The island of the Mountain is 42km long and 15km maximum width and its population is made of about 14,200 people. The highest point is Pico Mountain, which is 2,351m high. Pico is the second biggest island of the Azores archipelago in terms of total area (445km2).
The closest island to Pico is Faial, only about 6km away by boat, or 15 minutes. Both are part of the Islands of the Triangle, and the Central Group of the Azores. The most noticeable feature of the island is of course the huge mountain – actually the biggest in all Portugal.
In the first centuries after the discovery of Pico, wheat and woad cultures were very important for the local life. However, the volcanic soil of Pico is rich in minerals and the climate is dry and warm, which will reveal to be perfect for cultivating vines. Wine and aguardente from Pico quickly became famous worldwide!
However, in the 18th century, the volcanic eruption will mark the end of the golden age of Verdelho, and in the 19th century, the disease of Powdery mildew and the insect Grape phylloxera will condemn the biggest part of vineyards. Later on, wine production will start again.
In “the land of the whales”, whale hunting has been for over 100 years one of the main methods of survival in the Azores islands. Started in the 18th century and forbidden since 1984, today it is part of the cultural heritage of Pico, also known as the “island of the whalers”. In general, it can be said that the major whaling centers in Pico are Lajes and São Roque.
Today, locals don’t hunt whales anymore, but observe them peacefully thanks to the important whale and dolphin watching activity. The main economic activities in Pico now are agriculture, fishing, livestock, wine and tourism.