Madeira is the main island of the archipelago with the same name. This group of islands is a popular touristic destination the whole year round. Except for sun, sea and beach, Madeira is known for its wine production, the colorful flower treasure and the local embroidery.
On New Year's Eve there is a spectacular firework show, according to the Guinness Book of Records the largest fireworks in the world.
The entire island group has approximately 270,000 inhabitants. Most of them live on the main island Madeira and mainly in the capital Funchal (140,000 inhabitants). With a population density of almost 300 people per square kilometer, Madeira is one of the most densely populated areas in the European Union.
Madeira is part of Portugal, but lies closer to Africa than to Europe. The archipelago is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, at approximately 600 kilometers of the Moroccan coast. The biggest island, Madeira, is 60 kilometers long and maximum 22 kilometers wide. The highest point is the Pico Ruivo (1,862 m).
Madeira is a so-called free trade zone, which means that companies pay much less taxes or nothing at all. This has a positive effect on the local economy. Tourism is of great importance as a source of income, because cruise ships coming from the Caribbean to Europe always make a stop in the harbor of the capital city Funchal. Furthermore the Madeira wine is world famous and sugarcane and bananas are cultivated.
The most important airport is situated near the capital Funchal. Madeira Airport (also called Funchal Airport) has many connections with the European mainland, the Canary Islands and the Azores. From the small airport in Porto Santo there are flights to Funchal, Lisbon and Porto.
The capital Funchal has good public transport. The oldest bus company is Horários do Funchal, that not only arranges the city transport but also maintains bus lines to other places in Madeira. There are some other small bus companies as well.
It is not a problem if you wish to explore the islands with a rental car. In recent years many new roads have been built. It is even more fun to follow the old, curvy and sometimes narrow roads with your rental car. Do pay attention since you can encounter unexpected obstacles and blind bends.
There is no lack of accommodations in Madeira. On the main island as well in Porto Santo you will not have any problem to find a room. Especially on Porto Santo new hotels and apartment complexes have been built during the past years. Madeira is a popular destination all year round, but mainly in the summer months July and August.
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