The Azores includes nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, located about 1,500 km (930 miles) west from Lisbon. The islands form the Autonomous Region of the Azores that is part of Portugal. All the islands have volcanic origins. Mount Pico, on the island of Pico, is the highest point in Portugal, at 2,351 m (7,713 ft). The Azores are actually some of the tallest mountains on the planet, measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean to their peaks. Because these once-uninhabited and remote islands were settled sporadically over a span of two centuries, their culture, dialect, cuisine and traditions vary considerably.
There are three main groups of islands. Flores and Corvo to the west; Graciosa, Terceira, São Jorge, Pico and Faial in the center; and São Miguel, Santa Maria and the Formigas Reef to the east. They extend for more than 600 km (370 miles) and lie in a northwest-southeast direction.