The Açores as described in Historic Encyclopedias



Brockhaus 1834-1838, Brockhaus 1837-1841, Pierer 1857-1865, Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Meyer 1902-1909





Brockhaus Damen-Conversations-Lexikon 1834-1838, Article : Azoren
Azoren, nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean located between America and Africa, under Portuguese sovereignty, the combined area of which is about 60 square miles. The inhabitans for the most part are Portuguese or their descendants, born on these islands. They have about 150,000 inhabitants, which are distributed over he islands as follows : Terceira with capital Angra 29,000 inhabitants, San Miguel 80,000, Piro 21,000, Fayal 16,000, St. Jorge 11,000, Graciosa 7.500, Flores 7,000, St. Maria 5,000, Corvo 800. The islands all are of volcanic origin and therefore very fertile. They produce excellent wines, delicious citrus fruit, grain in quantity, have a lot of pasture. There is a lot of fishing, a sunny, very healthy climate not sweltering in the summer. Manufactures are not without importance, trade would be much more important if there would be a good, safe port.
source in German, posted by Zeno


Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon 1837-1841, Article : Madera
Açores or Hawk Islands are called the nine islands divided in three groups in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean. The first group is composed of the islands Santa Maria and San Miguel, the second of Terceira, Graciosa, San Jorge, Pico and Fayal, the third of Flores and Corvo. Further belong to the Açores the group of the Formigas, located between the two first listed islands, consisted of high uninhabited rocks exposed to high surf. The Açores were found in 1431 and 1432 by the Portuguese Gonzalo Velho Cabral. The climate of the islands is moderate, the summer heat is mildened by sea winds. Even in the mountains frost rarely occurs; only the 7375 feet high Pico on the island by the same name in winter is covered by snow. The soil of the Açores, which without doubt are of volcanic origin, which show many traces of this, and which frequently experience earthquakes, is very fertile everywhere, cultivation instead rather backward. Also industries are of little importance, and their products, which consist of cloth, alcoholic spirits, pottery and straw hats, not excellent. For export the Açores produce pomegranades, grain, legumes, potatos, wine, brandy, also linen cloth for Brasil. The leading ports are Ponta Delgada, Angra and Horta. On the coasts of the Açores the North Americans in the summer catch dolphins and whales, which here are numerous. The inhabitants of the Açores, about 245,000, are well-shaped, reasonable and courageous. Since their discovery the islands belong to Portugal, and until 1828 they were governed by a captain general. In the year 1829, following a call by Count Villaflor, the islands declared against Don Miguel and for Queen Maria da Gloria. When the expdition sent by Don Miguel against Terceira failed miserably, the island became seat of the Queen.
The island Santa Maria, four hours long and three hours wide, entirely consists of rocks thinlt covered by soil, is rich in water and has about 8,000 inhabitants. Wheat, barley, millet and wine are cultivated, sufficient for local demand. Excellent fruit and grey partridges are among the island's products. The island lacks timber. The only city on the island is Porto (2,000 inhabitants).
The island San Miguel, 18 hous long and 3 to 4 hours wide, with 100,000 inhabitants, contains volcanif fire and has many hot springs. It is mountainoius, but contains fertile plains and some swampy land. It produces all kinds of grain, furter pomegranades and lemons, of which more than 100,000 boxes annually are exported, also wine. The capital, Ponta Delgada, the largest and most prosperous on the Açores, on the southern coast, has considerable trade and is defended by the Fort St. Braz.
Terceira, seven hours long and 4 hours wide, is mountainous, but fertile, and produces almost all European, but also tropical plants thrive here. The first settlement was founded by Jacob van Brugge, a Fleming in Portuguese service, who founded San Sebastian in about 1450. The island shows the signs of many volcanic shake-ups, and in recent times was devastated by earthquakes and lava streams. The island's capital, Angra, 13,000 inhabitants, located on the bay by that name, stretches along the bay from Fort San Sebastian until near Lighthouse Bay, and covers the adjacent ridges, which because of the beautiful white houses gives it a picturesque apprearance. To the west of the city between mountains and sea the entire landscape, which is called Terra Cha, is covered with houses and orchards.
The island San Jorge is twelve hours long, two hours wide, and is divided in two by a steeply falling mountain range. The northern slope is steep, exposed to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and thinly inhabited. The island has 20,000 inhabitants, the capital Velas 4,000 inhabitants.
Graciosa, four hours long and two hours wide, was populated from Terceira, and was named so because of its beautiful appearance. It has 12,000 inhabitants, her capital Santa Cruz 3,000 inhabitants. It exports wine and brandy.
Fayal, five hours long and four hours wide, has 24,000 inhabitants. The city of Horta on Fayal, 10,000 inhabitants, is famous because of its spacious, safe port, which is visited by vessels of all nations on their way from America, Africa and Asia.
Pico, 16 hours long and 5 hours wide, famous because of its mountain, which releases steam all year, and the slopes of which, while the tip is covered in snow, are green because of lush vegetation, has 30,000 inhabitants.
Flores, 5 hours long and 3 hours wide, has a marvellous climate, is rich in water and timber and inhabited by 10,000 persons, who are not very industrious and communicate little with the inhabitants of the other islands.
Corvo, the northernmost and smallest of the Açores, is only two hours long and one hour wide and hardly has 1,000 inhabitants.

