|— Autonomous Community —|
Mount Teide (Tenerife), the symbol of the islands 
Location of Canary Islands
|Capital||Santa Cruz de Tenerife
and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
|- President||Paulino Rivero (CC)|
|Area (1.5% of Spain; Ranked 13th)|
|- Total||7,447 km2 (2,875.3 sq mi)|
|- Density||281.8/km2 (729.9/sq mi)|
|- Pop. rank||8th|
|- Ethnic groups||85.7% Spanish, (Canarian
and Peninsulares), 14.3%
|Statute of Autonomy||August 16, 1982|
|Senate seats||13 (11 elected, 2 appointed)|
|Website||Gobierno de Canarias|
The Canary Islands (pronounced /kəˈneəriː ˈaɪləndz/; Spanish: Islas Canarias, pronounced [ˈizlas kaˈnaɾjas]; Coordinates: ) are a Spanish 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 Morocco and the Western Sahara. The sea currents which depart from Canary's coasts used to lead ships away to America. The islands from largest to smallest are: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, Alegranza, La Graciosa and Montaña Clara.
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. Tenerife is its most populous island with approximately one million inhabitants; the island of Gran Canaria is the second most-populous. The total area of the archipelago is 7447 km². It also enjoys sub-tropical climate with longer hot days in summer and cool in winter.
The status of capital city is shared by the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which in turn are the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas. 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 Tenerife.
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 Canaria. 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).
The original inhabitants of the island, guanches used to worship dogs, mummified them and treat dogs generally as holy animals. In the ancient times the island was well known about its people who worshipped dogs there, and when the Romans first visited the island, they gave it the name: 'canaari', which means in Latin: "the ones who worship dogs", or "the ones with dogs". The ancient Greeks also knew about a people, living far in the west, who are the "dog-headed ones", who worship dogs on an island. Some theorize that the Canary Islands dog-worship and the ancient Egyptian cult of the dog-headed god, Anubis are in close connection, but there is no explanation as to which one was first, and how is it possible for those two far areas to be in contact with each other.
The islands and their capitals are:
|Tenerife||Santa Cruz de Tenerife|
|Gran Canaria||Las Palmas de Gran Canaria|
|La Palma||Santa Cruz de La Palma|
|La Gomera||San Sebastián de La Gomera|
|Fuerteventura||Puerto del Rosario|
|La Graciosa (Lanzarote)||Caleta de Sebo|
Tenerife, with 865,070 inhabitants, is both the Canary Islands' and Spain's most populous island. Tenerife is also the largest island of the archipelago. The island of Fuerteventura is the second largest in the archipelago and located 100 km from the African coast.
The islands form the Macaronesia ecoregion with the Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. The archipelago consists of seven large and several smaller islands, all of which are volcanic in origin. The Teide 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.
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 Doñana. The parks are:
|Parque Nacional de la Caldera de Taburiente||La Palma|
|Garajonay National Park||La Gomera|
|Teide National Park||Tenerife|
|Timanfaya National Park||Lanzarote|
The originally volcanic islands –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).
The Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands consists of two provinces, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, whose capitals (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife) 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.
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 Mogador 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; for example, the giant lizard (Lacerta goliath and Lacerta maxima), or giant rats (Canariomys bravoi and Canariomys tamarani).
When the Europeans began to explore the islands, they encountered several indigenous populations living at a Neolithic level 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 Berbers of 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 Tenerife.
During the Middle Ages, the islands were visited by the Arabs for commercial purposes. Muslim navigator Ibn Farrukh, from Granada, 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 Majorca, Portugal, and Genoa. Lancelotto Malocello settled on the island of Lanzarote in 1312. The Majorcans established a mission with a bishop in the islands that lasted from 1350 to 1400.
There are claims that the Portuguese had 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 Lanzarote. From there, they conquered Fuerteventura and El Hierro. 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 Gomera, but it would be many years before the island was truly conquered. The natives of La Gomera, and of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and La Palma, resisted the Castilian invaders for almost a century. In 1448 Maciot de Béthencourt sold 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, 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 Canaria, a colony of Castile since March 6, 1480 (from 1556, of Spain), and Tenerife, a Spanish colony since 1495, had separate governors.
The cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 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 Palma 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 pirates and privateers. Ottoman Turkish admiral and privateer Kemal Reis ventured into the Canaries in 1501, while Murat Reis the Elder captured Lanzarote in 1585.
The most severe attack took place in 1599, during the Dutch War of Independence. A Dutch fleet 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 Maspalomas, on the southern coast of Gran Canaria, San Sebastian on La Gomera, and Santa Cruz on La Palma, but eventually gave up the siege of Las Palmas and withdrew.
Another noteworthy attack occurred in 1797, when Santa Cruz de Tenerife 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.
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 Havana, Veracruz, Santo Domingo, San Antonio, Texas  and St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana  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 Venezuela. 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 Rico, are an example of Canarian culture still preserved in Puerto Rico. Similarly, many thousands of Canarians emigrated to the shores of Cuba as well. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Spanish fortified the islands against possible American attack, but an attack never came.
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 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”.
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 archipelago into two provinces in 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, Marxist and anarchist workers' movements began to develop, led by figures such as Jose Miguel Perez and Guillermo Ascanio. However, outside of a few municipalities, these organizations were a minority and fell easily to Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War.
