Madeira, Portugal

Madeira or Autonomous Region of Madeira is a region and archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean, with the capital located in the city of Funchal, with 250,769 inhabitants in 2021, being the sixth most populous region in the country, with a population density of 313 inhabitants per km2 , being the second largest urban area in the country, and a total area of 801 km2, being the seventh largest region in the country.

It is one of the seven regions of Portugal, consisting of 54 parishes, comprising 11 municipalities and being at the same time constituted by the same and only subregion, having the same name.

The Political-Administrative Statute of the Autonomous Region of Madeira is one of the two national autonomous regional governments, which coordinates the policies of the region.

It is a tourist archipelago throughout the year, due to its climate with mild temperatures in both winter and summer and also famous for its spectacular fireworks display in the New Year, classified as the largest fireworks display in the world on New Year's Eve. from 2006 to 2007. They are also known worldwide for their characteristic liqueur wine known worldwide Madeira Wine, for their flowers and for their landscapes with steep mountains, green and flowery valleys, the panorama of the sea and the coastal cliffs and for its beaches of golden sand of the island of Porto Santo and for being the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, considered the best Portuguese football player ever.



The Madeira Archipelago is divided into several islands, although only two are inhabited:
Madeira Island (the largest on the map);
Porto Santo Island (the smallest on the map).

The Madeira Archipelago also contains the following sets of islands, which are uninhabited:
Savage Islands
desert islands



The administrative division of the archipelago consists of 11 municipalities:

Calheta. Chamber of Wolves. Funchal. Machico. Ponta do Sol. Porto Moniz. Porto Santo. Ribeira Brava. Holy Cross. Santana. Saint Vincent


Other destinations

Madeira Natural Park
Desertas Islands Nature Reserve
Selvagens Islands Nature Reserve
Pico do Arieiro, in the heart of the island
Ponta de São Lourenço, near Machico.
Cabo Girão, near Câmara de Lobos.


Getting here

By airplane
Being a "pearl" in the Atlantic Ocean, the easiest way to reach Madeira Island is by plane.

A flight to Madeira takes about 1h30 from Portuguese airports, and a little over 3 hours approximately from the main airports in central Europe. Flights between Madeira and Porto Santo take 15 minutes. The archipelago's airports are Madeira International Airport (about a 20-minute drive from Funchal) and Porto Santo Airport.

Madeira Airport - The following companies fly frequently (Regular Flights) to Madeira Airport:
• Aigle Azur • Air Berlin • Air Nostrum • Austrian Airlines . Binter Canarias • Condor • Finnair • Hapag Lloyd / TUIFly • Luxair • Niki Luftfahrt GmbH • Sata Air Açores • Sata Internacional • Tap Portugal

Of boat
The port of Funchal is part of the cruise circuits that run between Madeira and the Canary Islands and North Africa. There are also some traffic lines that operate from the Western Mediterranean or the Atlantic coast of Europe, namely from Lisbon. Funchal is also an important port of call for transoceanic voyages, linked to the annual repositioning of ships between the U.S. and the United States. and Europe and vice versa. As far as maritime connections are concerned, the Port of Funchal [] is a cruise port par excellence, serving as a point of arrival and departure to other destinations. Frequently visited by cruise ships, the ports of Funchal and Porto Santo serve as a point of arrival to the islands and a point of departure to other destinations.

Daily connections between islands take about 2h30 by a "Lobo Marinho" ferryboat, which also allows the transport of vehicles. The Spanish shipping company Naviera Armas operates, throughout the year, a ferry service for passengers and vehicles, between the ports of Tenerife and Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands, and Portimão, in the Algarve, with a stopover in Porto do Funchal in both directions. It is therefore possible to arrive in Madeira by car.



Between islands
There is a ferry between the island of Porto Santo and Madeira, with a duration of two hours. To see .
SATA offers several flights between the airports on the two islands, with a duration of approximately twenty minutes. For more information, visit the airline's website.
Inside Madeira Island

If you prefer to use public transport, there are several bus companies that, in a more economical way, can take you to the points of greatest tourist interest. . Funchal timetables [ . southwest. SAM. Caniço Bus Company.

Taxis are available at Madeira Airport, at the main hotels and on several streets in the city of Funchal, with a ticket cost of EUR 2.00. On weekdays between 22:00 and 07:00, on Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays, the ticket price is EUR 2.40. An amount not exceeding 50% will be charged on luggage that exceeds 30kg and subject to prior arrangement. In the other municipalities you will find letter A taxis (without a taximeter) with a price of EUR 0.63 per kilometer, with a minimum charge.

Rent a car
Renting a car is a great way to see the island. All European road rules apply on the island of Madeira. Bear in mind that the island is mountainous and the roads have many unevenness and curves and are sometimes narrow.

