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By Beachcomber, retrieved from Wikipedia
Nov 1, 2003, 21:01
The Azores (or Açores in Portuguese) are an archipelago of Portuguese islands situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 km from Lisbon and about 3,900 km from the east coast of North America.
The nine Azorean Islands are extends for more than 600 km, and are guided in the northwest - Southeastern direction. The vast extension of the islands defines an immense exclusive economical zone (EEZ) of 1,1 million squared kilometers. The point more western point of this area, places it 2100 miles of the North American continent.
Even if Portugal is a unitary nation, the Azorean Islands are granted with a autonomous region. Sometimes visitors confuse the islands to be a Portuguese dependency or a country, which is seen has offensive by the locals.
Beginning in 1868, Portugal issued its stamps overprinted with "AÇORES" for use in the islands. Between 1892 and 1906, it also issued separate stamps for the three administrative districts of the time.
Angra consisted of Terceira, São Jorge, and Graciosa, with the capital at Angra do Heroismo on Terceira.
Horta consisted of Pico, Faial, Flores, and Corvo, with the capital at Horta on Faial.
Ponta Delgada consisted of São Miguel and Santa Maria, with the capital at Ponta Delgada on São Miguel.
From 1938 to 1978, the archipelago was divided into three districts, quite equivalent (except in area) to those in the Portuguese mainland. The division was quite arbitrary, and didn’t follow the natural island groups, rather reflecting the location of each district capital on the three main cities (neither of each on the western group).
In 1978 the Azores became an Autonomous Region and the Azorean districts (Angra, Horta, Ponta Delgada) were suppressed.
The Azores are divided in 19 municipalities (concelhos), each municipality is further divided into parishes (freguesias). The Azores has a total of 156 parishes.
There are also 5 cities: Ponta Delgada and Ribeira Grande in São Miguel Island; Angra do Heroísmo and Praia da Vitória in Terceira, and Horta in Faial.
The archipelago is spread out in the area of the parallel that passes through Lisbon (39º, 43'/39º, 55' North Latitude), giving it a moderate climate, with mild annual oscillation. The Azores lie in the Palearctic ecozone, forming a unique biome among the world's Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, with many endemic species of plants. The nine islands have a total area of 2,355 km². Their individual areas vary between 747 km² (São Miguel) and 17 km² (Corvo). Three islands (São Miguel, Pico and Terceira) are bigger in size when compared to Malta (compose by three different islands). São Miguel Island alone, being twice has big.
The nine islands are divided into three groups:
The Eastern Group of São Miguel, Santa Maria and Formigas Islets
The volcanic origin of all the islands is revealed by their volcanic cones and craters. Pico, a volcano that stands 2,351 metres high on the island of the same name, has the highest altitude in the Azores.
The Azores had a population of 238,767 in 31 December 2002 and a population density of 106 persons/km².
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