The Canary Islands

Things to do in The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands lie in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Moroccan coast. The volcanic islands are the mountain tops of a submerged mountain that began to form around one hundred and eighty million years ago. The hotspot that provided this is still active, which means that the volcanoes on the islands can be productive and the undersea mountains are still growing.

The Canary Islands were probably built around 3000 BC, inhabited for the first time by settlers from North Africa. In the 15th century, the Spaniards conquered the islands of the then inhabitants, who were called the Guanches. They still lived in caves, wore goat skins and made attributes of earthenware and stone. Therefore people say that the Stone Age in this region lasted until the 15th century.

The Islands

The island group consists of thirteen islands, seven of which are “main islands”.

Tenerife is the largest island in the region and also houses the most inhabitants. Just like Gran Canaria, it is very popular with tourists. Both islands form the head of their province within the region. Tenerife has the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Gran Canaria Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which is also the largest city in the area.

Lanzarote is the most easterly island, from where you can see the coast of Morocco. It is geologically the oldest island.

Fuerteventura lay below Tenerife and formed around the same time. Both islands are arid and inhospitable due to the nearby Sahara and volcanic eruptions in the past.

You will find La Palma located west of the archipelago. Unlike the other islands, it is very green. It is especially popular among hikers. Mass tourism is not present here. Even less known are El Hierro and La Gomera, the smallest of the seven main islands.


Footpath to the scenic lookout in the La Gomera island, Canary Islands, Spain

Although Lanzarote is only a hundred kilometres from the coast of Morocco, the official language is simply Spanish. On the island of La Gomera, some residents also “speak” a flute language called Silbo. The Silbo originated in the Guanches days and was used to communicate over long distances about the mountainous landscape and the deep valleys of the islands. Originally it was probably also used on Gran Canaria and Tenerife.


In the Canary Islands, there is a warm, subtropical climate, which is very popular with tourists. The islands are also known for their rugged, volcanic nature and harbour many native species, such as the canary. This fashionable pet owes its name to the region. Probably the Canary Islands got their current name through their Latin name, Canariae Insulae, which means dog islands. Many dogs were said to have lived on the islands, which were worshipped by the Guanchen. However, other sources contradict this. The dogs can still be found today in the coat of arms of the island group.


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