traffic (in practice inter-island) is still the one with the highest number of frequencies, but it no longer has the predominance that it usually did and in 2002 and 2003, it represented less than half of total traffic.

On the other hand, external trade (territorial and international), despite continuing to be more sensitive to economic influences, show higher growth trends on average. This will be particularly the case for international traffic, which is consistent with the evolution of tourist demand.

Observing the frequency of passenger movements at airports in relation to the number of resident inhabitants, it appears that in the Azores there is a high intensity in the use of air transport, when comparing with the mainland using the same indicator. This difference in intensity will logically be related to the different characteristics of the physical geography in both territories.

Cargo handled at ports reaches around 2.7 million tons, however the volume handled at airports does not represent 1% of those.

Postal traffic stands at a level of around 10 million objects, while the number of existing telephone posts continues to grow more intensely.


Social sectors


The 2002/03 school year saw strong growth in the number of enrollments in Pre-School Education and a continued preference for Vocational Education, which led to a reversal of the negative trend that had been observed in the volume of enrollments/enrollments at global. In general, the volume of enrollments in Basic and Secondary Education levels continues the downward trend that has been observed lately, registering, in the Secondary Education level, a value greater than minus 5.5% of the values verified in the year previous.

The schooling rate shows increasing values at all ages, despite the school population having been decreasing. This increase is more significant in pre-school education ages and from 14 years old. Observing the evolution of these rates, there is a widening of the range of ages with rates of 100%, currently representative of the ages of compulsory schooling.

School performance, measured through the transition/pass rate, ranges from 82.8% in the 4th year of schooling to 45.5% in the 12th year, confirming greater school performance in the cycles of general and compulsory education than in the secondary.



Data on services provided in hospitals and health centers point towards considerable evolution. In clinical procedures, there is a significant participation of human resources and a growing use of complementary means of diagnosis and therapy.

The acts recorded in global prophylaxis/inoculations correspond to vaccinations carried out in health centres. The volume of acts is around eighty thousand but, although it is predominantly applied with concerns about disease prevention in children under the age of one year, it is strongly conditioned by particularities and specific campaigns at local level.

Emergency services have registered, in recent years, a more expressive demand than consultation services. This evolution would have been more significant in the context of health centers than in hospitals.

Hospitalization movements in hospitals and health centers have remained somewhat stable, with an average delay of 7 or 8 days and an occupancy rate of around 62%. Complementary means of diagnosis exceed two million exams and analyses, while complementary means of therapy correspond to more than three hundred thousand acts. The evolution of these means has recorded significant average growth. However, it is possible to observe a slight tendency for the performance of the therapeutic act to correspond, on average, to a lower use of exams and analyses.

Personnel working in hospitals and health centers is around four thousand professionals. The general evolution has seen an effective expansion of staff, highlighting a certain reinforcement of doctors, nurses and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians.


Social Security

The number of Social Security pensioners in the Azores is around 47 thousand individuals. Beneficiaries living due to old age, who receive pensions in lieu of wages from work, represent around 52% of the total; living beneficiaries, but disabled by accident or illness before old-age retirement age, represent around 30% of the total; and, finally, the families of beneficiaries due to their death represent around 18%.



Museums and public libraries represent privileged means of developing cultural actions, whether due to existing heritage and functional capacities, or due to the different audiences they can attract.

Observing the evolution of searches on those cultural facilities, by visitors to museums and users in libraries, it appears that there is currently a growth trend in any of them. However, if the trend in the demand for visitors to museums continues at a more regular pace and within the same pattern of existing structures, the demand for users in libraries reveals, after a slight drop in the late 1990s, an intensification of growth in recent years, reflecting, at least in part, the transition of the functioning of the public library of Ponta Delgada from the old to the new premises, in the historic Colégio dos Jesuítas.

Looking now at the intra-annual evolution for the same types of cultural equipment, it can be seen that demand in museums intensifies in the summer months, while demand in libraries, on the contrary, is greater in other seasons. The component of tourists visiting museums will contribute significantly to this difference between the distributions throughout the year, while in libraries it will be more the component of students for readings integrated into their academic training throughout the school year.

During 2003, financial support for cultural activities, legally framed by Regional Legislative Decree no. 22/97/A, of 4 November, reached an amount of around 480 thousand euros.



The Azores archipelago has a rich and diverse built heritage, the most representative elements of which are classified and included in the list of built heritage in the Azores.

