Nine islands of volcanic origin lie in the Atlantic at 850 kilometers (530 miles) from mainland Portugal (and 1200 kilometers, or 750 miles, from New York).
Not yet spoilt by tourism, their varied, peaceful and often breathtaking scenery largely compensates the cloudy, often rainy climate: mild in the summer, subtropical in the winter.
The archipelago is divided into three groups of islands.
The first (Eastern Group) includes Santa Maria, with sandy beaches and green hills, and São Miguel, where the most important economic center of this Autonomous Region, the city of Ponta Delgada, is located.
In the central group, five islands (Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial) offer the visitor a variety of interesting sights, from the hot steaming geysers in Terceira to the volcanic peak in the island of Pico, raising 2341 metres (7800 feet, the highest mountain in Portugal) above the Atlantic, and to the well known yachting port of the city of Horta, in Faial.
The last (Western) group includes the more remote islands of Flores (whose name comes from the variety of flowers growing in a mountainous scenery) and Corvo, the smallest island (17 square kilometres, 6.6 square miles), on top of a marine volcano with calm lakes and a green crater.
In Azores, life still goes on at an unhurried pace and Nature offers its best: the two main ingredients for some relaxed holidays.