Why the British keep coming to Madeira Island
Halfway between Africa and Europe, in the midst of the endlessly blue waves of the Atlantic Ocean, lies a small strip of paradise: the Island of the Eternal Spring. Why the British keep coming to Madeira Island is an interesting question.
The wonderful, mild weather which continues virtually throughout the entire year, breathtaking landscapes and last but not least the kind locals have made Madeira into one of the top European tourist destinations. The weather alone would be incentive enough to lure the Brits to the earthly paradise of the island, but actually the answer to the question of their return lies in history.
Today, Madeira is an autonomous region belonging to Portugal. It was the Portuguese discoverer Prince Henry the Navigator who first arrived in Porto Santo, Madeira in 1419 – although the region had been mentioned by the Roman historians Pliny and Quintus Sertorius.
The British Crown, however, would play an important role in the more recent history of the Island. In the 16th century, the British “discovered” Madeira and settled a community here. In the 17th century, the island was already an important point on the map for them: a prominent commercial and maritime port.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the British Empire occupied Madeira. This was a peaceful occupation concluded in 1814, when the Island of Madeira was returned to Portugal. Nevertheless, the British left a clear mark in the cultural specific of the island and in the lifestyle of the locals: everything from commerce to fashion and language (English is the second language spoken here) has been affected by the English.
It all started with the sweet Madeira wine, which the British put much effort into promoting and commercializing.
Today, the British are the keenest “fans” of Madeira and perhaps the most faithful tourists, coming here year after year. So if you are English or if you simply speak the language and look for a haven of Brit civilization, Madeira is your place.