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An archipelago some 360 miles off the coast of north Africa (just north of the Canary Islands), the Madeira Islands are many in number. But only two, Madeira and Porto Santo, are inhabited. The former is the center of cultural and civic life (and home to Funchal, the capital), while the latter has a beautiful six-mile-long beach that draws sun-loving tourists. Though the islands were probably discovered much earlier, 15th-century Portuguese explorers were the first to put them firmly on the map.
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