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Gran Canaria
—  Island  —
Roque Nublo, natural symbol of the island.

Flag
Satellite image
Map of Canarias highlightning Gran Canaria
Coordinates: 27°58′N 15°36′W / 27.967°N 15.6°W / 27.967; -15.6
Country  Spain
Autonomous Community  Canary Islands
Province Las Palmas
Capital and Largest City Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Pop. 381,123)
Area
 - Total 1,560 km2 (602.3 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 - Total 829,597
 Density 531/km2 (1,375.3/sq mi)
 - Ethnicities Spanish, other minority groups
Time zone UTC (UTC0)
 - Summer (DST) UTC+1 (UTC+1)
Highest Point Pico de Las Nieves (1,949 metres (6,394 ft))
Website http://www.grancanaria.com
Topography of Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria (in English, "Grand (or Great) Canary") is an island of the Canary 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.[1] Gran Canaria is the second most populous island of the Canary Islands after Tenerife. Gran Canaria is also the third in extension Canary Islands.

Contents

History

Gran Canaria was populated by the Canarii (Guanches), who may have arrived as early as 500 BC. The Canarii called the island Tamarán or Land of the Brave. After over a century of European (French, Portuguese...) incursions and attempts at conquest, the island was conquered on April 29, 1483, after a campaign that lasted 5 years, by 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.

The 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 army. In 1492, Cristopher Columbus 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.

Geography

Gran Canaria is located southeast of Tenerife and west of Fuerteventura. 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 km.

Gran Canaria is divided into twenty-one municipalities:

Municipios y zonas de Gran Canaria.svg

The 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 Canary Islands, along with Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Transportation

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 GC1, GC2, and GC31, and dual carriageways GC4 and GC5. The western and the northwestern parts, with the fewest tourists, are linked only with highways.

The Gran Canaria International Airport is the only airport on Gran Canaria. It has 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 Canaries.

"Puerto de la Luz y de Las Palmas" or "Puerto de Las Palmas", with the "El Muelle" mall in the left

The most 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. The 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.

Climate

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 most favoured.

Climate data for Gran Canaria
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F 68 68 70 70 73 75 79 79 79 77 73 70 73
Average low °F 59 59 59 61 63 66 68 70 70 68 64 61 64
Average high °C 20 20 21 21 23 24 26 26 26 25 23 21 23
Average low °C 15 15 15 16 17 19 20 21 21 20 18 16 18
Source:[citation needed] {{{accessdate}}}

Tourism

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.[2] 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 town of Tejeda and the Roque Nublo in the center 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[3] Natural Protected Spaces, that they emphasize the Rural Park of Nublo, Doramas' Jungle, the Ravine of Azuaje, Tamadaba, Pino Santo, etc.

The "Dunas de Maspalomas", in southern Gran Canaria

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. The 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.

Still 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.

Other attractions include Cocodrilos Park, Roque Nublo (an 80 m 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.[4]

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 1950 m

The 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 Carnaval. 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 and Vecindario (within the municipality of Santa Lucía de Tirajana) and Gáldar. In Arucas there is 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', Christopher Columbus used to get supplies for his ships). In Teror is kept the catholic image of Virgen del Pino, the patron island.

Heading west along the southern coast is the fishing city of Arguineguín in the Municipality of Mogán.

Protected natural areas

Palmitos Park

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,[5] a total of 33 are located in Gran Canaria, the second most protected island in the group.[6]

There are 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 capital Las 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).[7]

References

External links

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Gran Canaria is the third largest island in the Canary Islands , and has the largest population. It's often described as a "continent in miniature" because it has so much variety to offer.

Understand

The capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the northeast of the island, is one of Spain's largest cities.

The south coast of the island is now dominated by the tourist resorts which generate most of the island's economy.

The centre of the island is mountainous, with the remains of ancient pine forests on the peaks.

Maspalomas in the south of Gran Canaria is the tourist zone, with the largest variety of options for enjoying the island.

If you ever need Tourist Information or Specific help, the TI Center is in Yumbo Center.

Spain "Información de Telefonica": Telephone: 118 18 Emergency / Police: 112 Fire department: 113 If accident occurs: Taxe taxi to "Ambulatorio".

  • Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - the largest city, situated in the northeast section of the island, capital of the Autonomous Region of the Canary Islands.
  • Telde - second largest city (population 98,000), between Las Palmas and the airport.
  • Arucas
  • Galdar
  • Vecindario
  • Teror

Talk

The official language of Gran Canaria is Spanish. However, one hears many people speaking English and German in the tourist areas.

The local inhabitants speak Canario, a Spanish dialect characterized by a slightly more singing tone than the mainland, less clear pronunciation and incorporation of different verb tenses. Even for foreigners with a basic knowledge of Spanish, the varieties spoken on the islands can take some time getting used to. On Tenerife however, the pronunciation seems to be more neutral, and leans a bit more toward normalized Spanish. Technically speaking, Canarian is known by

  • loss of ending 's' in most plural unstressed words into a "h" or "sh" sound (relojej instead of relojes),
  • diftonging words and verbs (callao for callado, pesao for pesado),
  • emphasis of the H sound when normally mute (hediondo pronounced jediondo and not ediondo),
  • different verb tense (ayer juguemos un partido instead of ayer jugamos un partido),
  • use of Haiga instead of haya (as the verb "to have") and
  • use of simple past tense instead of past participle tense, resulting in the occlusion and almost non-existence of the latter

Get around

The public transportation system is well organized and economical. There are regular buses that go all over the island, most of the ones useful for tourists run through Avda. Tirajana in Playa del Ingles and head north to the Atlantico shopping centre or Las Palmas or along the coast towards Puerto Rico. To travel Maspalomas-Las Palmas the fastest bust is 50.

Rental cars are available in all resorts, both from local companies and large international car rental companies. Most of the large ones such as Avis and Hertz have offices in Playa del Ingles near the motorway.

Some local companies are Top Car Auto Reisen [1], CICAR [2], Cabrera Medina [3], PaylessCAR [4],FAST Car Hire [5]

There are no trains in Gran Canaria. There is an autopista (freeway) that covers much of the island.

Climate

The climate is subtropical semi-arid for most locations, but it may vary a lot depending of where you are going. For the main touristic resorts the weather is mostly comfortable.

In Maspalomas there is normally 28-33 degrees in July at daytime, which drops to 21-24 by night. In winter, day temperature is normally 23 and by night 16-17. Bad weather can occur, especially between mid-October and March. Temperatures can then drop to 11-12 degrees and be quite windy.

Arguineguín has the best climate, with the least wind, and is, due to its protected location, among the driest in winter too.

Las Palmas has a bit of a different climate, and is sometimes clouded and rain might occur, even in May or June, but it is not very common. If you travel in winter take at least a thick jacket or two. If you plan to travel to the mountains bring or buy a scarf and gloves. The freezing point can be reached on Pozo de Las Nieves.

In summertime, always bring a bottle of water during the day. If winds from Sahara occur and temperatures rise above 40, try to stay in the shadows, close to climatized air and always drink plenty of water.

See

The sand dunes in Maspalomas (ask for "Las Dunas de Mapalomas").

San Bartolomé de Tirajana.

  • Palmitos Park. various animals and exotic plantations  edit
  • Teror. Nuestra Senora del Pino  edit
  • Biking. The island is a paradise for bikers, with lots of trails for mountain biking, from easy to very difficult and long ones. There are also many possibilities of road biking, both in the mountain region and along the coast. There are bike renting centers in the island, like Free Motion in Playa del Ingles. They also organize guided biking tours.  edit
  • Surf Canaries Surf School (Surf School Gran Canaria), 0034677704981, [6]. Gran Canaria is a perfect place to learn to surf. A surf class will set you off safely with the right technique. Use a reputable surf school such as Surf Canaries, a mobile Surf School in the south of the island who take parties to the right beaches for learning and give in depth and fun classes with qualified instructors. It's a great day out if you always fancied having a go!  edit

Hiking

Gran Canaria is a paradise for hill walking with its inhabited cave villages, lake side walks, spectacular mountain scenery and wonderful flora & fauna especially in the Spring. There are a great variety of hikes on outstanding trails, many of these are off-the-beaten-track and the climate is excellent for trekking. 'Don’t leave Gran Canaria without seeing it' - is the ultimate guide for hiking and mountain trekking on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, Spain: [7]

Beaches

The south of Gran Canaria is famous for the variety of beaches. The longest beach is "Playa del Inglés" and "Maspalomas", the almost 4km strech of beach between Playa Del Ingles and Meloneras is a seviced nudist beach. In the Mogán area there are other famous beaches, such as "Amadores", "Anfi del Mar", "Puerto Rico", and "Playa de Mogán." Pictures of these and more beaches can be found here: Gran Canaria Photos [8] (Beaches)

Surfing

Described as the "Hawaii of the Atlantic", the surf on Gran Canaria can be incredible. On the right day the surfers will put on a free and spectacular display, often in the north of the island but also in the south on the right conditions - Maspalomas, Playa Del Ingles and Arguineguin.

