Canarian people: Wikis


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Canarian people
NancyFabiolaHerrera.jpgAnchieta.jpgTomas de Iriarte Joaquin Inza.jpg
Miss Spain 08 Patricia Rodriguez.jpgBenito perez galdos y perro las palmas 1890.jpgAugustin de Betancourt in Russian attire, 1810s.jpg
Nancy Fabiola Herrera · José de Anchieta · Tomás de Iriarte y Oropesa
Patricia Rodríguez · Benito Pérez Galdós · Agustín de Betancourt
Total population
Canary Islander
1,547,611 [1]
73.7% of the total Canary Islands population
Canarian immigrants
66,985 [2]
Regions with significant populations
 Canary Islands 1,547,611 (2009)[3]
 Spain Total unknown
Venezuela Venezuela 42,671-600,000 [4] [5]
 Cuba 9,566 [6]
Argentina Argentina 2,390 [7]
 United States 3,065 [8]
 United Kingdom 2,114 [9]
 Germany 1,471 [10]
 Uruguay 628 [11]
 Brazil 620 [12]

Canarian Spanish


Roman Catholic

Related ethnic groups

Spanish peoples · Berber people

The Canarians are an ethnic group living in the archipelago of the Canary Islands (an autonomous community of Spain), near the coast of Western Africa. The variety of the Spanish language spoken in the region is the Habla Canaria (Canary speech) or the Dialecto Canario (Canarian dialect), a distinctive dialect of Spanish spoken in the islands.



The islands were conquered by mostly Andalusians and some Castilians at the beginnings of the 15th century. In 1402, they began to subdue the native Guanche population and the Guanches were initially enslaved and gradually absorbed by the Spanish colonizers.

After subsequent settlement by Spaniards and other European peoples, mainly Portuguese, the remaining Guanches were gradually diluted by the settlers and their culture largely vanished. Alonso Fernández de Lugo, conqueror of Tenerife and La Palma, oversaw extensive immigration to these islands during a short period from the late 1490s to the 1520s from mainland Europe, and immigrants included Galicians, Castilians, Portuguese, Italians, Catalans, Basques, and Flemings. At subsequent judicial enquiries, Fernández de Lugo was accused of favoring Genoese and Portuguese immigrants over Castilians.[13]

Today some of the traditional sports such as Lucha Canaria, Juego del Palo or Salto del Pastor, among others, have their roots in Guanche culture. Additionally, other traditions include Canarian pottery, words of Guanche origin in the habla canaria and the rural consumption of guarapo gomero and gofio.

Modern day Canarian culture is Spanish with some Guanche roots. The strong influence of Latin America is due to the constant emigration and return over the centuries of Canarians to that continent, chiefly to Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Nuevo León in Northeastern Mexico.[14]


Canarian children playing with a Piñata.

The inhabitants of the Canary Islands hold a gene pool that is mostly of Berber extract (native population) and partly of European (in last 25 years, European population has increased a lot, cause European Union inner migration politics), the Guanches (a proto-Berber population). Guanche genetic markers have also been found, recently in Puerto Rico and at low frequencies, in peninsular Spain, probably as a result of slavery and/or later emigration from the Canary Islands.[15]

Population genetics

The most frequent mtDNA haplogroup in 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 Sub-Saharan lineages are also common in North African populations, and as a result, some of these L lineages could have been introduced to the Islands from North Africa.[16][17] 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.[18]

A 2003 genetics research article by Nicole Maca-Meyer et al. published in the European Journal of Human Genetics compared 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 Berbers are 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."[19] mtDNA haplogroup U subclade U6b1 is Canarian-specific[20] and is the most common mtDNA haplogroup found in aboriginal Guanche archaeological burial sites.[19]

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 a result of a strong bias favoring matings between European males and aboriginal females, and to the important aboriginal male mortality during the Conquest."[21] The genetics thus suggests the native men were sharply reduced in numbers due to the war, large numbers of Spanish men stayed in the islands and married the local women, the Canarians adopted Spanish names, language, and Roman Catholic Christian religion, and in this way, the Canarians were Hispanicized.

