The territory was first claimed by Portuguese sailors in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1419 and settled after 1420, with the archipelago being considered to be the first territorial discovery of the exploratory period of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, which extended from 1415 to 1542. The island became a top sugarcane producer in that time, with African slaves being brought to the territory to cultivate sugar cane. However, sugar production was shifted to Portugal's other colonies in the 17th century, and wine overtook sugar as the primary engine of the territory's economy. The British briefly occupied the island in the early 1800's, and after the end of World War I, Charles (Karl) I, the last Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, went into exile in Madeira until his death, his coffin currently lying in a chapel of the church in Monte. After the Carnation Revolution of 1974, Portugal granted political autonomy to Madeira on the 1st of July, 1976, which is now celebrated every July 1st in the territory on Madeira Day, and the territory now has its own government and legislative assembly separate from Portugal's.
Nowadays the "Madeira International Business Center" is a very important part of its economy (read: Madeira has its own tax haven). As part of its "Business Center", Madeira also has the "Madeira International Ship Register" (read: Madeira is a flag of convenience on the French/German/Norwegian "second register" modelnote ).
The Madeiran flag