2020 Stamp Programme
Madeira, officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira (Região Autónoma da Madeira), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal (the other being the Azores). It is an archipelago situated in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal. Its total population was estimated in 2016 at 289,000. The capital of Madeira is Funchal, which is located on the main island’s south coast.
The archipelago is just under 400 kilometres (250 mi) north of Canary Islands. Bermuda and Madeira, a few time zones apart, are the only land in the Atlantic on the 32nd parallel north. 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 Statute of the Autonomous Region of Madeira provided for in the Portuguese Constitution. The autonomous region is an integral part of the European Union as an outermost region.
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 Age of Discovery.
Today, it is a popular year-round resort, being visited every year by about 1.4 million tourists, almost five times its population. The region is noted for its Madeira wine, gastronomy, historical and cultural value, flora and fauna, landscapes (laurel forest) that are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and embroidery artisans. The main harbour in Funchal has long been the leading Portuguese port in cruise liner dockings, receiving more than half a million tourists through its main port in 2017, being an important stopover for commercial and trans-Atlantic passenger cruises between Europe, the Caribbean and North Africa. In addition, the International Business Centre of Madeira, also known as the Madeira Free Trade Zone, was created formally in the 1980s as a tool of regional economic policy. It consists of a set of incentives, mainly tax-related, granted with the objective of attracting foreign direct investment based on international services into Madeira.