FLAG OF THE AÇORES  (Bandeira dos Açores)

FLAG OF THE AÇORES (Bandeira dos Açores)

For basically every country on the planet, the national flag holds a precious part of its culture.  With a single piece of cloth, a country symbolically represents the story of its land and history; this is certainly true of the flag of the Açores. This regional flag proudly conveys that the residents of these nine little volcanic Açores islands have political autonomy from Portugal.

The first version of the flag of the Açores was seen in 1975 but not officially adopted until 1979 by the regional government of the Açores. Whether looking at the original 1975 version or the one fiercely embraced as the official flag and used to date, the flag’s design is tied to liberation.  The 1975 version of the flag was one flown by the organization called the Frente de Libertação dos Açores (Açorean Liberation Front).  Their flag differed from the current one in that the bird was depicted with wings in flight while sprinkling the nine stars beneath its wings. The current flag is similar, with a bird still centralized on the flag but now is holding the nine stars within its wingspan. The Açorean flag was official adopted in 1979 and remains proudly flown today.



The flag of the Açores color choice of blue and white dates to the Portuguese Civil War’s height.  At that time, the Açores served as an important Liberal stronghold in Terceira. It is said that the colors of the flag were thus adopted from the Portuguese liberal flag to demonstrate the Açores’ important role in the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in Portugal. 

It is believed that the bird in the center of the flag is a symbol of the bird for after which the Açores are named, the Acor. Acor is the Portuguese name for a Northern Goshawk.    Historians say that the original settlers of the Açores islands thought they saw the birds they spotted were Acors when in fact, they were a type of buzzard. Despite that wrinkle in history, the bird is set in a proud place in the Açorean flag’s center and has the distinction of supporting nine stars in its wingspan.  Each star represents an Açores island.  The shield placed in the top, upper left-hand corner of the Açores flag is the lesser arm of Portugal, which speaks to the traditional relationship between Portugal and the Açores.


The flag of the Açores represents the message of liberation, autonomy, and tradition.  Its design says much about the history and the spirit of the people who are incredibly proud to be called Açorean.  As with all flags, may it remain a beacon of hope and a message of strength.

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My father’s family is from San Miguel. Both my grandparents were born and raised in Rhode Island, but their parents immigrated here in the early 1900s. I have their names and pictures but not much more. Visiting San Miguel is on my bucket list.

Sonja Rodrigues-Cantu

I am very proud of my Portuguese heritage. My grandparents were both from San Miguel. They came to the United States and were married in 1895. They worked in the mills in Lowell, MA. I believe most of my relatives have passed on making it hard to find any information about any of my old ancestors. I have taught my children and grandchildren to be proud of there heritage just as I was raised to be proud of it.

Kathy Plante

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