Madeira: Country and Foreign Investment
Population, Language and Culture
Madeira was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century and was subsequently colonized by farmers from the Algarve region of southern Portugal. In the Portuguese constitution of 1821 Madeira was recognized as part of metropolitan Portugal.
The population is about 268,000 making Madeira one of the European Union's most populated regions with an estimated average population density of 195 persons per square mile. The Islands are largely Roman Catholic and as with most traditional societies the church exercises a strong influence over organs of government and the cultural life which largely revolves around religious and harvesting festivals.
The official language is Portuguese, but English is quite widely spoken, particularly in business. Madeirans tended to emigrate in search of work until recently, when the trend has somewhat reversed. The global Madeiran diaspora is supposed to be near 1m. The Madeiran life-view was traditionally somewhat melancholy, although tourism and EU money infusions have tended to flatten out this idiosyncracy, like so many others.