São Miguel is the largest island of the Azores and famed for its impressive twin lakes, one blue, one green, Santa Maria, sandy beaches, grottos, impressive cliffs and fortresses. Indeed, S. Miguel boasts lakes and countryside of great beauty, along with the hustle and bustle of a large city, together with ample quiet green open spaces adorned with flowers. Museums, churches and palaces embellished with treasures of art and history. Golf, walking and cycle paths, horseback riding. All this and more on an island catering for those who love culture and sports... or for those who simply delight in the contemplation of Nature at its finest.
Settlement in São Miguel began in 1444, after Prince Henry the Navigator introduced cattle to the island. The first inhabitants, from the Portuguese provinces of Estremadura, Upper Alentejo and Algarve, were later joined by Madeirans, Jews, Moors and possibly Frenchmen (a tradition recalled by the name of the parish of Bretanha - Brittany).The export of oranges to England brought São Miguel great prosperity at the end of the 18th century. The orange groves, however, were destroyed by a blight starting in 1860 but the introduction of new crops - tobacco, tea, flax, chicory, sugar-beet and pineapples – helped guarantee economic survival. With the passing of the years, these crops were joined by several industries and a growth in fisheries and livestock raising. Today São Miguel is one of the political and administrative centres of the Region, and an island with a relatively diversified economy that is experiencing marked progress.