Inside Porto Santo Island
Bus (City Center next to the gas station) - Tel.: 291 982780 / 291 982403.

Taxis are available at Porto Santo Airport, at the main hotels and on several streets in the city of Vila Baleira, with a fare of EUR 2.00. On weekdays between 22:00 and 07:00, on Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays, the ticket price is EUR 2.40. An amount not exceeding 50% will be charged on luggage that exceeds 30kg and subject to prior arrangement. (Taxis Square: Av. Dr. Manuel Gregório Pestana Junior) - Tel.: 291 982334

Renting a car - Porto Santo has a good road network, which connects the main points of the island. Several companies rent cars in Porto Santo.



In Madeira, as in the rest of Portugal, the official language is Portuguese. However, English, French and Spanish are also understood by a large part of the population.



Madeira wine
wood embroidery



Madeira Botanical Garden - About 3 km from Funchal, it is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world. The exuberant vegetation forms colorful gardens, making this one of the biggest attractions of the archipelago. In the garden there are more than 2000 plants.
Cabo Girão -It is a mandatory stop for anyone visiting the island of Madeira. It is the highest promontory in Europe and the second highest in the world with 580 meters of altitude. This viewpoint offers wide panoramic views over Câmara de Lobos and Funchal, as well as a magnificent view over the sea.
In 2003, an elevator was built there to access the fajãs of Cabo Girão, which until then were only accessible by boat. Its name - Girão - was given by João Gonçalves Zarco, due to the fact that it served as a reference point at the end of the tour, on the first day of reconnaissance of the coast of Madeira.

São Vicente Caves - Impressive volcanic caves where you can see lava tubes. It is a unique experience and a must visit in Madeira.
Monte Palace Gardens - The Monte Palace Tropical Garden is located in Quinta Monte Palace, owned by the José Berardo Foundation. The vegetation of this Garden has been augmented with plants from all over the world. About 100,000 plant species have already been planted, including azaleas, heathers, and different trees, in addition to a wide variety of ferns. The garden also features a collection of cycads (encephalartos) which, due to their age, are considered living fossils. Of the 72 known species, this garden has about 60 varieties.
It also features a space dedicated to Madeiran flora, where most of the Macaronesian Laurisilva varieties can be found, as well as other endangered species, such as Pittosporum coriaceum, popularly known as "Mocano".

Madeira Story Center - It is one of the best ways to discover the history of Madeira. The Center includes several exhibitions: "Volcanic Origins", "Legends of the Discovery", "The Discovery of Madeira", "The Commercial Turmoil", "The Strategic Island", "Development of Madeira", "After Navigation" and "Explore the wood".
Viewpoints - There are numerous and beautiful viewpoints throughout the islands, but the best known are: Pico dos Barcelos, Pico do Arieiro, Pico do Facho, Curral das Freiras, Monte, Eira do Serrado and Cabo Girão.
Ponta de São Lourenço - This is a peninsula of volcanic origin, mostly basaltic, giving it an arid appearance, with low vegetation and an absence of trees that contrasts completely with the rest of the island's landscape. Going down the slope you will find an isolated beach called Prainha, which is the only natural black sand beach on the island, usually very popular with locals and tourists for swimming.
• Santana Theme Park - The Madeira Theme Park, located in the city of Santana, and unique in Portugal, presents itself as a fantastic exhibition site dedicated to the history, science and tradition of the Madeira Archipelago. This enclosure, with an area of 145 thousand square meters, is a must visit place.



Walks - To reach the interior of Madeira Island and enjoy an unknown and stunning landscape, there is nothing better than walking through the paths and “levadas”.
When walking through these primitive irrigation canals, the visitor will come across breathtaking landscapes. In a total of 1500 km, through valleys and mountains, Madeira's "levadas" allow access to the heart of the island. They form part of a set of protected areas, of which the Natural Park of Madeira and the Ecological Park of Funchal stand out. Most routes are accessible to anyone, although there are varying degrees of difficulty. Through these magnificent walks, we can glimpse breathtaking landscapes in a perfect encounter with nature. From the deep blue of the sea to the green of the high mountains, the thrill from 0 to 1862 meters is guaranteed!

