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Azores (Portugal)

Açores, Região Autónoma dos Açores

Last modified: 2010-11-12 by antónio martins
Keywords: azores | açores | star: 5 points (golden) | stars: arc | stars: 9 | hawk | goshawk | buzzard | anthem |
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Azores flag
image by Graham Bartram, António Martins and Jorge Candeias, 12 Dec 1997
See also: External links:
  • The Coat of Arms of the Azores’ Autonomous Region can be seen here and here.
    reported by Dov Gutterman, 18 Jun 1999
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Presentation of Azores

Azores has a total area of 2335 km², and a population of 237 315 inhabitants as of 1990 (239 480 as of 1990), living in 9 islands encompassing 19 municipalities.
António Martins, 24 Jul 2001

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About the flag

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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

Is there not a white edging around the Portuguese arms on the flag of the Azores?
Christopher Southworth, 24 Feb 2004

At least the national flag has such a “lining” (I’m not calling it a fimbriation because it has no heraldic meaning per se).
António Martins, 25 Feb 2004

That may be facultative. I’ve seen a lot of flags that seemed not to have it, but I’ve also seen a few that seemed to have it. In any case, I can’t be sure. You see, that fimbriation would be so small in that flag that it becomes practically irrelevant and invisible at some distance, and quite difficult to spot in TV pictures (the vast majority of my sightings), even when looking at good shots of big flags. Anyway, I would guess that some flags would be produced with it, while others will come out without it, just as it happens with the national flag. Legally, though, it should have it, because that is part of the portuguese shield and there’s nothing in the azorean flag definition that explicitly strikes that element out.
Jorge Candeias, 28 Jul 2004

According to recent reports in Lusovex, the flag of Azores is being increasingly standartized to very very dark blue (B+++ , like UJ’s roundel blue). Earlier lighter variations (which were never really light, just lighter than this one) are almost inexistent these days. Example of this, contrasting with the (dark enough) shade of the EU flag, on this on line photo (©DN).
António Martins, 24 Feb 2004

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Symbolism

The meaning is clear:

  • 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). (Used also in local municipal flags.)
  • 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

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Origin

Interesting that the Azores as a whole use the old monarchist flag as the basis of their own: According to [mch85], 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.» Are the Azores known as a hotbed of monarchism in Portugal?
Roy Stilling, 29 Sep 1996 and 02 Dec 1997

Not really. The reasons for keeping the monarchist design are deeper than that. The pro-autonomy movement was born in Azores before the revolution that ended the monarchy in Portugal, and it is based on a flag that was first hoisted in the island Terceira, and later, after a civil war, became the Portuguese national flag. The autonomist movement just replaced the Portuguese arms in the center of the flag with a kind of hawk that refers to the name of the archipelago. When autonomy was granted in about 1976-77, they just added a lesser Portuguese arms to the canton to the historical pro-autonomous flag.
Jorge Candeias, 03 Dec 1997

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 António, 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

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Flag-related regional anthem

Last three verses of the second stanza of the Azores regional anthem:

Liberdade, justiça e razão
estão acesas no alto clarão
da bandeira que nos guia
, which means «Freedom, justice and reason / are alight in the high glare / of the flag guiding us».
António Martins, 06 Sep 2003

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Regional presidential flag

Az. pres. gov. flag
image by Graham Bartram, António Martins and Jorge Candeias, 08 Feb 2007

During my holidays in the Azores in June 2003 I spotted the flag of the President of the Azores: its basic design is the same as the flag of the Azores, i.e. dark blue and white, but in place of the badge in the middle it is charged with the lesser arms of the Azores. The small arms of Portugal are not present on this flag. It was flying over the entrance gate to the presidential palace of Palacio de Sant’Ana »(sic!)« at Rua Jacome Correia »(sic!)« in Ponta Delgada.
Mariusz Pazdziora, 08 Sep 2004

Similarly to royal and presidential standards, it is hoisted everytime the President is there. The flag is a vertical bicolour 50/50 (unlike the Azorean flag), with a coat of arms in the middle which is the lesser version of the region’s official coat of arms.
Miguel de Faria e Castro, 03 Feb 2007

The shield shape seems to be iberian, not pointy, though.
António Martins, 04 Feb 2007

The shield is not pointy as in the region’s coat of arms, but perfectly round.
Miguel de Faria e Castro, 05 Feb 2007

There is no President of the Azores; there’s the president of the autonomous government, which is the regional equivalent to the position of prime-minister. The regional equivalent to the President ws the Minister of the Republic (Ministro da República), appointed by the President of the (Portuguese) Republic (changes in the Constitution that suppressed the Ministers of the Republic in 2004, turning them into Representatives of the Republic).
Jorge Candeias, 08 Sep 2004 and 13 Sep 2006

The Palácio de Sant’Ana is the official seat of the presidency of the regional government, so this flag is more than likely that of the presidency of the regional government.
Jorge Candeias, 08 Sep 2004

The president’s picture in the official Azores website only shows the Azorean, Portuguese and European flags.
Santiago Dotor, 10 Sep 2004

I’d expect such a flag to be somehow legislated, and there would be an analogous flag for Madeira (which local ideosyncracies would make much more visible than its azorean counterpart). It seems to be be a purely local iniciative.
António Martins, 09 Sep 2004 and 04 Apr 2007

I cannot find the slightest mention to the Azorean Presidential Flag in any official document. However, the flag is there — I used to see it with my own eyes almost every day, whenever the President of the Regional Government was staying at the Palácio de Sant’Ana, in the city centre.
Miguel de Faria e Castro, 05 Feb 2007

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Coat of arms

The arms of the Azores have a red bordure with 9 golden stars for 9 islands of the archipelago; inside there is a silver shield, often white or grey is used instead of silver, with dark blue, sometimes black, Azorean eagle.
Mariusz Pazdziora, 08 Sep 2004


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