56 images Created 31 Mar 2010
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago situated in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal. In 1433, the name Ilha da Madeira began to appear in the first documents and maps. The word was given to the islands corresponding to the dense forests of native trees that covered the island. Madeira Island, or an island of wood, is home to significant biodiversity, with an estimated 7,571 terrestrial species for the whole archipelago. The most considerable environment of the archipelago is its Laurel forest (laurisilva) which still extends over 15,000 hectares, or 20% of the archipelago, and United Nations classifies it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These woods, very rich in biodiversity, are the most abundant and best-preserved Laurel forests in the Macaronesia region. Today, Madeira is a popular year-round resort. The visitors regard the island for its Madeira wine, gastronomy, historical and cultural value, flora and fauna, Laurel forest, and embroidery artisans. The first tourists arrived in Madeira in the 1850s when wealthier Europeans started to escape harsh winters or merely to enjoy Madeira's year-round mild climate and beautiful landscape. The classy Reids hotel opened its doors to an upper-class clientele in 1891.