The Azorean Institute of Culture is in the process of creating, by contract with the Regional Government of the Azores, a complete inventory of the immovable cultural heritage of the islands, which, as it is completed in each municipality, is published in its own volume. Under the terms of the decree of the Azorean parliament, the Regional Directorate for Culture operates a Regional Register of Classified Goods, which can be consulted via the Internet.

By Resolution n.º 126/2004, of 9 September, the global listing of the properties that were classified at the date of entry into force of the diploma that currently frames the legal regime of classified properties in the Azores, the Regional Legislative Decree n. 29/2004/A, of the 24th of August.



The sporting activities in the Azores, framed by the associative federations of the different modalities, have been moving a significant number of athletes and responsible agents.

The number of subscribers in the 2002/2003 season approached around 20 thousand practicing athletes and 800 coaches.

The previous data are the result of a remarkable growth process since, in the last ten years, the number of athletes practically doubled and the technical framing conditions could be translated by the ratio of 24 athletes for each coach, in contrast to an initial ratio of 46 athletes.

In terms of representativeness of the different modalities, two groups can be grouped according to the characteristics:

More individual sports, which attract hundreds or even around a thousand practitioners, such as 606 in chess, 613 in swimming, 614 in karate, 808 in tennis, 873 in judo, 1 050 in athletics and 1 208 in table tennis;
Or team games involving players in greater numbers or in the order of thousands, such as 1,142 in handball, 1,267 in basketball, 2,332 in volleyball and 5,584 in football.


Environmental situation

The brief analysis that follows was prepared from the document "Report on the State of the Environment - 2003", produced in September 2004, under the responsibility of the then Regional Secretariat for the Environment.


Water resources

In the Azores, water needs for urban use are the most significant, representing around 56% of total needs, followed by industry and agriculture, with a weight of around 20%. Tourism, energy and other uses still represent a small amount, around 3%. Groundwater is the main source of water, satisfying more than 97% of the different uses.

Existing availability is estimated at around 1,520 million cubic meters, considering 10% of this value as useful availability. The greatest availabilities are located on the islands of Pico and São Miguel and the smallest on Corvo, Graciosa and Santa Maria. Relating needs to availabilities, there is greater pressure on available resources on the islands of Graciosa, Terceira and São Miguel.

In terms of surface water, namely lakes, in addition to their scenic, touristic and ecological value, they are strategic water reserves, with the guarantee of their quality being one of the challenges in the management of water resources. According to the analysis and classifications carried out on 17 lakes, the majority register situations of more or less accentuated pollution, derived from diffuse contamination by agricultural and livestock activities and unreasonable fertilization, hence the importance of projects in progress and to be started related to construction. of dams, reforestation of the strips adjacent to the water lines, among other actions, in the sense of reversing this situation.

As for groundwater, these do not present severe quality problems, although, occasionally, some problems may arise from the over-exploitation of aquifers, with the consequent saline intrusion, excess nitrates and microbiological contamination related to diffuse pollution, provided by agricultural exploitation.

In the particular case of bathing water, in general, most bathing areas have a very reasonable water quality, which has led to an adequate classification for displaying the blue flag.

With regard to the supply of water to the populations, the level of assistance is close to 100%, in terms of supply infrastructure. However, occasionally, due to random factors and water loss in the networks, there is around 13% of the population with irregular supply during the year. The quality of the supplied water does not always meet the required quality parameters: if, on the one hand, more than 84% of the population served was served by treatment systems, on the other hand, around 80% of the distributed water was only subject to disinfection by chlorination, without significant control. With regard to the existence of wastewater drainage systems, the level of service was around 38%, with the remaining 62% corresponding to individual septic tanks. The level of care regarding wastewater treatment corresponded to only 24% of the population, a relatively low figure compared to the targets set.


Urban Solid Waste (MSW)

MSW production has been increasing, reaching around 118.5 thousand tons in 2003, around 50% of which is produced on São Miguel, 20% on Terceira and the rest on other islands. The daily production of MSW per inhabitant already reaches 1.37 kg, most of which is made up of organic matter, followed by packaging material, reinforcing the need for selective collection, with the aim of recycling and adding value to these materials.

In terms of treatment and final destination, despite the construction of controlled landfills and the implementation of selective collection, in 2003 it was still verified that around 6% of waste was deposited in uncontrolled dumps and 13% in controlled dumps.


Industrial and hospital waste

There is also a lack of an adequate final destination for industrial waste, and there is little adherence on the part of industrialists to deliver maps recording the quantities produced. With regard to hospital waste, they have been treated appropriately, namely those considered dangerous, which are subject to incineration and/or chemical treatment.


