Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are a group of seven islands of volcanic origin in the Atlantic Ocean, off the northwestern coast of Africa. They form the Macaronesia ecoregion with Cape Verde, Madeira and the Azores.

canary islands location

Location of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean


The islands and their capitals are: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Gran Canaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Tenerife, Arrecife in Lanzarote, Santa Cruz in La Palma, San Sebastián in La Gomera, Valverde in El Hierro and Puerto del Rosario (formerly Puerto de Cabras) in Fuerteventura.


The Teide volcano is the highest mountain in Spain. According to the position of the islands with respect to the trade winds, the climate can be mild and wet or very dry. Several native species are conserved, like the drago tree Dracaena draco and the Laurisilva forests.

The islands belong to Spain, and form an autonomous community of that country. The autonomous community consists of two provinces, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, whose capitals (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife) are co-capitals of the autonomous community. Each of the seven major islands is ruled by a assembly named cabildo insular.

The nearest island is 108 km from the northwest African coast. The islands were named Canaria (Latin canis, dog) because of the descriptions of the large numbers of wild dogs roaming the islands, first reported by the Roman scholar Pliny. The bird canary was named after the islands. Being initially dominated by Arabs, Norman adventurers and Portugal, the islands were finally conquered by Castile towards the end of the 15th century, and the local (possibly Berber) people —called guanches— subsequently diminished in number until their extinction or mixing with the immigrants.

The economy is based on tourism and tropical agriculture (banana, tobacco) for exportation to Europe. This model leads to heavy immigration from Europe, Africa and the Americas. Ecologists are concerned that the resources, especially, in the drier islands are being overexploited.

The combination of high mountains, belonging to Europe, and clean sky has made the Roque de los Muchachos peak a leading placement for telescopes like the Grantecan.

The islands are outside European Union customs territory. The ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code IC is reserved for representing them in customs affairs, but the islands are under the same Internet country code as Spain.

Canarian time is GMT, one hour less that that of mainland Spain.

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Gran Canaria travel