The island is 17.5 km south of São Jorge (Ilha de São Jorge) and just 7 km west of Fayal (Ilha do Faial). It is 42 km long, has a maximum width of 15 km and an area of 447 km² making the second largest of the Azore islands. The main settlements are the capital Madalena, São Roque do Pico and Lajes do Pico, the total population is around 15,000.
The volcano is to the south-west of the island at 38.47 N, 28.40 W, it is a basaltic stratocone 2,350 m high with steep sides. The last eruption was in 1963, prior major eruptions were in 1562-64, 1718 and 1720. The paths of the lava flows are still visible, those of the 16th century and 1718 were particularly substantial, extending for over 10 km.
The island supported a substantial whaling industry until 1980. The position of the island to the edge of the continental shelf means that deep water is very close. Active industries include tourism, ship-building and wine production.