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São Miguel Island ( ; Portuguese for Saint Michael), nicknamed "The Green Island", is the largest and most populous of the Azores Islands archipelago. The island covers and has around 140,000 inhabitants, nicknamed Micaelenses. The largest town is Ponta Delgadamarker, with about 45,000 inhabitants.

Geography and environment

São Miguel is 64 km from east to west, and between 8 and 14 km wide. Nicknamed the "Green Island" (Ilha Verde), São Miguel is largely covered with fields and meadows in the lowlands. The ancient laurisilvamarker forest has mostly been replaced by cultivated fields and imported trees and plants. There are some hot springs (caldeiras), generally located in the center of the island, in the area stretching from Povoação to Nordeste. São Miguel has four stratovolcanoes and caldeiras, Sete Cidadesmarker, Agua de Paumarker, Caldeiras and finally Furnasmarker.

The peak area between Sete Cidades and Fogo is a monogenetic volcanic field composed of 270 volcanoes. They are primarily made up of basaltic cones which were formed during Strombolian and Hawaiian-style eruptions. This is the part of the island with most recent volcanic activity. The youngest volcanoes are relatively well dated. It is estimated that 19 eruptions have occurred during the last 3,000 years. Several eruptions have been witnessed and recorded by people. The last one took place in the seventeenth century. The most famous eruption is known as Fogo 2, occurring in 1652.

The highest elevation on São Miguel is the Pico da Varamarker at 1,103 m. Lying at the eastern end of the island, it is the focus of a Special Protection Area containing the largest remnant of laurisilva forest on the island, which is home to the endemic and critically endangered bird, the Azores Bullfinch.



Famous people from São Miguel


São Miguel in 1427 became the second of the Azores islands to have a Portuguese settlement.

15th century

It is believed that the island was discovered between 1426 and 1439, being marked in portolans from the middle of the fourteenth century as “Green Island”. In 1439 Henry the Navigator authorized the settlement of the Azores by people from Estremadura, Alto Alentejo, Algarve and Madeiramarker through a Carta Régia (a letter from the king describing how things should be). People from other countries also arrived, notably French people and cultural minorities such as Jews and Moors.

The location, climate and fertile soil led to a rapid economic development. The island also became the site of military garrisons and was a commercial center for trade with Africa. It was also a center for the production of sugar and orchil, a dye exported to Flanders for the making of cloth.

16th century

The landing of the Spanish Tercios at Terceira.
The first capital of the island was Vila Franca do Campo, which was devastated by a major earthquake in 1522.

After this tragedy, the development of the population of Ponta Delgadamarker gained impetus, becoming the new capital in 1546. In the context of the 1580 Portuguese succession crisis, the people from São Miguel Island won the naval Battle of Vila Francamarker against a French squadron that supported the claims of António, Prior of Crato. During this time, the volcano Fogo 2 erupted, destroying the capital city and causing the death of 250 people.

17th century

With the Portuguese Restoration War (1640), the island regained its position as a commercial center, getting new contacts with Brazilmarker, which was heavily colonized during this period.

18th century

Some of the island’s historic buildings, including mansions and churches, date from this period. This architectural expansion was due to large profits earned from the production of oranges for exportation, whose main market was Great Britain.

19th century

In 1831, during the Liberal Wars, after the landing of Liberal troops in Nordeste ordered by the future duke of Terceira, the resistance to the Absolutist regime on the Island was organized. In 1832, the Army, after declaring the Constitution and recognizing Maria II of Portugal as their queen, left Ponta Delgada. After the troubled period of the Liberal Wars, the previous economic expansion resumed, the port of Ponta Delgada was built, and also new crops such as tea, pineapple, and tobacco were introduced.

20th century

The development of the fishing industry and the improvement of agricultural products helped to boost the economy until the present day. Currently, the island is one of the most dynamic political-administrative centers and it is in São Miguel Island where the headquarters of the government of the Azores is.


Image:Sao Miguel satellite photo-NASA.jpg|NASAmarker satellite photo (North to the top)Image:Sao Miguel-the green island.JPG|Eastern São Miguel landscapeImage:LagoaPaoPique.jpg|Lagoa Pao Pique, a volcanic crater lake near Sete CidadesmarkerFile:Sete cidades twin lakes.JPG|The twin lakes next to the village Sete Cidadesmarker


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