PICO, WHALERS ISLAND

Pico island is the second largest island of the Azores archipelago and it is here that the highest point of the Azores and Portugal is located, Pico mountain, with 2351 meters above sea level.

 Pico Mountain, Pico Island, Azores

Illustration of Pico Island

 

Being part of the central group and very close to the islands of São Jorge and Faial, the island of Pico was discovered at the same time as its neighbours, in the middle of the 15th century, by order of the great Portuguese navigator Infante D. Henrique. From early on, more precisely from the beginning of its settlement, this island developed its economy based on the cultivation of vines and wine production, this being the main activity and of great profit in the island, thanks to the excellence of the quality of its wine, especially Verdelho.

Municipality of Madalena, island of Pico

 

Later, Pico is historically distinguished by its inheritance left by the whalers, thus becoming an island where whale hunting was a very present reality. Thus, it was at the end of the 18th century that American whaling canoes started appearing in the Azorean seas looking for men to do this work. Many of them were from Pico Island and decided to embark on this adventure. Many of these whalers, as is well known, returned to their island and started whale hunting in the Azores, which became a great source of income for the island of Pico during the following centuries. While others decided to stay in the lands of the New World, where the whaling would take them, thus starting the Azorean emigration mainly to the United States of America and Canada, becoming known as “jump” emigration.

Whale Hunting, Pico Island
Whaler of the island of Pico
Whale factory in São Roque do Pico island

Monument in honour of the whalers of Pico Island

 

Nowadays, this is an island where its natural landscape is highly valued, having its vine culture landscape been considered by UNESCO, in 2004 as a World Heritage Site. Besides this, the Picarotos have a great value and historical legacy left by their ancestors through whaling, which contributed as a great pillar to the history of Azorean emigration.

Vineyard landscape, island of Pico
Published on 23 February, 2021