Gran Canaria (in English,
"Grand (or Great) Canary") is an island of the
Islands. Located in the Atlantic Ocean about 150 kilometers (~93 miles) off the
northwestern coast of Africa and about 1350
km (~838 miles) from Europe.
Canaria is the second most populous island of the Canary Islands
Topography of Gran Canaria.
Canaria is also the third in extension Canary Islands.
Gran Canaria was populated by the Canarii
who may have arrived as early as 500 BC. The Canarii called the
. After over a century of European (French,
Portuguese...) incursions and attempts at conquest, the island was
conquered on April 29, 1483, for the Kingdom of Castile, with the support of
Queen Isabella I, a conquest
which turned out to be an important step towards the expansion of
the unified Spain.
capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was founded on June 24, 1478, under the name "Real
de Las Palmas", by Juan Rejón, head
of the invading Castilian
In 1492, Cristopher
anchored in the Port of Las Palmas (and spent some
time on the island) on his first trip to the Americas. Some reports
suggest that Gran Canaria was formerly named, due to the island's
shape, El Rondo (The Circle) by English explorer Paul C. Reilly who
landed on the island in 1451.
Canaria is located southeast of Tenerife and west of
The island is of volcanic
origin, mostly made of fissure vents
. Gran Canaria is the most
populous island of the Canary Islands. Gran Canaria's surface area
is 1,560 km² and its maximum altitude is 1,949 meters (Pico de Las
Nieves). It has a round shape, with a diameter of approximately 50
Gran Canaria is divided into twenty-one municipalities
island has a population of 820,257 with 378,628 (year 2005) of
those in the capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital of the province of Las
Palmas, and also one of the two capitals of the autonomous community of the
Islands, along with Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Gran Canaria has highways encircling the whole island and extending
into the mountain areas. In the late 20th century, its
superhighways, among the first in the Canary Islands, were opened
and ran around Las Palmas, and were later extended to the north
coast and the airport and subsequently to the south coast to
account for increased tourist traffic. The superhighways are
, and GC31
, and dual carriageways GC4
. The western and the northwestern
parts, with the fewest tourists, are linked only with
Gran Canaria International
Airport is the only airport on Gran Canaria.
so many aircraft and passengers passing through it each year that
it is placed as one of the busiest in Spain. Gran Canaria also
hosts the responsibility of controlling all air traffic of The
important ports in Gran Canaria are the Port of Las Palmas, in the city of
Las Palmas de
Gran Canaria; Arguineguín's Port, which exports cement from a
large factory; and Arinaga's Port, placed in the major industrial
zone of Canaries and one of the major ones of Spain.
ports which transport the most passengers are the Port of La Luz
and the Port of Las Nieves, placed in the municipality of Agaete
Plans for a railway network linking the capital with the south have
been approved by both the Gran Canaria Cabildo and the Canary
Islands Government, though the discussion with the central Spanish
Government hinges now on budget.
Gran Canaria's average daytime highs range from 20 °C in winter, to
26 °C in summer. Some cool nights occur in winter, but lows below
10 °C are unknown near the coast. Inland the climate is still mild
but mountains areas see the occasional frost or snow. Hot
southeasterly winds from the Sahara can push temperatures above 38
°C (100 °F) on rare occasions, but these conditions don't normally
last long. Annual rainfall averages 228 mm, most of this falling in
the cooler months, with July, August and September normally
rainless. Rainfall is unevenly distributed through the island with
some areas being much drier than others.Cloud cover and sunshine is
often quite variable during the cooler months, and in fact there
can be several rather cloudy days at times in winter. Summers are
generally quite sunny however, with the south of the island being
This island is called a "Miniature Continent" due to the different
climates and variety of landscapes found, with its long golden
beaches and endless dunes of white sand, its green ravines and
picturesque villages. A third of the island is under protection as
a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
The number of annual visitors is 2.2 million (2,200,000). Most of
the tourists visit the southern part of the island.
The north tends to be cooler while the south is warmer and sunny.
The east coast of the island is flat dotted with beaches while the
western coast is rockier and mountainous.
The island possesses 32 Natural Protected Spaces, that they
emphasize the Rural Park of Nublo, Doramas' Jungle, the Ravine of
Azuaje, Tamadaba, Pino Santo, etc.
Most tourists stay in the south of the island, which is sunnier and
has less rain than the north. However, just below the airport in
the town of Vecindario there is a large shopping center "Commercial
Atlantico" that includes a Carrefour and shopping mall. Vecindario
is the town where the "locals" live. In the south there is
a large bird park, Palmitos
Park, in the south of the island as well as many beach
resort communities. The resort communities start in the central
eastern part of the southern coast in the Maspalomas area which
includes the towns of San Agustín, Playa del Inglés, Sonnenland, Maspalomas and Meloneras.
