Caniçal civil parish was established in 1561.
The name comes from a region abundant in small canes, a type of reeds. Due to that, the place ended up by being called Caniçal, which means plantation of reeds.
With the creation of Madeira’s International Business Centre, Caniçal was chosen to welcome one of the most emblematic and the most visible sector in Madeira: the Industrial Free Trade Zone, where the established factories benefit from advantageous tax conditions, and the harbour.
The Free Trade Zone is situated in an area of 120 hectares, where an economically successful infrastructure was created.
Caniçal has a golden sand beach in Madeira Island: Prainha, which, for that reason, is very sought by locals and tourists.
Caniçal has one of the oldest of the smallest ecclesiastic parishes on the Island: Chapel of Piedade, located on top of a hill, close to the sea and Prainha.
It is here, that every year the Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Our Lady of Mercy) festival takes place, whereby the pilgrims are transported by ornamented boats, most of which, fishing boats. Devotion to Nossa Senhora da Piedade is very strong amongst the fishermen of Caniçal and Machico.
The most important economic activities are fishing and the free trade zone activity. In the future, the Madeira’s commercial port is going to be transferred here from Funchal. Other economic activities include catering and some traditional trade.