ezôrz´, ā´zôrz), Port. Açores [Port.,=hawks], islands (1991 pop. 241,592), 905 sq mi (2,344 sq km), in the Atlantic Ocean, c.900 mi (1,448 km) W of mainland Portugal. Administratively an autonomous region of Portugal, they are divided into three districts named after their capitals:

  • Ponta Delgada (on São Miguel) the largest city
  • Angra do Heroísmo (on Terceira)
  • Horta (on Faial)

  • The nine main islands are:
  • São Miguel (the largest) (southeast)
  • Santa Maria (southeast)
  • Terceira
  • Pico
  • Faial
  • São Jorge
  • Graciosa in the center
  • Flores (northwest)
  • Corvo (northwest)

The fertile soil yields many crops and supports vineyards. The islands are a resort area, with volcanic activity. The Azores may have been known to the ancients and were included on a map in 1351. Portuguese sailors reached them in 1427 or 1431, but colonization did not begin until 1445 under Diogo de Sevilha or Gonçalo Velho Cabral (who may have been there in 1431). During the colonial period, the Azores were a stopover point for treasure fleets returning from the New World, and many ships were lost there due to hurricanes or pirates. The islands were site of naval battles between the English and the Spanish, and were also used as a place of exile. In the 19th century they were used by supporters of Maria II against Dom Miguel. A large outmigration to the United States in the 20th century with the United States mainting a NATO air base in the islands.

Since its discovery in the early 15th century, the Portuguese Azores have played an important part in oceanic navigation. The Azores were a logistical point for the discovery of new worlds, a port of call for ships engaged in trade between Europe, America and India, and a place to lay anchor for the galleons bringing the wealth of the Americas back to the old world. The Azores, located 900 miles from the coast of Portugal and 2,000 miles from America, became a bastion of Portuguese power protecting lines of communications to its newly discovered lands. The Azores became known as the gem in the Atlantic for ocean travelers. The advent of air flight did not diminish the great role of these islands in the twentieth century. Lajes Field on the island of Terceira became the air connection between the old and new worlds - a crossroad in the Atlantic. Lajes Field was a new port of call for weary air travelers and once again a bastion of power for the U.S. global military mission. This is a brief history of Lajes Field from its earliest days as a packed strip of earth, to its role in operational missions in the 1990s.

click here to read more about the History of Azores

source: Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2005.
Lajes Field, Terceira, Portugal -
summarized editing: Ranch Cardoso™ &™, MAGKON Enterprises™ Copyright (c) 2005