Azores – Europa 2020 – Ancient Postal Routes – Set

The Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira had their own specific post transportation problems. The use of maritime transport to send correspondence to the islands had been previewed by old official charters pre-dating the creation of the first master of the Posts. However, it was only in 1821 that King João VI offically created the maritime postal service for the Azores and Madeira. In the interior of the various islands, the circulation of letters and parcels was ensured by private or municipal services that hired couriers or muleteers, as was the case on Portugal mainland. Due to the very uneven terrain and the lack of roads, a boat was often used as the simplest way to move around the islands.

As far as 1871, the Azores islands were linked by ships from the Empresa Insulana de Navegação (Island Navigation Company), which also carried the post. This company had a contract with the Portuguese government and its ships visited Lisbon regularly. From 1918 and due to its geo-strategic position in the middle of the North Atlantic, the Azores archipelago was frequently used as a stopover point or operational base for various seaplane ights that had the goal of securing the crossing between North America and the British Isles. However, regular air services to the mainland and to Madeira (including the transportation of post) only started in 1937.

The Port of Funchal was established in 1756 by royal charter from King José I. But it was only from 1878 that the Empresa Insulana de Navegação started visiting the island of Madeira regularly and transporting post, under another governmental contract that remained valid until 1914.