source in German, posted by Zeno


Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 1857-1865, Article : Azoren
Azoren (Azoric islands, Hawk Islands), island group west of Africa, in the Atlantic Ocean, 54 square miles, consisting of 9 islands which form 3 groups, the first group consists of the southeastern islands Santa Maria and San Miguel, the second central group of Terceira, Graciosa, San Jorge, Pico and Fayal, he third in the northwest of Flores and Corvo. They are under Portuguese sovereinty, are of volcanic origin, have a mild climate, fertile soil, produce wine, citrus fruit, bananas, yams, oranges, which are shipped to England, Hamburg and America, have European domesticated animals (otherwise only hawks and vultures), lack of metals and timber for shipbuilding, 250,000 inhabitants, mostly Portuguese and negroes who engage in agriculture and viticulture, and a little trade. Every island has its own captain.
see : Hebbes, Nachrichten von den Azoren, besonders der Insel Fayal, in German by Rühs, Weimar 1806.
According to some the Açores are said to be a remnant of Atlantis, others identify them with the Cassiterides of Herodotus; they were newly discovered by the Dutch (therefore Flemish Islands) and taken in possession by Portugal in 1446. In 1582 near the Açores the French fleet, sent to support the Portuguese pretender Antonio de Crato, was defeated by the Spanish.

source in German, posted by Zeno


Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Article : Azorerna (1876)
Açores, Hawk Islands, in English : Western Islands, archipelago of 9 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 37 to 40 degrees northern latitude and 8 to 12 degrees western longitude from Ferro. They belong to Portugal, but are not regarded belonging to Europe, instead belonging to Africa. The cmbined area of the islands is calculated at 2,608 square km (47 square miles), with 252,480 inhabitants (1868). They are divided in three groups : (1) in the east Santa Maria and San Miguel, (2) in the center Fayal, Pico, San Yorge, Graciosa and Terceira, (3) toward the west Flores and Coro. The capital of the entire archipelago is Horta on Terceira. The islands are volcanic and frequently experience earthquakes; most important is the volcano on Pico 2,100 m high (7,000 feet). The climate is constant, mild and healthy. he soil is well-watered and extraordinarily fertile, but obstacles to its cultivation lie in the fact that most of the land is owned by just a few proprietors, so that many emigrate from the islands. The most important products are grain (especially maize), vegetables, oranges, almonds and other citrus fruit, wine, sugar, yams, orseille and medicinal plants. Trade is lively, despite the lack of ports. The main population is of Portuguese descent. The Açores seem tio have been known to the Carthaginians, Normans and Arabs. Still they were in general unknown to the Europeans until they were discovered in 1432, and were taken possession of by the Portuguese.
source in Swedish, posted by Project Runeberg


