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Canary Islands

flag Canary Islands Canary Islands,
the Islands of the permanent spring.

When are we coming back? This will be your kids’ question when you leave the Canary Islands. They will be wanting to repeat the dolphin visit, ride the camels again, go on the huge slides once more, rediscover the forest of Garajonay and see a volcano up close again. Do you know what's best of all? You too will want to come back to enjoy the sun and long days on the beach that are possible all year round on the seven islands of the Canaries.

The Canary Islands are always a privileged destination, thanks to their 22ºC average year-round temperature, their beaches and incredible variety of natural landscapes. However, if you come to the Canaries with children, then the destination is particularly attractive. So much so that you will only have to mention a few of the activities they will be doing on the islands to convince them that they have an unforgettable holiday in store. try these:

They will get to know some new, very friendly animals. They can ride a camel, for example, on a trip over beaches and volcanic landscapes. Our tip? A desert right next to the beach (Maspalomas, in Gran Canaria). Do they know that the donkey is an endangered species? They can find out on a farm at Las Américas Beach (Tenerife). What do crocodiles and giant lizards eat? Let them find out for themselves at places like Palmitos Park and Cocodrilo Park, both in Gran Canaria, or at the Giant Lizard Sanctuary in El Hierro.

They will visit the home of dolphins. From Tenerife and Gran Canaria there are excursions to their natural habitat that will take you closer than ever before to these cetaceans which always respond to the visit with jumps and acrobatics. Would they like to discover the marine ecosystem? On some islands, such as Lanzarote, there are underwater safaris in submarines.

Dancing with penguins. In Tenerife, when the sun is shining and it’s nice and warm, what better than a visit to see the penguins? You can do this at the Loro Parque Zoo, where alongside killer whales, orang-utans, jaguars, tigers and parrots you can see many penguins that will make them laugh with their funny dances.

They’ll feel like fish spending hours in the water at any of the Canaries’ numerous water parks. Special mention should be made of Siam Park, in Tenerife, one of the largest in Europe; also Aquapark in Lanzarote; Aqualand in Gran Canaria; and Oasis Park in Fuerteventura. On this island, don’t miss the chance to enjoy the wind, flying a kite with the children on the beach.

 

flag tenerife Tenerife,

a Spanish island, is the largest of the seven Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. Tenerife has an area of 2034.38 square kilometers, and 899,833 inhabitants. It is the most populated island of the Canary Islands and Spain. About 43% of the population of the Canary Islands housing on this island, this is almost half the total population of the archipelago. About five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, which is also one of the busiest Spain resorts and the first of Canary Islands. Tenerife also has one of the world's largest carnivals, and the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife now aspires to become a World Heritage Site. The island's capital contains the architectural symbol of the Canary Islands, the modern Auditorio de Tenerife.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of the island and the seat of the island council (cabildo insular). The city is capital of the autonomous community of Canary Islands (shared with Las Palmas), sharing governmental institutions such as Presidency and ministries. Between the 1833 territorial division of Spain and 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands, until in 1927 a decree ordered that the capital of the Canary Islands be shared, as it remains as at present.

The island is home to the University of San Fernando de La Laguna, which was founded in 1792. The University of La Laguna is the oldest university in the Canaries. San Cristóbal de La Laguna (World Heritage Site) is the second city of the island and the third one of the archipelago. The city of La Laguna was also capital of the Canary Islands until Santa Cruz replaced it in 1833.

Tenerife also has the highest elevation of Spain, a World Heritage Site that is the third largest volcano in the world from its base, El Teide.

The oldest mountain ranges in Tenerife rose from the Atlantic Ocean by volcanic eruption which gave birth to the island around twelve million years ago. The island as it is today was formed three million years ago by the fusion of three different islands made up of the mountain ranges of Anaga, Teno and Valle de San Lorenzo, due to volcanic activity from Teide. The volcano is visible from most parts of the island today, and the crater is 17 km long at some points.

