Madeira and Emigration

From Emigration to returning home…

Madeira suffered many hard and troubled times with the dictatorship, but, who suffered more the harsh effects of the regime were the locals. Many families lived in poverty, since most of the capital was invested in the Colonial War. To fight back on poverty which apparently was worsening over time, the solution for many of the islanders was to emigrate in hopes of finding better living conditions.

  The emigration “boom” happened in the 60s and 70s. This was the period that had the greatest increase in emigration to countries like Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa and other major destinations. Many emigrated illegally to escape the military draft to fight in the war overseas (Angola and Mozambique), and also because they could not afford the high cost of the emigration process by legal means.

The return to the Island

Some islanders who emigrated at that time managed to adapt to their new homes and became rich thanks to business endeavours in these new countries.

After the 1974 revolution, the Portuguese currency (the escudo) lost its value and it was then that many emigrants returned and invested their money in Madeira Island. They built houses, bought shops, restaurants and opened bed and breakfasts. With these private investments, the island managed to recover its economy.

Emigration today

Today, emigration is not as frequent. As the unemployment rate is relatively low, the locals have a better quality of life, a reason why they are no longer forced to emigrate. Today, young families continue to emigrate to countries like England, France or Germany, but for smaller periods of time.

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