Madeira is a sub-tropical archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean and an autonomous region of Portugal. The archipelago is made up of two populated islands, Madeira and Porto Santo, and two groups of unpopulated islands called the Desertas and Selvagens Islands. It is part of the European Union ultraperifric area. Known worldwide as the Islands of eternal Spring, Madeira or “Ilha Jardim” (Garden Island) has a mild climate throughout the entire year.
Madeira island is 310 miles from the African coast and 620 miles from the European continent, only 1h 30mn flight from mainland Portugal and about 3h from all the main countries in Europe.
Madeira is one of many destinations where Ecotourism plays an important part. Many organizations on Madeira say that they promote Ecotourism, but unfortunately not many of them realize what Ecotourism really stands for:
Ecotourism, also known as ecological tourism, is a tourism market based on an area’s natural resources that attempts to minimize the ecological (negative) impact of the tourism. This is achieved through responsible travels to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of the local people.
Yet, the archipelago is still one of the top destinations in European Ecotourism.
Madeira Islands are just a short trip from Europe (more or less 4 hours from UK), to a destination where you can combine holidays on the beach, in the mountains or in the city. Discovered early in the 15th century by the Portuguese navigators João Gonçalves Zarco, Tristão Vaz Teixeira and Bartolomeu Perestrelo, Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal.
The archipelago itself is a series of oceanic volcanic islands that date back to the Miocene (about 20 million years ago), and constructed from a hotspot in the Earth’s crust of the African Tectonic Plate. Madeira, and the smaller Desertas Islands, are the youngest of these islands (dating from 4.6 to 0.7 million years), while Porto Santo, the smaller of the main islands, is the oldest (approximately 14 million years).
Nowadays Madeira is a popular destination for tourists of all ages. Its constant mild climate (temperatures between 20 and 27°C) keeps the spring on Madeira all year round. The levadas, an ingenious system of stone- and concrete-lined watercourses distributing water from the rainy north to the dry south, help flowers and crops flourish all year. That’s why this island is called the Garden in the Atlantic. The maintenance pathways for these water canals provide wonderful level trails for hiking in the mountains (up to 1861m) and through the tremendous landscape.
Unfortunately, Madeira was hit by several catastrophes in 2010: in February heavy rainfall inundated parts of the island and caused destructive floods in river valleys on the south coast of the island, chiefly in Funchal, Ribeira Brava and Tabua. Reconstruction work of lost bridges and roads has now been largely completed, but the legacy of major forest fires in August of that year is likely to last longer, and some upper mountain footpaths in the east of the island remain closed or interrupted. Further floods in the ‘Nuns’ Valley’ in October 2010 caused more damage to infrastructure, but this has been repaired. Despite all this, the authorities and locals have been hard at work ensuring that Madeira’s tourism infrastructure has returned largely back to normal, and there is still plenty to see and do on Madeira!
Madeira has three endemic bird species: Zino’s Petrel, the Trocaz Pigeon and the Madeira Firecrest, while the Madeiran Chaffinch is an endemic subspecies. It is also important for breeding seabirds, including the Madeiran Storm-petrel, North Atlantic Little Shearwater and Cory’s Shearwater.
The Macaronesia region harbours an important floral diversity. In fact, the archipelago’s forest composition and maturity are quite similar to the forests found in the Tertiary period that covered Southern Europe and Northern Africa millions of years ago. The great biodiversity of Madeira is phytogeographically linked to the Mediterranean region, Africa, America and Australia, and interest in this phytogeography has been increasing in recent years due to the discovery of some epiphytic bryophyte species with non-adjacent distribution.
Madeira also has many endemic species of fauna – mostly invertebrates which include the extremely rare Madeiran Large White but also some vertebrates such as the native bat, some lizards species, and some birds as already mentioned. The biggest tarantula of Europe is found on Desertas islands of Madeira and can be as wide as a man’s hand. These islands have more than 250 species of land molluscs (snails and slugs), some with very unusual shell shape and colours, most of which are endemic and vulnerable.
- Madeira International Airport/Funchal(FNC) (formerly known as Santa Catarina Airport), about 30 minutes from Funchal, in Santa Cruz municipality. The island of Porto Santo (PXO) is in Porto Santo/Vila Baleira. This airport is just a 15 minute flight from Madeira International Airport.
There is boat/ship service between the two islands. The following Airline companies fly regularly to Madeira International Airport: TAP Portugal, Portugália, SATA, British Airways, Norwegian Airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Air France, easyJet, Finnair, First Choice Airways, Thomson, LTU, Thomas Cook, Condor, Niki, SAS, Sterling, Transavia, My Travel, Binter Canarias (from May 2010).
If you go to/from the airport by (rental) car, ask for directions to the parking area you need. There are 7, and they are badly signposted. Note that some smaller rental companies operate from sites near but not at the airport, and provide transport between terminal and depot.
- Cruise ships port here.
- There is a weekly connection between Portimão (Algarve) and Madeira offered by Naviera Armas.
- There is a car ferry between Porto Santo and Madeira, two hours one way. Ferry Service Funchal-Porto Santo.
English is as common as in mainland Portugal, although people will always appreciate it if you try and learn a few words of Portuguese. Note that the Portuguese spoken in Madeira tends to be heavily accented.
What to See in Madeira
- Levadas An impressive system of aqueducts built between 1461 and 1966 to bring water from the mountains to farmland.
- Cabo Girão One of the world’s highest ocean cliffs (590m/1,935 ft. above sea level).
- Jardim Botânico Funchal Botanical garden.
- São Vicente Caves. Volcanic caves (grutas) where you can visit lava tubes.
- Jardim do Monte Palace Magnificent gardens of the former Monte Palace hotel.
- Jardim Orquídea Orchid garden.
- Madeira Story Centre. The best way to learn about Madeira’s history and culture.
- Fireworks on New Year’s eve The biggest fireworks in the world (Guinness world record 2007). Best places to see the fireworks include the tip of the marina of Funchal, on a cruise ship and Pico dos Barcelos (on the side where you can see the Funchal’s marina).
- Miradouro means viewpoint. Splendid views of the island can be seen from various viewpoints, including Pico dos Barcelos, Pico do Arieiro, Pico de Facho, Curral das Freiras, Monte.
Location: Madeira, Portugal
Apartamentos Sao Paulo E Alegria is perfectly situated in the Funchal district of Madeira, near major…
Location: Madeira, Portugal
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Work in Madeira
Madeira is presently one the best locations in the E.U. for companies with operations in the single market and worldwide. With reduced direct and indirect taxation, adequate infrastructures, competitive operational costs, safety and quality of life, Madeira is positioned to provide the investor with a unique package of benefits, offering a wide range of solutions to enhance the efficiency and performance of various forms of investment.
Moreover, Madeira’s preferential tax regime has not only been approved by Portugal, but also by the European Union as a valid form of State Aid for regional development, providing Madeira’s IBC with credibility and transparency.