Sound environment

Of the various existing forms of pollution, noise is one of those that assume an expression in the Azores. However, the existence of some complaints from individuals indicates the possibility of occasional situations of an ambient sound level above the desired level. The preparation of a significant set of noise maps, the acquisition of measuring equipment, will make it possible in the near future to have instruments for monitoring and supporting territorial planning.


Air quality

The indicators normally used to characterize air quality are sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter. There are other pollutants, such as tropospheric ozone (O3), which result from chemical reactions between primary pollutants. Studies carried out indicate that the concentrations are lower than the limits established in the legislation.


Nature conservation

In terms of biodiversity, 702 exotic species of flora have been identified, of which 36 are invasive. In terms of fauna, 47 exotic species are listed, with a distinction being made for 5 invasive species, among which the so-called Japanese beetle stands out. In the whole of the archipelago, 115 species are protected, however, there are 215 threatened species.


Classified and protected areas

The Natura 2000 network encompasses 38 sites, with an approximate area of 45.5 thousand ha, while the protected areas are spread over 31 sites, occupying an area of 68.4 thousand ha. 23 Sites of Community Importance (SIC) have been defined, covering a total area of 11.8 thousand hectares, 15 Special Protection Zones (ZPE), with an area of 11.8 thousand ha and the Sectorial Plan for the Natura 2000 Network.


Network of Protected Areas in the Azores

Protected areas include land, inland waters and marine areas in which the fauna, flora, landscape, ecosystems or other natural occurrences have, due to their rarity, ecological or landscape value, scientific, cultural and social importance.

The climatic conditions associated with the geographical isolation, relief and geological characteristics of the islands gave rise to a wide variety of biotopes, ecosystems and landscapes, which provide the existence of a large number of habitats that are home to a great diversity of species.

The natural vegetation of the Azorean islands comprises a vast number of species originating from the Tertiary Period, mostly endemic and with protection status. The laurisilva, whose origin is related to the humid Tertiary forests existing in southern Europe and disappeared millions of years ago during the last glaciations, is a forest with a very high rate of endemism.

In addition to the larger species, it has a sub-shrub layer, generally very dense, with large ferns and bushes, some of which are also endemic.

The islands were colonized by man in the late 15th century and the vegetation cover has changed considerably since then. Of the existing vascular plant species, 66 are currently known to be endemic, with a high number of endemisms also found in other groups. The diversity of plant communities allows endemic land bird communities to be distributed throughout the entire area.

Around 300 endemic species of arthropods can also be found on all the islands, distributed in very diverse habitats, such as volcanic cavities, lava fields, natural forests, etc.

This taxonomic group is subject to some pressure from human activities, since it is not protected. The little protection it enjoys results directly from the classification of protected areas on the various islands in the Region.

With regard to mammals, 25 species occur naturally in the Azores, mostly marine, 24 of which correspond to cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and the other consists of an endemic terrestrial species, which is the only native mammal of the archipelago: the Bat -dos-Azores (Nyctalus azoreum).

As a way of safeguarding the existing natural heritage, a regional network of protected areas was created, occupying an area of 53,700 ha. The first protected area dates back to 1972 (Caldeira, Faial Island). Since then, more protected areas have been created, covering about 13% of the total area of the Region.

The protected areas of the Azores - Network of Protected Areas of the Azores - have been the object of development of Planning and Management Plans, with the aim of defining the policy for safeguarding and conservation of the heritage.

The plans are intended to be an instrument to support and promote the organization and management of protected areas, with a view to safeguarding natural resources, conserving landscape quality and reconciling human activities.



The Azores are a calm and safe land.



The Azoreans are welcoming and hospitable.


Keep in touch

Area Codes
crow - 292
Flowers - 292
Faial - 292
Graceful - 295
Peak - 292
Saint George - 295
Third - 295
Santa Maria - 296
São Miguel - 296



