Basic facts

More information about Portugal

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Madeira, The pearl of the Atlantic, was for the first time shown on an italian map in 1381, with the name of Isola della Lolegname, which means The Forest Island. A suitable name as the island during that time, was totally covered with trees.

The first portuguese settlers came to the island in the beginning of the 13th century. Rich merchants from Lisbon started profitable sugarfarms with slaves from North Africa working there.

The island is not more than 56 kilometers long, and 19 kilometers wide but raises steep from the sea, reacing its highest point at Pico Ruivo, more than 1860 mas. The island has been a popular target for tourists since long. First the cruisingships and later the chartertourists. Just outside the capital Funchal you find one of the most dangerous airports in the world.

On Madeira you find many beuatiful small towns and villages with old cultures and traditions. 

Due to the vulcanic origin it is not one of the best places to go for people who likes to lay on the beach, but for trekkers, the island offers some very nice trails along the levadas, the old watercanals. Some of them are easy to trekk and some of the quite tough, as the ones around Pico de Arriero and Pico de Ruivo, the highest peaks.

I have visited the island two times, 1994 and 1996, for mainly, trekking purposes and I have trekked all the main levadas and trails.

 My ”thoughest” trekk was the one from the village Porto da Cruz to Machico, along Boca de Risco, on the northern part. This trekk has a passage with a steep, more than 300 meters into the sea. 

Some of the nicest inlandtrekks I have done are Levada Nigra, going from Pico de Arriero back to Funchal, and the one going from Encumeada to Curral des Freiras, Valley of the Nuns.

 A tip for trekkers is, to start with some nice and easy levadatrails, as the ones going from Boa Morte to Estreito de Camara de Lobos or Levada du Nord.

Madeira is offering nice trekks and beautiful nature, and the one who likes trekking should absolutely come to this nice island, at least once.

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Eagles Cliff.
Porto da Cruz

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Plants at the airport.

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The interior of Madeira

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The fishmarket.

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View over Funchal

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Levada do Norte

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Botanical garden.

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Old farmhouse

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Pico Ruivo 

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Levada dos Tornos

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Botanical Garden.

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Camara de Lobos


Basic facts for Portugal:

Conventional longform: Republica Portuguesa

Area, total: 92 390 sq km
1 793 km
10 761 000
Population/sq km: 
 Lisbon / 2 800 000 incl. suburbs

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Ponta do Pico 2 351 m
Largest rivers:
 Tejo, Douro, Guadiana
Largest lakes:

Pop. growth rate: 0.21 % 
Infant mortility rate:
(deaths / 1 000 live births)
Life expectancy at birth (years):
Male / Female 76 / 82

Ethnic groups: Portuguese, Cap Verdians, Brazilian, other
Religions: Roman Catholic 84.5 %, Protestants and other Christians 2.2 %, unspecified religion 9.0 %, atheists 3.9 %Languages: Portuguese
Literacy; % pop. over 15 years:
Male / Female 95.5 / 91.3

Independence: 1143 
National holiday:
 June 10, Day of Portugal

GNP/capita: USD 21 031
Population below poverty line: 18.0 %
Tourists (annually): 12 321 000

Mobile telephones: 15 195 000
Internet users: 
5 168 000
Railways: 3 319 km
82 900 km

Source: CIA World Factbook 2012/02




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Map of Madeira

The flag was introduced in connection with the dethronation of   King  Emanuel II in 1910. At the same time the Portuguese Republic was declared. The red and green colours in the flag comes from the portuguese Avisorden and the Orden of Christ.

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Behind the shield in the crest there is a navigation instrument symbolizing the long trips of the portuguese sailors.  The seven castles in the red part of the shield is remaning of King Alfonso I:st captures during the 12th century. His victory over five morian kings in the battle of Ourique in 1139 is symbolized by the five blue shields.

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For more information about Madeira/Portugal click on the links
Madeira or World Factbook
Todays weather in

This page is updated 2012-03-15

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