Living in Toronto's Little Portugal, I've often wondered about the country that many of my neighbours emigrated from. It seems that a large portion of this Portuguese diaspora came here from the Azores Archipelago, a series of volcanic islands located almost halfway between Lisbon and Newfoundland. A friend recently took a trip to this region and has shared his photos with us. I'm quite taken with the overwhelming beauty of the landscape: a magical cross between the moist Scottish highland and a tropical jungle. To leave such a lush paradise for the bland lowland of Southern Ontario seems like a tough move.
However, despite the beauty, the islands have been blighted with issues since they were first officially discovered by the Portuguese in 1431. Overpopulation leading to starvation, natural disasters including volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and political and economic instability made emigration to the Americas tempting. Today, tourism is one of the main industries along with agriculture, fishing, ranching and dairy farming. Many families with ties to the islands return for a visit and (I suppose) can be reminded of the green hills by hydrangeas planted in their Toronto yards.