The islands of the Azores are 1600 km from Lisbon
The islands of the Azores are to be found some 4,000 km. off the coast of West Africa (see map below), and approx. 1,600 km. from Lisboa in Portugal. They are small, but numerous. How the Portuguese managed to discover all 9 of them remains something of a mystery, but they bumped into them in 1427, probably during one of the many voyages of exploration, during the Age of Discovery, under a captain that was sent out by Prince Henry the Navigator. It may well have been Captain Gonçalo Velho that discovered the Azores. In Portugal, maps already existed at that time of all known islands, that were more than 100 years old. But even to this day, no one knows who drew them, except to explore and examine the options.
How sheep arrived in the Azores, did they swim?
During the early days, when the islands were beginning to be colonized, sheep were brought over to supply meat and clothing, etc. Prior to this, there were no large animals on the islands. From approx. 1500 until today, the islands gradually became populated, although the number of inhabitants is still only approx. 300,000. Some islands have no more than a couple of hundred inhabitants even today.
It is a stunningly beautiful archipelago (collection of islands) situated in the midst of a volcanic region, that has not created any significant problems in spite of the 40-50 eruptions that have occurred, surrounded by the 2,000-metre deep ocean on all sides which gives it a sub-tropical climate, with slight variations from island to island. The climate is usually slightly humid, but it is never colder than 15C degrees and is typically around 25C degrees in the summertime.
An Archipelago of 9 islands
The islands of the Azores cover 9 islands and in all an area of 2,346 km2, a total including the main islands and several smaller ones.
Each island is different. Corvo, the smallest of them, is basically a large crater. Flores is stony and mainly barren with little vegetation. San Gorge is a long, thin island with rich vegetation, etc. This makes them even more interesting for the visitor to explore. They are not identical tropical islands with sand and palms where if you´ve seen one, you´ve seen them all as it were. Tropical islands also have their charm, of course, but that´s uniformity is not what you experience here.
The islands of the Azores
– The easterly group (Grupo Oriental): São Miguel, Santa Maria and Formigas Islets
– The central group (Grupo Central): Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico, and Faial
– The westerly group (Grupo Occidental): of Flores and Corvo.