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The Island of Madeira is situated in the north Atlantic Ocean about 700 kilometres off the coast of north west Africa on the same latitude as Casablanca. The Madeira archipelago, made up of the Islands of Madeira, Porto Santo and several small deserted islands, Mapwas discovered by the Portuguese navigators in the XV century and has been a Portuguese territory ever since. It is of interest to note that all the islands were completely uninhabited at the time of their discovery. Since 1976, due to political changes in Portugal, Madeira has been an autonomous region with its own Parliament and locally elected Government but Madeira is still legally and politically part of Portugal and is therefore a full member of the European Union. The local currency is the Escudo. Despite Madeira's autonomous status most of the Laws enacted by the Central Government and by the Portuguese Parliament are fully applicable in Madeira. Communications are good, the Island being served by an international airport with daily flights to mainland Portugal and frequent flights to other countries. Shipping is well served by deep water ports at Funchal and Porto Santo, and the Islands telephone network is linked to mainland Portugal by cable and satellite giving easy, direct access to International networks. By legislation first put before the Portuguese Parliament as long ago as 1980 and enacted in 1986 the Madeira Free Trade Zone was established which gives substantial tax concessions to companies incorporated on the Island.