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Island group (pop., 2001 prelim.: 242,603) and autonomous region of Portugal, in the North Atlantic Ocean. Madeira, the largest of the Madeira Islands, is the site of the region's capital, Funchal. Madeira Island is 34 mi (55 km) long and 14 mi (22 km) wide and has deep ravines and rugged mountains. Possibly known to ancient Phoenicians, it was rediscovered by the Portuguese navigator João Gonçalves Zarco, who founded Funchal in 1421. It allegedly had the world's first sugarcane plantation. Its Madeira wine has been an important export since the 17th century. Tourism is also important.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Madeira Islands, visit Britannica.com.
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