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The Canary Islands ( ; , ; ) are a Spanishmarker archipelago which, in turn, forms one of the Spanish Autonomous Communities and an Outermost Region of the European Union. The archipelago is located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the disputed border between Moroccomarker and the Western Saharamarker. The sea currents which depart from Canary's coasts used to lead ships away to America. The islands highest to lowest are: Tenerifemarker, Fuerteventuramarker, Gran Canariamarker, Lanzarotemarker, La Palmamarker, La Gomeramarker, El Hierromarker, Alegranzamarker, La Graciosamarker and Montaña Claramarker.

Canary Islands currently has a population of 2,098,593 inhabitants, making it the eighth most populous of Spain's autonomous communities, with a density of 281.8 inhabitants per km². Tenerifemarker is its most populous island with approximately one million inhabitants; the island of Gran Canariamarker is the second most-populous. The total area of the archipelago is 7447 km².

The status of capital city is shared by the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker and Las Palmas de Gran Canariamarker, which in turn are the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker and Las Palmasmarker. Until 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the only capital. The third largest city of the Canary Islands is San Cristóbal de La Laguna (City World Heritage Site) on the island of Tenerifemarker.


The name Islas Canarias is likely derived from the Latin term Insula Canaria, meaning "Island of the Dogs", a name applied originally only to Gran Canariamarker.It is speculated that the so called dogs were actually a species of Monk Seals ("sea dog" in Latin) now extinct.The dense population of seals may have been the characteristic that most struck the few ancient Romans who established contact with these islands by sea. The connection to dogs is retained in their depiction on the islands' coat-of-arms (shown above).


Physical geography

Map of the Canary Islands
The islands and their capitals are:
Island Capital
Tenerifemarker Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker
Gran Canariamarker Las Palmas de Gran Canariamarker
Lanzarotemarker Arrecifemarker
La Palmamarker Santa Cruz de La Palmamarker
La Gomeramarker San Sebastián de La Gomera
El Hierromarker Valverde
Fuerteventuramarker Puerto del Rosariomarker
La Graciosamarker (Lanzarote) Caleta de Sebomarker
Tenerifemarker, with 865,070 inhabitants, is both the Canary Islands' and Spain's most populous island. The island of Fuerteventuramarker is the second largest in the archipelago and located 100 km from the African coast.

The islands form the Macaronesiamarker ecoregion with the Azores, Cape Verdemarker, Madeiramarker, and the Savage Islesmarker. The archipelago consists of seven large and several smaller islands, all of which are volcanic in origin. The Teidemarker volcano on Tenerife is the highest mountain in Spain, and the third largest volcano on Earth on a volcanic ocean island. All the islands except La Gomera have been active in the last million years; four of them (Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma and El Hierro) have historical records of eruptions since European discovery. The islands rise from Jurassic oceanic crust associated with the opening of the Atlantic. Underwater magmatism commenced during the Cretaceous, and reached the ocean's surface during the Miocene. The islands are considered as a distinct physiographic section of the Atlas Mountains province, which in turn is part of the larger African Alpine System division.

According to the position of the islands with respect to the NE trade winds, the climate can be mild and wet or very dry. Several native species form laurisilvamarker forests.

Four of Spain's thirteen national parks are located in the Canary Islands, more than any other autonomous community. In the early 90's, there were only five Spanish national parks, four of them being the Canarian parks, and the other one Doñanamarker. The parks are:

Park Island
Parque Nacional de la Caldera de Taburientemarker
| La Palma
Garajonay National Parkmarker La Gomera
Teide National Parkmarker Tenerife
Timanfaya National Parkmarker Lanzarote


The originally volcanic islands where –seven major islands, one minor island, and several small islets– were formed by the Canary hotspot. The Canary Islands is the only place in Spain where volcanic eruptions have been recorded during the Modern Era, with some volcanoes still active (even though recently inactive).

