Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago situated in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal. Its total population was estimated in 2011 at 267,785. The capital of Madeira is Funchal, located on the main islands south coast.
The archipelago is just under north of Tenerife, Canary Islands. Since 1976, the archipelago has been one of the two Autonomous regions of Portugal. It includes the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo, and the Desertas, administered together with the separate archipelago of the Savage Islands. The region has political and administrative autonomy through the Administrative Political Statue of the Autonomous Region of Madeira provided for in the Portuguese Constitution. The autonomous region is an integral part of the European Union, having pronounced status as an outermost region of the European Union, as detailed in Article 299-2 of the Treaty 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 flora and fauna, landscapes 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, only surpassed by Lisbon.
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