Madeira. 1. An elevated island off the west coast of Africa, belonging to Portugal, long. 17° W., lat. 32° 30' N. It is surrounded by lofty cliffs broken by a few bays in which fertile valleys terminate, and is a well-known resort for sufferers from consumption. The capital is Funchal. The principal produce used to be the rich and delicately-flavoured wine which bore its name, but the vines were almost exterminated by oidium (q.v.); their culture is reviving, but now cochineal and sugar are largely substituted.
2. A large river of South America, a tributary of the Amazon. It rises in the mountains of Chuquisaca (Peru), and has a course of 1,100 miles; but the name Madeira only applies to the lower part, which flows to the north-east into the Amazon. It is named from the quantity of timber (Madeira) carried down by the stream.