Madeira Island

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Madeira Island
The island of Madeira is the main island (742.4 km²) of the archipelago of Madeira, located in the Atlantic Ocean southwest of the Portuguese coast, and together with Porto Santo, the Desertas Islands and the Selvagens Islands the Autonomous Region of Madeira and the Madeira Archipelago.

The capital of the island and the autonomous region is the city of Funchal.

The island of Madeira is of volcanic origin, its climate is subtropical with extensive exotic flora, economically it is largely geared towards tourism.
Tourism
Opinions on the fate to be given to Madeira have changed since its exploration in 1419. In the early days of colonization, the shortage of labor was resolved with the arrival of prisoners from Lisbon prisons.

However, visitors have long had a hospitable population, a wonderful climate and a growing number of hotels and other tourist accommodations for all tastes and styles. The first tourists in Madeira were transatlantic passengers. Madeira was a mandatory stop for the supply of coal and a field trip was a great break in the Atlantic crossing.

Nowadays, most tourists arrive from Germany and the UK by plane, looking for some winter sunshine, peace and quiet. In the summer months there is a greater influx of visitors from the countries of southern Europe, who come to Madeira to escape the torrid sun and the large influx of tourists on their land. As an echo of the past, many people still arrive by boat, because Funchal is a must stop for Atlantic Cruises. In recent years it has been noticed that tourism has gradually extended to rural areas. Many of the tourists visit Madeira for the practice of surfing, sport fishing, to do levadas and mountaineering.

One thing they all agree is that because of the low percentage of tourists compared to the local population, they still have the opportunity to live and breathe a different life, something that does not happen in certain tourist destinations dominated by dollar fever. In these places tourists have little to choose from, travel space is limited, official uniforms, institutionalized food and the local population plagued. They may even remind you of colonies of prisoners. Life in Madeira is different and you will miss it when you leave.

A verdant oasis in the Atlantic Ocean, the island of Madeira embraces incredible beauty compared to its geographical dimension.

Historical and cultural attractions
Embark on an interactive tour of Madeira's past at the Story Center or simply wander the streets of the capital, discovering its charming historic areas and picturesque squares. Be sure to visit the many 15th century churches and convents, the small basalt cave of the Chapel of St. Vincent or the beautiful interior of the Cathedral.

Agriculture still plays a vital role in terms of the island's resources, and visitors will be able to observe vegetable gardens cultivated all over the slopes. Traditional street markets display colorful pyramids of natural products and are a great way to get to know a little about local life.

Lovely natural landscapes
The abundance of protected reserves of Madeira are a true wonder for nature lovers. The numerous trails that cross laurissilva's endemic forests will delight hikers with their sweeping views of the mountains, while divers can explore the sparkling waters of the Garajau Nature Reserve. The various parks and gardens are home to fascinating subtropical plants and a spectacular color feast that culminates in the annual Spring Festival.

One of the pleasures of an island holiday is that the sea is never far away! Spend your days exploring the coastal area, lined with majestic cliffs, pebble beaches and natural rock pools that attest to the volcanic origins of the island. Or, take a ferry or a flight to Porto Santo and enjoy several kilometers of golden beaches. Blessed with perfect weather, Madeira will tempt visitors to return time and time again!
Gastronomy
Known as the "Pearl of the Atlantic", the island of Madeira guarantees you an extraordinary vacation due to the beautiful panoramas, mild climate, tranquility and colorful traditions - but delicious cuisine is another asset to remember! The island's food is based on rural customs, and in general, the closer it gets to traditional cooking methods the more tasty it becomes.

Although the appetizers are the strong point, the delicious Caco Cakes - a kind of hot wheat bread served with garlic butter and parsley at popular fairs and festivals - are present in the menus of all the restaurants. The barns, much appreciated by locals, are another delicacy to try at the beginning of the meal. They are seasoned with lots of garlic, served just grilled in a frying pan and accompanied with lemon slices.

