Eva Almeida Lima, Marisa Machado and João Carlos Nunes
The Azores archipelago is distinguished by its unique natural beauty and marine setting. Thanks to its volcanic origin, the region has a very rich and remarkable geodiversity that includes a diversity of landscapes with innumerable craters, volcanic lakes, fumaroles, hot springs, volcanic caves, marine fossil deposits and thermal water springs. The recognition of this valuable geological heritage came with the recent integration of the Azores Geopark into the European and Global Geopark Networks. The pressure that the increasing development of tourism have been exerting on these geological sites for the last years, and the need to create alternative forms of tourism, which contribute towards the socio-economic development in rural areas, have highlighted the importance of geotourism as a tool to promote and preserve the geological heritage of the Azores. Geotourism has turned to be an important instrument of environmental awareness through the local and foreign people.