Madeira forms part of the outermost region of the European Union (EU) and consists of a number of small islands which makes up a Portuguese Archipelago. Madeira economy is supported by tourism, its free trade zone and agriculture sector. The islands are considered one of the top richest regions of Portugal. Madeira has a population of 270,000 and the main currency is the Euro (€).
The Madeira free trade zone introduced or the International Business Center has been very effective in attracting new investments for the country, opening job positions and increasing the exports of Madeira. Companies registered to operate in the free trade zone receive tax incentive similar to companies in offshore tax havens. The Madeira companies are used for trade and have become well recognized business companies. Companies operating in the Madeira free trade zone do not pay import duties and are not taxed for exporting goods.
Tourism remains an important contributor to the economy of Madeira and statistics show that 20% of the GDP of Madeira is contributed by tourism. The island of Santo Porto continues to attract visitors with its excellent beaches and resorts. Not only does tourism provides jobs but helps with the sale of local products. Over the years the increased number of visitors has resulted in investments in resorts and other types of accommodations in Madeira and Porto Santo.
Agriculture has always been important in Madeira; cattle rearing, cereals, grapes, bananas and other crops have been grown in the Portuguese Archipelago for many years. A sophisticated means of irrigation, levadas had been developed in Madeira to get water to the agricultural areas. Madeira wine is popular and is made from locally cultivated grapes and is exported worldwide. Fishing is also important in the local communities in Madeira.
Madeira economy will continue to thrive if its tourism industry and international business center is sustained.