Boat Trips - Discover Madeira from a new perspective. The panoramic view over the coast from the sea enhances the beauty of this charming island. You can also plan a trip to the Desertas Islands to discover the Atlantic refuge of the Monk Seal (Monachus Monachus), better known as Lobo Marinho, or observe other species of marine fauna such as dolphins and, with some luck, whales.
Diving - Let yourself be enveloped by the waters of the Atlantic and get to know a curious submerged world. Get to know some of the Natural Reserves that are attractive for diving. The passivity of the fish, used to living with divers, allows the freedom to swim among them, with good opportunities for aquatic photography.
Surfing and Windsurfing - The Madeiran waters lend themselves to this purpose. The coasts of Jardim do Mar, Paul do Mar and S. Vicente are excellent for surfing, with waves capable of giving even the most experienced surfers strong emotions. The conditions for windsurfing are excellent and proof of this is the consecration, in 1996, of a young Madeiran as world champion in this modality. The year-round subtropical climate and excellent surfing conditions attract surfers every year. It is a paradise for experienced surfers, with waves reaching 8 meters in height. Paul do Mar is one of the best places to surf.
Praia de Porto Santo - With 9 km of beach, on this beach, health and well-being go hand in hand, since, in addition to the transparency of the water, it has indisputable therapeutic properties. Discover the benefits of this serene and inviting beach and surrender to relaxation, recovering the energy and motivation you need.



Tourist Entertainment Companies - (For lovers of active tourism, the Madeiran archipelago offers exceptional natural conditions for the practice of land sports, with special emphasis on walking tours, which have numerous routes, between levadas and trails, and offer spectacular and unique in contact with the Laurissilva Forest – World Natural Heritage by UNESCO.The particular orography of this island also offers spectacular conditions for trekking, climbing, abseiling, canyoning, all-terrain bicycles, among other activities.



Like an eternal spring, Madeira is par excellence the year-round golf destination. Two distinct islands, three magnificent golf courses, and a range of accommodation, leisure and well-being that appeal to all golfers.
The island of Madeira has a beauty and climate that gives it unique characteristics. The tradition of golf on the island of Madeira dates back to 1937. On this island you can play on one of the two courses, Palheiro Golf and Clube de Golfe do Santo da Serra, with 18 and 27 holes, both notable for the beauty of their settings.

Golf Santo da Serra (Santo António da Serra 9200-152 Machico; Tel.:(+351) 291 550 100;
Golf Palheiro, (Rua do Balancal, 29, 9060-414 Funchal; Tel.: (+351) 291 790 120; Reservations: (+351) 291 792 456).

On the island of Porto Santo, 40 km from Madeira, try the 27-hole course designed by the famous golfer Severiano Ballesteros. Unlike Madeira Island, Porto Santo's 9 km of beach and clear waters will taste good after a round of golf.
The Madeira Islands Open is the most important golf tournament held annually in Madeira and is part of the European PGA.

Golf Porto Santo, (Sítio das Marinhas Apartado 174 9400-162 Porto Santo; Tel.: (+351) 291 983 778 / 291 982 628;



Madeiran gastronomy is very vast. Although the starters are not the main course, in the restaurants you will be served a bolo do caco (bread cooked on a griddle) with garlic butter or grilled limpets, served with plenty of garlic and lemon juice. Other specialties include tomato and onion soup served with a poached egg, wheat soup and açorda, a dish made with bread, garlic, poached egg, savory and olive oil - all "watered down" with very hot water.

The most famous traditional meat dishes on the island are espetada, meat with wine and garlic, chopped and many grilled meat dishes. Meat dishes are usually accompanied by fried corn, as well as carrots, green beans, zucchini, pimpernel, peas and sweet potatoes.

Fish is present in the most traditional dishes on the island. Tuna, swordfish, cod, skipjack and squid include the fish most often served in Madeiran restaurants. Some common dishes are Espada with banana, usually served with fresh salad and potatoes, and Codfish with cream.

The regional sweets are very plentiful, especially the queijadas (cakes made with cream cheese, eggs and sugar), honey cakes (one of the oldest sweets in Madeira) and passion fruit pudding.

Also famous is Madeira wine, dry wine, "nikita" (a drink made with beer, pineapple juice, ice cream and pineapple), "pé-de-cabra" (black beer, dry wine, powdered chocolate and sugar), as well as traditional poncha (cane brandy, honey, lemon juice and sometimes orange juice) and passion fruit poncha.



Wine - Madeira wine is famous all over the world. There are four different varieties of the famous Madeira Wine, to be savored as an aperitif or at the end of a meal, presenting themselves as historical choices, namely Malvasia (also known as Malmsey or Malvazia), the sweetest, Bual (or Boal), medium-sweet, Verdelho, medium-dry, and Sercial, the driest of all.
Poncha - A drink made with sugar cane brandy, honey and lemon. There is a wide range of poncha varieties, passion fruit poncha, tangerine poncha, tomato poncha, whiskey poncha, absinthe poncha, strawberry poncha, kiwi poncha, among others.
Nikita - A drink made with beer, pineapple juice, ice cream and pineapple.



