MADEIRA

Madeira

ABOUT MADEIRA

Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago located in the north Atlantic Ocean, west and slightly south of Portugal. Its total population was estimated in 2011 at 267,785.

It is just under 400 kilometres (250 mi) north of Tenerife, Canary Islands. Since 1976, the archipelago has been one of the two Autonomous regions of Portugal (the other being the Azores, located to the northwest). It includes the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo, and the Desertas, administered together with the separate archipelago of the Savage Islands. It is an outermost region of the European Union.

Madeira was claimed by Portuguese sailors in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1419, and settled after 1420. The archipelago is considered to be the first territorial discovery of the exploratory period of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, which extended from 1415 to 1542.

Today, it is a popular year-round resort, being visited every year by about one million tourists.

The region is noted for its Madeira wine, gastronomy, historical and cultural value, its endemic flora and fauna, landscapes (Laurel forest) which are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and embroidery artisans. Its annual New Year celebrations feature the largest fireworks show in the world, as officially recognised by Guinness World Records in 2006.

The main harbour in Funchal is the leading Portuguese port in cruise liner dockings, being an important stopover for commercial and trans-Atlantic passenger cruises between Europe, the Caribbean and North Africa. Madeira is the second richest region of Portugal by GDP per capita, being only surpassed by Lisbon.