During the week, the silence of the deserted streets is only very occasionally interrupted by the shouting and laughing of children on their break, by the passing of a tractor or someone on their way to the chemist or health centre. The cafés are empty, there are few cars on the roads. Most of the people living in Feteiras work in Ponta Delgada, the capital of the island of São Miguel, and only return at the end of the day.

But when Saturdays arrive and the weekend starts, the parish transforms: the doors and windows to the houses are thrown open, cars are hoovered and cleaned, kids ride their bikes in the streets and the murmur of conversation becomes the underlying soundtrack. 

You don’t see the poverty people talk of, it hides in the shame of those who don’t have money to put food on the table and who still refuse to ask for help.

Underlying this problem is the lack of jobs, and when trying to find someone to blame, many point the finger at “external help” from the mainland and from Europe. “Here in the Azores, you can get benefits for everything and we suffer for it. When you need someone for a job, you can’t find anyone. Before, we used to produce everything, now we’re dependent. You earn more being unemployed, doing nothing,” says self-declared anti-establishmentarian Sérgio (56).

On an island territory, where the majority of the population are of working age, the future points west across the Atlantic, particularly to the United States and Canada where many emigrants from Feteiras live. They left behind houses that have spent years shuttered up. Locals are certain that these hold the key to “resolving the enormous housing problem”—if they were rented at affordable prices, instead of being transformed into private accommodation for visitors.  

Feteiras was the parish with the third highest level of abstention in the 2019 European elections.

Source: Secretariat General Ministry of the Interior

Sérgio, 56 years old

Average monthly income for residents in the parish, after taxes. This is below the national average (1,002 euros).

Source: Census 2021

Filomena, 60 years old, café owner

Percentage of inhabitants who receive income support is far lower than the parish with the highest proportion of people on benefits per capita—Monforte da Beira, in Castelo Branco (20%).

Source: Census 2021

Helena, 62 years old, cleaner

More than half the inhabitants work in a different parish within the municipality (452).

Source: Census 2021

Maria José, 62 years old, teacher

The Azores has the highest rate of early school leavers in the European Union. This is the equivalent of one in four young people aged 18 to 25 years, triple the national average (7%).

Source: Labour Force Survey by the National Statistics Institute and Eurostat (2021)

Pedro, 30 years old, farmer

More than half the population didn’t vote in the 2024 parliamentary elections.

Source: Secretariat General Ministry of the Interior

Number of voters who didn’t vote in the 2024 parliamentary elections. Abstention decreased 10% and Chega, for the first time, received the most votes (30.6%).

Source: Secretariat General Ministry of the Interior

Maria José, 62 years old, teacher

The majority of residents have their own house.

Source: Census 2021