The uneven and steep orography of the island and its variety of climates has resulted in a diversity of landscapes and geographical and geological formations, from the Parque Nacional del Teide with its extensive pine forests, juxtaposed against the volcanic landscape at the summit of Teide and Malpaís de Güímar, to the Acantilados de Los Gigantes (Cliffs of the Giants) with its vertical precipices. Semidesert areas exist in the south with drought-resistant plants. Other areas range from those protected and enclosed in mountains such as Montaña Roja and Montaña Pelada, the valleys and forests with subtropical vegetation and climate, to those with deep gorges and precipices such as at Anaga and Teno.

flag Gomera La Gomera

 The island is of volcanic origin and roughly circular; it is about 22 km (15 miles) in diameter and rises to 1487 m (nearly 5000 feet) at the island's highest peak, Garajonay. Its shape is rather like an orange that has been cut in half and then split into segments, which has left deep ravines or barrancos between them. These barrancos, in turn, are covered by the laurisilva - or laurel rain forest.

The upper reaches of this densely wooded region are almost permanently shrouded in clouds and mist, and as a result are covered in lush and diverse vegetation: they form the protected environment of Spain's Garajonay National Park, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The slopes are criss-crossed by paths that present varying levels of difficulty to visitors, and stunning views to seasoned hikers.

The central mountains catch the moisture from the trade wind clouds and yield a dense jungle climate in the cooler air, which contrasts with the warmer, sun-baked cliffs near sea level.

Between these extremes one finds a fascinating gamut of microclimates; for centuries, the inhabitants of La Gomera have farmed the lower levels by channelling runoff water to irrigate their vineyards, orchards and banana groves.

The local wine is distinctive, and is often accompanied with a tapa (snack) of local cheese, roasted pork or goat meat. Other culinary specialities include almogrote, a cheese spread, and miel de palma, a syrup extracted from palm trees.

The inhabitants of La Gomera have a unique way of communicating across deep ravines by means of an amazing whistled speech called Silbo Gomero. This whistled language is indigenous to the island, and its existence has been documented since Roman times. Invented by the original inhabitants of the island, the Guanches, Silbo Gomero was adopted by the Spanish settlers in the 16th century and survived after the Guanches died out. When this unique means of communication was threatened with extinction at the dawn of the 21st century, the local government required all children to learn it in school.

In the mountains of La Gomera, its original inhabitants worshipped their god, whom they called Orahan; the summit and centre of the island served as their grand sanctuary. Indeed, many of the natives took refuge in this sacred territory in 1489, as they faced imminent defeat at the hands of the Spaniards, and it was here that the conquest of La Gomera was drawn to a close. Modern-day archaeologists have found several ceremonial stone constructions here, which appear to represent sacrificial altar stones, slate hollows or cavities. It was here that the Guanches built pyres upon which to make offerings of goats and sheep to their god. This same god, Orahan, was known on La Palma as Abora and on Tenerife and Gran Canaria as Arocan. The Guanches also interred their dead in caves, which still dot the landscape.

Christopher Columbus made La Gomera his last port of call before crossing the Atlantic in 1492. He stopped here to replenish his crew's wine and water, intending to stay only four days. However, he became romantically involved with Beatriz de Bobadilla y Ossorio, the governor of La Gomera, and he ended up staying one month. When he finally sailed she gave him cuttings of sugarcane, which became the first to reach the New World. The house in San Sebastián in which he stayed is now a tourist attraction.

 

La PalmaLa Palma

 

flag, el hierro El Hierro,

nicknamed Isla del Meridiano (the "Meridian Island"), is a Spanish island. It is the smallest and furthest south and west of the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. It is situated at 27°45' north, 18°00' west.

The island was known in European history as the prime meridian in common use outside of the future British Empire. Already in the 2nd century A.D., Ptolemy considered a definition of the zero meridian based on the western-most position of the known world, giving maps with only positive (eastern) longitudes. In the year 1634, France ruled by Louis XIII and Richelieu decided that Ferro's meridian should be used as the reference on maps, since this island was considered the most western position of the Old World. (Azores lie further west, but they weren't discovered by Europeans till early 15th century, and their identification as part of the Old World is uncertain.)

