- Perhaps most notably, the term Madeira serves as the name of a breathtakingly beautiful island and archipelago with a unique distinction. That’s because it lies near one continent, but forms part of a country on an entirely different continent. This makes it an autonomous region of that country.
- The magnificent location also holds distinction in several historical terms. Firstly, it’s believed to be the location mentioned by the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch, in 75 AD. Secondly, archaeological evidence also indicates that ancient Vikings visited the site between 900 and 1030 AD.
- In more recent times, Europeans first discovered the stunning Madeira in the year 1418. This occurred when two ship captains in service to Prince Henry the Navigator were blown off course during a storm. Subsequently, the first European settlers arrived some time between 1420 and 1425.
- Currently, the magnificent Madeira forms an extremely popular tourist destination. In point of fact, more than 1.4 million visitors journey to the archipelago ever year. Due to its extraordinary beauty, portions of the archipelago also now hold the designation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Madeira Physical Description
The sincerely breathtakingly beautiful site named Madeira forms the largest island of the archipelago bearing the same name. Furthermore, this truly magnificent marvel of Nature possesses a total geographical area measuring approximately 286 sq mi (740.7 sq km). In addition, this single island actually comprises more than 75% of the total area of the entire amazing archipelago.
Given the geographical location of this marvelous work of Nature, the origins of Madeira should come as no great surprise. That’s due to the fact that the island represents the uppermost portion of an ancient shield volcano. This massive formation itself rises a total of roughly 3.7 mi (6 km) from the floor of the surrounding ocean. Further, the volcano, and thus the island, formed about 5 million years ago.
Madeira Location, Geography, and Ecology
The gorgeous island named Madeira, along with the archipelago sharing the same name, formed in the area known as Macaronesia. This is a loose grouping of four separate archipelagos located in the northern portion of the Atlantic Ocean. More specifically, however, it lies off the coasts of both Europe and Africa. Officially, though, it forms part of the Portuguese Republic.
This incredible site has truly amazing geographical features. Firstly, the island of Madeira boasts an impressive 90 mi (150 km) of coastline. Secondly, it also has a mountain range that runs through the center of the island. The highest points of this impressive range measures 6,109 ft (1,862 m). Thirdly, however, it remains best known for its mind-boggling valleys, ravines, and coral reefs, and sea caves.
The magnificent Madeira further has a remarkably complex climate. That’s because, in fact, it has several microclimates, due to the variations in altitude. The only native fauna consists of a species of bat. However, numerous animal species have been introduced. Multiple plant species, however, appear on the island. These mainly consist of a wide variety of ferns, cacti, vines, and shrubs.