Azores and Madeira


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Azores and Madeira is Number 116 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The Azores and Madeira are both archipelagos in the Atlantic. Both were discovered by Portugal, Madeira in 1418−20, and the Azores in 1432−50. The Azores are comprised of three groups of islands, located between 1,200 and 1,600 kilometers to the west of and at the same latitude as mainland Portugal. Located to the southeast of the Azores, off the coast of Morocco, Madeira is made up of the main island of that name and several smaller islands. The book has separate sections on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The most significant factor about these islands—and the Azores in particular—is their strategic location in the mid-Atlantic. Two of the three main ports of the Azores, Ponta Delgada on the island of San Miguel and Horta on Fayal (also spelled Faial), were coaling stations, whose importance, the study notes, “will be increased as the result of the opening of the Panama Canal.” The islands were also key nodes in the transatlantic telegraph network, connected by submarine cable to England, Ireland, Nova Scotia, and New York. Portugal participated in World War I as an ally of Great Britain and France, and the Azores served as a supply depot and coaling station for the Allied fleets.

Last updated: July 23, 2015