Area: 17.13 km²
Location: North-West, Azores Archipelago, Portugal
Number of inhabitants:
Number of visitors:
Tourists: approximately 543 per year
Protected island: yes
Terrestrial protection status: Biosphere Reserve, Special Protection Area (SPA), Corvo Regional Nature Park
Marine protection status: Biosphere Reserve, voluntary reserve
The island of Corvo is the only island in the Azores to have only one village. It is also the least populated of the archipelago. The municipality of Corvo has financial and administrative independence.
This island is known to be a resting place for migratory birds; tourists come only for the purpose of observing them. Corvo distinguishes itself from the other Azorean islands by the absence of trees, because of the strong presence of semi-wild sheep.
Corvo is a volcanic island; its relief is shaped by a volcano with a caldera. It is the smallest inhabited island in the Azores archipelago. The island is surrounded by very steep cliffs that can reach 700m to the west and 200m to the east. The southern tip, consisting of a lava platform, supports the only village of the island: Vila do Corvo.
The village is home to several historical monuments such as the church Nossa Senhora dos Milagres or the small windmills of Portuguese influence.
Since the colonisation, the inhabitants have been breeding sheeps, which has resulted in the transformation of natural areas into pastures. The island is thus characterised by almost a total absence of trees and shrubs.
The population has decreased by half in the last century, mainly due to a massive departure to the United States and Canada and, due to the aging of the population, a massive decline in birth rates.
On the island, each inhabitant holds several jobs. Most of the population has plots for raising cattle (beef and pigs) and food crops. There are also a few fishermen, small shops, jobs related to tourism and public services, construction, and a team of teachers.
Exports are very limited and include dairy products, meat and fish.
The island enjoys an international reputation for bird watching. Tourists mainly visits the island for this purpose, while some of them also try a few other activities, such as diving, hiking and going on boat trips.
The island provides schooling services years for the compulsory education years, but students who wish to further continue their studies must go to other islands or the continent. As a result, few young adults remain on the island; the unemployment rate does not encourage them to return after finishing their studies.
The island has a caldera, with two lakes supported by rainwater and some peatlands (the largest and oldest in the country with those in Flores).
The island has a rich endemic terrestrial flora: 95 endemic species, 59 of which are endemic to the archipelago. It should be noted also the presence of endemic invertebrates (arthropods and terrestrial molluscs) and chiropteras (two endemic species).
Corvo is home to many bird species, including the tern, the Cape Verde puffin and the wood pigeon.
The marine flora is characterised by brown algae (Zonaria de turnfortii) and sponges. The yellowbelly grouper (Epinephelus marginatus), the European barracuda, the parrot fish and the Forkbeard can be observed.
As in Flores, we can observe cetacean species off the coast of Corvo and the common dolphin, spotted dolphin, Risso’s dolphin or pilot whale.
Like most remote, ultra-peripheral islands, Corvo has difficulties in managing both its declining population and the good sustainable management of water, energy and waste, while also preserving its biodiversity.