Political geography

The Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands consists of two provinces, Las Palmasmarker and Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker, whose capitals (Las Palmas de Gran Canariamarker and Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker) are capitals of the autonomous community.Each of the seven major islands is ruled by an island council named cabildo insular.

The international boundary of the Canaries is the subject of dispute between Spain and Morocco. Morocco does not agree that the laws regarding territorial limits allow Spain to claim for itself seabed boundaries based on the territory of the Canaries, because the Canary Islands are autonomous. In fact, the islands do not enjoy any special degree of autonomy as each one of the Spanish regions is considered an autonomous community. Under the Law of the Sea, the only islands not granted territorial waters or an Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) are those that are not fit for human habitation or do not have an economic life of their own, which is clearly not the case of the Canary Islands.

The boundary is relevant for possible seabed oil deposits and other ocean resource exploitation. Morocco therefore does not formally agree to the territorial boundary; it rejected a 2002 unilateral Spanish proposal.

The Islands have 13 seats in the Spanish Senate. Of these, 11 seats are directly elected, 3 for Gran Canaria, 3 for Tenerife, 1 for each other island; 2 seats are indirectly elected by the regional Autonomous Government. The local government is presided over by Paulino Rivero Baute.


Ancient and pre-colonial times (The Guanches)

King Juba, Augustus's Roman protege, is credited with discovering the islands for the Western world, and he dispatched a contingent to re-open the dye production facility at Mogadormarker in the early 1st century AD.That same naval force was subsequently sent on an exploration of the Canary Islands, using Mogador as their mission base. Before the arrival of the aborigines, the Canaries were inhabited by prehistoric animals endemic, most extinct for example, the giant lizard (Lacerta goliathand Lacerta maxima), or giant rats (Canariomys bravoiand Canariomys tamarani).

When the Europeans began to explore the islands, they encountered several indigenous populationsliving at a Neolithiclevel of technology. Although the history of the settlement of the Canary Islands is still unclear, linguistic and genetic analyses seem to indicate that at least some of these inhabitants shared a common origin with the Berbersof northern Africa. The pre-colonial inhabitants came to be known collectively as the Guanches, although Guanches was originally the name for the indigenous inhabitants of Tenerifemarker.

During the Middle Ages, the islands were visited by the Arabsfor commercial purposes. Muslim navigator Ibn Farrukh, from Granadamarker, is said to have landed in "Gando" (Gran Canaria) in February 999, visiting a king named Guanarigato.From the 14th century onward, numerous visits were made by sailors from Majorcamarker, Portugalmarker, and Genoamarker.Lancelotto Malocello settled on the island of Lanzarotemarker in 1312.The Majorcansmarker established a mission with a bishop in the islands that lasted from 1350 to 1400.

Castilian conquest

There are claims that the Portuguesehad discovered the Canaries as early as 1336, though there appears to be little evidence for this. In 1402, the Castilian conquest of the islands began, with the expedition of Jean de Béthencourt and Gadifer de la Salle, nobles and vassals of Henry III of Castile, to the island of Lanzarotemarker.From there, they conquered Fuerteventuramarker and El Hierromarker.Béthencourt received the title King of the Canary Islands, but still recognized King Henry III as his overlord.

Béthencourt also established a base on the island of La Gomeramarker, but it would be many years before the island was truly conquered.The natives of La Gomera, and of Gran Canariamarker, Tenerifemarker, and La Palmamarker, resisted the Castilian invaders for almost a century.In 1448 Maciot de Béthencourtsold the lordship of Lanzarote to Portugal's Prince Henry the Navigator, an action that was not accepted by the natives nor by the Castilians. A crisis swelled to a revolt which lasted until 1459 with the final expulsion of the Portuguese. Finally, in 1479, Portugal recognised Castilian control of the Canary Islands in the Treaty of Alcáçovas.

