Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal, hence Madeira is part of the European Union. The Madeira landmass encompasses approximately 770 sq km and is located in the Atlantic Ocean, 1,000 km from mainland Portugal and 870 km from North Africa. The topography is mountainous and the highest point is 1,862 metres. The scenery is spectacular and the vegetation diverse.

The population is approximately 265,000 of which 100,000 live in the capital Funchal and are all mainly of Portuguese origin, with a small expatriate British community. Madeira was discovered and colonised by the Portuguese in 1419 and partial political autonomy was eventually granted in 1976. Madeira is represented in Lisbon by five members who are elected by universal suffrage. Portugal has a written constitution, which defines the political structure and the role of the legislature.

The Madeira Regional Parliament is an elected body, which legislates on Madeira interests such as the budget, and its responsibilities are defined in the constitution. The Madeira Government cannot however, overrule decisions made by the Central Government in Lisbon nor override political unity with Portugal.

Madeira has a strong touristic activity and is visited by people from many different nationalities throughout the year. Its mild climate and natural beauty attract thousands every year.

Communications are good; there are many daily flights to and from Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, and Lisbon Airport is an international air transport hub. The flight from Lisbon to Madeira is one hour and thirty minutes. There are also flights from Madeira to other European countries including almost every day direct scheduled flights to London.

Portuguese is the national language; English is taught in schools and is used daily in commerce and international trade. The currency is the Euro- €.

The Madeira International Business Centre (MIBC) was created to promote the economic development of Madeira and is fully approved by the European Union, being considered as a valid form of State Aid for Regional Development.

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