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The Azores form an enchanting archipelago of nine emerald green islands set in the Atlantic Ocean between Portugal (1,500km) and North America (3,900km). At one time thought to be part of the legendary lost continent of Atlantis, the islands were discovered in the 15th century by Portuguese navigators en-route to the New World and became the link between Europe and the Americas. In fact, they belong to Portugal and are part of Europe.
The islands of the archipelago can be separated into three groups: the Eastern group of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria; the Central group of Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial; and the Western group of Flores and Corvo.
Because of their remote location, the traditional lifestyle of the Azores, outside of the main towns, has remained virtually unchanged. There is hardly any industry apart from agriculture and fishing and pollution is unknown. The pace of life is slow and tourism is in its infancy.
The volcanic formation of the islands has endowed them with a spectacular natural beauty. Vast craters nurturing glistening blue lakes, sheer black cliffs falling in to the ocean, lush rolling valleys, rugged mountains and hot mineral springs and geysers combine to form a truly diverse scenery found nowhere else in the world. The climate is temperate, which ensures an abundance of flowers strewn across hedgerows and fields throughout the summer season, and the deep greens of the lush grasslands contrast markedly with dark volcanic stone walls and neat whitewashed houses.
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