Located out in the Atlantic, the isolated Azores is 1564 km directly west of Lisbon, Portugal, and 3900 km off the North American coast. This chain of nine islands, all volcanic in origin, was colonized by the Portuguese in the mid-15th century. The islands’ location, almost bang in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, has proved of great strategic value. Today, they are a key mid-ocean refueling and pit stop for commercial airlines, international shipping, cruise ships and private yachts.
Extremely popular for deep-sea fishing, wine production, many varieties of tropical fruit and local cheeses, the Azores is increasingly becoming a favorite tourist destination. Even the nonchalant traveler will be smitten by the emerald-green and sapphire-blue lakes, volcanic craters and cones, verdant grasslands, 15th-century churches and majestic manor houses.