History and Geography of Terceira Island
Terceira Island owes its name to the fact that it was the third island to be discovered, since the translation of “Terceira” is “third”, although initially it was called Jesus Christ Island.
Terceira was populated around 1450 by Jácome Bruges, of Flemish origin.
Due to its privileged geographic position, Terceira Island was an important port of call for the Portuguese routes in the Atlantic Ocean and strengthened its importance as a commercial port in the 17th century because of the new route to India and the passage of the Spanish Army boats, loaded with gold, making their way back from Mexico and Peru towards Cadiz.
During the Liberal Wars, the island had an important role in the national political panorama, when in 1829 it hindered the landing of the Absolutists, against the Liberals, in the town of Praia. After this victorious event in favor of the Liberal cause, the Village changed its name to Praia da Vitória – Victory Beach.
Already during the XXth century, the Air Base 4 was constructed in Lajes, three kilometers from Praia da Vitória. This 3600 meters or 2 mile-long airport was the largest airport up until then in the Azorean archipelago. Air Base 4 still operates as a civil and military airport, being used mainly by the United States of America, under a cooperation agreement of defense.