The places that lie beyond the edge of the map are often the most interesting ones. Many Portuguese maps include a boxed insert at the margin showing a scatter of Atlantic islands shorn of any relationship with the mainland: Madeira, Porto Santo and the Azores (Açores) archipelago. The Azores in particular are often so reduced in scale that few notice that the shipping route that infrequently links the island of Flores at one end of the archipelago with Santa Maria at the other is 600 kilometres long. Two whole days afloat with a half dozen stops along the way. But there is one Azorean island, a place that might well lay claim to being one of Europe's remotest inhabited communities, that is not even served by the regular inter-island car ferries run by Transmaçor.
Picture Corvo, off to the north of Flores at the western end of the Azores group. Corvo is almost exactly equidistant from Lisbon and Newfoundland. It is as mid-Atlantic as they come. At more than 31 degrees west, Corvo is well to the west of anywhere in Iceland, and, along with neighbouring Flores, is Europe's westernmost extremity (all bar Greenland). An article published in the journal of the American Geographical Society in 1918 was aptly entitled 'Corvo: Our Nearest European Neighbour'.