The Castilians continued to dominate the islands, but due to the topography and the resistance of the native Guanches, complete pacification was not achieved until 1495, when Tenerife and La Palma were finally subdued by Alonso Fernández de Lugo. After that, the Canaries were incorporated into the Kingdom of Castile.

After the conquest

After the conquest, the Castilians imposed a new economic model, based on single-crop cultivation: first sugar cane; then wine, an important item of trade with England. In this era, the first institutions of colonial government were founded. Both Gran Canariamarker, a colony of Castile since March 6, 1480 (from 1556, of Spainmarker), and Tenerifemarker, a Spanish colony since 1495, had separate governors.

The cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker and Las Palmas de Gran Canariamarker became a stopping point for the Spanish conquerors, traders, and missionaries on their way to the New World.This trade route brought great prosperity to some of the social sectors of the islands. The islands became quite wealthy and soon were attracting merchants and adventurers from all over Europe. Magnificent palaces and churches were built on the island of La Palmamarker during this busy, prosperous period.The Church of El Salvador survives as one of the island's finest examples of the architecture of the 16th century.

The Canaries' wealth invited attacks by piratesand privateers. Ottoman Turkish admiral and privateer Kemal Reis ventured into the Canaries in 1501, while Murat Reis the Elder captured Lanzarotemarker in 1585.

The most severe attack took place in 1599, during the Dutch War of Independence. A Dutchfleet of 74 ships and 12,000 men, commanded by Johan van der Does, attacked the capital, Las Palmas (the city had 3,500 of Gran Canaria's 8,545 inhabitants). The Dutch attacked the Castillo de la Luz, which guarded the harbor. The Canarians evacuated civilians from the city, and the Castillo surrendered (but not the city). The Dutch moved inland, but Canarian cavalry drove them back to Tamaraceite, near the city.

The Dutch then laid siege to the city, demanding the surrender of all its wealth. They received 12 sheep and 3 calves. Furious, the Dutch sent 4,000 soldiers to attack the Council of the Canaries, who were sheltering in the village of Santa Brígida. 300 Canarian soldiers ambushed the Dutch in the village of Monte Lentiscal, killing 150 and forcing the rest to retreat. The Dutch concentrated on Las Palmas, attempting to burn it down. The Dutch pillaged Maspalomasmarker, on the southern coast of Gran Canaria, San Sebastian on La Gomera, and Santa Cruzmarker on La Palma, but eventually gave up the siege of Las Palmas and withdrew.

Another noteworthy attack occurred in 1797, when Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker was attacked by a British fleet under the future Lord Nelson on 25 July.The British were repulsed, losing almost 400 men. It was during this battle that Nelson lost his right arm.

18th to 19th century

The sugar-based economy of the islands faced stiff competition from Spain's American colonies. Crises in the sugar market in the 19th century caused severe recessions on the islands. A new cash crop, cochineal(cochinilla), came into cultivation during this time, saving the islands' economy.

By the end of the 18th century, Canary Islanders had already emigrated to Spanish American territories, such as Havanamarker, Veracruzmarker, Santo Domingomarker, San Antonio, Texasmarker and St. Bernard Parish, Louisianamarker These economic difficulties spurred mass emigration, primarily to the Americas, during the 19th and first half of the 20th century.From 1840 to 1890, as many as 40,000 Canary Islanders emigrated to Venezuelamarker.Also, thousands of Canarians moved to Puerto Rico; the Spanish monarchy felt that Canarians would adapt to island life better than other immigrants from the mainland of Spain. Deeply entrenched traditions, such as the Mascaras Festival in the town of Hatillo, Puerto Ricomarker, are an example of Canarian culture still preserved in Puerto Rico.Similarly, many thousands of Canarians emigrated to the shores of Cubamarker as well.During the Spanish-American Warof 1898, the Spanish fortified the islands against possible American attack, but an attack never came.

