The archipelago of Madeira - Overview
The archipelago of Madeira is 741 km2 (latitude 33º N), about 900 km away from the European continent and approximately 600 km from North Africa and is an autonomously governed region of Portugal.
The island Porto Santo situated to the northeast of Madeira, is 41 km2.
To the South-east of Madeira there are the little islands Ilhas Desertas, an uninhabited nature reserve of 30 km2. The Desertas reach a maximum height of 442 meters.
A bit further away and closer to the Canary Islands is the little archipelago Ilhas Selvagens.
Madeira is 57 km long and 22 km wide.
The island Madeira, also called the“Island of Flowers” or the “Pearl of the Atlantic”, consists of mountains, arising out of the 4000 meter deep sea. The highest mountain is Pico Ruivo, rising to 1861 meters. The second highest mountain is Pico das Torres (1851 m) and then Pico Arieiro (1818 meters).
The majority of the population of Madeira (approximately 260,000) live in the south of the island Madeira mainly in and around Funchal. Other quite large towns are Machico, Santa Cruz and Caniço, situated in the south east of the island.
The main industry is tourism but there is also agriculture, wine growing and construction industry on a smaller scale. Madeira Wine is world famous, as are its arts and crafts. Basket ware and embroidery are exported to many parts of the world.
Over recent years getting around the island has been greatly improved due to the construction of better tunnels and roads. especially the "via rapida", a motorway cutting a once 5 hour journey from the airport to Calheta down to a mere of 50 minutes.
Unemployment is lower than in Portugal and there is almost no crime which makes the island one of the safest places in the world.
Climate, travel season and activities:
Madeira is a holiday destination for any season of the year and often called "the island of the ever lasting spring". However, no one can guarantee the weather.
Due to its position, relief and the influence of the trade winds the island has its own microclimate. Except during the summer months of July to September, the weather can vary from the north to the south and from the east to the west of the island.
On the south coast from July to mid September it is usually clear with blue skies and sunshine and maximum temperatures are rarely above 30º C. From then to the end of October it is usually sunny and dry, a few clouds with very little rain.
From mid November to February temperatures are usually between 16ºC and 22 ºC sometimes reaching 25ºC in the sun. You need a warm jacket and an umbrella but don't forget the sun cream, and swimming costume too as sea temperatures are usually 17-18º C - warm (rising up to pleasant 24º C until August)!
In February and March the weather is normally mild.
Madeira boasts a huge variety of plants, trees and flowers. Spring and Autumn are fantastic for walking and golfing and the winters are pleasant for excursions or relaxing. There is no reason to be bored as, apart from walking, there are opportunities for sports such as swimming, diving, snorkeling, golfing, horse riding, water sports, wellness and much more, even in the winter.
The island of Porto Santo has a population of around 5000, living mostly from tourism and a little farming. The island is mainly flat with its highest point the cone shaped Pico do Facho at 517m.
Although close to Madeira its lack of high mountains ensures a drier climate as the clouds pass over quickly. Porto Santo has a nice golf course as well as a 9km long gorgeous sandy beach that is second to none and so ideal for a seaside and golf holiday.
It is only 15 minutes by plane or 2 hours or so by ferry from Madeira so a stay on Porto Santo is perfect to combine with your holiday in Madeira.
Buy, rent your Madeira property or spend your Madeira holiday on the island Madeira, The Pearl of the Atlantic.