The Canary Islands

Anything a Tourist should know about The Canary Islands in Spain

The Canary Islands usually referred to colloquially as the Canary Islands, are an independent Spanish community and archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean’s Macaronesia. The closest point to mainland Africa is 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Morocco. These are the southernmost of Spain‘s autonomous communities. The island has a population of 2.2 million and is the most populous unique territory in the European Union.

The seven main islands (from largest to smallest in the area): are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The archipelago includes many smaller islands and islands, including La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montagna Clara, Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este. It also contains several rocks, including Garachico and Anaga.

In ancient times, the series of islands was often called “The Happy Islands.” The Canary Islands are the largest and most populated archipelago in Macaronesia and the southernmost part of Spain. Because of its location, the Canary Islands have historically been considered a link between four continents: Africa, North and South America, and Europe.


Before humans arrived, the Canary Islands were inhabited by prehistoric animals. Examples include the giant lizard (Gallotia goliath), the giant rats of Tenerife and Gran Canaria, and the giant prehistoric tortoises, Geochelone Burchard and Geochelone vulcanic.

The Canary Islands, Spain
The Canary Islands, Spain

Although the original habitation of the area now called the Canary Islands is not entirely clear, linguistic, genetic and archaeological analyzes suggest that indigenous people lived on the Canary Islands at least 2,000 years ago, possibly more than a millennium ago, and were mixed with Berbers from the nearby North African coast. They had a common origin.

It was possible to reach the island with the help of several small boats that landed on the easternmost islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Only the original inhabitants of Tenerife were called Guanches, but this group came to be known collectively as Guanches.

A major tourist destination

The Canary Islands, in particular Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, are major tourist destinations with over 12 million visitors per year. This is due to its beaches, subtropical climate and important natural attractions, especially Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and Mount Teide in Tenerife (World Heritage).

The population of the canary island

Approximately two thousand people called the Canary Islands home as of 2019, and a density of 287.39 people per km2, making it the 8th most populous autonomous community in Spain. The population is mainly concentrated on the two capital islands. About 43% are on the island of Tenerife, and 40% are on Gran Canaria.

The Canary Islands: A major tourist destination
The Canary Islands: A major tourist destination

Mount Teide is Spain’s

Mount Teide is Spain’s highest peak and the world’s third-highest volcano, measured from the ocean floor. These islands have warm summers and warm enough winters to technically be tropical at sea level. Precipitation and sea mitigation levels vary by location and elevation. The archipelago has green areas and deserts. The island’s tall mountains are above a temperature inversion layer, making it ideal for astronomical observations.

As a result, the archipelago has two specialized astronomical observatories: the Teide Observatory in Tenerife and the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma.

Autonomous Communities of the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands were divided into two provinces in 1927. In 1982, the Canary Islands Autonomous Community was founded. These cities are also the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas, respectively. Except for a brief spell in the 1910s, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been the largest city in the Canary Islands since 1768.

Between 1833 and the partition of Spain in 1927, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands. In 1927, a decree was issued dividing the capital of the Canary Islands into two cities, an agreement that continues to this day. San Cristobal de la Laguna, located in Tenerife and another World Heritage Site, is the third-largest city in the Canary Islands.


The name Islas Canarias probably comes from the Latin name Canariae Insulae, meaning “Isles of Dogs.” This term, which may refer to Gran Canaria, is a generalization of the historical name of one of these islands, Canaria. The historian Pliny the Elder said that “many dogs of extremely huge size” lived on the island of Canaria.

The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands

Other theories suggest that the name comes from the Nukari tribe of Berbers living in Atlas, Morocco; in Roman sources, it was named a canary. Still, Pliny refers back to the term’s association with dogs. The connection with the dog is preserved as an image on the island’s coat of arms.

It is believed that the natives of Gran Canaria called themselves “Canarios.” It is possible that the name was used as a plural in Spanish after the conquest. That is, to refer to all islands as Canarii-as. The name of the island does not come from the Canaries. Instead, the islands are used as the names for the birds.