Dunes of Maspalomas are located between Playa del Inglés and
Maspalomas. Another tourist attraction is the lighthouse at
Maspalomas situated at the western end of Maspalomas.
In Tarajalillo an Aeroclub exists from where tourist flights can be
taken over the island.
further to the west along the southern shore, in the Municipality
of Mogán, are the communities of Puerto Rico and Puerto de Mogán, a picturesque village referred to as "Little
Venice" on account of its many canals.
attractions include Cocodrilos Park, Roque Nublo (an 80m monolith), Cenobio de Valerón with about
290 caves, Cueva Pintada the most
important archaeological park in Canary Islands and the botanical
gardens Jardin Canario (in Tafira Alta) and Cactualdea (in
La Aldea de San Nicolás). El Dedo de Dios, or "God's Finger" was a rocky spire jutting from
the sea in Puerto de las Nieves, and was previously the signature
attraction of the Canary Islands until it was destroyed by Tropical Storm Delta, that
crossed the archipelago on November 2005.
Other famous rock formations are El Cura (also known as El Fraile),
The Frog (La Rana), Bentayga, the Roque de Gando, and the Peñón
Bermejo. The highest peak of the island is the Pico de las Nieves,
with 1.950 m
capital city is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Las Canteras Beach lies in the heart of the
city. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is also known for its annual
. It was the first stop of
Christopher Columbus' expedition on his way back from the Americas,
a commemoration of which is the Hermitage of San Antonio Abad,
where the navigator prayed, and the Casa de Colón. Other
attractions in the capital city include the Museo Canario (the most
important archaeology museum in the archipelago), the Cathedral and
the Plaza del Espíritu Santo.
The town of Agüimes
, on the eastern
part of the island, has been carefully restored, and its town
centre, centered around its old church and a peaceful square, now
evokes the quiet living of a traditional Canarian town. The
district also has some of the best preserved cave dwellings, in the
protected area of the Guayadeque Ravine, where even the church has
been built into the hillside and visitors can find a number of
popular cave restaurants. The district also includes the most
renowned scuba diving area on the island: the marine reserve at the
playa de El Cabrón just outside the town of Arinaga.
Other important towns are Telde
(within the municipality of Santa Lucía de Tirajana) and Gáldar
. In Arucas
a magnificent Neogothic temple, popularly known as "Arucas'
Cathedral", as well as a large fertile plain where bananas are
grown. In Gáldar
and its surroundings
there is also a banana-growing plain and some remarkable
archaeological remains, such as Cueva Pintada or Cenobio de
Valerón's communal silos, ancient tombs, and the port of Sardina
del Norte (one of the island's ports where, as in Las Palmas',
get supplies for his ships). In Teror is kept the
catholic image of Virgen del Pino,
the patron island.
west along the southern coast is the fishing city of Arguineguín in the Municipality of Mogán.
Protected natural areas
Nearly half of the island territory - 667 km² (42,7% of island), is
under protection from the Red Canaria de
Espacios Naturales Protegidos
(Canary Islands Network for
Naturally Protected Areas). Of the 146 protected sites under
control of network in the Canary Islands archipelago, a total of 33
are located in Gran Canaria, the second most protected island in
seven different categories of protection: six nature reserves: El Brezal, Azuaje, Los Tilos
de Moya, Los Marteles, Las Dunas de Maspalomas and Güigüi (total
7,153.1 ha); two integral nature reserves: Inagua and Barranco
Oscuro (total 3,955,5 ha); two natural
parks: Tamadaba and Pilancones (total 13,333 ha), two rural
parks: Nublo and Doramas (total 29,893.4 ha), ten natural monuments: Amagro, Bandama,
Montañón Negro, Roque de Aguayro, Tauro, Arinaga, Barranco de
Guayadeque, Riscos de Tirajana, Roque Nublo and Barranco del
Draguillo (total 5,264.9 ha), seven protected landscapes: La Isleta (in the
Palmas), Pino Santo, Tafira, Las Cumbres, Lomo Magullo,
Fataga and Montaña de Agüimes (total 12,680.9 ha); four sites of scientific
interest: Jinámar, Tufia, Roque de Gando and Juncalillo del Sur
(total 276.2 ha).
- Situación y Clima. Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de
- Gran Canaria – Official Canary Islands Tourism
- Espacios Naturales Protegidos de Gran Canaria
Font: Gobierno de Canarias
- Red Canaria de Espacios Naturales
- Relación de los Espacios Naturales protegidos de