Madeira offers a wide range of quality accommodation for all tastes and budgets, where hospitality, personalized service, good taste and quality are the dominant characteristics. The option will always have a common element to all choices: the art of hospitality. The offer of accommodation is quite wide, from the refinement of centuries-old traditional hotels, the modernity of five-star hotels, the friendly hospitality of rural tourism houses, which allow close contact with nature, or even the welcoming and traditional Madeiran farms.

Quintas da Madeira - Time passes silently by them. Witnesses of other centuries, the Quintas da Madeira keep the history of those who gave them life and name. Families of European nobility found in Madeira the place where they could give form to the dream of a lifetime. Sea and land as far as the eye can see, century-old trees and a house with palace refinements was all they needed to feel at home.
The Quintas in Madeira reveal a lifestyle rooted in the feudal system. Centuries passed, memories remain. Each farm has a story to tell. The trees in the gardens and the interiors of the houses are fragments of a life. They are joined by other episodes made of new things.

To get to know all that Quintas da Madeira have to offer takes time. Time for a stroll through the gardens. Time to enjoy a good Madeira wine.


Rural Tourism - TER

To enjoy a holiday in more direct contact with the people, their habits and customs, and with Nature itself, you can choose to stay in a Rural Tourism unit (TER), a type of accommodation that includes several classifications, from rural hotels to more rustic or family units, characterized by welcoming and conviviality with the owners of accommodation units.



Crime in Madeira is very low.



Hospital Dr. Nelio Mendonça (Avenida Luís de Camões, nº 57 – 904-514 Funchal ; tel. (+351) 291 705600)
Hospital dos Marmeleiros (Estrada dos Marmeleiros - Funchal; tel. (+351) 291 705730)
Porto Santo Health Center (Porto Santo Island - tel. (+351) 291 980060)
Keep in touch
The international access code for Madeira is +351 and the access code for the islands is 291.



The Madeira Archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean. The nearest tourist destinations are:

Canary Islands - Isolated in the middle of the Atlantic, they are an autonomous region of Spain. Its largest cities are Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Tenerife is popular for its fantastic beaches, mountain scenery and vibrant nightlife.
Azores - A very touristic archipelago, with several cities, including Angra do Heroísmo, one of the most important, and a World Heritage Site. The islands are very visited for whale watching and for their historical heritage, visible on all islands.
For information on how to get to these destinations, see Getting There



Before the settlement

One of the historians' theories is that the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo were first discovered by the Romans and that they became known as the "Purple Islands", but this is a subject relatively debated among historians and no consensus has been found, given the power refer to other islands further south. Later the archipelago was then rediscovered by the Portuguese who first discovered the island of Porto Santo in 1418 through João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira; then Madeira Island in 1419, through Bartolomeu Perestrelo, João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira.

The islands of the Madeira archipelago would already be known before the arrival of the Portuguese, if we believe in references present in works, as well as in their representation in geographical maps. Among the works that refer to Madeira, passages from the Libro del Conoscimiento (after 1385), a work by a Spaniard, in which the islands are referred to by the names of "Leiname", "Diserta" and "Puerto Santo" in 1419, stand out.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the islands may have been visited by Vikings sometime between 900 and 1030.



In 1418 the island of Porto Santo was discovered by João Gonçalves Zarco and by Tristão Vaz Teixeira. In the following year these navigators, accompanied by Bartolomeu Perestrelo, arrived in Madeira Island, more precisely in the Municipality of Machico.

Having noted the potential of the islands, as well as their strategic importance, colonization began around 1425, which would have been an initiative of D. João I or Infante D. Henrique.

The three captain-donatários took, on the first trip, their respective families, a small group of people from the minor nobility, people of modest conditions and some former prisoners of the kingdom. The first settlers came from the Algarve region and later from the northern region of the continent.

From the Algarve, some of the main colonizers left, with important functions in the implementation of the foundations of the landlord system. We can also mention in this process the north of Portugal, namely the region of Entre Douro e Minho, origin of those who intervened specifically in the organization of the agricultural space.

From the Algarve, from the towns of Tavira, Lagos, Silves, Aljezur and Sagres, there is also the movement of several people towards the new islands of the Kingdom. There are servants, squires, knights and nobles who marked the beginning of the settlement, which quickly spread geographically to other areas, such as Santa Cruz, Câmara de Lobos, Ribeira Brava, Ponta do Sol and Calheta.

In order to obtain the minimum conditions for the development of agriculture, they had to cut down part of the dense laurissilva forest and build a large number of water pipes (levadas), since in one part of the island there was excess water while in another it was scarce. In the early days, fish was the main means of subsistence for the settlers, as well as fruit and vegetable products.

