The Azores Today

Last Edited: 04 Jan 2021

Autonomous region of the Azores

The following information on the Azores today was extracted from Wikipedia.


  • Composition: nine major islands and an islet cluster, in three main groups. These are Flores and Corvo, to the west; Graciosa, Terceira, São Jorge, Pico and Faial in the centre; and São Miguel, Santa Maria and the Formigas Reef to the east
  • Population: 243,862 (2018)
  • Capital: Angra do Heroísmo (Seat of Judiciary/Tribunal), Horta (Seat of Legislature),Ponta Delgada (Seat of Presidency/Government)
  • Area: 2,346 km (906 sq mi)
  • Major language: Portuguese
  • Major religion: Christianity 
  • Monetary unit: Euro
  • Main industries: agriculture, dairy farming (for cheese and butter products primarily), minor livestock ranching, fishing and tourism
  • GDP per capita: €17,398 (2015)


Angra do Heroísmo beach and marina

In 1931 the Azores (together with Madeira and Portuguese Guinea) revolted against the Ditadura Nacional and were held briefly by military rebels.

In 1943, during World War II, Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar leased bases in the Azores to the British, despite his previous collaboration with Germany. The occupation of these facilities in October 1943 was codenamed Operation Alacrity by the Allies. This was a key turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic, allowing the Allies to provide aerial coverage in the Mid-Atlantic gap; helping them to hunt U-boats and protect convoys.

In 1944, American forces constructed a small and short-lived air base on the island of Santa Maria. In 1945, a new base was constructed on the island of Terceira and is currently known as Lajes Field. This base is in an area called Lajes, a broad, flat sea terrace that had been a farm. Lajes Field is a plateau rising out of the sea on the northeast corner of the island. This air base is a joint American and Portuguese venture. Lajes Field continues to support United States and Portuguese military operations. Since its inception, Lajes Field has been used for refuelling aircraft bound for Europe, and more recently, the Middle East. The airfield also has a small commercial terminal handling scheduled and chartered passenger flights from other islands in the archipelago, Europe, and North America.

In 1976, the Azores became the Autonomous Region of the Azores (Região Autónoma dos Açores), one of the Autonomous regions of Portugal, and the Azorean districts were suppressed. It has its own government and autonomous legislature within its own political-administrative statute and organic law.  Since becoming a Portuguese autonomous region, the executive branch of the regional authority has been located in Ponta Delgada, the legislative branch in Horta, and the judicial branch in Angra do Heroísmo.

Azoreans have developed their own distinct regional identity and cultural traits, from a combination of continental Portuguese customs brought by various waves of immigration and local political and environmental factors.

For photos of the island of Terceira today, view our album on Ilha de Terceira.