The Romantic period and scientific expeditions

Sirera and Renn (2004) distinguish two different types of expeditions, or voyages, during the period 1770-1830, which they term "the Romantic period”:

First are “expeditions financed by the States, closely related with the official scientific Institutions. characterized by having strict scientific objectives (and inspired by) the spirit of Illustration and progress”.In this type of expedition, Sirera and Renn include the following travellers:
  • the British citizen Edensmarker (1715) who ascends Mount Teide and publishes his story in Philosophical Transactions.
  • Louis Feuillée (1724), who was sent to measure the meridian of El Hierro and to map the islands.
  • Charles Borda (1771, 1776) who more accurately measured the longitudes of the islands and the height of Mount Teide
  • the Baudin-Ledru expedition (1796) which aimed to recover a valuable collection of natural history objects.

The second type of expedition identified by Sirera and Renn is one that took place starting from more or less private initiatives. Among these, the key exponents were the following:

Sirera and Renn identify the period 1770-1830 as one in which “In a panorama dominated until that moment by France and England enters with strength and brio Germany of the Romantic period whose presence in the islands will increase”.

Early 20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century, the British introduced a new cash-crop, the banana, the export of which was controlled by companies such as Fyffes.

The rivalry between the elites of the cities of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife for the capital of the islands led to the division of the archipelagointo two provincesin 1927. This has not laid to rest the rivalry between the two cities, which continues to this day.

During the time of the Second Spanish Republic, Marxistand anarchistworkers' movements began to develop, led by figures such as Jose Miguel Perezand Guillermo Ascanio. However, outside of a few municipalities, these organizations were a minority and fell easily to Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War.

Franco regime

In 1936, Francisco Francowas appointed General Commandant of the Canaries. He joined the military revolt of July 17 which began the Spanish Civil War. Franco quickly took control of the archipelago, except for a few points of resistance on the island of La Palmamarker and in the town of Vallehermoso, on La Gomeramarker.Though there was never a proper war in the islands, the post-war repressionon the Canaries was most severe.

During the Second World War, Winston Churchill prepared plans for the British seizure of the Canary Islands as a naval base, in the event of Gibraltarmarker being invaded from the Spanish mainland.

Opposition to Franco's regime did not begin to organize until the late 1950s, which experienced an upheaval of parties such as the Communist Party of Spainand the formation of various nationalist, leftist parties.

Parliament of the Canary Islands (Santa Cruz de Tenerife)


After the death of Franco, there was a pro-independence armed movement based in Algeriamarker, the MPAIAC.Now there are some pro-independence political parties, like the CNCand the Popular Front of the Canary Islands, but none of them calls for an armed struggle. Their popular support is insignificant, with no presence in either the autonomous parliament or the cabildos insulares.

After the establishment of a democratic constitutional monarchyin Spain, autonomywas granted to the Canaries via a law passed in 1982. In 1983, the first autonomous elections were held. The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party(PSOE) won. In the most recent autonomous elections (2007), the PSOE gained a plurality of seats, but the nationalist Canarian Coalitionand the conservative Partido Popular(PP) formed a ruling coalition government.

In Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker are the Torres de Santa Cruz (towers of Santa Cruz).These sky-scrapers are at a height of 120 meters, without counting the antennas or lightning rod. They are the highest sky-scrapers in the city and of the Canary Archipelago, and also residentially are the highest towers in Spain, they are next to the Tenerife Auditorium, in downtown. The Auditorio de Tenerifeis the best known modern building of Canaries.


The Canarian population includes long-tenured and new waves of Spanish immigrants (including Galicians, Castilians, Catalans, Basques), and Portuguese, Italians, Flemings. As of 2009, the total Canarian population is 2,098,593. Over 1,547,611 people are native Canarian, and another 178,613 people from the Spanish mainland, making a total 1,799,373 Spanish population. Most of the 299,220 foreign residents are Europeans (55%), such as Germans(39,505), British(37,937) and Italians(24,177).There are 86,287 from the Americas, with Colombians (21,798), Venezuelansmarker (11,958), Cubans (11,098) and Argentinesmarker (10,159) being the most numerous.There are 28,136 from Africa with 16,240 Moroccansmarker.

