Situated on the extreme southeast of the wonderful Azores Archipelago, the Santa Maria Island was the first island of the archipelago to be officially discovered, by Diogo Silves, around the year 1427. The Island’s capital, Vila do Porto, is one the most ancient village of the Azores.
The Azores Archipelago is divided into three groups: the Eastern Group with, Santa Maria and São Miguel and the Formigas Islets; the Central Group with, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial; the Western group with, Flores and Corvo. With the exception of the Santa Maria Island, all the others have volcanic origin. The discovery dates of the Azores Archipelago are unknown, with several historical researches affirming that some of the island were already referred in Genovese maps since 1351, yet it was only from 1431 onwards that the colonization started in these Islands.
With a surface of 97km2, and characterized by its profound bays, the Santa Maria Island maintains its old charming traditions along with an unique architectonic heritage and an amazing nature, with great proportions of land with sedimentary origins where several marine fossils can be found, as a testimony of the passage of centuries in this lovely territory.
The highest point of the Island is situated in the Pico Alto, at 590 meters high, followed by the Peak of Caracas (491 meters) and the Caldeira (481 meters), from where one has astonishing panoramas that allow to observe the nature intensity in the territory.
Land of fertile soils, Santa Maria has been able to better take advantage over the years of what the best the earth can offer, with its economy based on the agricultural and cattle breeding, but also in other sectors such as the communication and transportation means, namely the aerial.
Santa Maria Island is characterized by its residential nucleus that remind of the continental regions of Algarve and Alentejo, with charming rural white houses with colourful bands around windows and doors. In fact, the first colonists came exactly from those regions, still in the 15th century. Filled with natural beauty, Santa Maria is known for he various and vivid colours of its landscapes, also offering the best conditions for the practice of sport and nature and leisure activities, or simple contemplation.
In the Santa Maria Museum, in Santo Espírito, one can better observe the history and ethnography of this lovely island, that is also famous for its Handicraft with objects and pieces made of ochre clay, wool, wicker and straw. In what concerns to Gastronomy, Santa Maria is famous for its sea and shell fish, and also a great variety of vegetables and of sweets and pastries, wine and regional liquors.