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Location of the Azores

The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands (Santa Maria, Sao Miguel, Terceira, Faial, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, Pico, Flores, Corvo), all situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1500 km from the European coast and 3900 km from the North American coast. The archipelago extends along a south-east/north-west strip.

The Archipelago is the western border of the European Economic Community and occupies a total area of 2333 km². The islands exclusive economic zone is approximately of 940 000 km². The population of the nine islands is around 245 000 people and is irregularly distributed throughout all the islands. The majority of the residents are found in Sao Miguel, 55% with 136 102 people (2010 Censo).

Sao Miguel is the biggest island in the Azores with 746.76 km², with 32% of the territory of Azores. It is 65 km by 14 km wide and is situated 25º 8’ and 25º 52’ of longitude west, and 37º 43’ and 37º 55’ of latitude north.

S. Miguel was formed by several volcanic eruptions that started in the area of Nordeste (it was active during 4.2 and 0.25 million years ago). Then, in the area of Povoação, forming the heart of what became the island. Then, the volcanic eruption of Furnas which took place 800 000 years ago. In Fogo, the eruption took place 290 000 years ago and that was what made the island bigger and formed the north island. This one is dorment.

Around 500 000 years ago, erupted the Sete Cidades volcano and formed the south island. Then, came the union of the two islands that started 50 000 years ago with volcanic eruptions and that accumulated basaltic materials (that is the most flat and thin area of the island). From 4.2 milion years to 1652, there was aproxamility 350 vulcanic eruptions, that formed the island called Sao Miguel.

In the flat area lives 60% of the population of Sao Miguel. On the south, there is Ponta Delgada, the main city, and on the north, there is Ribeira Grande, the second largest city of the island.

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