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Global Travel, a Portuguese Tradition
Throughout history the Portuguese have been reknown sea explorers and discoverers of distant lands.  Thus, it seems only natural that so many Portuguese over the past 150 years have made the long journey from their homeland to United States shores.  During the fifteenth century, Portugal's famous Prince Henry the Navigator encouraged his people to embark on ocean voyages of such magnitude that the realms of navigation, geography, cartography, and mathematics were forever changed.  For the next century Portugal controlled the largest empire in the known world.  The spectacular exploits of Portuguese explorers have been extensively documented.  Navigators Bartholorneu Diaz de Novaes and Vasco da Gama among others, sailed the African Coast, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, the Malabar Coast of India, Malacca, Macao, and Japan, in search of new trade routes.  Pedro Alvares Cabral landed on the Coast of Brazil in the year 1500 and established what would become Portugal's largest colony.  Others included (Coastal Africa) Angola, Mozambique, Portuguese Guinea, San Tome e Principe, and the Cape Verde Islands; (India) New Goa and the associated Diu, Damoa; (China) Macao, and Western Timor.

     Although the Portuguese Revolution of 1974 led to the independence of all that nation's colonies, including the Cape Verde Islands by 1976, the country still consists of Continental Portugal and the two Atlantic Ocean archipelagos, the Azores and the Madeiras.  Discovered during the height of Portuguese exploration, Madeira in 1418 and the Azores, between 1420 and 1452, neither of these volcanic island chains was populated.  This enabled Portugal to adopt them as native lands by encouraging migration and settlement.

     The closest of the nine mid-Atlantic Azore Islands is Santa Maria, 758.0 nautical miles (nm) from Lisbon, Portugal's continental capital.  The furthest of the islands is Flores, some 1026.7 nm from the mainland.  The remaining islands in the chain are Corvo, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Fayal, Pico, Terceira, Sao Miguel and the tiny, uninhabited Formigas.  Towards the Coast of Africa lie the rugged Madeiras with two inhabited islands, Porto Santo and the more heavily populated Madeira.  The rocky Desertas remains uninhabited.

History of Portuguese Immigration to Lowell
Although persons of Portuguese ancestry have come to Lowell from Continental Portugal, Cape Verde Islands, Angola, and Brazil, the majority of Portuguese immigrants to Greater Lowell are from Madeira and the Azores, with an especially large concentration from the island of Graciosa.  These island chains are referred to as Insular Portugal because residents of these islands live somewhat in isolation, insulated to a degree from the rest of their country and the world.

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