In 1936, Francisco Franco was 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 Palma and in the town of Vallehermoso, on La Gomera. Though there was never a proper war in the islands, the post-war repression on the Canaries was most severe.
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 Spain and the formation of various nationalist, leftist parties.
After the death of Franco, there was a pro-independence armed movement based in Algeria, the MPAIAC. Now there are some pro-independence political parties, like the CNC and 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 monarchy in Spain, autonomy was 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 Coalition and the conservative Partido Popular (PP) formed a ruling coalition government. Still, the 1977 bombing of a flower shop in Las Palmas Gando airport and the threat of another bomb, both claimed by an pro-indepence group, led to the major air disaster in Los Rodeos airport in Tenerife, which claimed hundreds of victims, the deadliest result of an indepence group bombing and threats unsurpassed by 2009.
|Demographics of the Canary Islands (2009) |
|Mainland Spanish (Peninsulares)||178,613||12.0%|
|Population history |
|Figures between 1768-2008.|
The Canarian population includes long-tenured and new waves of Spanish immigrants (including Galicians, Castilians, Catalans, Basques), and Portuguese, Italians, Flemings (Belgians) and Britons. 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), Venezuelans (11,958), Cubans (11,098) and Argentines (10,159) being the most numerous. There are 28,136 from Africa with 16,240 Moroccans.
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. 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:
Tenerife is, with its area of 2,034 km², is the most extensive island of the Canary Islands. In addition, the 899,833 inhabitants make it the most populous island in Spain. Two of the islands' principal cities are located on it: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and San Cristóbal de La Laguna (a World Heritage Site). Santa Cruz is the capital of Tenerife and seat of the Parliament of the Canary Islands. Santa Cruz de Tenerife shares the status of capital of the Canaries with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The Teide, 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 Tenerife.
Gran Canaria is the second most populated island, with 829,597 inhabitants. The capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (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 Pico de las Nieves ("Peak of Snow") (1,949 m), the two highest points of the island.
La Palma, with 86,528 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 Teneguía 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 Palma is its capital.
Lanzarote, 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 139,506 inhabitants including the adjacent islets of the Chinijo Archipelago. The capital is Arrecife, with 56,834 inhabitants.
El Hierro, the westernmost island, covers 268.71 km², making it the smallest of the major islands, and the least populous with 10,753 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.
Fuerteventura, 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 Unesco. It has a population of 100,929. 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 Rosario.
La Gomera, has an area of 369.76 km² and is the third least populous island with 22,622 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.
|Tourism in the Canary Islands |
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 bananas and tobacco, are grown for export to Europe and the Americas. Ecologists are concerned that the resources, especially in the more arid islands, are being overexploited but there are still many agricultural resources like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, cochineal, sugarcane, grapes, vines, dates, oranges, lemons, figs, wheat, barley, maize, apricots, peaches and 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 islands are outside the European Union customs 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 (e.g. telecommunications).
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.
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 endangered giant 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 Mouse and Canary Islands Giant Rat, are extinct, as are the Canary Islands Quail, Long-legged Bunting, and the Eastern Canary Islands Chiffchaff.
The Marine life found in the Canary Islands is also varied, being a combination of North Atlantic, Mediterranean and endemic species. In recent years, the increasing popularity of both scuba diving and underwater photography have provided biologists with much new information on the marine life of the islands.
Fish species 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 cucumber and coral.
There are a total of 5 different species of marine turtle that are sighted periodically in the islands, the most common of these being the endangered Loggerhead Turtle. The other four are the Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback and 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 Fuerteventura, adding credibility to the theory.
Marine mammals include the Short-Finned Pilot Whale, Common and Bottlenose dolphins. The Canary Islands were also formerly home to a population of the rarest Pinniped in 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.
David Silva, born in Arguineguin (south of Gran Canaria, Mogan) plays for Valencia. 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:- Borgesen, F. 1929. Marine algae from the Canary Islands. III Rhodophyceae. Part II. Cryptonemiales, Gigartinales, and Rhodymeniales. Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Biologiske Meddelelser. 8: 1 — 97.
The Canary Islands is a group of islands off the coast of Morocco. They are an autonomous (they make their own laws) community of Spain. There are seven main islands. The people who live there speak Spanish. The autonomus community has two capital cities, of equal status: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Every island has been created by volcanoes in the bottom of the sea. Those volcanoes slowly raised until they raised over the water and made the islands. This process lasted many thousands of years.
The islands have a very long and interesting history. When Europeans first came to the Canary Islands, they found people already living there. These people were called the Guanches. Many of the Guanches were killed in battles with the Spanish, and the ones who remained adopted the Spanish way of life. Many battles have been fought over who was to own the islands before Spain claimed them. After the Spanish conquest many battles were also fought against pirates. The most recent of countries interested in them was Morocco.
After the Spanish conquest many Europeans settled there. Portuguese and Spaniards, but also Belgians and Maltese were part of the early settlers. Recently many people from all over Europe, America, India and Africa have also became citizens or permanent residents
The seven islands are: La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and Fuerteventura. People from La Gomera have a whistle language which children there learn at school. Tenerife has the highest mountain in Canary Islands and Spain too, the Teide. The Teide is actually a volcano, but it has not been active in more than 300 years.
a few of the Canary Islands main exports include bananas and tobacco
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