According to a 2005 study, in spite of the geographic nearness between the Canary Islands and Morocco, 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, I and 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 berber haplogroup 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.[22]

According to a recent study by Fregel et al. 2009 the presence of autochthonous North African E-M81 lineages, and also other relatively abundant markers (E-M78 and J-M267) from the same region in the indigenous Guanche population, "strongly points to that area [North Africa] as the most probable origin of the Guanche ancestors". In this study, Fregel et al. estimated that, based on Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplogroup frequencies, the relative female and male indigenous Guanche contributions to the present-day Canary Islands populations were respectively of 41.8% and 16.1%.[23]

Modern Canarians

Population history [24]
Year Population
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
Figures between 1768-2008.

The Guanches are believed to be related to the indigenous Berbers of neighboring Morocco. A relatively small minority believe that the Guanches are related to the Celts of Western Europe, and that the Canary Islands were an early Celtic realm; however, this is not borne out by the linguistic evidence, which puts the Guanche language firmly in the Afro-Asiatic family of languages, and possibly within the Berber subfamily therein.

They were left isolated on the islands, until the Spanish arrived in the 15th century, allowing no contact and mixing with other ethnic groups.

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.[25]

Modern Canarians appear less blond and having less blue eyes than the Riffian people. Despite the statistical evidence that most modern Canarians are brunettes, the legend of the blond beauty of the female inhabitants of Tenerife is famous in seafaring quarters, just as the blond looks of the early Guanches struck the Spaniards. Aside from those racial types mentioned, modern Canarians through the hair and eye color have mixed Nordic race.


Demographics of the Canary Islands (2009) [26][27]
Nationality Population Percent

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%

The Canarian population includes long-tenured and new waves of Spanish immigrants, including Galicians, Castilians, Catalans, Basques and Asturians of Spain; and Portuguese, Italians, the Dutch people or Flemings, and French people. As of 2008, the total Canarian population is 2,075,968. Over 1,541,381 people are native Canarian-born, and another 178,613 people from the Spanish mainland with a total 1,792,121 Spanish population. Most of the 283,847 foreign-born citizens are Europeans with 155,415, such as Germans (39,505), British (37,937) and Italians (24,177). There are 86,287 from the Americas, with Colombians (21,798), Venezuelans (11,958), Cubans (11,098) and Argentines (10,159) being the most numerous.[28]


The overwhelming majority of native Canarians are Roman Catholic with various smaller foreign born populations of other Christian beliefs such as Protestants from northern Europe and Africans following Islam.

Canarians abroad: the Isleño community

Historically, the Canary Islands have served as a hub between Spain and the Americas, and therefore large groups of Canary islanders have emigrated and settled all over the New World as early as the 15th century, mainly in, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Uruguay.

Los Isleños

Isleño settlements in Louisiana

The Canarians were known as Isleños ("islanders") to peninsular Spanish, and they also went by that name during emigration to the Americas. In the United States, they settled in two places: Louisiana and Texas, both then parts of the Spanish Empire, with Louisiana being the premier settlement. When referring to the Isleños in the United States, it usually applies to the Canarian descendants of Louisiana. There were four places in southeast Louisiana settled by Isleños, with the main settlement being St. Bernard Parish.

The Isleños still speak the Canarian dialect of Spanish. Their Spanish has some borrowed words from neighboring cultures. The Isleños are proud of their heritage and have annual festivals in Louisiana to celebrate their culture. There is a museum as well as an exclusive Isleño cemetery and a church in St. Bernard Parish. The Isleños have dominated the fishing and farming industries, especially sugarcane.

