Located in the area of contact between the Euro-Asian, American and African tectonic plates, the Azores Archipelago has a volcanic origin. Throughout the millennia, eruptions and earthquakes moulded a land with a common characteristic: the mark of volcanoes. But each one of the islands has its own identity. The fossils of Santa Maria, the lakes of São Miguel, the caves of Terceira, the cones of Graciosa, the fajãs of São Jorge, the Mountain of Pico, the Capelinhos Volcano of Faial, the waterfalls of Flores, and the Caldeirão of Corvo are unmistakable features. To travel throughout the Azores is to get to know nine islands where the same genetic code generated profiles that are distinct from one another.
The long lists of natural parks, of areas of protected landscape, of protected fauna and flora species, of forest reserves, of geolandscape, and of sites with geological interest guarantee the preservation of a priceless natural legacy. As a form of compensation for all of this effort, the Azores are considered to be a sanctuary of biodiversity and geodiversity and one of the best locations for Nature Tourism.
The first settlers of the Azores found, amongst dozens of other endemic species, Azores junipers, heaths, Azores heathers and colicwood, which still prevail on the islands of the Azores. Throughout the centuries, the hand of man shaped the landscape. As the climate is mild, trees such as the Japanese cedar, the araucaria and the pohutukawa became an important part of the typical landscape of the Azores, filled with the blue and pink colours of hydrangeas.
The archipelago is the natural habitat of bird species, such as common buzzards, Cory’s shearwaters, terns, wood pigeons and blackbirds. In the mountains of Serra da Tronqueira, on the island of São Miguel, the Azores bullfinch (locally known as priôlo) is a protected species given its rarity. The sky of the Azores is home to the only mammal endemic to islands: the Azores bat. Various other migratory birds choose the Azorean soil to rest during their long intercontinental journeys.
In the Atlantic Ocean, life multiplies itself by more than two dozens species of dolphins and whales that either inhabit or cross the seas of the Azores. There are abundant colonies of molluscs, crustaceous and fish, thus completing the region’s extraordinary maritime diversity.