Population of islands


The overwhelming majority of native Canarians are Roman Catholicwith various smaller foreign born populations of other Christianbeliefs such as Protestantsfrom northern Europe and Africans following Islam. There is also an important community of Hindus. The appearance of the Virgin of Candelaria(Patron of Canary Islands) in Tenerife phase starts in the Canary Islands to Christianity.

Canary Islands are divided into two Catholic dioceses, each governed by a bishop:

Pre-Spanish people

The Guanchesare believed to share common ancestry with indigenousBerbersof nearby Morocco. Others have theorized that additional populations contributed to the native gene pool of the Canary Islands. The Guanches lived in relative isolation on the islands until Europeans arrived in greater numbers in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Canary Islanders may descend from the Guanches as much as the Spanish. Fischer, who studied the modern Canarians, found among them the following types:

  • A true, small Mediterranean type, which may be partly of Spanish introduction.
  • A "Berber" type, with a heavier, broader face, but essentially Mediterranean.
  • An "Oriental" type, with a narrow face, thin, convex nose, dark hair, and attenuated extremities.
  • An Alpine of Bavarian appearance - this is said to be uncommon.
  • The "Crô-Magnon" type; with a low, rectangular face, especially characterized by bigonial prominence; deep-set eyes under heavy browridges, with low orbits; a straight nasal profile, but relative broad nose; thin lips, and heavy jaw. This type has a thick-set body build, with trunk proportions similar to those of living Bavarians.
Modern Canarians appear less blond than the Riffians. Despite the statistical evidence that most modern Canarians are brunettes, the legend of the blond beauty of the female inhabitants of Teneriffe is famous in seafaring quarters, just as the blond looks of the early Guanches struck the Spaniards.

Population genetics

The most frequent mtDNA haplogroupin Canary Islands is H(37.6%), followed by North African U6(14.0%), T(12.7%), U(except U6) (10.3%) and J(7.0%). Two haplogroups, H and U6 alone account for more than 50% of the individuals. Significant frequencies of sub-Saharan L haplogroups(6.6%) is also consistent with the historical records on introduction of sub-Saharan slave labour in Canary Islands. However, the presence of Sub-Saharan lineages in North African populations could mean these lineages were introduced from North Africa rather than directly from Sub-Saharan Africa. A 2009 study of DNA extracted from the remains of aboriginal inhabitants found that 7% of lineages were Haplogroup L. This leaves open the possibility that these L lineages were part of the founding population of the Canary Islands.

A 2003 genetics research article by Nicole Maca-Meyer et al. published in the European Journal of Human Geneticscompared aboriginal Guanche mtDNA (collected from Canarian archaeological sites) to that of today's Canarians and concluded that, "despite the continuous changes suffered by the population (Spanish colonization, slave trade), aboriginal mtDNA [direct maternal] lineages constitute a considerable proportion [42 – 73%] of the Canarian gene pool. Although the Berbersare the most probable ancestors of the Guanches, it is deduced that important human movements [e.g., the Islamic-Arabic conquest of the Berbers] have reshaped Northwest Africa after the migratory wave to the Canary Islands" and the "results support, from a maternal perspective, the supposition that since the end of the 16th century, at least, two-thirds of the Canarian population had an indigenous substrate, as was previously inferred from historical and anthropological data." mtDNA haplogroup U subclade U6b1is Canarian-specific and is the most common mtDNA haplogroup found in aboriginal Guanche archaeological burial sites.

