The Canary Islands, or the Canaries, consist of seven
s; Gran Canaria
, belonging to the province
Las Palmas, and Tenerife
, which make up the province
Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
is located in the Atlantic Ocean
s (70 miles) off the Africa
The Canaries were not particularly well known
throughout the rest of the world until the
beginning of the 14th century. In 1312, shortly
after Genoese sailors had "rediscovered" them,
the first Europeans settled on Lanzarote.
The Canaries became part of the Spanish kingdom
in 1496, after a conquest that had lasted over 90 years.
They do not belong to Spain as such, they are an
autonomous community, just like Andalusia and
The natives of the Canaries are called Guanches,
and many of their traditions in religion,
culture and cuisine are still maintained
by their descendants.
The climate is generally warm and sunny throughout the
entire year, making the islands a very popular target
for tourists. Due to the geological differences
between the islands, however, they can have periods
of differing weather; the mountainous islands
(Tenerife, La Palma and Gran Canaria)
generally have more rain than the less rugged ones.
It is a common belief that the islands got their
name from the canary bird, but actually it's
quite the contrary. The wild canary bird
(Serinus Canarius) is the ancestor of all the colorful
breeds that now exist, and can still be found in the
islands' fields and forests.