The Beautiful Canary Islands

Regions

The following islands make up the Canary chain:
Gran Canaria — The largest island by population, its capital city (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) has the shared title of capital of the Canaries. Green and steep in the north, dry and flat in the south.

Fuerteventura — windsurfer's mecca
Lanzarote — Low lying and arid, with a spectacular volcanic landscape in the west of the island (National Park of Timanfaya). The capital is Arrecife and has its own airport (ACE code). Lanzarote is also of volcanic origin. The island, along with others, emerged after the breakup of the African and the American continental plates. The greatest recorded eruptions occurred between 1730 and 1736. This area is preserved as the Timanfaya National Park.


Tenerife — The island of Tenerife has many museums and monuments that serve as portrayals of its rich history. As the largest island of the seven, its oldest mountain ranges are young compared to its neighboring islands. Volcanic activity did not begin to occur here until eight to twelve million years ago, while other islands had it well over 20 million years ago. The highest mountain of Spain, El Teide. 3rd largest volcano in the world in extension (Volcano 3718 meters high). The Capital city is Santa Cruz de Tenerife, home to the Canary Island Parliament. The title of capital city is shared with San Cristóbal de La Laguna. With a population of 899,833 people, it is the most populated island. Another popular city on the island is San Cristobal de La Laguna. Here you can find the oldest university in the Canary Islands.

La Gomera — The Magic Isle - walker's paradise. It is shaped like an orange that has been cut in half and split into segments. The terrain is rough, which has left deep ravines or barrancos between them. These barrancos, in turn, are covered by the laurisilva ((laurel rain forest)). It is home to the only remaining Laurisilva rain forest in northern Africa. The local wine has a distinct taste, and is often accompanied with a tapa (snack) of local cheese, roasted pork or goat meat. Other cultural dishes include almogrote, a cheese spread, and a syrup extracted from palm trees called miel de palma. The local people have a unique way of communicating across deep ravines by using a whistled speech called Silbo Gomero. This whistled language is indigenous to the island, and its existence has been documented since Roman times.

La Palma — The total population is about 86,000, of which 18,000 (2003 data) live in the capital, Santa Cruz de la Palma and about 20,000 (2004 data) in Los Llanos de Aridane. La Palma's geographic layout is a result of the volcanic formation of the island. The southern part of La Palma is dominated by the Cumbre Vieja, a volcanic ridge formed by numerous volcanic cones built of lava and scoria. The Cumbre Vieja is active but dormant, with the last eruption occurring in 1971 at the Teneguia vent, located at the southern end of the Cumbre Vieja.

El Hierro — 'The edge of the world'. It is also known as the Meridian Island.

Cities
Las Palmas — the largest city, situated on Gran Canaria and one of the capitals of the Canary Islands
Santa Cruz de Tenerife — another capital of the Canary Islands, situated on Tenerife

Demographics
The islands have a population of 2 million. Since the Canary Islands are a major European tourist destination, all the major islands have well-developed communication systems, airports, and ports.

Ethnically the population is mostly a mix of Spanish, European (German and British), South American, and especially Cuban and Venezuelan as well as Northern and Sub-Sahara African. There are also historical minorities such as Indians, Koreans and lately Russians.

Pico del Teide (on Tenerife) at 3718 metres above sea level is the highest point in both the Canary Islands and Spanish territory.

Each island speaks with a slightly different accent and there is a strong rivalry between the main islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Most of the accents in the Canary Islands are closer to Latin American Spanish than to Castililan Spanish spoken in continental Spain.

The Canary Islands are very modern, very European, and extremely liberal.

History
Ancient legend claims the Canary Islands are the ‘lost islands’ of Atlantis. They have also been referred to as the lands without sorrow, holding on to the edge of the world. The first settlers were from North Africans. Known as Phoenicians, they arrived in the 10th century B.C. The main economic system was built around agriculture and animal farming. During the 14th century, the Islands were continuously invaded by different European countries. Following that, the Canary Islands went unnoticed for almost 1000 years. It was rediscovered when Mediterranean boats stumbled upon it again.

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