Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Iris Sinilong
Today we wrap up our 3-part series on the beautiful Islands of Azores, Portugal. The final 3 islands we’ll explore today are Corvo, Flores and Graciosa.
Oval-shaped Corvo is the smallest of the Azores Islands, spanning just 6 km in length. Only 17 km apart, the islands of Flores and Corvo form the Western Group of the Archipelago.The island of Corvo was first seen by Portuguese navigator Diogo de Teive in the 1400s.
Life in Corvo is simple and quiet, where the small communities work in agriculture, fisheries and cattle breeding to sustain the island’s economic existence. During the 18th and 19th centuries, locals were recruited to work aboard whaling boats. The first airport opened up on Corvo in 1983, and since 1991 has been running flights between Flores, Faial and Terceira.
Also known as the Spring Island, Flores measures a little more than 16 km in length. The Flores Island was discovered around the same time as Corvo. Its name, Flores, which means “Flowers” is thought to be associated with all the natural flowers sprinkled on the island. After being settled by the Flemish, the island was just a quickly abandoned, perhaps due to its isolation from the rest of the Archipelago.
Similar to the rest of the Archipelago, the Flores economy thrived on grains for the better part of 200 years, along with fishing, cloth production and sheep breeding. The opening of its first airport in 1972 allowed the services sector, which currently employs about 60% of the local workforce, to support the island’s economy. Today, tourism continues to play a large role as well.
Its closest neighbouring island is Sãu Jorge, which lies 378 km away. It is unknown when Graciosa Island was first discovered, though it is believed to have first been founded in the mid-1400s, shortly after the discovery of Terceira. Vasco Gil Sodre was among the first to settle in Carapacho, the first place to be populated on the island. New settlements were built in late 1400s and into the 1500s, including Santa Cruz and Praia (aka Sãu Mateus).
Much like the other islands of Azores, Graciosa thrived on its agriculture, wheat and barley, orchil, wine production and spirits, although trade was limited to Terceira. During the 19th century, many vineyards suffered greatly from a drought and natural disasters. After the being nearly abandoned by those emigrating to the US back in the 1950s to ’70s, farmers joined forces to create a coop in an effort to recover the local wine tradition. The Demarcated Region of Graciosa was established in 1994, revitalizing the island’s wine culture.
And that wraps up our 3-part series on the Islands of Azores. If you have questions about the Azores islands, or you’d like to book a getaway, contact Elizabeth Lakic at 1-800-665-4981 Ext. 7243.
Have you been fortunate to visit any of these 9 beautiful islands of Portugal? Please share your stories and pictures with us!