The ancient natives of the island, called bimbaches, were conquered by Jean de Béthencourt –more through the process of negotiation than by military action. Béthencourt had as his ally and negotiator Augeron, brother of the island's native monarch. Augeron had been captured years previously by the Europeans and now served as mediator between the Europeans and the Guanches. In return for control over the island, Béthencourt promised to respect the liberty of the natives, but he eventually broke his promise, selling many of the bimbaches into slavery. Many Frenchmen and Galicians subsequently settled on the island. There was a revolt of the natives against the harsh treatment of the governor Lázaro Vizcaíno, but it was suppressed.

Like the rest of the chain, the island is sharply mountainous. It has an area of 278 km². The highest point is situated in the middle of the island, in Malpaso, 1501 meters high. El Hierro is home to many unique species, such as the El Hierro Giant Lizard (Gallotia simonyi). For more information on the flora and vegetation of the island see http://www.hierro-flora.de.

According to the Ministry for Industry, Tourism and Commerce El Hierro will become the first island in the world to be energy self-sufficient. This will be achieved through a €54 million project combining a 10 megawatt wind farm with two water reservoirs to store excess energy.

flag Gran Canaria Gran Canaria

(in English, "Grand (or Great) Canary") is an island of the Canary Islands. Located in the Atlantic Ocean about 150 kilometers (~93 miles) off the northwestern coast of Africa and about 1350 km (~838 miles) from Europe. Gran Canaria is the second most populous island of the Canary Islands after Tenerife. Gran Canaria is also the third in extension Canary Islands.

Gran Canaria was populated by the Canarii (Guanches), who may have arrived as early as 500 BC. The Canarii called the island Tamarán or Land of the Brave. After over a century of European (French, Portuguese...) incursions and attempts at conquest, the island was conquered on April 29, 1483, after a campaign that lasted 5 years, by the Kingdom of Castile, with the support of Queen Isabella I, a conquest which turned out to be an important step towards the expansion of the unified Spain.

The capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was founded on June 24, 1478, under the name "Real de Las Palmas", by Juan Rejón, head of the invading Castilian army. In 1492, Cristopher Columbus anchored in the Port of Las Palmas (and spent some time on the island) on his first trip to the Americas. Some reports suggest that Gran Canaria was formerly named, due to the island's shape, El Rondo (The Circle) by English explorer Paul C. Reilly who landed on the island in 1451.

Gran Canaria is located southeast of Tenerife and west of Fuerteventura. The island is of volcanic origin, mostly made of fissure vents. Gran Canaria is the most populous island of the Canary Islands. Gran Canaria's surface area is 1,560 km² and its maximum altitude is 1,949 meters (Pico de Las Nieves). It has a round shape, with a diameter of approximately 50 km.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital of the province of Las Palmas, and also one of the two capitals of the autonomous community of the Canary Islands, along with Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

This island is called a "Miniature Continent" due to the different climates and variety of landscapes found, with its long golden beaches and endless dunes of white sand, its green ravines and picturesque villages. A third of the island is under protection as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

The number of annual visitors is 2.2 million (2,200,000). Most of the tourists visit the southern part of the island.

The north tends to be cooler while the south is warmer and sunny. The east coast of the island is flat dotted with beaches while the western coast is rockier and mountainous.

The island possesses 32 Natural Protected Spaces, that they emphasize the Rural Park of Nublo, Doramas' Jungle, the Ravine of Azuaje, Tamadaba, Pino Santo, etc.