Physical geography

The biggest and most populated island in the archipelago is Tenerife. With a population of 865,070, Gran Canaria is the second most populous island in the Canary Islands and the third most populous in Spain after Tenerife (population of 966,354) and Mallorca (896,038). The second-largest island in the archipelago, Fuerteventura, is situated 62 miles (100 kilometers) off the coast of Africa.

These islands and the Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira and Wild Islands, form the Macaronesia ecoregion. The Canary Islands are the largest and most populous archipelago in the Macaronesia region. The archipelago consists of seven large islands and several smaller ones of volcanic origin.

The climate can be mild and wet or very dry depending on the island’s location concerning the northeast trade winds. Several native species form laurel forests.


The climate is mild subtropical, generally semi-desert, with trade winds in summer. There are several microclimates, and their classifications range from mostly semi-arid to desert. According to Kรถppen, most of the Canary Islands have a hot desert climate (BWh) and a hot semi-arid climate (BSh), caused in part by the cool Canary Current.

Climate of The Canary Islands
Climate of The Canary Islands

In the center of the islands of La Gomera, Tenerife and La Palma, where the Laurisilva cloud forest grows, there is also a humid subtropical climate heavily influenced by the sea.


The seven main islands, one islet and several islets, were originally volcanic islands formed by the Canary Islands hotspot. The Canary Islands are the only place in Spain where volcanic eruptions have been recorded in modern times, and some volcanoes are still active (El Hierro, 2011). Volcanic islands such as the Canary Islands have steep offshore cliffs that are often devastated by avalanches and landslides.

The last eruption in the island chain occurred in 2021 in the Cumbre Vieja volcanic field on the island of La Palma.

Tenerife’s Mount Teide is the tallest mountain in Spain and the third tallest volcano on Earth, on a volcanic island in the ocean. All islands except La Gomera have been active for the last million years. Four of them (Lanzarote, La Palma, Tenerife and El Hierro) have historical records of eruptions since their discovery in Europe.

Islands are rising from the Jurassic oceanic crust associated with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean. Underwater magmatism began in the Cretaceous period and continues to this day. The present island reached sea level in the Miocene. The island was once considered a separate geographical part of the Atlas Mountains province, which in turn is part of a larger subdivision of the African Alpine system, but is now recognized as being associated with a magmatic hotspot.

Natural symbols

The official natural symbols associated with the Canary Islands are the Serinus canaria (Canary) bird and the Phoenix canariensis palm.

Natural symbols
Natural symbols

National parks

Four of Spain’s 13 national parks are in the Canary Islands, more than any other autonomous region. Two of them have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, and the other two are part of Biosphere Reserves.

  • Caldera de Taburiente National Park: in the La Palma Island
  • Garajonay National Park:in the La Gomera island
  • Teide National Park: in the Tenerife Island
  • Timanfaya National Park: on the Lanzarote Island


Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians could visit the island. King Juba II, the successor of Numidia to Caesar Augustus, is credited with opening the island to the western world. According to Pliny, the Elder, Juba discovered an uninhabited island but found “a small stone temple” and “some traces of buildings.”

Juba sent a naval detachment to reopen the Mogador paint factory in present-day western Morocco in the early 1st century AD. Subsequently, the same navy was sent to explore the Canary Islands, using Mogador as a base for missions.

The Canary Islands in Spain
The Canary Islands in Spain

The Romantic Age and Scientific Exploration

Sirera and Rennes (2004) distinguish between two different types of exploration or travel in 1770โ€“1830, which they call the “romantic period.”

First, “state-sponsored expeditions” are closely related to official scientific institutions. It is characterized by rigorous scientific goals and is inspired by illustration and the spirit of progress.” Sierra and Renne’s expeditions of this type include the following travelers:

  • J. Edens’s 1715 ascent and observation of Mount Teide influenced many subsequent expeditions.
  • Louis Fayet (1724) was sent to measure the meridian of El Hierro and map the island.
  • Jean-Charles de Borda (1771, 1776) more accurately measured the longitude of the island and the height of Mount Teide. The
  • Bodin-Ledroux Expedition (1796) aimed to restore a valuable collection of natural history artifacts.