Y-DNA, or Y-chromosomal, (direct paternal) lineages were not analyzed in this study; however, an earlier study giving the aboriginal y-DNA contribution at 6% was cited by Maca-Meyer et al., but the results were criticized as possibly flawed due to the widespread phylogeography of y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b1b, which may skew determination of the aboriginality versus coloniality of contemporary y-DNA lineages in the Canaries. Regardless, Maca-Meyer et al. states that historical evidence does support the explanation of "strong sexual asymmetry… as a result of a strong bias favoring matings between European males and aboriginal females, and to the important aboriginal male mortality during the Conquest." The genetics thus suggests the native men were sharply reduced in numbers due to the war, large numbers of Spaniard men stayed in the islands and married the local women, the Canarians adopted Spanish names, language, and religion.

According to a 2005 study, in spite of the geographic nearness between the Canary Islands and Moroccomarker, the genetic heritage of the Canary islands male lineages, is mainly from European origin.Indeed, nearly 72% of the haplogroups resulting from are Euro–Eurasian (R1a, R1b, Iand G). Unsurprisingly the Spanish conquest brought the genetic base of the current male population of the Canary Islands. Nevertheless, the second most important Haplogroup family is from Africa, Near and Middle East. E1b1b(12% including 7% of the typically berberhaplogroup E-M81), E1b1a(2%), J(10%) and T(3%) Haplogroups are present at a rate of 27%. Even if a part of these "eastern" haplogroups were introduced by the Spanish too, we can suppose that a good portion of this rate was already there at the time of the conquest.



Tenerifemarker is, with its 2,034 km², the most extensive island of the Canaries.In addition, the 886,033 inhabitants make it the most populous island in Spain. Two of the island principal cities are located on it: Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker and San Cristóbal de La Laguna (a World Heritage Site).Santa Cruz is the capital of Tenerife and seat of the Parliament of Canaries. Santa Cruz de Tenerife shares the status of capital of the Canaries with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The Teidemarker, with its 3,718 m is the highest peak of Spain and also a World Heritage Site.This island is in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker.

Gran Canaria

Gran Canariamarker is the province of Las Palmas' most populated island, with 829,597 inhabitants.The capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canariamarker (377,203 inhabitants), is the most populous city and shares the status of capital of the Canaries with Santa Cruz de Tenerife.In center of the island lie the Roque Nublo (1,813 m) and Pozo de las Nieves ("Peak of Snow") (1,949 m), the two highest points of the island.


Fuerteventuramarker, with a surface of 1,659 km², is the second-most extensive island of the archipelago, as well as the second most oriental.Is a Biosphere reserve by Unescomarker.Being also the most ancient of the islands, it is the one that is more eroded: its highest point is the Peak of the Bramble, at a height of 807 m. Its capital is Puerto del Rosariomarker

La Palma

La Palmamarker, with 85,933 inhabitants, covering an area of 708.32 km² is in its entirety a biosphere reserve.It shows no recent signs of volcanic activity, even though the volcano Teneguíamarker entered into eruption last in 1971.In addition, it is the second-highest island of the Canaries, with the Roque de los Muchachos (2,423 m) as highest point. Santa Cruz de La Palmamarker is its capital.


Lanzarotemarker, is the easternmost island and one of the most ancient of the archipelago, and it has shown evidence of recent volcanic activity.It has a surface of 845.94 km², and a population of 132,366 inhabitants. The capital is Arrecifemarker, with 56,834 inhabitants.

Chinijo Archipelago

The Chinijo Archipelagomarker includes the islands La Graciosamarker, Alegranzamarker, Montaña Claramarker, Roque del Este and Roque del Oestemarker.
La Graciosamarker, is the smallest inhabited island of the archipelago, and the major island of the Chinijo Archipelagomarker. The whole archipelago is administrated by Lanzarote. It has a surface of 29.05 km², and a population of 658 inhabitants. The capital is Caleta de Sebomarker, with 656 inhabitants.

El Hierro

El Hierromarker, the westernmost island, covers 268.71 km², making it the smallest of the major islands, and the least populous with 10,558 inhabitants.The whole island was declared Reserve of the Biosphere in 2000. Its capital is Valverde, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Also known as Ferro, it was once believed to be the westernmost land in the world.

