Funchal (Madeira), Portugal
The Madeira Archipelago, consisting of the islands Madeira, Porto Santo and Desertas, is situated in the Atlantic, about 400 miles from the African coast and 560 miles from Lisbon. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1419, Madeira, the largest of the islands, became of great importance to Portugal for its sugar production and later on for the cultivation of wine. The unusually temperate oceanic climate and extraordinary scenery had Northern Europeans flocking to Madeira as early as the 18th century to spend the winter months. The winning combination of high, rocky peaks, steep green ravines and waterfalls in the interior, with the flowering charm of Funchal still attracts nearly half a million visitors each year.