Located in the North Atlantic, the Macaronesia is a group of islands with a rich geological and economic importance to both Europe and Africa. In Europe, some of the Macaronesian islands belong to Spain and Portugal, both Iberian countries, while in Africa, they belong to Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony. The Portuguese language is spoken in almost all islands while Spanish is spoken in the Canary Islands. Macaronesia is often confused with the Micronesia, which is the name given to the islands in Oceania.
The Macaronesian Islands
The region of Macaronesia consists of the following islands: Canary, Cape Verde, Madeira, and the Azores.
The Canary Islands belong to the Kingdom of Spain, and it is an important tourist destination for holiday goers. The sub-tropical climate and wildlife in the islands pull tourists from mainland Spin and other European countries. Historically, the Canary Islands were a useful docking point for Spanish ships sailing to the Americas where the Spanish had colonies. As of 2011, the Canary Islands had a population of more than two million people of which it also comprises of multinationals from other countries.
Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony, covers an area of 4,033 square kilometers and is located off the coast of West Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. As an independent nation, it is a member of the African Union and enjoys diplomatic relations with international countries which have embassies situated in the capital. Due to the Portuguese historical connection, the official language in Cape Verde is Portuguese, and it is used in the media, education system and Government affairs. Cape Verde Islands are divided into two groups, Sotavento Islands and Barlavento Islands. Praia, which is the capital, belongs to Santiago Island of the Sotavento Islands.
Madeira is an autonomous territory of Portugal which is located south-west of mainland Portugal. Funchal is the capital of Madeira, and a population of about 200,000 people lives in the archipelago that also includes the islands of Porto Santro, Desertas, and Selvagenes. Since the Portuguese discovered the islands, they have been used as an important stopover for the Portuguese ships heading out for the Portuguese colonies. Today, the port of Funchal plays a similar role as cruiser ships dock here with tourists and commercial ships while going to other destinations around the world. Madeira is an important tourist destination since it brings business to the local population.
The Azores is the second of an autonomous archipelago that belongs to Portugal. The largest city in the Azores archipelago is called Ponte Delgada. There are nine islands in the archipelago which possess natural beauty. Like other Macaronesian islands, the climate varies from island to island since the Portuguese Islands have a cooler climate while the Spanish and Cape Verde archipelago have a warmer climate. Home to unique species of animals and trees, conservation is being done to conserve the forests from extinction. The efforts include a ban on logging of trees and hunting of animals categorized as endangered species.