The Azores (Portuguese: Açores) is a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 km (950 mi) from Lisbon and about 3,900 km (2,400 mi) from the east coast of North America. The two westernmost Azorean islands (Flores and Corvo) actually lie on the North American plate, about 1,925 km (1,200 mi) from St. John's in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Azores' most significant industries are tourism, cattle raising for milk and meat, and fishing.
The nine major Azorean islands and the eight small Formigas extend for more than 600 km (373 mi) and lie in a northwest-southeast direction. The vast extent of the islands defines an immense exclusive economic zone of 1.1 million km2. The westernmost point of this area is 3,380 km (2,100 mi) from the North American continent. All of the islands have volcanic origins, although Santa Maria also has some reef contribution. The mountain of Pico on Pico Island, at 2,351 m (7,713 ft) in altitude, is the highest in all of Portugal. The Azores are actually the tops of some of the tallest mountains on the planet, as measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean. The archipelago forms the Autonomous Region of Azores, one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal.
Because these once uninhabited, remote islands were settled sporadically over a span of two centuries, their culture, dialect, cuisine and traditions vary considerably from island to island. Farming and fishing are key industries that support the Azorean economy. 240,000 Azoreans live within the archipelago’s 868 square miles.
Although it is commonly said that the archipelago is named after the goshawk (Açor in Portuguese) because it was supposed to be a common bird at the time of discovery, in fact the bird never existed on the islands. Most, however, insist that the name is derived from birds, pointing to a local subspecies of the buzzard (Buteo buteo), as the animal the first explorers erroneously identified as goshawks.