From 1440 onwards, the regime of captaincies was established with the investiture of Tristão Vaz Teixeira as captain-donatory of the captaincy of Machico; six years later Bartolomeu Perestrelo became captain-donate of Porto Santo and in 1450 Zarco was invested captain-doneary of the captaincy of Funchal.


From the fall in cereal production to Madeira Wine

The first local agricultural activity of great importance was the cereal cultivation of wheat. Initially, the colonizers produced wheat for their own subsistence, but later it became an export product for the kingdom.

However, inexplicably, cereal production fell. To overcome the crisis, Infante D. Henrique decided to have sugar cane planted on the island of Madeira — rare in Europe and, therefore, considered a spice —, promoting, for this purpose, the arrival, from Sicily, of the first ratoon. plant and technicians specialized in this culture. The production of sugar quickly gave the Funchal metropolis frank economic prosperity. This fact meant that, in the second half of the 15th century, the city of Funchal became a mandatory port of call for European trade routes. The culture of sugarcane was, par excellence, a driver of the island economy.

With the production of sugar cane, Madeira attracted and settled adventurers and traders from the most remote origins, and this exploration was considered, at the time, as the main engine of the Madeiran economy. There were many European merchants who traveled to the region for the sugar business, mainly Genoese and Flemish.

The cultivation of sugarcane and the sugar production industry would develop until the 17th century, followed by the processing industry — the sugar cane plantations — extracting the juice and then annealing the honeys. as the refining phase was then called.

Apparently it is in Madeira that, in the context of sugar production, black slave labor was used for the first time. The colonial system of sugar production was put into practice on the island of Madeira, on a much smaller scale, and will be successively applied, on a large scale, in other overseas production areas, as is the greatest example in Brazil.

In the second half of the 16th century, there was a decline in sugar production on the island. Sugarcane on the island begins to show disease and, at the same time, there is also strong competition from new producing territories, mainly Brazil.

From the 17th century onwards, wine was the most important product of Madeiran exploration, since the cultivation of sugar cane had meanwhile been transferred to Brazil (from 1530) and to São Tomé and Príncipe.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the structure of the "city of wine overlapped the city of sugar". With the decline of sugar production, at the end of the 16th century, sugarcane plantations were replaced by vineyards, giving rise to the so-called Wine Cycle which, internationally, important English merchants settled on the Island who, little by little, ended up controlling the ever-increasing most important insular wine trade.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, visitors to the island ranged from patients, travelers, tourists and scientists. Most visitors belonged to the wealthy European aristocracy, namely princes, princesses and monarchs who found Madeira Island, essentially a therapeutic port.

As a result of the high demand at the time, there was a need to produce informative guides for visitors. The first Madeira tourist guide appeared in 1850, and already focused on elements about the history, geology, flora, fauna and customs of the island.

The British and the Germans were the first to lay the foundations for the construction of the Madeiran hotel network.


The role of Madeira in the Age of Discovery

Madeira also served as a model for the colonization of Brazil, based on hereditary captaincies and sesmarias, as attested by the appointment of Pero de Góis by D. João III, on August 25, 1536, when the king determined that he would hold the position of way it should be done and how the provider of my farm in Madeira is.

In Brazil, Madeirans also played an important role in the Pernambucan Insurrection against the Dutch occupation.

During the 15th century Madeira played an important role in the Portuguese discoveries. It also became famous for the trade routes that connected the port of Funchal to the whole of Europe. And it was in the archipelago of Madeira that the merchant Cristóvão Columbus deepened his knowledge of the art of sailing and planned his famous voyage to America.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, a serious economic and food crisis motivated the Madeiran diaspora. Thousands of families left for the colonies. In Madeira, the people suffered from hunger and misery. In 1747, D. João V ordered the voluntary recruitment of couples to populate the island of Santa Catarina. In 1751, Governor Manuel Saldanha da Gama writes: In some ports on the Island, the people only ate roots, broom flowers and fruits. In the same year, King D. José ordered the recruitment, in the city of Funchal alone, of a thousand couples without means of subsistence to promote the settlement of the colonies, mainly in Brazil.



The population of the Madeira archipelago has historically followed Roman Catholicism, although nowadays this identification tends to be, in part, nominal.

The Diocese of Funchal was created on June 12, 1514 through the bull Pro Excellenti Praeeminentia of Pope Leo X, as a result of a request from King Manuel I. In 1536, Pope Paul III dismissed the bishopric from the Order of Christ . This diocese, whose first bishop was Diogo Pinheiro, had the largest jurisdiction in the world, as it was extended to territories with Portuguese presence in Africa, Brazil, India and China. In 1533, Pope Clement VII would raise the diocese to an archbishopric, which would be extinguished in 1551, making the diocese dependent again on the archbishopric of Lisbon. In 1991, Madeira received the visit of Pope John Paul II, the first Pope to visit the island. D. António José Cavaco Carrilho has been the bishop of the diocese since May 2007, succeeding D. Teodoro de Faria who resigned because he had already exceeded the canonical age to hold the position.


