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Azores (Portugal)

Açores, Região Autónoma dos Açores

Last modified: 2001-12-13 by antonio martins
Keywords: azores | acores | portugal | star: 5 points (golden) | stars: arc | stars: 9 | hawk | goshawk | buzzard | coat of arms |
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[Azores flag]
by Graham Bartram, António Martins and Jorge Candeias

, 12 Dec 1997
See also: Other sites:
  • The Coat of Arms of the Azores’ Autonomous Region can be seen here and here.
    reported by Dov Gutterman, 18 Jun 1999

About the flag

Design

The Azores flag consists of a 3:2 bicolour of blue and white, being the blue field, at the hoist, two fifths of the flag’s area. Over the division, and extending horizontally about half of the flag’s width is a wingspreaded golden goshawk, under an arch of 9 golden stars, extending from one wingtip to the other. In the honour point a white shield with a cross of five blue eschuteons, each charged with a saltire of five white bezants, and with a red border charged with seven golden castles.
António Martins, 08 Sep 1997 and 12 Dec 1997

The meaning is clear: The overall design celebrates the Liberal revolution of 1830, wich had its first base in Terceira Island, Azores. The goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) is the celebration of a mistake: Although there aren’t nor weren’t any of this bird in Azores, the local buzzards (Buteo buteo) were confused to be it by the first sailors reaching the islands. That originated the very name of the islands — "açor" (pl. "açores") means precisely "goshawk" (the bird on the current Azores flag doesn’t look like a Goshwak at all, but it is meant to be one). The nine stars stand for the nine islands, of course: São Jorge, Santa Maria, Terceira, Graciosa, Faial, São Miguel, Corvo, Pico and Flores. The honour shield is the lesser arms of Portugal, of wich Azores are an autonomous region.
António Martins, 08 Sep 1997 and 09 Sep 1999

Origin

According to Mucha 1985, p.135, «The blue-and-white of the flag is derived from the former royal Portuguese flag, and it is also linked with the flag of the Azores Liberation Front which favoured autonomy.»
Roy Stilling, 29 Sep 1996

From a leaf of a stamp catalogue on a stamp issued in a two-stamp series on the flags of portuguese autonomous regions (Azores and Madeira), text by Jerónimo Cabral:

The Azorean flag, with its dark blue and white colours and having in the center «a flying goshawk with a stylized naturalist form, in gold», topped by nine stars and with the national coat of arms placed in the upper corner close to the pole, has deep historical roots dating back to late October 1897, when, as can be read in news published in the daily press of the time, for the fist time was hoisted the blue and white flag «definitively adopted to be the symbol of the Azorean administrative Autonomy».

Created to become a mark characterizing the campaigns for autonomy which broke out at the end of the last century in the Azores, the flag of the Administrative Autonomy, although never made legal, was never forbidden either, and in spite of having suffered alterations in the course of popular use, it always maintained the blue and white colours and the symbols of the goshawk and the nine stars.

Moreover, the goshawk already appears in 1582 in coins ordered to be minted by Dom Antonio, Prior of Crato (self-declaired king, against the Spaniards); the same goshawk also appears in a map of Angra do Heroísmo, drawn in 1595 by Jean Hugues Linchosten.

The flag of the Azores, created by Regional Decree No. 4/79/A, of April 10, 1979, keeps the blue and white inherited from the colours of the National flag at the end of last century, which «in turn reproduced the heraldic colours of Portugal», with the goshawk, symbol of the Azores, supporting on its wings nine stars, symbol of the nine islands which comprise the Region; finally, the national coat of arms was added, the only new element in relation to the Autonomy flag of 1897, which, logically, had as the national coat of arms at the time — the royal crown.

This text has at least one mistake (the very ending: the portuguese coat of arms was not the royal crown, but included it on top of a shield identical to the current one), but I think it is quite good in other aspects. The shade of the azorean blue is, therefore, a dark blue. Adding to that, my personal experience and the drawing of the flag in the stamp, showed that the blue field is almost the same size as the white one (only slightly shifted to the hoist).

Jorge Candeias, 18 Oct 1997


Presentation of Azores

Azores has a total area of 2335 km2, and a population of 239 480 inhabitants as of 1990, living in 9 islands encompassing 19 municipalities.
António Martins, 24 Jul 2001





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