Porto Santo is the smaller of the inhabited islands of the Madeira Archipelago. It lies in the Atlantic Ocean, at the South-western tip of Europe, about 500 km from the coast of Africa and 1000 km from Continental Europe. It takes around 1hr 30 min to fly from Lisbon to Porto Santo Island.
First discovered back in 1418, by Portuguese sailors, this archipelago is formed by the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo as well as the uninhabited Selvagens and Desertas Islands. The friendliness and hospitality of its locals, the mild climate all year around, the spectacular unspoilt landscapes and the richness and variety of the natural, historical and cultural resources are just some of the reasons why you should discover this paradise yourself.
Porto Santo is located in the Atlantic Ocean, in the extreme south-western Europe. It distances 500 km from the coast of Africa and 1,000 Km from Europe, an hour and a half flight from Lisbon.
Despite its proximity, this island differs greatly from Madeira. The soil is quite sandy and very poor in nutrients. It is a very flat island with a 9-km long beautiful sandy beach. The therapeutic qualities of its sand help treat orthopaedic and rheumatic problems, drawing many people to the island every year. The seawater rich in calcium, iodine and magnesium, ideal to recover from lack of minerals caused by stress and fatigue, is another of the reasons that make this destination so unique.
The north part of the Porto Santo has some peaks, and with an altitude of 517 metres, Pico do Facho is the island’s highest peak.
In the summer months, the average sea water temperature is mild, between 24 ºC and 25 ºC, as in the late spring and early autumn. For the remaining seasons of the year when the water temperature is pleasant, there is variation from one to two degrees cooler than in summer.
The municipality of Porto Santo was founded on the 24th of June 1835, and its municipal holiday is celebrated on this day. At the moment, the island’s president is José Idalino Vasconcelos, from the Socialist Party, elected in September 2016.
Vila Baleira was elevated to town on the 6th of August 1996.
The main industry on the island of Porto Santo is tourism, based on the attractive beach and mild climate.
According to the latest data released by NSI - National Statistics Institute - in 2011, 13.39% of the population of Porto Santo is more than 65 years old and 14.92% are children or teenagers. This population structure can be better understood if we consider that, for every 100 young citizens, 89 elderly live in Porto Santo.
As in Madeira Island, the population of Porto Santo tends to follow Roman Catholicism. Porto Santo belongs to the Diocese of Funchal, whose bishop is António José Cavaco.