Terceira

Terceira , also referred to as the “Ilha Lilás” (the “lilac” or “violet” island), is an island in the Azores archipelago, in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the larger islands of the archipelago, with a population of 56,000 inhabitants in an area of approximately 396.75 km². It is the location of the historical capital of the archipelago, the Azores’ oldest city (Angra do Heroísmo).    Although Portuguese acquision and settlement date to the 15th century, structures carved into rocks historically used for burials were discovered on this island suggesting a history of settlement that may date back 2000 or so years.

The island of Terceira is on a triple junction between the Eurasian, African and North American tectonic plates. These volcanic structures rise from a depth of over 1,500 metres (5,000 ft) from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Radiocarbon dating of eruptive units, in support of geologic mapping, has improved the known chronology of Middle to Late Pleistocene and Holocene volcanic activity on the island of Terceira, Azores, defining the east-to-west progression in stratovolcano growth.

The western part of Terceira Island is more foresty than the eastern part, due to the prevailing westerly winds bringing increased precipitation to that side.   Other points of interest include the plains of Achada, the mounts near Santa Bárbara, the small lakes of Lagoa das Patas and Lagoa da Falca. The northern coast is an area marked by evidence of volcanic activity with several “mistérios” (lava fields), the swimming pools of Biscoitos, while the centre of the island is highlighted by the Algar do Carvão and Furnas do Enxofre (dormant and active volcanic forms) that are popular with tourists and geologists. Most of the island is ringed by coastal cliffs about 20 m (60 ft) high, except on the south coast near Angra do Heroísmo. Here, an eruption of basaltic lava in shallow water formed the tuff cone of Monte Brasil, which protects and shelters the harbor of the island’s capital. The cone is about 1km (0.6 mi) in diameter and rises 205 m (673 ft) above the western side of the harbor.

Away from the coast, Terceira is a wild and hilly landscape with the availability of many walking and hiking trails. Much of the interior of the island is a nature reserve; from the heights of the Serra do Cume to the slopes of Santa Bárbara, there are several paths along the patchwork of small farms, stonewalls and forests that will occupy the naturalists.

Much like other islands of the Azores, human settlement was dictated by the geomorphology of the terrain. The number of volcanic cones and the stratovolcanos that occupy the major part of the interior of the island, forced most communities along the coastal lowlands and river-valleys, producing a “ring” of urbanization that circles the island, usually following the Regional Road network. These communities began as agricultural enclaves, based on subsistence farming and a patchwork of hedged parcels of land.The nuclei of these communities were the religious parishes, and the churches that dot the landscape of the island. Force base. Apart from the uninhabited areas at the center of the island, the northwestern and portions of the western coast are sparsely populated, apart from small agglomerations of homes along the roadways.

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