Most tourists stay in the south of the island, which is sunnier and has less rain than the north. However, just below the airport in the town of Vecindario there is a large shopping center "Commercial Atlantico" that includes a Carrefour and shopping mall. Vecindario is the town where the "locals" live. In the south there is a large bird park, Palmitos Park, in the south of the island as well as many beach resort communities. The resort communities start in the central eastern part of the southern coast in the Maspalomas area which includes the towns of San Agustín, Playa del Inglés, Sonnenland, Maspalomas and Meloneras. The Dunes of Maspalomas are located between Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas. Another tourist attraction is the lighthouse at Maspalomas situated at the western end of Maspalomas.

In Tarajalillo an Aeroclub exists from where tourist flights can be taken over the island.

Still further to the west along the southern shore, in the Municipality of Mogán, are the communities of Puerto Rico and Puerto de Mogán, a picturesque village referred to as "Little Venice" on account of its many canals.

Other attractions include Cocodrilos Park, Roque Nublo (an 80 m monolith), Cenobio de Valerón with about 290 caves, Cueva Pintada the most important archaeological park in Canary Islands and the botanical gardens Jardin Canario (in Tafira Alta) and Cactualdea (in La Aldea de San Nicolás). El Dedo de Dios, or "God's Finger" was a rocky spire jutting from the sea in Puerto de las Nieves, and was previously the signature attraction of the Canary Islands until it was destroyed by tropical Storm Delta, that crossed the archipelago on November 2005.

Other famous rock formations are El Cura (also known as El Fraile), The Frog (La Rana), Bentayga, the Roque de Gando, and the Peñón Bermejo. The highest peak of the island is the Pico de las Nieves, with 1950 m

The capital city is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Las Canteras Beach lies in the heart of the city. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is also known for its annual Carnaval. It was the first stop of Christopher Columbus' expedition on his way back from the Americas, a commemoration of which is the Hermitage of San Antonio Abad, where the navigator prayed, and the Casa de Colón. Other attractions in the capital city include the Museo Canario (the most important archaeology museum in the archipelago), the Cathedral and the Plaza del Espíritu Santo.

 

 

flag Lanzarote Lanzarote

LANZAROTE: Landing on the Moon

Lanzarote is different, not only compared to the other islands, but to everything else on this planet. This extraordinary landscape seems to be of another world, and the inhabitants of the islands use to say that God forgot of Lanzarote on the Seventh Day of the Creation.

Lanzarote is of volcanic origin, as the other islands of the archipelago as well, but here volcanos have been active still in 18th and 19th century. Great parts of its surface are covered with ashes and lava, making you feel that you were on the moon.

Anyhow, Lanzarote's inhabitants made a great effort to cultivate this land, and today you find large plantations of fruits and vegetables. Most surprising is perhaps the region of Geria, with vineyards between volcanic craters.

 

flag fuerteventura Fuerteventura



Country, Culture &
Travel Information

Canary Islands map
Canary Islands map

Satelite image Canary Islands
Satelite image Canary Islands

Canaries Autonomous Government in Santa Cruz
Building of the Presidency of the Canaries Autonomous Government in Santa Cruz

Tenerife bus station
Tenerife bus station

Tenerife island, Satellite image
Tenerife island, Satellite image

Teide Volcano
The impressive size of the Teide Volcano (3,718 meters)

Orotava Valley
Orotava Valley

Gallotia galloti, a wall lizard species endemic of Tenerife
Gallotia galloti, a wall lizard species endemic of Tenerife

La Gomera
La Gomera

Rainforest in Gomera
Rainforest in Gomera

Réplica de Tagoror aborigen
Réplica de Tagoror aborigen en la cima del Alto del Garajonay, con el Teide al fondo

Los Organos, La Gomera
Los Organos, La Gomera

Torre del Conde
Torre del Conde

Gallotia caesaris gomerae
Gallotia caesaris gomerae

La Palma
La Palma

Fringilla coelebs palmae
(Fringilla coelebs palmae)

El Hierro
El Hierro's western end was for a long time considered the end of the known world by the Europeans

Dunas de Maspalomas
"Dunas de Maspalomas", in southern Gran Canaria

Lanzarote
Lanzarote


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