The 2010 storm

On February 20, 2010, a strong storm caused flooding and landslides, causing at least 48 deaths and around 250 injuries. The most affected municipalities were Funchal and Ribeira Brava, where several bridges collapsed and roads and paths gave way or were washed away. In Funchal, the three largest rivers overflowed, causing great destruction. Several houses were buried by landslides, and the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, on Monte, was washed away. The Portuguese government declared three days of national mourning.




The Madeira archipelago is located on the African plate, in the Atlantic Ocean between 30° and 33° north latitude, 978 km southwest of Lisbon, about 700 km west of the African coast, almost at the same latitude as Casablanca and 450 km north of the Canaries.

Of volcanic origin, it is formed by:
Madeira Island (740.7 km²);
Porto Santo (42.5 km²);
Desert Islands (14.2 km²) - 2 uninhabited islands and 1 inhabited (only by Nature Watchers or even biologists or geologists for studies);
Selvagens Islands (3.6 km²) - 2 islands inhabited (only by Nature Watchers or Maritime Police) and 17 uninhabited islets.

Of the seven islands, only the two largest (Madeira and Porto Santo) are inhabited, with the main accesses being Madeira Airport in Funchal and Porto Santo. By sea, Funchal has a port that receives several ships, mainly cruises; and three of the remaining islands are inhabited by nature watchers, biologists/geologists and Maritime Police who protect these natural reserves (Reserva Natural das Ilhas Desertas and Reserva Natural das Ilhas Selvagens).


Territory and climate

The territory of the archipelago contains two main islands: Madeira Island and Porto Santo Island; besides these, there are two groups of islands, the Desertas Islands and the Selvagens Islands.

Madeira Island has a very rugged terrain, with the highest points being Pico Ruivo (1,862 m), Pico das Torres (1,851 m) and Pico do Arieiro (1,818 m). The north coast is dominated by high cliffs and in the western part of the island there is a plateau region, Paul da Serra (1 300–1 500 m).

The relief, as well as the exposure to the prevailing winds, mean that the island has different micro-climates which, combined with the exotic vegetation, is an important attraction factor for tourism, the region's main activity. Precipitation is higher on the north coast than on the south coast. There are no major thermal variations throughout the year, maintaining a mild climate.

The island of Porto Santo, on the other hand, has a geomorphological constitution completely different from that of the island of Madeira. Very flat, it has a sparse vegetation cover with poor soils not suitable for agriculture. It has a 9 km long beach of fine golden sand of organic origin (limestone), unlike the beaches of mainland Portugal which are of siliceous (inorganic) origin, and is an increasingly popular regional, national and international tourist resort. internationally. This island has some peaks, especially to the north, with Pico do Facho (517 m) being the highest point.



The Madeira archipelago is part of Macaronesia and is located on the African plate. It is located at one end of the Tore mountain range (submarine), NE/SW direction. It is considered a hot spot, hence its volcanic nature and the NE direction that the archipelago draws.

In summary, the archipelago has its genesis during the creation of the North Atlantic, starting to develop during the Cretaceous period, approximately 130 million years ago.

The island of Porto Santo was the first to form, 19 million years ago, during the Miocene, emerging 11 million years later (8 million years ago). The most recent is the island of Madeira, with the same date of formation, having emerged during the transition from the Miocene to the Pliocene, approximately 5 million years ago, currently presenting a less eroded relief than the other islands.

From its emergence until now, five phases related to the volcanism of its formation can be highlighted, particularly visible in different parts of Madeira Island:
Base formation, characterized by large eruptions and expulsion of material, which ended 3 million years ago.
Formation of the periphery, where there is a significant decrease in the previous conditions, with the formation of some dykes and plateaus, which ended 740 thousand years ago.
Formations of the high zones, marked by the continuation of the expulsion of pyroclastic material and formation of the cliffs of the north and south coasts, which oscillate between 400 and 900 m. This stage ended approximately 620,000 years ago.
Formations of Paul da Serra basalts due to a crack in Bica da Cana 550,000 years ago.
Recent eruptions, which practically define the islands. The most recent magmatic fluids are located in this phase, which ended 6,500 years ago.

Constant volcanism, added to erosion and tectonic movements, shaped the different islands of the archipelago into what they are today, giving it the orientation it has, coinciding with the movement of the African plate.



