The One Minute Geographer: The Azores and New England

Jim Fonseca
2 min readJan 6, 2022
Map by the author from his book, below. The relative sizes of the islands of the Azores and the distances among them are approximately correct, but latitude is not. The Azores lie east of Washington DC.

While we are talking about Maine and New England I thought this was a good place to show you my map of the Azores overlaid on the region. The largest island, São Miguel (St. Michael’s), is smaller than Rhode Island. As the chart below shows, 80% of the quarter-million Azoreans live on São Miguel or Terceira. The home islands of those who immigrated to the US are largely proportional to the size of island populations.

The three states of southern New England are home to the largest cluster of Portuguese Americans in the US. In 2010, 467,000 people in Massachusetts, Connecticut or Rhode Island were of Portuguese ancestry and most of them, or their ancestors, came not from continental Portugal, but from the Azores. Some Azoreans refer to the cities of southern New England where they are clustered (especially Fall River and New Bedford MA and East Providence RI) As “The Tenth Island.”

Because of this large number of Portuguese Americans, as shown on the map below, the three states of southern New England are the only three states where (after English or Spanish) Portuguese is the predominant language spoken at home. And, to loop us back to New England as a whole, note that in the three states of northern New England, that ‘third language’ is French. That reflects the large number of people whose ancestors were immigrants from French Canada, especially Quebec.

Map from Note Portuguese language in the three states of southern New England and French in the three northern ones.

You may be interested in my 2018 book available on Amazon at

Image by the author.

You can see one of my prior posts about The Azores: Closer Than You Think at

I also have a series of posts on Medium about the Portuguese Community in Southern New England based on material from my book. Here’s one

Jim Fonseca

Geography professor (retired) writes The One Minute Geographer featuring This Fragile Earth. Top writer in Transportation and, in past months, Travel.