The Canarian Archipelago consists of seven major, volcanic islands lying in the Atlantic Ocean just 100km off the west coast of Africa and more than 1000km from the landmass under whose jurisdiction they fall – Spain.
The Canary Islands are a wholly autonomous region of Spain which is divided into two provinces. The Eastern Isles consist of Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and are governed from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The Western Isles consist of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro and are governed from Santa Cruz de Tenerife. There is a single Island Government, the Gobierno, and each island has its own governing body, the Cabildo. The official language is Spanish.
Canary Islands Overview
In terms of their geographical make-up, the Canary Islands have similar landscapes to the High Atlas Mountains and coasts of Morocco and Algeria but over their history, when times have been hard, it has been to the Americas that the islands have looked for work, returning with full coffers to benefit their homeland. As a result, in cultural terms the Canaries are an eclectic blend of African and South American.
Although there are less than 230km separating most easterly from furthest west, each island has its own distinctive look and character. The further east you travel in the Canary Islands, the hotter and drier the islands become with Fuerteventura’s landscape being akin to Saharan conditions. The further west you travel the greener and more lush the islands are with La Palma having the nickname of La Isla Bonita (the beautiful island).
Strategically positioned as a stepping stone between Europe and the Americas, it was from the little island of La Gomera that Columbus set sail in 1492 on his epic voyage of discovery. From that time onwards the Canary Islands became a pivotal trading post for the New World bringing exotic flora, riches and multi-cultural influences to bear, all of which have fashioned them into the fascinating melting pot they are today.
Buzz Trips Opinion
Enjoying year-round sunshine with balmy winters and tropical summers, the Canary Islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura have long been a magnet for sun and fun seekers. But move away from the path that’s worn thin with tourist feet and you’ll discover fascinating landscapes, picturesque hamlets and people whose lives have changed little over the last century, despite the march of mass tourism.
Head to the islands of La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro and you’ll discover tropical islands virtually unaltered by developments in their archipelago neighbours, where agriculture still lies at the heart of the economy and little English is spoken outside of the guest houses and restaurants.
The Canary Islands – seven islands, seven very different destinations.