Madeira is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal, the other being the Azores. It is an archipelago situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, in a region known as Macaronesia, just under 400 kilometres to the north of the Canary Islands and 520 kilometres west of Morocco. Madeira is geologically located on the African Tectonic Plate. Its total population was estimated in 2021 at 251,060.
Madeira island is home to several endemic plant and animal species.In the south, there is very little left of the indigenous subtropical rainforest that once covered the whole island and gave it the name it now bears, However, in the north, the valleys contain native trees of fine growth. These 'laurisilva' forests, called lauraceas madeirense, notably the forests on the northern slopes of Madeira Island, are designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The paleobotanical record of Madeira reveals that laurisilva forest has existed in this island for at least 1.8 million years. Critically endangered species such as the vine Jasminum azoricum and the rowan Sorbus maderensis are endemic to Madeira. The Madeiran large white butterfly was an endemic subspecies of the Large white which inhabited the laurisilva forests but has not been seen since 1977 so may now be extinct.