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Economy


The Azores economy is based mainly on agriculture, fisheries and tourism.

In the agriculture sector, cattle-raising occupies a major role, while some crops deserve mentioning, as is the case of pineapples, vine plantations, potatoes, tobacco and tea.

Fig 1_Fisheries are an important economic activity on all islands. Fishing methods are highly traditional among Azorean fishermen, hook and line still being the major fishing gear used. This has allowed for a sustainable exploration of resources over centuries.
Not surprisingly, industry in the Azores is based mainly on the production of dairy products (milk, cheese) and transformation of fisheries products, such as tuna.
It is tourism, however, that has been gaining most terrain in the economic scenario in recent years. It is far less developed than those industries of its Macaronesian neighbours, Madeira and Canary Islands, and its focus is mainly on the archipelago’s natural heritage. On the reverse side of the coin, the sector has seen great development and important investments are a result of this. Fig 2_Over the past decade tourist infrastructure has grown markedly and, also as a measure to combat isolation, the frequency and diversity of air routes within the islands and to the exterior has risen. There is a growing interest in the construction of ports and harbours and in coastal development, altogether.

Despite these recent developments, and partly because tourism in the Azores is greatly based on the islands’ cultural diversity, quality of life and natural beauty, in 2008 they were ranked 2nd best islands (or group of islands) in the world for sustainable tourism by National Geographic Traveler.