Canary islands - Islas Canarias
The Canary Islands (Spanish: Islas Canarias) are a Spanish archipelago and the southernmost autonomous community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Morocco at the closest point. The Canary Islands, which are also known informally as the Canaries, are among the outermost regions (OMR) of the European Union proper. It is also one of eight regions with special consideration of historical nationality as recognized by the Spanish Government. The Canary Islands belong to the African Plate like the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the two on the African mainland.
The seven main islands are (from largest to smallest in area):
- Tenerife is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands. It's dominated by Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano that is Spain's tallest peak. Tenerife may be best known for its Carnaval de Santa Cruz, a huge pre-Lent festival with parades, music, dancing and colorful costumes. The island has many beaches (with sands from yellow to black) and resort areas, including Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas.
- Fuerteventura, the second largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, sits in the Atlantic Ocean 100km off the coast of Africa. It’s known primarily as a holiday destination due to its white-sand beaches and year-round warmth cooled by constant winds. The multitude of beaches that wrap around it are interrupted by cliffs and sheltered coves, popular for water sports, especially surfing, windsurfing and waterskiing.
- Gran Canaria is one of Spain’s Canary Islands, off northwestern Africa. It's known for its black lava and white sand beaches. Its southern beaches include bustling Playa del Inglés and Puerto Rico as well as quieter Puerto de Mogán and San Agustín. In the north, capital city Las Palmas is a major stop for cruise ships and duty-free shopping.
- Lanzarote, one of the Canary islands off the coast of West Africa administered by Spain, is known for its year-round warm weather, beaches and volcanic landscape.
- La Palma is one of Spain’s Canary Islands, off northwestern Africa. Its rugged, forested terrain is dotted with volcanoes like Teneguía and Cumbre Vieja. The island's capital, Santa Cruz de la Palma, is a port town with narrow cobbled streets and houses with wooden balconies. The Caldera de Taburiente National Park has a huge crater-shaped formation and is covered in pine forest and cut by waterfalls.
- La Gomera, the second-smallest of the main islands in Spain’s Canary Island chain, is marked by craggy volcanic mountains crisscrossed with hiking trails. In higher altitudes, dense forests of ferns and moss-covered trees grow in the mists of Garajonay National Park. Toward the coast, the Valle Gran Rey canyon leads past the whitewashed cliffside village of La Calera and ends at black-sand Atlantic beaches.
- El Hierro, nicknamed Isla del Meridiano, is the smallest and farthest south and west of the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean.
The archipelago includes many smaller islands and islets: La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este. It also includes a series of adjacent roques (those of Salmor, Fasnia, Bonanza, Garachico and Anaga). In ancient times, the island chain was often referred to as "the Fortunate Isles". The Canary Islands are the most southerly region of Spain and the largest and most populated archipelago of the Macaronesia region.
The archipelago's beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especially Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and Teide National Park and Mount Teide (a World Heritage Site) in Tenerife (the third tallest volcano in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor), make it a major tourist destination with over 12 million visitors per year, especially Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. The islands have a subtropical climate, with long hot summers and moderately warm winters.
The Canary Islands have eight airports altogether, two of the main ports of Spain, and an extensive network of autopistas (highways) and other roads. For a road map see multimap. The largest airport is the Gran Canaria Airport. Tenerife has two airports, Tenerife North Airport and Tenerife South Airport. The island of Tenerife gathers the highest passenger movement of all the Canary Islands through its two airports. The two main islands (Tenerife and Gran Canaria) receive the greatest number of passengers.
No visit to Spain is complete without a visit to the Canary islands; Ordered from west to east, the Canary Islands are El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. In addition, north of the latter are the island of La Graciosa, the islets of Montaña Clara, Alegranza, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste, belonging to the Chinijo Archipelago, and northeast of Fuerteventura is the islet of Lobos. There are also a series of small adjacent rocks in the Canary Islands: the Roques de Anaga, Garachico and Fasnia in Tenerife, and those of Salmor and Bonanza in El Hierro. Four of Spain's thirteen national parks are located in the Canary Islands, more than any other autonomous community. Teide National Park is the most visited in Spain, and the oldest and largest within the Canary Islands. The parks are: Parque Nacional de la Caldera de Taburiente in La Palma, Garajonay National Park in La Gomera, Teide National Park in Tenerife and Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote. So pack your bags and grab your passport because you’re going to want to book a flight to Canary islands...