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in EU Outermost Regions

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map of madeira island

Região Autónoma da Madeira (RAM)

Madeira is an archipelago located in the North Atlantic Ocean, 1 000 km away from Portugal.

The archipelago is spread over 802,00 km2, with 470,00 Km2 of protected land area, 7 799,61 km2 protected marine area, and is home to 254 876 inhabitants, which accounts for about 2.5% of the Portuguese population.


Madeira in a few numbers

projects H2020

FORWARD project manager : Lúcio Quintal
+351 291 721 220

creek madeira island

Presentation of Madeira

Madeira is an archipelago located in the North Atlantic Ocean, 1 000 km away from Portugal with 254 876 inhabitants.

Located between the Azores and the Canary Islands, the archipelago shares several common points with its relative neighbours. Its economy is largely centred on agriculture (sugar, tropical fruit and wine) and tourism, because of a very rich biodiversity.

The export of these agricultural products is an important part of the archipelago’s economy and can be turned into real competitive assets.

The archipelago suffers from a high unemployment rate among young people and from school dropout much higher than the European standards.

Demographic information

The archipelago is spread over 802,00 km2 and is home to 254 876 inhabitants, which accounts for about 2.5% of the Portuguese population.

Taking into account the population dynamics, the region is characterised by a rather high population density (318,70 inh/km 2), which is almost three times higher than the national average.

Economic information

The regional economic activities are based in the tertiary sector, which has grown over the years mostly due to the tourism related activities. All in all, 84.4% of the regional Gross Value Added (GVA) comes from the tertiary sector, while 13.3% from the secondary sector, and 2.3% from the primary sector.

From a formerly agricultural and trade-oriented archipelago to a recent tourism and advanced financial services region, Madeira is also a free trade area benefiting from a special status and enjoying fiscal privileges, such as an offshore financial centre. This placed Madeira in the global economic and financial map as an interesting place for investment.

Despite its ultra-peripheral geographical situation, and while keeping rural characteristics in significant part of the territory and having a low presence of manufacturing companies, the region has witnessed an impressive economic growth over the last years.

Research and innovation

The Madeira region accounts for about 1.2% of the total number of Research and Development (R&D) units in Portugal. Despite this fact, some of these units have reached international reputation.

The region has the lowest figures among the Portuguese regions as regards PhDs in Science and Technological areas per 1,000 inhabitants (0.18 in 2014; national average was 0.82), as well as R&D researchers (FTE) in active population (0.18% in 2013, below the national average: 0.72%). The regional gross expenditure in research and development (GERD as percentage of regional GDP) was 0.35% in 2013 (national average was 1.33%).

Higher Education Institutions (particularly the University of Madeira) are the main players regarding R&D activities in the region: 46.7% of the expenditure in R&D is made by activities implemented by higher education institutions; 26.9% is made by businesses; 25.7% by the Portuguese State; and 0.6% by private non-profit institutions (2013).

There is one public university in the region – University of Madeira, which has R&D centres focusing on scientific fields of particular interest to the region (e.g. sea, forest, renewable energies) but also covering fields such as information and communication technologies (ICT), engineering, sciences, and health.