Canary Islands Facts

Canary Islands Facts and History


The Canaries – Islands of Eternal Spring

The Canary Islands, which together with Madeira, Cape Verde and the Azores make up the region of Macaronesia, were once considered the end of the world, because until the time of Cristóbal Colón (Columbus) no more western piece of land had been seen than the Canary Island El Hierro. At first the archipelago was called Insulae fortunae (= islands of happiness), but after some seafarers left dogs on the islands and these had reproduced, the Roman scholar Pliny named one of these islands, Gran Canaria, after the Latin word for dog (= Canis). This name was carried over to all the islands that were now only known as Islas Canarias (= dog islands).

The Canary Islands, with a total area of 7,446.95 km², are only about two hours by plane from Spain’s mainland in the eastern central Atlantic and spreads out about 100 kilometers off the West African coast. An estimated 10 million people visit the volcanic archipelago every year and admire the incredible diversity of the islands, which since December 2006 have been among the marine areas of the International Maritime Organization IMO that have been specially protected. Every single island has its own face, its own character. While on Tenerife, incidentally the highest island in the whole Atlantic Ocean, with the 3,718 meter high Pico del Teide, the highest mountain in Spain sits enthroned, Lanzarote inspires with almost unreal vegetation and Gran Canaria with an oversupply of white sandy beach romance. The jagged Canary West Islands with their lush green and black rocky beach stand opposite the flat East Islands, where the vegetation is poor, but the beaches are white. Climatically, however, all islands are equally blessed. The oceanic location close to the equator ensures that there are only slight temperature differences between winter and summer and between day and night. So it is pleasantly warm even in winter and not uncomfortable and cold like on Mallorca or Ibiza. With such blessings, the Canaries are the only island kingdom that has spring conditions all year round.

If you choose the Canary Islands as your next holiday destination, you can look forward to: wonderful climatic conditions, warm, blue and clean water, diverse vegetation with primeval forests, moon-like landscapes and secluded bays, small villages in which you can see the cultural charm of the past in every building can read – all of this is Canarian.


This page only applies to the Canary Islands. Although these belong to Spain and therefore do not form a country of their own, they are so popular as a tourist destination that we have dedicated a separate presentation to them. Information about Spain here >>>.

Name of the islands Las Islas Canarias (German: Canary Islands)
Form of government Autonomous Government(autonomous since August 16, 1982)
President Paulino Rivero Building (CC)
Geographical location The Canary Islands, which are known to belong toSpain, are geographically included in Africa.

They are located in the eastern Atlantic Ocean about 100 km off the West African coast and near Morocco.

National anthem The Canaries do not have their own anthem, but use the Spanish anthem “La Marcha Real”.
Population about 2.1 million (Credit: Countryaah)
Ethnicities 83.5% Spaniards (called Canarios or Canarias)16.5% foreigners (mainly Germans, English and Italians)
Religions 90% of the population are Roman Catholic Christians. The rest are Protestant Christians and Muslims.
Languages Spanish (Castellano) is the official language.In the Canary Islands, however, a certain dialect is spoken that is comparable to Cuban.

Furthermore, parts of the Guanche, the language of the Canarian natives, are still preserved.

The most famous example of this is the whistling language El Silbo on the island of La Gomera.

Capital Cities Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with approx. 383,500 residentsSanta Cruz de Tenerife with approx. 222,300 residents
Surface Approx. 7,446.95 km². The area of the seven main islands is:- Tenerife 2,034 km²

– Fuerteventura 1,660 km²

– Gran Canaria 1,560 km²

– Lanzarote 846 km²

– La Palma 708 km²

– La Gomera 370 km²

– El Hierro 269 km²

Highest mountain Pico del Teide with a height of 3,718 meters. The mountain on Tenerife is also the highest mountain in Spain.
International license plate E.
National currency Euro (€) = 100 cents
Time difference to CET – 1hGreenwich Mean Time (GMT) applies to the entire Canary Islands.

It should be noted that from April to October there is a changeover to summer time and the time is then GMT + 1 (= CET).

International phone code 0034
Mains voltage, frequency 220 V, 50 Hz
Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) .it

Canary Islands: history

First settlements and the Spanish conquest

After the references to the first settlement history of the Canary Islands only allow speculations about their time, but were certainly started by North African Berber tribes, there is already more verifiable background knowledge for the 15th century. Because in 1402 the Norman nobleman Jean de Béthencourt (1362-1425) began the conquest of the Canaries together with his henchman Gadifer de la Salle. This was ordered by the Castilian King Heinrich III., Who put forward religious reasons, but in reality probably had very tangible economic motives. Béthencourt, who first landed on Lanzarote, could not conquer all the islands. In fact, the capture of the entire archipelago lasted almost a hundred years and didn’t end until 1496, when Alonso Fernández de Lugo (1456-1525) was able to claim the island of Tenerife for himself. Since that time the Canaries belong to (Castile or) Spain.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, the capture of the island empire for Castile had severe effects on the Canarian indigenous people, the Guanches. Their culture, which was still in the Stone Age, was almost completely lost, which was partly due to the harsh suppression of the European conquerors and partly to the Guanches’ own interest in renewal. The old Canarians were forcibly Christianized by the new island rulers, resettled within the islands, sold as slaves or assimilated under great pressure. The result of this forced adaptation was that the native population has adapted predominantly to the Spanish culture and language. How fast and comprehensive this process was can be seen in the equality order from 1514, which legally raised the Guanches to the same level as the Spaniards.

From the 16th century until today

The islands, which economically followed the European feudal system, experienced an immense intensification of agricultural cultivation in the 16th century, with sugar cane in particular dominating. After the sugar industry began to slide into a severe crisis, the company switched to the introduction of crops such as corn and potatoes.

The Canary Islands opened up in the 19th century through a trade-off with England and France. In particular, this provided for the export of red cochineal dye. In 1852 the Canary Islands were finally declared a free trade area.

After the dictator Franco died in Spain in 1975, the Canary Islands and Spain turned into a parliamentary democracy. And just seven years later, the Canary Islands received their autonomous status. Since 1986 the islands (with Spain) belong to the European Community.

Canary Islands Facts