The Azores may have been known to the ancients and were included on a map in 1351. Portuguese sailors reached them in 1427 or 1431, but colonization did not begin until 1445 under Diogo de Sevilha or Gonçalo Velho Cabral (who may have been there in 1431). During the colonial period, the Azores were a stopover point for treasure fleets returning from the New World, and many ships were lost there due to hurricanes or pirates. The islands were used as a place of exile and were also the site of naval battles between the English and the Spanish. In the 19th cent. they were used by supporters of Maria II against Dom Miguel. In the 20th cent., there has been a large outmigration to the United States.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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