The island of Flores is the westernmost point of the Azores Archipelago and of the European continent. Flores is about 15 miles from Corvo. The two islands make up the western group of the archipelago. Flores has area of around 55 square miles (143 Km2), and about 4000 inhabitants. The main Flores municipalities include Santa Cruz and Lajes. Flores and Corvo are part of the North American tectonic plate while the rest of the Azores islands sit on the European plate.
The island of Flores has deep valleys and high peaks, lagoons bordered by hydrangeas, cliffs carved by grottoes, hot springs, and the remains of old volcanoes. Flores (Flowers) owes its name to a great profusion of wild flowers (especially hydrangeas, which have large blue or pink petals) and small botanical species’, many of which are indigenous and part of the original flora. Pastures, farms and vineyards complete the make-up of the landscape of Flores Island.
On May 27, 2009, Flores was chosen as one of several areas to be included on UNESCO’s list of World Network of Biosphere Reserves at the Man and the Biosphere meeting held in Jeju, South Korea, along with the islands of Graciosa and Corvo. The program targets the ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and the reduction of this loss. It uses its World Network of Biosphere Reserves as vehicles for knowledge sharing, research and monitoring, education and training, and participatory decision-making with local communities.
The melodious sound produced by water-mills next to crystal-clear streams of Flores; the long, dense clumps of hydrangeas winding over hills and dales; the basalt petrified in eternal threads; the refreshing tranquility of the lagoons; the musical creaking of an ox drawn cart; picturesque old customs; white houses perched on green slopes. All these are defining features of the harmonious Flores: a garden floating on the ocean.