Azores is the other Autonomous Region of Portugal. Together with Madeira and Continental Portugal, they form the whole of the Portuguese Republic. It is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean about 1,360 km (850 mi) west of continental Portugal.
The climate of the Azores is very mild, being influenced by its distance from the continents and by the passing Gulf Stream. Due to the marine influence, temperatures remain mild year-round. Daytime temperatures normally fluctuate between 16° C (61F) and 25°C (77° F) depending on season. It is also generally wet and cloudy.
The islands were known in the fourteenth century. In 1427, a captain sailing for Henry the Navigator, possibly Gonçalo Velho, rediscovered the Azores, but this is not certain. In Thomas Ashe’s 1813 work, A History of the Azores, the author identified a Fleming, Joshua Vander Berg of Bruges, who made landfall in the archipelago during a storm on his way to Lisbon. He stated that the Portuguese explored the area and claimed it for Portugal.
The archipelago was largely settled from mainland Portugal. Portuguese settlers came from the provinces of Algarve, Minho, Alentejo and Ribatejo as well as Madeira. Many early settlers were Portuguese Sephardic Jews who fled the pressures of inquisition in mainland Portugal.
All the islands are very different from each other; however they all share a common truth: the beauty of their landscapes is breath-taking.
To the East, on the island of Santa Maria, there are marvellous beaches of warm white sand waiting your footprints. In São Miguel, the largest Island, we find some of the most beautiful sights of the whole archipelago: the Sete Cidades and Fogo Lagoons. You can also taste the amazing local stew “Cozido das Furnas”, slowly cooked inside the volcanic earth.
In the Central Group, the islands of Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, Faial and Graciosa are set in the deep blue sea, where whales and dolphins can be spotted. On Terceira, the World Heritage town of Angra do Heroísmo is steeped in history. In Faial you can find in the marina yachtsmen from all over the world and the extinct Capelinhos volcano, which resembles a lunar landscape. In front is Pico Island, a mountain that emerges from the sea, with vineyards planted in black lava fields, a unique culture that also has World Heritage status. On São Jorge, the highlights are the Fajãs and the cheese, a unique specialty with an unmistakable flavour. Graciosa is an island of green fields covered with vineyards that contrast with its peculiar windmills.
In the Western group, on the island of Flores, the beauty of the natural waterfalls and lakes carved out by volcanoes is dazzling. The tiny island of Corvo has a broad, beautiful crater at its centre, and attracts many species of birds coming from both Europe and America.