Three islands of the central Azores: spear-shaped Sao Jorge Island, Pico Island
with its large volcano, and circular volcanic Faial Island—are visible in this
photograph. The Azores, formed millions of years ago by vulcanism, have fertile
soils that yield many crops, including pineapples, bananas, oranges, wine
grapes, tobacco, tea, and grains. Fishing is an important industry, and tourism
has increased since the 1960s. Sao Jorge Island covers an area of 220 km² and
has a hilly, rolling terrain. On Pico Island (433 km²) is the large Pico Alto
stratovolcano, the tallest point in the Azores at an altitude of 2352 meters.
Pico Alto last erupted in 1720. Faial Island, another stratovolcano with a large
caldera and a major rift zone, acquired new land on its west cape following
explosive eruptions and lava flows just offshore in 1957 and 1958. Major lava
flows from higher elevations in the same rift zone occurred in 1672 (1991, NASA).
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