Meyers Grosses Conversations-Lexikon 1902-1909, Article : Azoren
Açores (Hawk Islands or Ilhas Terceiras, English Azores or Western Islands), Portuguese province, composed of nine islands and a few rock islets in the Atlantic Ocean, 1380 km west of the Portuguese Cape Roca, between 36 degrees 59 minutes and 39 degrees 44 minutes northern latitude and 27 degrees 35 minutes and 33 degrees 27 minutes western longitude, It formd a 630 km long chain in southeast-northwesterly direction, in three groups, the central one of which is composed of Fayal, Pico, San Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira, while San Miguel and Santa Maria with the Formigas form the southeastern, Flores with Corvo the northwestern one. Their area is 2388 square km.
The islands steeply rising from the sea from a depth of 4000 m are of volcanic origin and consist of basaltic and trachytic lavas, tuff, pumice and slack; only on Santa Maria also Young Tertiary (Upper Miocene) limestone containing petrifications appear. Characteristic for the Açores are numerous lengthy or circular crater basins (calderas) which often contain lakes. The surface of the islands is mountainous, structured by deep gorges, and with Pico Alto on Pico it rises to 2320 m, with Pico de Vara on SanMiguel to 1089 m, with the Caldeira de Santa Barbara on Terceira to 1067 m, with the Caldeira on Fayal to 1021 m. From deep clefts, numerous hot springs and springs with sulphur-containing water rise. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes frequently have been observed. The climate is regular and healthy. Average temperature on Terceira : January 18 degrees Celsius, April 20 degrees, July 25 degrees, October 24 degrees, average annual temperature 21.6 degrees; the largest extremes observed in Ponta Delgada (San Miguel) 12.3 degrees and 22.7 degrees. Annual precipitation : Angra 1077 mm, Delgada 857 mm (maximum in November, December). On the mountains occasional snowfall. The air humidity is high, severe storms occur in all seasons, particularly in winter. A lush evergreen vegetation covers the slopes of the volcanic mountain country. The cultivated area immediately is followed by the forest region with its characteristic laurel plants : Laurus Canariensis, Persea Indica and Oreodaphne Foetens grow wild on all the islands of the Açores. In addition Picronia Excelsa and the Fayal (Myrica Faya) are typical forest trees. Because of the sea winds the trees do not always reach their full length and often acquire the bush-shape of the Macchia which covers even the highest mountain tops. Among them is the only endemic coniferous tree, Juniperus Brevifolia. The immigrated vegetation originates from Europe, only a single bush, Myrsine Africana, from Africa. The last brush growing on the highest slopes of the Crater is the European Calluna. The dragon tree (Dracaena Draco) has been introduced for cultivation. The fauna of the Açores is closely related to Europe, of mammals only one species of bat is indigenous, the number of bird species is about 60, who, with one exception, belong to the Paleoarctic fauna. Also the insects show closest relations with Europe. Only among the mollusks, 60 % of the species are endemic. The fauna of the sweetwater lakes closely connects with that of Europe. Rabbits, rats and mice imported by ships on the islands have returned to the stae of wild animals.
The island group's population (1900 256,474, 1890 255,534, 1881 269,401) for the most part is of Portuguese descent; the Moors, negroes, Jews and Flemings which were brought here earlier have completely been assimilated by the former. In the port cities, many British merchants, Americans and Brasilians have taken up residence. Numerous Açoreans emigrate to Brasil, the United States, Hawaii and the Portuguese African possessions. Religion is almost exclusively Roman Catholicism, a bishop resides in Angra. The main occupation is agriculture, which is conducted on good soil with great effort, but with primitive tools. Unfortunately land ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few. Main products are maize, wheat, beans, sweet potatos, orseille, oranges, pineapples, Phormium Tenax, bananas, sugar cane, coffee, tea. Livestock keeping is considerable, the livestock of insular-small stature. Whaling conducted by the Americans still catches 150 animals annually. The industry is of no importance, but trade considerable. Imported are rum, sugar, coffee, tea, all kinds of English manufactured goods, exported are brandy, pineapples, oranges, cattle, fish, butter. The most frequented ports are Ponta Delgada, Angra on Terceira, and Horta. The islands are divided in three administrative districts, each under a governor with a council, directly appointed by Lisbon. Military commanders are stationed on an Miguel and Terceira. The Açores send 8 delegates to the Lisbon Cortes, Ponta Delgada 4, Angra and Horta 2 each. The population (Dec. 1st 1900) is distributed over the three administrative districts as follows :

District Area (sq km) Population District Area (sq km) Population
ANGRA Flores 148 8,141
Terceira 578 48,920 Corvo 18 805
Graciosa 46 8,394 total 786 55,456
San Jorge 104 16,138
total 728 73,492 Ponta Delgada
Santa Maria 104 6,383
Horta San Miguel 770 121,183
Fayal 165 22,385 total 874 127,566
Pico 455 24,125
Açores 2388 256,474

History. The Açores were discovered in 1431 (the Formigas) and 1432 (Santa Maria) by the Portuguese Gonzalo Velho Cabral. As Punic coins were found there, the Açores had been known to the Carthaginians, as well as later to the Normans and Arabs. San Miguel was discovered in 1441, Terceira, San Jorge, Fayal and Corvo in 1449, Graciosa in 1453. The Portuguese established the first colonies on Santa Maria and San Miguel. After Alfonso V. ceded Fayal to his aunt Isabel, the mother of Charles the Bold, for lifetime, settlers from Flanders arrived. Therefore the islands were also called Flemish Islands (Ilhas Flamengas). They were called Açores after the many hawks (Portuguese açor) which were found here by the first discoverers. Later Moriscos expelled from Spain arrived here and brought a high standard of civilization. When Portugal was annexed by Spain in 1580, the Açores submitted, except for Terceira, but in July 1582 a Spanish fleet was victorious over a French fleet and the Portuguese pretender Antonio de Crato, and Terceira surrendered in 1583.
Following the liberation of Portugal in 1640 the Portuguese government expelled the Spaniards who had settled here, and limited the trade of the Açores to that with the beaches of the Tejo. In vain Pombal attempted to raise the Açores; only when the House of Bragança moved to Brasil (1808), trade was liberalized. When in 1828 Don Miguel had usurped the Portuguese crown, Pedrist-minded Count Villaflor landed on Terceira with 20 officers, repelled Miguel's fleet, and soon won all the Açores. In 1832 Pedro himself appeared off Terceira with a fleet, willingly the islanders strengthened his army, which landed on July 8th at Porto, 12,000 men strong, and which took Lisbon on July 24th 1833, and soon after it expelled Dom Miguel from Portugal.
See : Hebbe, Nachrichten von den azorischen Inseln, Weimar 1805, Hartung, Die Azoren in ihrer ässern Erscheinung und geognostisch geschildert, Leipzig 1860, Kerhallet, Description nautique des Açores, Paris 1865, Godman, Natural history of the Azores, London 1870, Bazan, La conquista de las Azores, Madrid 1865

source in German, posted by Zeno





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First posted on April 14th 2009

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