La Gomera

La Gomeramarker, has an area of 369.76 km² and is the third least populous island with 22,259 inhabitants.Geologically it is one of the oldest of the archipelago. The insular capital is San Sebastian de La Gomera. Garajonay's National Park is here.


The economy is based primarily on tourism, which makes up 32% of the GDP. The Canaries receive about 10 million tourists per year. Construction makes up nearly 20% of the GDP and tropical agriculture, primarily bananasand tobacco, are grown for export to Europe and the Americas. Ecologists are concerned that the resources, especially in the more aridislands, are being overexploited but there are still many agricultural resources like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, cochineal, sugarcane, grapes, vines, date, oranges, lemons, figs, wheat, barley, maize, apricots, peachesand almonds.

The economy is 25 billion (2001 GDP figures). The islands experienced continuous growth during a 20 year period, up until 2001, at a rate of approximately 5% annually. This growth was fueled mainly by huge amounts of Foreign Direct Investment, mostly to develop tourism real estate (hotels and apartments), and European Funds (near € 11 billion euro in the period from 2000 to 2007), since the Canary Islands are labelled Region Objective 1 (eligible for euro structural funds). Additionally, the EU allows the Canary Islands Government to offer special tax concessions for investors who incorporate under the Zona Especial Canaria (ZEC) regime and create more than 5 jobs.

The combination of high mountains, proximity to Europe, and clean air has made the Roque de los Muchachosmarker peak (on La Palma island) a leading location for telescopes like the Grantecanmarker.

The islands are outside the European Unioncustoms territory and VAT area, though politically within the EU. Instead of VAT there is a local Sales Tax (IGIC) which has a general rate of 5%, an increased tax rate of 12%, a reduced tax rate of 2% and a zero tax rate for certain basic need products and services (eg telecommunications). The ISO 3166-1 α-2code ICis reserved for representing them in customs affairs. Goods subject to Spanish customs and excise duties and Value Added Tax (VAT), such as tobaccoor electronicgoods , are therefore significantly cheaper in the Canaries. Spanish magazines usually have a similar or higher price than in the peninsula since VAT is substituted with air transport costs. The islands' country calling codeis (+34) and the Internet country codeis the same as Spain's (.es). The currency is the euro.

Canarian time is Western European Time(WET) (or GMT; in summer one hour ahead of GMT). So Canarian time is one hour behind that of mainland Spain and the same as that of the British Isles and Portugal all year round.


For a road map see multimap. A tram linking Santa Cruz bus station and La Laguna opened in 2007 and there are tentative plans for a train linking Santa Cruz and Los Cristianos.


Terrestrial wildlife

With a range of habitats, the Canary Islands exhibit diverse plant species. The bird life includes European and African species, such as the Black-bellied Sandgrouse; and a rich variety of endemic(local) species including the:

Terrestrial fauna includes geckos(such as the striped Canary Islands Gecko) and wall lizards, and three endemic species of recently rediscovered and critically endangeredgiant lizard: the El Hierro Giant Lizard(or Roque Chico de Salmor Giant Lizard), La Gomera Giant Lizard, and La Palma Giant Lizard. Mammals include the Canarian Shrew, Canary Big-Eared Bat, the Algerian Hedgehog(which may have been introduced) and the more recently introduced Mouflon. Some endemic mammals, the Lava Mouseand Canary Islands Giant Rat, are extinct, as are the Canary Islands Quail, Long-legged Bunting, and the Eastern Canary Islands Chiffchaff.

Marine life

The Marine life found in the Canary Islands is also varied, being a combination of North Atlanticmarker, Mediterraneanmarker and endemic species.In recent years, the increasing popularity of both scuba divingand underwater photographyhave provided biologists with much new information on the marine life of the islands.