Despite having a population density (about 300 inhab/km²) higher than the average for the country and even the EU, 75% of the population of the island of Madeira lives in just 35% of the territory, mainly on the south coast, where the city is located. from Funchal, capital of the Autonomous Region of Madeira, which concentrates 45% of the population (130,000 inhabitants), with a population density of 1,500 inhabitants/km². It is also in this area that most of the hotels are located.

The foreign population residing in Madeira was set at 6,720 in 2017, which represents a 10% increase compared to the same period last year. The community from Venezuela has the highest expression with 14.4%, followed by the United Kingdom (14.2%), Brazil (12.1%), and Germany (7.0%). In 2017, the Venezuelan community grew from 703 to 970, which represents an increase of 38%. It is also worth mentioning the rises of communities in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Brazil. Funchal concentrates 59.2% of the foreign community residing in Madeira, Santa Cruz (13.8%) and Calheta (7.3%).

The population of the Madeira archipelago is traditionally a follower of Roman Catholicism, although nowadays this identification tends to be, in part, nominal.

According to Resident Population Estimates, on 31 December 2014, 258 686 people resided in the Autonomous Region of Madeira (RAM), of which 121 068 were men and 137 618 women, translating into an effective growth rate of -1. 0%. Thus, the trend of population decrease started in 2011 is maintained, which, in this period, meant a reduction of 2 627 people compared to 2013.

The population decrease was predominantly due to a negative migratory balance of 1 634 people and an equally negative natural balance of 993 fewer people. With the exception of the municipality of Santa Cruz, all other municipalities in RAM showed negative effective growth rates, with the largest population decreases being observed in the municipalities of Porto Moniz and São Vicente, of -2.4% and -2.1 %, respectively.

In 2014, the population density of RAM was 324.4 inhab/km2. Funchal was the municipality with the highest value (1 409.3 inhabitants/km2), contrasting with Porto Moniz, which had 30.1 inhabitants/km2.

In this reference year, the proportion of young people (population under 15 years of age) represented 15.2% of the total population (15.7% in 2013) and the elderly (population aged 65 years and over) increased to 15. 2% (14.9% in 2013). The aging index remains below 100, standing at 99.8 elderly people for every 100 young people (95.0 in 2013).

As in 2013, the fertility rate reached, in 2014, a value below the unit, standing at 0.95 children per woman (0.98 in 2013).



Since 1976, Madeira has been an autonomous region of the Portuguese Republic. It has governing bodies such as the Legislative Assembly of Madeira and the Regional Government. The Portuguese State is represented in the region by the Representative of the Republic for the Autonomous Region of Madeira, a position held by Ireneu Cabral Barreto.

The Legislative Assembly is a unicameral parliament currently composed of 47 deputies. Deputies are elected for a four-year term on lists presented by the parties in a single constituency (unlike what was the case until the 2004 elections, where constituencies corresponded to municipalities and the number of deputies was 68).

The parties present in the Autonomous Region of Madeira are linked to the major parties of the Portuguese political spectrum.




Agriculture was historically the dominant sector in the Madeiran economy, from which most of the population lived. Despite the volcanic soil being fertile, the mountainous relief (which led to planting in terraces or poios as they are known regionally) prevents mechanization.

In terms of the organization of the agricultural space, three floors can be distinguished. In the low-altitude lands next to the sea are located the highest yielding crops, such as Madeira banana, custard apple, mango, sugar cane and passion fruit and other tropical species. At the intermediate level there are food crops such as potatoes, beans, wheat and maize and fruit trees from the Mediterranean region (fig tree, medlar), in a polyculture system. At higher altitudes there are pastures, pine forests and forests. The island of Madeira is famous for the quality of its anona fruits, which are grown up to an altitude of 550 m above sea level on the south coast of the island and up to 280 m above sea level in the north of the island.

Livestock farming complements agricultural activity. The predominant type of livestock is sheep and goats, with a smaller presence of cattle. In addition to their role in food, cattle provide natural fertilizer.

Fishing uses artisanal methods. The main species caught are tuna and swordfish.

Currently, tourism constitutes an average source of income for the Madeiran economy. In the agricultural sector, banana production aimed primarily at regional and national consumption, flowers and the famous Madeira wine also make an important contribution to the regional economy.



The industrial activity in the R.A.M. has become increasingly diversified, with small industries still standing out, such as those aimed at local consumption (pasta, dairy products, production and packaging of sugar, cement, among others) and those of a craft nature: embroidery Wood, upholstery and wickerwork.

The existing industry is concentrated in the municipalities of Funchal, Câmara de Lobos, Santa Cruz and Machico.

Contributing in a very positive way to the economic development of Madeira, the activity carried out by the Zona Franca Industrial da Madeira, in Caniçal, which integrates financial, industrial and commercial activities and is constituted by a set of fiscal and financial incentives cannot be forgotten. that can benefit all the companies that settle there.

