An island on the Island


This civil parish in Madeira has an odd name: Ilha (island). Its an island inside another island, with the difference that Madeira is surrounded by the sea, and the civil parish of Ilha is surrounded by streams, united in a single point, and a great deal of vegetation.


Ilha is located in the north of Madeira Island, in a pure mountain environment, where, at present, very peculiar habits and customs are still very perceptible. Ilha is located inside the Laurissilva forest, a UNESCO world heritage nature site.


Historians believe that the settlement was made by Azoreans, and that in 1559, the place was the headquarters of two majorats: Ilha and Carvalhal, both connected to the family of Lopo Fernandes Pinto, the first local settler. Strangely enough, Ilha’s last administrator was Laureano da Câmara Falcão, an Azorean. Accounts state that he was the one who divided the majorat in favour of his caretakers.


Established in 1989, Ilha is the youngest of the civil parishes in the whole of the municipality, when it was separated from São Jorge civil parish.

Ilha has an area of about 15 km2. The main economic activity of this parish is agriculture, with 90% share of the activity, and where there is a lot of mobilisation of young farmers. Other activities include building construction, granite mining industry, as well as small trade and services.


In terms of tourism, Ilha presents very favourable conditions for the increase of rural tourism.  

In the 1999 census, the number of inhabitants was 480, which have now been reduced to 400.

The weather is much harsher here than in most of the Island, due to its altitude.



How to get there

From Funchal, take the freeway in the direction of Aeroporto (airport) and Machico. Follow the signposts to Porto da Cruz, via the old Estrada Regional 101(regional road). Carry on towards Santana. After passing the city centre, carry on towards Ilha.

Related Links

Festivities and Events in Madeira Island

Associations, Sports and Cultural Organizations in Madeira Island

Civil Defence - Emergency Service in Madeira Island

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