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Madeira, levada walk to 25 fountains

Madeira, levada walk to 25 fountains

Madeira, levada walk to 25 fountains,

Madeira, officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira (Região Autónoma da Madeira), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal (along with the Azores). It is an archipelago situated in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal. Its total population was estimated in 2016 at 289,000. The capital of Madeira is Funchal, which is located on the main island's south coast.

Madeira was claimed by Portuguese sailors in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1419 and settled after 1420. The archipelago is considered to be the first territorial discovery of the exploratory period of the Age of Discovery.

Today, it is a popular year-round resort, being visited every year by about 1.4 million tourists, almost five times its population. The region is noted for its Madeira wine, gastronomy, historical and cultural value, flora and fauna, landscapes (laurel forest) that are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and embroidery artisans. The main harbour in Funchal has long been the leading Portuguese port in cruise liner dockings, receiving more than half a million tourists through its main port in 2017, being an important stopover for commercial and trans-Atlantic passenger cruises between Europe, the Caribbean and North Africa. In addition, the International Business Centre of Madeira, also known as the Madeira Free Trade Zone, was created formally in the 1980s as a tool of regional economic policy. It consists of a set of incentives, mainly tax-related, granted with the objective of attracting foreign direct investment based on international services into Madeira.

As of 2019, Madeira has been awarded 'Europe's Leading Island Destination' five times since 2013 - the exception being 2015 - and four times 'World's Leading Island Destination' since 2015 by the World Travel Awards.

The island of Madeira is wet in the northwest, but dry in the southeast. In the 16th century the Portuguese started building levadas or aqueducts to carry water to the agricultural regions in the south. Madeira is very mountainous, and building the levadas was difficult and often convicts or slaves were used. Many are cut into the sides of mountains, and it was also necessary to dig 40 km of tunnels, some of which are still accessible.

Today the levadas not only supply water to the southern parts of the island, but provide hydro-electric power. There are over 2,170 km of levadas and they provide a network of walking paths. Some provide easy and relaxing walks through the countryside, but others are narrow, crumbling ledges where a slip could result in serious injury or death. Since 2011, some improvements have been made to these pathways, after the 2010 Madeira floods and mudslides on the Island, to clean and reconstruct some critical parts of the island, including the levadas. Such improvements involved the continuous maintenance of the water streams, cementing the trails, and positioning safety fences on dangerous paths.

(source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeira)

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Photo taken @ C on 2 July 2017 (© Arian Zwegers / Flickr)

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 madeira, autonomous region of madeira, região autónoma da madeira, autonomous region, portugal, archipelago, atlantic ocean, funchal, age of discovery, tourism, levada, 25 fontes, 25 fountains, levada walk, walking, hiking, 2017

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