Azores Islands Tours – The Azores is a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 km (930 mi) west from Lisbon and about 3,900 km (2,400 mi) east from the east coast of North America. The Monchique Islet on Flores Island, located at 31° 16 24 W is regarded as the westernmost point in Europe, even though from a geological standpoint the two westernmost Azorean islands (Flores and Corvo) actually lie on the North American plate. The archipelago, and economic exclusion zone, forms the Autonomous Region of the Azores, one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal. Its main industries are: agriculture, dairy farming (for cheese and butter products primarily), minor livestock ranching, fishing and tourism, which is becoming the major service activity in the region. In addition, the government of the Azores is responsible for employing a large percentage of population directly or indirectly in many aspects of the service and tertiary sectors.
The nine major Azorean islands and Formigas extend for more than 600 km (373 mi) and lie in a northwest-southeast direction. The vast extent of the islands defines an immense exclusive economic zone of 1,100,000 km2 (420,000 sq mi). The westernmost point of this area is 3,380 km (2,100 mi) from the North American continent. All of the islands have volcanic origins, although some, such as Santa Maria, have had no historical activity since the islands were settled. Mount Pico, the ex-libris of the island of Pico, is the highest point in Portugal, at 2,351 m (7,713 ft) in altitude. Generally, the Azores are actually the peaks of several of the tallest mountains on the planet, breaking the surface in the mid-Atlantic (as measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean).
In 1877, Samuel Clemens, who found fame under his moniker Mark Twain, wrote of the Azores, as follows: I think the Azores must be very little known in America. Out of our whole ships company there was not a solitary individual who knew anything whatever about them. Some of the party, well read concerning most other lands, had no other information about the Azores than that they were a group of nine or ten small islands far out in the Atlantic, something more than halfway between New York and Gibraltar. That was all.
Because these once uninhabited, remote islands were settled sporadically over a span of two centuries, their culture, dialect, cuisine and traditions vary considerably from island to island. Farming and fishing are key industries that support the Azorean economy. ( source Wikipedia )
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