The island of Madeira was discovered by Tristão Vaz Teixeira, Bartolomeu Perestrelo and João Gonçalves Zarco, two Portuguese explorers, in 1419, which dubbed the island ‘Madeira’ (“wood” in English) due to the abundance of this raw material.

Noticing the potential of the islands, as well as its strategic importance, the colonization of the islands began in 1425.

At the beginning of its settlement, some agricultural crops, such as cane sugar, were introduced, which quickly afforded the Funchal metropolis frank economic prosperity. This meant that, in the second half of the fifteenth century, the city of Funchal became a mandatory port of call for European trade routes.

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were marked by the emergence of a new culture that would boost the Madeira economy again: wine.

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Madeira flourished for the birth of the tourism sector, quickly becoming a mandatory reference for the European aristocracy that has set temporary residence here, attracted by the natural therapeutic qualities of the island.

In 1976, Madeira became an Autonomous Region of Portugal, thus having the power to legislate.

Discovery of the Archipelago of Madeira

The explorers discovered the island of Porto Santo in 1418 after a sea storm, where the vessel was cleared of its route along the coast of Africa, due to bad weather. After many days adrift at sea, a small island which they called “Porto Seguro, Porto Santo” (“Safe Port, Holy Port” in English), was spotted and saved Zarco’s crew from a disastrous destiny
Era of 'White Gold'

In the fifteenth century, Madeira starts planting sugar cane imported from Sicily by Dom Henrique. With the rapid expansion of the sugar cane industry, Funchal becomes a commercial center of excellence, attended by traders of various nationalities, which changes its insular financial dimension.
Wine Culture

In the mid sixteenth century, the famous English playwright William Shakespeare cites the important export and notoriety of the Malvasia wine, drowning the Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward IV of England, in a barrel of this wine.
Scientific and Therapeutic Tourism

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Madeira stands out for its climate and therapeutic effects. As of the second half of the eighteenth century, Madeira becomes a resort of therapeutic ends, using the preventive qualities of its climate to cure tuberculosis.

The early days of Tourism

In the nineteenth century, visitors to the island integrated four major groups: patients, travellers, tourists and scientists. Most visitors belonged to the moneyed aristocracy, with an endless list of aristocrats, princes, princesses and monarchs.
Development of the transport network
In the first half of the twentieth century attention focused on air transport.

The opening to the world, via this route starts with the seaplanes, which began operating on 15th May 1949, with equipment of “Aquila Airways”. Subsequently, it is followed by Artop until 1958. 


Autonomy of Madeira

Madeira earns its administrative political autonomy in 1976, becoming an Autonomous Region of Portugal. This stems from the 25th April 1974, which marked the beginning of a new era.
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