MADEIRA

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MADEIRA ; an island off the western coast of Africa, belonging to Portugal; Ion. 17° W.; lat. 32° 30' N.; square miles 407 ; population estimated at 100,000. The body of the people are of Portuguese descent, negro slavery not being permitted. The peasants are very poor, rude and ignorant ; the hardest labor is performed by females. The religion is Catholic. The island consists of a collection of mountains, the most elevated of which is 5068 feet high. The lower slopes are covered with vines, the loftier summits with forests of pine and chestnut. A great part of the sides of the hills consists of abrupt precipitous rocks, supposed to be of volcanic formation. Most of the rocks along the coast are composed of a white lava. The productions, besides wine, are wheat, rye, sugar, coffee, maize, kidneybeans, arrowroot, pineapples, &c. The great production is wine, of well known excellence. The quantity annually made is about 20,000 pipes, of which two thirds are exported principally to Great Britain and the British colonies. The best vines grow on the south side of the island. There are several varieties of wines; the best is called London particular. The taxgatherer takes the tenth part of the must: the rest is divided between the proprietor and the farmer. Goats abound, and still more hogs, which, being allowed to run wild, acquire a taste of venison; the rabbit also is very common in the mountainous districts. Bees are very common, and the iioney they produce is very delicate. Beggary is common among the peasants, and is considered no disgrace. The Portuguese gentry live in a proud and retired manner, associating little with strangers. In the city, the most opulent part of the inhabitants consists of British merchants, established there for the wine trade. The commerce of the island consists almost entirely in the export of its wine. For vessels stopping at Madeira, provisions and refreshments are exorbitantly dear. Adjacent to Madeira is Porto Santo, a small island, and the Desertas, which, with Madeira itself, compose the group of the Madeiras. Funchal, the capital, with 20,000 inhabitants, is in Ion. 17° & W.; lat. 32° 37/ N. Porto Santo was discovered by Zarco, a Portuguese navigator, in 1416, unless we may believe the romantic story of Macham, an Englishman of obscure condition, who is said to have eloped with a young lady of noble birth, and set sail for France, but was driven to this region. The lady is said to have died in consequence of her sufferings,and Macham did not long survive. (See the Voyage of Robert Macham in Hakluyt, II.) In 1419, Zarco discovered the island which he called Madeira, or the Wood, on account of the magnitude and number of the trees that covered it, and which have since almost entirely disappeared. For the history of the recent events in Madeira, see Portugal, Barrow, Staunton, and Bowdich's voyages contain information relative to this island. (For information respecting the wines, see Henderson's History of Wines,). MADEIRA ; a river in South America, large, abundant and navigable ; about 1100 miles long, rising in the mountains of Chuquisaca, in the republic of Peru. It runs an easterly course to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, with the names of La Plata, Chuquisaca, Cachimayo and Guapay; and, turning to the north, enters the Amazon river, with the name of La Madeira (Portuguese for xoood), on account of the vast quantity of wood which it carries down with its current It abounds in excellent fish.