Horta (Azores) - Economy

Economy

Due to its central position in the Triangle of islands in the central group of the archipelago, the city and municipality of Horta has been the focus of economic activity on Faial. It was the staging and export centre for many of the economic cycles of the region; the export of woad, oranges, whale oil and Pico Verdelho wines were the products that historically built the economy of the island. Many of the landed gentry concentrated their shops, production facilities and homes in the city, while agricultural goods were shipped to the city before being sent on to Europe or North America. For a long time, the island of Pico was an exclave of Horta (with summer homes, parcels and herds owned by residents of Faial) until its emancipation on 8 March 1723.

After the failure of the economic cycles, through boom-and-bust economies (brought on by weather, disease or market deviation) the city of Horta became a staging point for the transatlantic shipment, firstly for the whaling fleets, but then later by the submarine cable companies that laid the communication lines from Europe to North America. These spurts of growth concentrated the population, political and economic classes within Horta and economic activities on Faial.

Horta today is polarized between the same dichotomy that existed between the hinter- and heartlands, with most primary economic activities (agricultural mostly) dispersed into the parishes, while the secondary and tertiary activities are concentrated in the three main parishes (Angústias, Conceição and Matriz). In addition, the prosperity of the early 20th century, concentrated on the transatlantic traffic, has developed into a tourist-oriented economy concentrated on the architecture, geographic, leisure and socio-cultural aspects of the island. This includes sightseeing tours and whale-watching expeditions that depart from the city, the arrival of semi-weekly cruise ships during the summer and cultural festivals that unite the local parishes and visitors throughout the year.

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