The region is known for its endemic animals and plants, with about 411 out of 6112 terrestrial species being endemic, new species still being found regularly in the Azores, and the archipelago laying in the Palearctic ecozone and having a unique biome that includes the macaronesian subtropical laurissilva.
The islands were originally uninhabited, with São Miguel first being settled by Portugal in 1444. The capital of the region was originally Vila Franca do Campo, but it was wrecked by an earthquake in 1522 with about 5,000 casualties, so the capital was changed to Ponta Delgada, and later split into the three capitals in 1836 when the archipelago was divided into three districts, with Vila Franca do Campo eventually being rebuilt and becoming a thriving fishing and yachting port. Many prominent figures visited the islands in the 18th and 19th century, including Almeida Garrett, Chateaubriand, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Mark Twain, who described his time in the Azores in The Innocents Abroad. An eruption of the volcano Capelinhos in 1957 caused the evacuation of nearly 3,000 residents of the island. Most of them wound up settling in the United States, particularly in southeastern Massachusetts, and that area still has a large Azorean-American population.
The Azorean flag