The second type of expedition detected by Sirera and Rennes was based on more or less private initiatives. Among them, the main representatives are:

  • Alexander von Humboldt
  • Buch and Smith
  • Broussonet
  • Sabin Berthelot
  • Webb


Beginning with the conquest of the Canary Islands more than five centuries, the Catholic Church was the majority religion in the archipelago. There are also several other religious communities.

The religion of The people of The Canary Islands
The religion of The people of The Canary Islands

Roman Catholic Church

The majority of the native Canarians are Roman Catholic (76.7%), with a small foreign-born group varying in other Christian faiths, such as Protestantism.

Besides the overwhelming majority of Christians, there are a minority of Muslims. Among the followers of Islam is the Islamic League of the Canary Islands, which represents the Canary Islands’s Islamic community and provides practical assistance to members of the Islamic community. The archipelago also houses the Evangelical Council of the Canary Islands.

The 9 Islands of the Canary Islands, Spain

Besides the overwhelming majority of Christians, there are a minority of Muslims. Among the followers of Islam is the Islamic League of the Canary Islands, which represents the Canary Islands’s Islamic community and provides practical assistance to members of the Islamic community. The archipelago also houses the Evangelical Council of the Canary Islands.

1. El Hierro

The westernmost island of El Hierro occupies an area of 268.71 km2 (103.75 sq mi), making it the second largest and least densely populated of the main islands with 10,798 inhabitants. The entire island was declared a biosphere reserve in 2000. The capital is Valverde.

Also known as Ferro, it was once considered the most westerly land in the world.

El Hierro
El Hierro

2. Fuerteventura

With an area of 1,660 km2 (640 sq mi), Fuerteventura is the second-largest island in the archipelago. UNESCO has declared it a Biosphere Reserve. The population is 113,275. It is also the oldest island, so it is prone to erosion. The highest point is Blackberry Peak at 807 m (2648 ft). The capital is Puerto del Rosario.

3. Gran Canaria

Approximately eight hundred people live in Gran Canaria. The capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (population 377,203), is the most populous city, sharing the Canary Islands’ capital status with Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Gran Canaria has a surface area of 1,560 km2 (600 sq mi). At the centre of the island is Roque Nublo at 1,813 m (5,948 ft) and Pico de las Nieves (“Snow Peak”) at 1,949 m (6,394 ft). The south of the island has the biggest tourist attractions, the dunes of Maspalomas (Gran Canaria).

Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria

4. La Gomera

La Gomera covers an area of 369.76 km2 (142.77 sq mi) and has a population of 21,136, making it the second least populated island. Geologically, it is one of the oldest islands in the archipelago. The capital of the island is San Sebastian de la Gomera.

Garajonay National Park is on an island.

5. Lanzarote

Lanzarote is the easternmost island in the archipelago, where evidence of recent volcanic activity has been discovered, and one of the oldest. It covers an area of 845.94 km2 (326.62 sq mi), has a population of 149,183 and includes the neighboring island of Chiniho Archipelago. The capital is Arrecife, with a population of 56,834.


6. Chinijo Archipelago

The Chinijo Archipelago includes the islands of La Gracie, Joy, Clear Mountain, East Rock, and West Rock. It covers an area of 40.8 km2 (15.8 square miles). At 29 km2 (11 sq mi), La Graciosa is the smallest inhabited island in the Canary Islands.

7. La Palma

With a population of 81,863 and an area of 708.32 km2 (273.48 sq mi), La Palma is entirely a biosphere reserve. The last Tenegian volcano erupted in 1971, but there were no signs of volcanic activity for a long time. On September 19, 2021, the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on the island.

It is the second-highest island in the Canary Islands, and its highest point is Roque de los Muchachos at 2,423 m (7,949 ft). Santa Cruz de la Palma (known on the island as simply “Santa Cruz”) is the capital.

