Madeira, as an autonomous region of Portugal, is part of the European Union. The Madeira landmass is located in the Atlantic Ocean from about 1.000 km from mainland Portugal and 870 km from North Africa. The topography is mountainous and the highest point is an elevation called Pico Ruivo with 1.862 metres high, it is the third highest elevation of Portugal. The scenery is spectacular and the vegetation diverse.
The population is approximately 265.000 with almost half of it living in the capital Funchal. They are all mainly of Portuguese origin, with a small expatriate British community.
Madeira was discovered and colonised by the Portuguese in the year 1419 and a partial political autonomy was granted in 1976. Madeira is represented in Lisbon by five members who are elected by universal suffrage.
Portugal has a written constitution, which defines the political structure and the role of the legislature. Regarding Madeira's interests, they are legislated by an elected body, the Madeira Regional Parliament, and defined in the constitution, however, it can never overrule the decisions made by the Central Government in Lisbon.
One of Madeira’s greatest tourist attractions is its exuberant and diverse vegetation, whose combination of the tropical and the Mediterranean produces a patchwork of plants that are rich in shades of green, and of various shapes and sizes.
The island's mild climate and natural beauty attracts thousands of tourists every year.
There are many daily flights to and from Lisbon, the Portuguese capital. Lisbon Airport is an international air transport hub. It takes aproximately one hour and thirty minutes to fly between Madeira and Lisbon. There are also flights from Madeira to other European countries including almost every day direct scheduled flights to London.
The national language is Portuguese, nevertheless, English is taught in schools and is used daily in commerce and international trade. The currency is the Euro (€).
To promote the economic development of Madeira, the Madeira International Business Centre (MIBC) was created and approved by the European Union, being considered as a valid form of State Aid for Regional Development.