Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago in the north Atlantic Ocean.
It is one of the Autonomous regions of Portugal, with Madeira Island and Porto Santo Island being the only inhabited islands.
The islands are noted as the source of Madeira wine. The islands are also known for their exotic flowers, sub-tropical, tropical fruits and New Year's Eve celebrations with a spectacular fireworks show, considered the biggest in the world.
Traditional pastries in Madeira usually contain local ingredients, one of the most common being mel de cana, literally sugarcane honey - molasses. The traditional cake of Madeira is called 'Bolo de mel', which translates as (Sugarcane) 'Honey Cake' and according to custom is never cut with a knife but broken into pieces by hand. It is a rich and heavy cake. Visitors to the island will see plentiful examples of handicraft on sale in shops.
Madeira Island is the top of a massive shield volcano that rises about 6 km from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, on a underwater mountain range called Tore, which stands on the African plate. The volcano formed atop an east-west rift in the oceanic crust.
Today Funchal is a modern city with about 100,000 inhabitants. Funchal is located in a unique area; the natural geological features form an "amphitheatre" surrounding the city, which begins at the harbour and rises almost 1200 metres high on gentle slopes. This provides a natural shelter and was what attracted the first settlers.