La Palma
La Palma

8. Tenerife

With an area of 2034 km2 (785 sq mi), Tenerife is the largest island in the Canary Islands. Also, with 904,713 inhabitants, it is the most populous island in the archipelago and Spain. The island’s two main cities are the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and San Cristobal de la Laguna (World Heritage Site).

9. La Graciosa

With an area of 2034 km2 (785 sq mi), Tenerife is the largest island in the Canary Islands. Also, with 904,713 inhabitants, it is the most populous island in the archipelago and Spain. The island’s two main cities are the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and San Cristobal de la Laguna (World Heritage Site).

La Graciosa
La Graciosa


Servicio Canario de Salud is an autonomous administrative agency belonging to the Ministry of Health of the Government of the Canary Islands. Most hospitals in the archipelago belong to this organization.


Prehistoric fauna

Before the login of the Aborigines, the Canary Islands were home to many indigenous animals. Such as the extinct giant lizard (Gallotia goliath), giant tortoises (Centrochelys Burchard and C. volcanic), and the giant rats of Tenerife and Gran Canaria (Canariomys bravos and C.

Above all. Extinct birds known only from bones from the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs include the Canarian quail (Coturnix glomerate), dune petrel (Puffinusholeae), lava petrel (P. Olson), Triassic greenfinch (Chloris trials), and slender-billed greenfinch (C). . . Aurelio). ) and long-legged bunting (Emberiza alcove). Additionally, some unidentified bird eggshell fragments from the Miocene of Lanzarote are thought to belong to an extinct species of ratites.

Terrestrial wildlife

References: List of Nonmarine Molluscs of the Canary Islands, List of Reptiles of the Canary Islands, List of Lepidoptera of the Canary Islands

Terrestrial wildlife in The Canary Islands
Terrestrial wildlife in The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands, with their diverse habitats, show a variety of plant species. Birds include European and African species, such as the black-bellied grouse. A variety of endemic (native) taxa, including:

  • Canary Graza, a subspecies of the red-billed jackdaw, endemic to La Palma.
  • Blue chaffinch:
  • Tenerife blue chaffinch endemic to Tenerife
  • Gran Canaria blue chaffinch endemic to Gran Canaria
  • Fuerteventura chat
  • Canary Islands chiffchaff
  • Scorpions
  • Plain swift
  • Snakes
  • Bolle’s pigeon
  • Laurel Pigeon
  • La Palma chaffinch
  • Canarian Egyptian vulture
  • Houbara bustard
  • Canary Islands oystercatcher (extinct)
  • Spiders
  • Tenerife goldcrest

Marine life

The marine life of the Canary Islands is also diverse, with a mix of North Atlantic, Mediterranean and endemic species. The growing popularity of scuba diving and underwater photography in recent years has given biologists a lot of new information about the island’s marine life.

Marine life in The Canary Islands
Marine life in The Canary Islands

Fish species found on the island include sharks, stingrays, moray eels, snappers, barracudas, grunts, scorpions, filefish, groupers, mudskippers, blenny and many more. In addition, there are various types of invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, anemones, crabs, clams, sea urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers, and corals.

Some holidays celebrated in the Canary Islands are international and national, others local and others isolated. The Canary Islands celebrate their official day on May 30. This day commemorates the inaugural meeting of the Canary Islands Parliament, which took place on May 30, 1983, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The best hotels in the Canary Islands

  • Royal River, Luxury Hotel – Adults Only
  • Radisson Blu Resort Gran Canaria
  • Radisson Blu Resort Gran Canaria
  • Palm Oasis Maspalomas
  • Club Maspalomas Suites & Spa – Adults Only
  • Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel
  • Vincci Selecciรณn La Plantaciรณn del Sur
  • La Isla y el Mar, Hotel Boutique
  • Nava Suites
  • Emblemรกtico F24-Only Adults
  • MYND Adeje

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