In Texas, in earlier times, there was a small community of Isleños that founded San Antonio in 1731, one hundred years before the first English-speaking immigrants arrived in the region.[29]

As far as Latin America is concerned, Canarian emigration to Cuba and Puerto Rico has been there for centuries as well. Canarian people greatly influenced the Cuban culture, even those typical Cuban industries such as tobacco and sugar have the signature of Canarian people[citation needed]. In Puerto Rico, whole villages were founded by Canarian settlers. In addition, several towns across the Northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo León were founded by Canarian settlers, the most recognized Canarian settlement, took place in 1604, which was led by Canarian settler Bernabé de las Casas in the Salinas Valley region of the former New Kingdom of León, this was a crucial event for the subsequent expansion of Canarian settlements in Texas.

Montevideo, the current Uruguayan capital, was also founded by Canarian immigrants as many other places in the continent.

Canary Islands

Canary Islands (Spanish Islas Canarias [ˈislas kaˈnaɾjas]) (28° 06'N, 15° 24'W) are an archipelago of the Kingdom of Spain consisting of seven islands of volcanic origin in the Atlantic Ocean.

Notable Canarians

See also


  1. ^ Total population by region.
  2. ^ How many Canarians in other countries.
  3. ^ Native and foreign residents in Canary Islands (Spanish) 2009
  4. ^ How many Canarians in other countries.
  5. ^ Canarians in Venezuela
  6. ^ How many Canarians in other countries.
  7. ^ How many Canarians in other countries.
  8. ^ Canarian ancestry in 2000 U.S census
  13. ^ History of La Palma
  14. ^
  15. ^ Maca-Meyer N, Villar J, Pérez-Méndez L, Cabrera de León A, Flores C (November 2004). "A tale of aborigines, conquerors and slaves: Alu insertion polymorphisms and the peopling of Canary Islands". Annals of Human Genetics 68 (Pt 6): 600–5. doi:10.1046/j.1529-8817.2003.00125.x. PMID 15598218. 
  16. ^ Rando JC, Cabrera VM, Larruga JM, et al. (September 1999). "Phylogeographic patterns of mtDNA reflecting the colonization of the Canary Islands". Annals of Human Genetics 63 (Pt 5): 413–28. doi:10.1046/j.1469-1809.1999.6350413.x. PMID 10735583. 
  17. ^ Brehm A, Pereira L, Kivisild T, Amorim A (December 2003). "Mitochondrial portraits of the Madeira and Açores archipelagos witness different genetic pools of its settlers". Human Genetics 114 (1): 77–86. doi:10.1007/s00439-003-1024-3. PMID 14513360. 
  18. ^ Fregel R, Pestano J, Arnay M, Cabrera VM, Larruga JM, González AM (October 2009). "The maternal aborigine colonization of La Palma (Canary Islands)". European Journal of Human Genetics 17 (10): 1314–24. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.46. PMID 19337312. 
  19. ^ a b Maca-Meyer N, Arnay M, Rando JC, et al. (February 2004). "Ancient mtDNA analysis and the origin of the Guanches". European Journal of Human Genetics 12 (2): 155–62. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201075. PMID 14508507. 
  20. ^ Phylogeny of the mtDNA haplogroup U6. Analysis of the sequences observed in North Africa and Iberia
  21. ^ Ancient mtDNA analysis and the origin of the Guanches.
  22. ^ Zurita AI, Hernandez A, Sanchez JJ, Cuellas JA (March 2005). "Y-chromosome STR haplotypes in the Canary Islands population (Spain)". Forensic Science International 148 (2-3): 233–8. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.05.004. PMID 15639620. 
  23. ^ Fregel et al. 2009, Demographic history of Canary Islands male gene-pool: replacement of native lineages by European
  24. ^ Official census statistics of the Canary Islands population
  25. ^ Western Barbary; Morocco and the Canary Islands
  26. ^ Native and foreign residents in Canary Islands (Spanish) 2009
  27. ^ Total population by region.
  28. ^ Native and foreign residents in Canary Islands (Spanish)
  29. ^ Links to some Isleño online communities and history webpages: 1, 2, 3.

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