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  History of Madeira
The Portuguese navigators Tristão Vaz Teixeira, Bartolomeu Perestrelo and João Gonçalves Zarco officially discovered the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo in 1419.
It is said that these navigators first discovered the island of Porto Santo (1418) following a storm at sea during which the vessel was deviated from its route along the coast of Africa due to bad weather; after many days adrift at sea, they sighted a small island which they called “Porto Seguro” (safe port), i.e. Porto Santo, as it saved Zarco’s crew from a fateful destiny. One year after the discovery of Porto Santo, they arrived at the island of Madeira, in 1419.
The latter navigator is thought to have named it when nicknaming it the island of “Madeira” (wood) due to its abundance of this raw material.
Having noted the potential of the islands as well as their strategic importance, the colonization by order of King John I started around 1425.
The first settlers to earn the minimum conditions for the development of agriculture on the island had to chop a piece of dense forest and build a large number of water channels (the “levadas”) to carry the water that abounded on the north coast, to the southern coast of the island.
Regional economy
At the beginning of its settlement, some agricultural crops such as sugar cane were introduced, which quickly gave the city of Funchal significant economic prosperity. Thus, in the second half of the fifteenth century, the city of Funchal became a mandatory port of call for European trade routes.
The economic and strategic interest of the island to the Crown was evident by the constant orders of Flemish painting and sculpture with which the churches and chapels of Madeira were ornamented.
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were marked by the arising of a new culture that would again boost the economy of Madeira: the wine.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Madeira flourished by the birth of the tourism sector, quickly becoming a reference for the European aristocracy that set temporary residence here, attracted by the island's natural healing qualities.
Location and Climate
Madeira Island is 500 km from the African coast and 1000 km from the European continent, about a 1 hour and 30 minutes flight from Lisbon.
The Madeira Archipelago, discovered by the Portuguese
in 1418, includes the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo and the uninhabited islands of Selvagens and Desertas. It is situated between latitude 32o22’20"
and 33o7’50" with its longitude between 16o16’30W and 17o16’38"W.
The island of Madeira has a surface area of 741 km2, (57 km long and 22 km wide).
These islands, because of their privileged geographical position and mountainous topography, have a surprisingly mild climate.
Very mild average temperatures, 25oC in the summer and 17oC in the winter, and a moderate level of humidity, confer these islands exceptional subtropical features.
Seawater temperature is also very mild, because of the influence of the warm Gulf current, presenting averages of 22oC in the summer and 18o in the winter.

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