Fishspecies found in the islands include many species of shark, ray, moray eel, bream, jack, grunt, scorpionfish, triggerfish, grouper, goby, and blenny. In addition, there are many invertebrate species including sponge, jellyfish, anemone, crab, mollusc, sea urchin, starfish, sea cucumberand coral.

There are a total of 5 different species of marine turtlethat are sighted periodically in the islands, the most common of these being the endangeredLoggerhead Turtle. The other four are the Green, Hawksbill, Leatherbackand Kemp's Ridley Turtle. Currently, there are no signs that any of these species breed in the islands, and so those seen in the water are usually migrating. However, it is believed that some of these species may have bred in the islands in the past, and there are records of several sightings of leatherback turtle on beaches in Fuerteventuramarker, adding credibility to the theory.

Marine mammals include the Short-Finned Pilot Whale, Commonand Bottlenosedolphins. The Canary Islands were also formerly home to a population of the rarest Pinnipedin the world, the Mediterranean Monk Seal.


A unique form of wrestling known as Canarian Wrestling (lucha canaria) has opponents stand in a special area called a "terrero" and try to throw each other to the ground using strength and quick movements.

Another sport is the "game of the sticks" where opponents fence with long sticks. This may have come about from the shepherds of the islands who would challenge each other using their long walking sticks.

Another sport is called the Shepard's jump. This involves using a long stick to vault over an open area. This sport possibly evolved from the shepard's need to occasionally get over an open area in the hills as they were tending their sheep.

Notable athletes

One native of the Canary Islands played Major League Baseball: Alfredo Cabrera, born there in 1881; he played shortstopfor the St. Louis Cardinalsin 1913.

Another native of the Canary Islands plays in the National Basketball Associationtoday: Sergio Rodríguez, born there in 1986; he plays point guardfor the Sacramento Kings.

David Silva, born in Arguineguinmarker (south of Gran Canaria) plays for Valenciamarker.Silva is regarded as one of the best attacking midfielders in the Spanish First Division, also being credited for his excellent football during the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship, helping the Spanish football team win the competition.

See also





Natural history

See:-Borgesen, F. 1929. Marine algae from the Canary Islands. III Rhodophyceae. Part II. Cryptonemiales, Gigartinales, and Rhodymeniales. Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs BiologiskeMeddelelser.'8: 1 — 97.



  • Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (Cambridge University Press) ISBN 0-521-45690-8
  • Felipe Fernández-Armesto, The Canary Islands after the Conquest: The Making of a Colonial Society in the Early-Sixteenth Century, Oxford U. Press, 1982. ISBN 978-0-198-21888-3; ISBN 0-198-21888-5
  • Sergio Hanquet, Diving in Canaries, Litografía A. ROMERO, 2001. ISBN 84-932195-0-9
  • Martin Wiemers: The butterflies of the Canary Islands. - A survey on their distribution, biology and ecology (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea) - Linneana Belgica 15 (1995): 63-84 & 87–118 pdf

External links

Demographics of the Canary Islands (2009)

Canarian 1,547,611 73.7%
Mainland Spanish (Peninsulares) 178,613 12.0%
Spanish total 1,799,373 85.7%
Foreign-born nationals 299,220 14.3%

Total 2,098,593 100%
Population history
1768 155,763
1787 168,928
1797 173,865
1842 241,266
1860 237,036
1887 301,983
1900 364,408
1920 488,483
1940 687,937
1960 966,177
1981 1,367,646
1990 1,589,403
2000 1,716,276
2008 2,075,968
2009 2,098,593
Figures between 1768-2008.
Tourism in the Canary Islands

2008 9,210,509
2007 9,326,116
2006 9,530,039
2005 9,276,963
2004 9,427,265
2003 9,836,785
2002 9,778,512
2001 10,137,202
2000 9,975,977
1993 6,545,396

Largest by
Country (2008)
Germany 2,498,847
Great Britain 3,355,942

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