Macaronesia in the Atlantic Ocean

Friday, 31 December 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  4 minutes

Cámara de Lobos, Madeira © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/cc-by-sa-4.0

Cámara de Lobos, Madeira © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/cc-by-sa-4.0

Macaronesia is a collection of four volcanic archipelagos in the North Atlantic Ocean, off the coasts of the continents of Africa and Europe. Each archipelago is made up of a number of Atlantic oceanic islands, which are formed by seamounts on the ocean floor and have peaks above the ocean’s surface. Some of the Macaronesian islands belong to Portugal, some belong to Spain, and the rest belong to Cape Verde. Politically, the islands belonging to Portugal and Spain are part of the European Union. Geologically, Macaronesia is part of the African tectonic plate. Some of its islands – the Azores – are situated along the edge of that plate at the point where it abuts the Eurasian and North American plates. Macaronesia consists of four main archipelagos. From north to south, these are: the Azores, an Autonomous Region of Portugal, Madeira (also including the Savage Islands), an Autonomous Region of Portugal, the Canary Islands, an Autonomous Community of Spain and Cape Verde, an independent West African country.

In one biogeographical system, the Cape Verde archipelago is in the Afrotropical realm while the other three archipelagos are in the Palearctic realm. According to the European Environment Agency, the three European archipelagos constitute a unique bioregion, known as the Macaronesian Biogeographic Region. The World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions places the whole of Macaronesia in its botanical continent of Africa.

Santa Maria, Sal Island, Cape Verde © Franzfoto/cc-by-sa-3.0 Town hall of Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-4.0 Santa Cruz de La Palma, La Palma, Canary Islands © H. Zell/cc-by-sa-3.0 Cámara de Lobos, Madeira © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/cc-by-sa-4.0 Funchal, Madeira © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sanchez/cc-by-sa-4.0 Garachico, Tenerife, Canary Islands © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-3.0 Horta on Faial Island, Azores © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-4.0 Puerto de Mogán, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands © Martin Falbisoner/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Town hall of Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-4.0
The name Macaronesia is derived from the Greek words meaning “islands of the fortunate” (μακάρων νήσοι, makárōn nēsoi). The name was first used by ancient Greek geographers to refer to any islands west of the Strait of Gibraltar. Macaronesia is occasionally misspelled “Macronesia” in false analogy with Micronesia, an unrelated group of archipelagos in the Pacific Ocean whose English name is also derived from Greek.

Much of the original native vegetation has been displaced because of human activity, including felling forests for timber and firewood, clearing vegetation for grazing and agriculture, and introducing foreign plants and animals into the islands. The laurisilva habitat has been reduced to small disconnected pockets. As a result, many of the endemic biota of the islands are now seriously endangered or extinct. Alien predators – in particular domestic and feral cats – currently pose one of the most serious threats to the endemic fauna. Even though cats prey mostly on other foreign-introduced mammals, such as rodents and rabbits, the abundance of such prey sustains such a large feline population that it has initiated a so-called hyperpredation process), which further increases that population’s negative impact on the number of endemic reptiles and birds. Since 2001, the European Union’s conservation efforts, mandated by its Natura 2000 regulations, have resulted in the protection of large stretches of land and sea in the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands, totaling 5000 km².

Read more on Wikipedia Macaronesia (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.










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