If you like soup, be sure to taste the delicious Tomato and Onion Soup, enriched with a poached egg. The Açorda is another of the most typical soups, being prepared with large pieces of bread, garlic, olive oil, savory and hot water - besides the indispensable poached egg. The appetizing aroma makes her an excellent pitéu after a long walk through one of the island's levadas.

For meat lovers, diversity is assured. The most famous dishes of Madeira are the traditional Espetada, the Meat of Wine and Garlic, the Picado and the delicious grills (mainly of chicken, pork chops and steaks). The Espetada is made with cubes of beef tenderloin seasoned with garlic and salt, roasted on a spit of laurel on fire of firewood. The Meat of Wine and Garlic is a specialty present in all occasions, made with small pieces of pork marinated for at least one day in garlic sauce, wine vinegar and laurel, in which they are then fried.

Fried Corn - tasty cubes of fried corn meal - is one of the most typical accompaniments of Madeira, usually served with meat dishes. As regards vegetables, the menus show products of the island, such as carrots, peas, zucchini, pimpinela and beans, usually prepared simply. Salads are not part of the islanders' usual diet, but when present in the menus they include lettuce, tomato, grated carrot and abundant onion rings.

Fish has a special place in the cuisine of Madeira due to the ancient fishing tradition. Tuna, black scabbardfish, cod, skipjack (a local fish that is made like cod) and potpourri are present in many of the island's most famous recipes. Traditionally, tuna is usually prepared in a marinade of olive oil, garlic, salt and oregano before it is fried, and is usually accompanied by fried corn. Usually the swordfish is fried in onion and also presented with fried corn to accompany. One of the most characteristic recipes is the Swordfish with Banana, which associates this soft white fish with the flavor of one of the most emblematic tropical fruits. However, the black swordfish recipes are very varied.

Cod is also prepared in many different ways. From the delicious Cod with Creams to Braz's Cod, Gomes de Sá or simply grilled, this fish is present on all occasions and menus!

After spending a few days on the island, you will notice that the Madeirans are especially greedy! There is no cafe, bar or restaurant on the island where the offer of cakes, sweets and desserts is not generous. From the extensive list of delicacies stand out Queijadas - small crayfish pastries, eggs and sugar. Honey Cake and Honey Buns are also very much appreciated. The Honey Cake, traditionally prepared at Christmas time, is one of the most emblematic and old candies in Madeira, and its origin goes back to the time when the island was a major sugar producer. Passion Fruit Pudding is another of the island specialties, not to mention fresh fruits, often served in delicious salads.

The drinks also enjoy a special place at the table of the Madeirans. The Madeira Wine is internationally famous, but the island produces other types of wine from different varieties - the so-called "dry wine". In the bars of the Câmara de Lobos area, Nikita is very popular - a sweet drink made of beer, pineapple juice, vanilla ice cream and pineapple chunks. There is a variant made with non-alcoholic beer. However, the most common drink on the island is the traditional Poncha, which can be served hot or cold. If on the way home you want to present your friends with a tasty souvenir of Madeira, here is the recipe: mix a measure of brandy with "sugar cane juice" (sugar cane juice used in Madeira, which can be substituted for honey ) and freshly squeezed lemon juice (you can add orange juice if you like), stir well and drink it all in one drink! There it is ... Your first homemade poncha.
Weather
Due to the latitude and the situation, Madeira Island has all the characteristics of a subtropical island, with elements of tropical islands on the south coast and islands of temperate climates on the north coast. The climate is subtropical dry or temperate Mediterranean, and in certain points of the south coast, average annual temperatures reach values ​​above 20 degrees celsius. The temperature of the sea water varies between the 26 of summer and the 17 of winter. The prevailing winds are from west to northwest in winter, and northeast in summer (the allyos). Annual precipitation varies from 500 mm in the southeast of the island to more than 2000 mm on the northern slopes. The Selvagens islands that also comprise of this archipelago have a desert climate with precipitations below the 200 mm annually.
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