Madeira has a very appealing tax policy, charging all taxpayers (both families and companies) rates far below those practiced in most of the European Union. This fact placed Madeira on the world economic and financial map, as a favorable place for investment. Many companies, Portuguese and foreign, have invested in Madeira.



Tourism in Madeira constitutes an average source of income for the Madeiran economy and therefore it is said that the island lives and breathes Tourism.

With an economy dependent on tourism, it is necessary to create appealing events that increase demand for the island. Since then, Madeira already has several frequent tourist attractions annually, such as:
Carnival has proved to be an important event and brings a hotel occupancy rate of around 70%. The great Allegorical Parade made up of 7-8 regional troupes that parade along the main avenues of Funchal, to the sound and rhythm of samba, with lots of color and joy and is the great attraction at this time of year. Also joining this date is the Cortejo do Trapalhão, which has accompanied the people of Madeira for a long time and involves satire in the midst of a lot of fun;
Madeira is famous for the quality of its anona fruit. The Festa da Anona is traditional and takes place annually in the parish of Faial. This event encourages the consumption of this fruit and its derivatives, such as liqueurs, puddings, ice cream and smoothies;
The Flower Festival is the main focus of the Secretariat of Tourism and is the second largest tourist event in the region, bringing hotel occupancy rates around 80-85%. It is a unique event worldwide, and has to offer tourists and residents a wide variety of floral carpets, an Allegorical Parade where 8 troupes parade that show the fauna/flora and History of Madeira, giving great satisfaction to tourists who promise to visit Madeira in the following years;
The Atlantic Festival, every Saturday in June, takes place on the Funchal wharf, with a fireworks display from different countries competing to display their fireworks at the end of the year. This show has proved to be a winning bet, not only for tourists but also for the adherence of Madeirans;
The Madeira Wine Rally takes place at the end of July and/or beginning of August and is one of the National Rally events. In this competition, several regional, national and world pilots join, which annually makes up a list of between 60 and 70 subscribers, many of them associated with the IRC competition;
Wine Festival, held in September on Avenida Arriaga;
Christmas and New Year parties.

The Christian traditions of the Christmas season, deeply ingrained in the habits of the people of Madeira, are combined with expressions of joy for the arrival of the new year in a rich and extensive program of cultural, ethnographic and artistic manifestations that begin in November , with the opening of street lights in the center of Funchal, and covers the whole month of December, extending until Epiphany.

In mid-November, preparations begin to turn the city of Funchal into a real life-size "nativity scene".

The streets are adorned with lights of all sizes and colors that, composing designs, show a strong symbology of the island and the time.

In December, the squares are decorated with flowers: Easter mornings, holly, little shoes, all help to brighten the streets of Funchal. And then there is also the Christmas music that infiltrates, almost by magic, in all the arteries and that infects everyone.

It is in this atmosphere of great joy that the streets fill with people. Some come to do their Christmas shopping, others just want to feel the buzz of those days leading up to the party. Cultural events also begin, with various exhibitions alluding to the era and the archipelago and quality musical shows.

After Christmas, the hustle and bustle continues, this time to mark the last day of the year in everyone's memory.

With Funchal's amphitheater transformed into a grandiose nativity scene illuminated with more than 250,000 colored lamps, and with the slopes perforated in white, by the lights purposely placed for this purpose, the scene is set for an unforgettable show.

At twelve o'clock on the 31st of December, the skies are illuminated, with fire, color and hope for the year ahead and which could not have started in a better way (Source: Turismo Da Madeira).

Madeira holds the Guinness World Record for the Largest Fireworks Show in the World. This record was achieved in 2006 and was beaten in 2010. Thus, the New Year's Eve is the biggest tourist event in the region, with a hotel occupancy of around 90%-95%, reaching 100% in many units.

On the other hand, there are several aspects that invite tourists to enter this region. The climate, the possibility of combining maritime and mountain activities, something made possible by the relief and geography of the region, the existence of the possibility of carrying out a huge range of sports activities and the observation of Nature, made possible by the pedestrian routes to the traditional levadas. Currently, the island has more than 200 levadas, including “Caldeirão Verde”, “Caldeirão do Inferno” and “25 Fontes”. On these routes, it is possible to view the rich fauna and flora of Madeira Island, as well as the exuberance of the Laurissilva Forest. The existing routes have varying degrees of difficulty, which allows access to different audiences, thus having direct contact with nature. The practice of these tours helps travelers to relax and enjoy the best of nature.

In addition, it has the CR7 Museum, Museum Universe of Memories João Carlos Abreu, Casa Museu Frederico de Freitas