The Azores are quite isolated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The most accessible destinations are:
Lisbon - Located at the mouth of the Tagus, it is the capital and largest city in the country (as well as its main tourist destination) and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is famous for its custard tarts and the Belém Tower, symbol of the city and the country. There are several daily direct flights between Lisbon and some of the islands.
Porto - Located on the banks of the Douro River and bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, the main one in the North Region and an important commercial and cultural centre. A World Heritage Site, buildings such as the cathedral, the Stock Exchange in neoclassical style and the Church of Santa Clara, built in the typical Manueline style, are worth a visit. It is famous for Port Wine, described by many as the best wine in the world. There are daily direct flights between Porto and the Azores islands.
Madeira - It is an autonomous region of Portugal. Known worldwide as the Ilhas da Primavera Eterna or Ilha Jardim, it is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Portugal. Attracting thousands of people to its famous "reveillon", which includes the largest fireworks show in the world, it is famous for its natural beauty and Madeira wine. There are frequent direct flights between the Azores and Madeira.
Canary Islands - Isolated in the middle of the Atlantic, they are an autonomous region of Spain. Its largest cities are Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Tenerife is popular for its fantastic beaches, mountain scenery and vibrant nightlife.


Distinguished Azoreans

Alfredo Bensaúde (1856 - 1941) - university professor, reformer of technological education in Portugal, was the founder and first director of Instituto Superior Técnico (IST)
Antero de Quental (1842 - 1891) - poet.
Augusto de Almeida Monjardino (1871 - 1941) - physician and politician, founder and first director of Maternidade Alfredo da Costa (MAC).
Aurélio Quintanilha (1892 - 1987) - university professor and internationally renowned scientist in the areas of genetics, fungal biology and cotton culture.
Aristides Moreira da Mota (1855 - 1942) - politician, lawyer and high school teacher.
Azevedo Neves (1877 - 1955) - doctor and politician.
Carlos César (1956) - President of the Regional Government of the Azores.
Curry Cabral (1844 - 1920) - physician, researcher and professor.
Dias de Melo (1925 - 2008) - author and writer.
Eliseu Pereira dos Santos (1983) - European football champion for Portugal in 2016.
Ernesto do Canto (1831 - 1900) - Portuguese historian, bibliophile and politician who distinguished himself by organizing and publishing the Archive of the Azores.
Francisco de Lacerda (1869 - 1934) - musicologist, composer and conductor.
Gil Montalverne de Sequeira (1859 - 1931) - physician and politician.
Hélder Fragueiro Antunes (1963) - businessman, engineer and former racing driver.
Jaime Gama (1947) - politician, deputy and President of the Assembly of the Republic (2005-2011).
Jorge Ferreira (1955) - international popular Portuguese singer, based in the United States.
José do Canto (1820 - 1898) - great owner, intellectual and bibliophile.
José Bruno Tavares Carreiro (1880 - 1957) - Azorean jurist, journalist, writer and autonomist politician.
Manuel de Arriaga (1840 - 1917) - first elected President of the Portuguese Republic (1911-1915).
Mota Amaral (1943) - President of the Government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores (1976-1995), and President of the Assembly of the Republic (9th legislature).
Natália Correia (1923 - 1993) - poet, intellectual and social activist and deputy (1980-1991). Author of the lyrics of the Hymn of the Azores.
Nicolau Anastácio de Bettencourt (1872-1941) - doctor and researcher.
Nuno Bettencourt (1966) - guitarist, member of the band Extreme,
Pedro da Silveira (1922 - 2003) - poet, literary critic and researcher, member of Seara Nova.
Pedro Resendes (Pauleta) (1973) - football player.
Raul Bensaúde (1866 - 1938) - gastroenterologist in Paris who stood out as the initiator of Proctology. His name became associated with that of Pierre-Emile Launois when he proposed an explanation for symmetrical adenolipomatosis, currently known as de Launois-Bensaúde.
Roberto Mesquita (1871 - 1923) - poet.
Roberto Ivens (1850 - 1898) - Navy officer, colonial administrator and explorer of the African continent.
Teles Palhinha (1871 - 1957) - botanist and university professor to whom we owe the systematic exploration of the Azorean flora.
Teófilo Braga (1843 - 1924) - writer and 2nd President of the Portuguese Republic.
Vitorino Nemésio (1901 - 1978) - writer and university professor.
The Three Ilhoas: Antônia da Graça, Júlia Maria da Caridade, Helena Maria de Jesus are three Azorean sisters who embarked in Brazil around 1723 and founded important and noble families.

Distinguished descendants
Katy Perry (1984) - American singer, with three Azorean great-great-grandparents.
Nelly Furtado (1978) - Canadian singer, songwriter and actress, daughter of Azorean parents.
Tom Hanks (1956) - American actor, great-grandson of Azorean.
Daniel Silva (1956) - American writer, son of Azoreans.
Lília Cabral (1957) - Brazilian actress, daughter of an Azorean mother.