Photos from Funchal, Madeira 








Madeira Island, known as the "Pearl of the Atlantic" is the largest and most important island in the Archipelago of Madeira, which also comprises the following islands: Porto Santo, the "Golden Island" and the first to be discovered; Desertas group of islands, consisting of Deserta Grande, Bugio, Ilhu Cho and Prego do Mar; Selvagens Islands, consisting of Selvagem Grande, Selvagem Pequena and Ilhu de Fora (not shown in the map). 



Madeira is located between coordinates 30 1' and 33 80' North latitude and 15 51' and 17 16' West longitude. The capital of the archipelago is Funchal, lying 978 kilometres southwest of Lisbon (Portugal). Porto Santo is a small island very different from Madeira. The land is flatter and vegetation scarce, making it dryer than Madeira. The island's main attraction is a fine sandy beach approximately 9 km long. The Desertas and Selvagens group of islands, with very poor vegetation and harsh conditions, are uninhabited.


world map

Madeira has a climate which is believed to be one of the healthiest in the world. The temperature is fairly uniform during the year, providing the possibility of enjoying the sun in winter as well as in summer. Calculations of the hours of sunshine for the last 30 years reveal an average of 166 hours of sunlight in January and 255 hours in September. Air temperatures fluctuate from 16C to 19C in winter and 21C to 25C in summer with an annual average of 20C. Sea temperatures vary from 18C to 23C. There are approximate 80 rainy days per annum in Madeira with an average rainfall of 775 mm. The northern region of the island is generally wetter than the south, where Funchal is located.



Images from Madeira Island, Portugal  

The island of Porto Santo was the first to be discovered. This event took place in 1418 with Madeira being discovered the following year. The discovery of the Archipelago of Madeira was not planned but happened during an expedition to Guinea, in which the fleet was overtaken by a storm, taking them to the island of Porto Santo. The exploration of the islands started immediately after their discovery, initially by the command of D. Joo I, the King of Portugal. Some years later, the control and administration of the islands was conceded to the captains who issued local laws. During this period the islands developed their self sufficiency through the development of natural resources. The discoverers and their families, the first settlers, soon found other groups to join them. The island of Madeira developed more quickly than Porto Santo, mainly because of its rich vegetation, the abundance of water for irrigation and its inaccessibility, which afforded protection from invasion by pirates. In 1508, D. Manuel I, King of Portugal, by Royal Decree, elevated Funchal to the status of "City". At this time, Funchal was considered one of the most important cities in the Portuguese Kingdom, and also the first city built by Europeans, outside Europe.
The number of inhabitants on the Archipelago of Madeira increased rapidly through the centuries. In 1580, there were 21,800 inhabitants and in 1891 a census revealed an increase to 132,223 inhabitants. With the increase in population, the region was also given autonomy from the mainland government. In 1766, the Marquis of Pombal, Prime Minister of the Portuguese Kingdom, granted Madeira the authority to mint her own money and in 1901 it was granted administrative autonomy to the District of Funchal. However it was only after the Revolution of 1974 that the Archipelago of Madeira reached full autonomy (both economic and political) to become the Madeira Autonomous Region (Regio Autnoma da Madeira).

Madeira Flag

 Madeira's Flag


The University of Madeira is an independent public University, it was created in 1990, following an experience of an extension of Lisbon University in a remote Island; for the first few years it still depended heavily on its connection with the Capital. At first installed in the very beautiful, but also very dilapidated, XVI century building of the College of the Jesuits, the University has now a new campus locate on the outskirts of the city of Funchal. The old College, now completely restored, is home to the Rectory and administrative services.The launching of degrees in several areas of Science and the creation of Departments started in 1992. In 10 years,  the Chemistry Department went from 1 to 12 members of staff and is now home to about 100 undergraduate and 20 postgraduate students. Two degrees are currently offered, Chemistry and Biochemistry. In close partnership with the Department, scientific research is conducted within Madeira Chemistry Research Centre, developing projects in several areas such as metallodendrimers, clay catalysts, biomaterials, enology and medicinal plants research.



The University of Coimbra is certainly one of the most prestigious and traditional universities in Europe and the most important cultural centre in Portugal. The richness of its long History of seven centuries, its unique tradition and the quality and variety of its architecture can easily be observed during a walk on its narrow streets of the historical part of the town. However, the University of Coimbra has been able to conciliate the past with both the present and future and it is also a "modern" university, very well equipped with up-to-date technology in the various fields of knowledge, and where science and technology are considered to play an essential role. The Science and Technology Faculty has actually more than 8000 students and more than 300 senior professors that dedicate to the most relevant branches of fundamental and applied Science, being the largest and one of the most prominent faculties of the University. The Chemistry and the Physics Departments are certainly among the most important research centres in these fields of research in Portugal and both have since long ago attained the respect of the international scientific community. The Low Temperature Molecular Spectroscopy Group, headed by Rui Fausto, integrates the Chemistry Department and has been active in the field of matrix isolation spectroscopy since 1994.  



Department of Chemistry
University of Coimbra
P-3004-535 Coimbra

Tel: +351-239-854483       Fax: +351-239-827703