It is also a great place to learn to surf with fantastic beaches and a couple of really good surf schools.[9]

Golf

The island is home to Spain's oldest golf club plus eight newer courses, mostly located in the south of the island.

Scuba diving

The south part of the island has many great diving locations and many dive centers. Most arrange daily trips Monday to Saturday with hotel pickup and reasonable equipment rental prices. Most travel guide books suggest one or two dive centers.

Near Maspalomas, Let's go diving [10] arranges boat tours to natural and artificial reefs with a variety of fish and other species. A wreck dive is also possible within 20m depth. You may find flashier rental equipment but you will hardly find better personnel.

Eat

Besides many good restaurants of different nationalities, the Canarian Cuisine is especially worth trying.

Most restaurants serve local wines as well as Rioja.

La Casa Vieja: [11] (North area of Maspalomas) serve Canarian meals like Gofio, fish, squid rings, octopus with vinegar, Papas arrugadas con mojo (salted potatoes with a spicy mix), and grilled meat.

In Las Palmas there are many excellent fish restaurants, specially along the coast near Las Canteras beach and El Confital in the neighborhood of La Isleta. An exquisite dish is Chancletes al limón, but many other local fresh fish are excellent too.

Restaurant Cioa Cioa near the beach in Las Meloneras serves an Italian cuisine with good pizzas, meat and fish dishes.

Restaurante Olivia in Puerto de Mogán serves well prepared local dishes near the yacht harbour in Puerto de Mogán.

  • Tapas. food  edit
  • tapas. food  edit
  • Paella. exotic sea meal with rice  edit
  • Tortilla.  edit

Drink

The Yumbo Centre dominates the centre of Playa del Ingles. It has dozens of restaurants, bars and clubs, many catering to the gay community, particularly on the higher floors.

Some of the cheaper bars are located on the Western side of the ground floor.

Busy gay bars are Construction on the ground floor and Terry's Show and XL on the first floor. The top floor has dance bars such as Mykonos and Mantrix that are a mix of bar and clubs, and tend to be more expensive. Heaven also has a club here, on the third floor.

  • Cafe Florin, [12].

A selection of real English teas can be found at Cafe Florin, also known as the Internet Cafe located one minute from the Yumbo, down the hill towards the playa del ingles beach

  • Club Vista Serena, [13].
  • Residence Aida Gran Canaria C/ Helsinki, 1 - Playa del Ingles, 35010, Ph. +34 928.760824 Fax +34 928.766.823, [14]. On the seaside of Playa del Inglés.
  • Villas Tauro, [15]. Villas Located in Tauro Gran Canaria.
  • The Villas Gran Canaria, [16].
  • Hotel Fataga, C/Néstor de la Torre, 21, Ph. +34928.290614 Fax +34 928.292786, [17]. Las Palmas city center.

Stay safe

There is relatively little crime in the resorts, the main annoyance is drunks causing trouble. As anywhere, one should not leave valuables unattended on the beach.

In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, applying common sense for large cities is advisable. Some of the streets can be badly lit and the area around the harbour can be a bit threatening.

In the south, young guys may attack aged people trying to tear off a bag. It may happen even in the daytime on the central streets of Playa del Ingles.

On the beach, women vendors may try to put a bracelet on your wrist and then charge an exorbitant fee for it. They will almost always approach you with a badly spoken "whea' you from my friend". Pay no attention or you will be plagued.

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Simple English

Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The capital and biggest city is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the north of the island. Economical centre (tourism) of the island is in the south.

Gran Canaria lives - like most of the Canary Islands - mainly on tourism, although Las Palmas does have one of the most important ports in the Atlantic. The touristic centres Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles in the south are especially popular. The climate varies very little through the year. Gran Canaria is very popular for its party tourism.

The international airport is farther north.

The administration of the Canary Islands is shared between Tenerife and Gran Canaria.


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