Ponta Delgada • Azores

Ponta Delgada is the largest city on the island of São Miguel in the archipelago of the Azores, the autonomous region of Portugal.

Populated since 1444, the island of São Miguel was a vast territory, with small settlements scattered about, except for Vila Franca do Campo in the central-southern coast, and the community of Ponta Delgada. It was elevated to the status of the city, during the reign of King D. João III on 2 April 1546, after the original capital of the island, Vila Franca do Campo, was devastated by the 1522 earthquake.

The naval Battle of Ponta Delgada (also known as the Battle of São Miguel) took place on 26 July 1582, off the coast, as part of the 1580 Portuguese succession crisis. An Anglo-French corsair expedition sailed against Spain to preserve Portuguese control of the Azores, thereby preventing Spanish control.

It was during the 19th Century, that the municipality experienced its greatest boost of economic activity, with the funnelling of citrus exports to the United Kingdom and the growth of foreign-owned businesses in the historic centre, many of them Jewish merchants after 1818. Due to these changes, and growth of the mercantile class, Ponta Delgada became the third largest town in Portugal, in economic riches and the number of residents.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Ponta Delgada‘s position was relatively high, although the changing importance of rural economies steadily chipped-away at its growth. But it remained the central place in the economy and hierarchy of the Azorean archipelago.

The climate is shaped by the Gulf Stream allowing a small variation in temperatures, with annual temperatures oscillating between 14°C and 25°C, typical to a Mediterranean or Subtropical climate. The Gulf Stream also contributes to unstable weather that varies greatly during the Autumn and Spring, making weather forecasting on a daily basis difficult.

The municipality of Ponta Delgada presents a glimpse of the divergent economic events that exist in the Azores. With a strong concentration of service activities, the municipality is an important industrial and agricultural centre.

Cruise lines make Ponta Delgada a waypoint when journeying across the Atlantic, some spend a day at the port, as they reposition themselves between cruising Europe and the Western Hemisphere. The marina at Ponta Delgada also welcomes many yachts and private boatsman from around the world making São Miguel point of call along their trans-Atlantic travels.

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