The Autonomous Region of the Azores is a group of 9 islands of volcanic origin, located in the North Atlantic. Together with the archipelagos of Madeira and Savage Islands, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, they constitute the region of Macaronesia, which means “fortunate islands”.
The islands are divided into 3 groups:
- The Eastern: Santa Maria and São Miguel (the latter is the vastest)
- The Central: Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial;
- The Western: Corvo and Flores
There are some mysteries surrounding the name’s origin and a couple of theories.
The most known says that the word Azores may be related to the name of the bird of prey that discoverers thought they had seen – a goshawk. In fact, they probably spotted a common buzzard.
It can also be related to the devotion of Fray Gonçalo Velho Cabral to Our Lady of the Azores (patron saint of the parish with the same name, which was aggregated to the parish of Velosa, in Celorico da Beira). The Portuguese navigator was the rediscoverer of the Azores (Diogo de Silves had already seen part of the archipelago in 1427) and he may have given the name of Santa Maria to the first discovered island and the name of the Azores to the group of islands. Flores and Corvo were later discovered, in 1452.
Currently we can spot a goshawk in the archipelago’s flag.
It has won several awards, it’s really worth to verify if the place is actually the world’s most beautiful, like National Geographic affirms.