|Full-Name:||The Canary Islands|
The 'Autonomous Community' of the Canary Islands
(Comunidad Autónoma de Canarias)
|Capital:||Santa Cruz de Tenerife|
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
|Ethnic-Groups:||86.25% Spanish, Portuguese,|
13.75% foreign (German,
English, Italian, other) 
|English-Name:||Canary Islander (Canarian)|
|Autonomy:||August 16, 1982|
|Senate:||13 (11 elected, 2 appointed)|
|President:||Paulino Rivero (CC)|
|President-Link:||President of the Canary Islands|
|Website:||Gobierno de Canarias|
The Canary Islands (English pronunciation: ; Spanish; Castilian: Islas Canarias, ) are a Spanish archipelago which, in turn, forms one of the Spanish Autonomous Communities and an Outermost Region of the European Union. The archipelago is located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the disputed border between Morocco and the Western Sahara.
The originally volcanic islands –seven major, one minor island, and several small islets– were formed by the Canary hotspot. The Canary Islands is the only place in Spain where volcanic eruptions have been recorded during the Modern Era, with some active volcanos still extant (even though inactive recently) .
The name Islas Canarias is likely derived from the Latin term Insula Canaria, meaning "Island of the Dogs", a name applied originally only to Gran Canaria. It is speculated that the so called dogs were actually a species of Monk Seals ("sea dog" in Latin) now extinct. The dense population of seals may have been the characteristic that most struck the few ancient Romans who established contact with these islands by sea. The connection to dogs is retained in their depiction on the islands' coat-of-arms (shown above).
See main article: Canary Islands in pre-colonial times.
King Juba, Augustus's Roman protegee, is credited with discovering the islands for the Western world, and he dispatched a contingent to re-open the dye production facility at Mogador in the early 1st century AD. That same naval force was subsequently sent on an exploration of the Canary Islands, using Mogador as their mission base.
When the Europeans began to explore the islands, they encountered several indigenous populations living at a Neolithic level of technology. Although the history of the settlement of the Canary Islands is still unclear, linguistic and genetic analyses seem to indicate that at least some of these inhabitants shared a common origin with the Berbers of northern Africa. The pre-colonial inhabitants came to be known collectively as the Guanches, although Guanches was originally the name for the indigenous inhabitants of Tenerife.
During the Middle Ages, the islands were visited by the Arabs for commercial purposes. Muslim navigator Ibn Farrukh, from Granada, is said to have landed in "Gando" (Gran Canaria) in February 999, visiting a king named Guanarigato. From the 14th century onward, numerous visits were made by sailors from Majorca, Portugal, and Genoa. Lancelotto Malocello settled on the island of Lanzarote in 1312. The Majorcans established a mission with a bishop in the islands that lasted from 1350 to 1400.
There are claims that the Portuguese had discovered the Canaries as early as 1336, though there appears to be little evidence for this. In 1402, the Castilian conquest of the islands begun, with the expedition of Jean de Béthencourt and Gadifer de la Salle, nobles and vassals of Henry III of Castile, to the island of Lanzarote. From there, they conquered Fuerteventura and El Hierro. Béthencourt received the title King of the Canary Islands, but still recognized King Henry III as his overlord.
Béthencourt also established a base on the island of La Gomera, but it would be many years before the island was truly conquered. The natives of La Gomera, and of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and La Palma, resisted the Castilian invaders for almost a century. In 1448 Maciot de Béthencourt sold the lordship of Lanzarote to Portugal's Prince Henry the Navigator, an action that was not accepted by the natives nor by the Castilians. A crisis swelled to a revolt which lasted until 1459 with the final expulsion of the Portuguese. Finally, in 1479, Portugal recognised Castilian control of the Canary Islands in the Treaty of Alcaçovas.
The Castilians continued to dominate the islands, but due to the topography and the resistance of the native Guanches, complete pacification was not achieved until 1495, when Tenerife and La Palma were finally subdued by Alonso Fernández de Lugo. After that, the Canaries were incorporated into the Kingdom of Castile.
After the conquest, the Castilians imposed a new economic model, based on single-crop cultivation: first sugar cane; then wine, an important item of trade with England. In this era, the first institutions of colonial government were founded. Both Gran Canaria, a colony of Castile since March 6, 1480 (from 1556, of Spain), and Tenerife, a Spanish colony since 1495, had separate governors.
The cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria became a stopping point for the Spanish conquerors, traders, and missionaries on their way to the New World. This trade route brought great prosperity to some of the social sectors of the islands. The islands became quite wealthy and soon were attracting merchants and adventurers from all over Europe. Magnificent palaces and churches were built on the island of La Palma during this busy, prosperous period. The Church of El Salvador survives as one of the island's finest examples of the architecture of the 16th century.
The Canaries' wealth invited attacks by pirates and privateers. Ottoman Turkish admiral and privateer Kemal Reis ventured into the Canaries in 1501, while Murat Reis the Elder captured Lanzarote in 1585.
The most severe attack took place in 1599, during the Dutch War of Independence. A Dutch fleet of 74 ships and 12,000 men, commanded by Johan van der Does, attacked the capital, Las Palmas (the city had 3,500 of Gran Canaria's 8,545 inhabitants). The Dutch attacked the Castillo de la Luz, which guarded the harbor. The Canarians evacuated civilians from the city, and the Castillo surrendered (but not the city). The Dutch moved inland, but Canarian cavalry drove them back to Tamaraceite, near the city.
The Dutch then laid siege to the city, demanding the surrender of all its wealth. They received 12 sheep and 3 calves. Furious, the Dutch sent 4,000 soldiers to attack the Council of the Canaries, who were sheltering in the village of Santa Brígida. 300 Canarian soldiers ambushed the Dutch in the village of Monte Lentiscal, killing 150 and forcing the rest to retreat. The Dutch concentrated on Las Palmas, attempting to burn it down. The Dutch pillaged Maspalomas, on the southern coast of Gran Canaria, San Sebastian on La Gomera, and Santa Cruz on La Palma, but eventually gave up the siege of Las Palmas and withdrew.
Another noteworthy attack occurred in 1797, when Santa Cruz de Tenerife was attacked by a British fleet under the future Lord Nelson on 25 July. The British were repulsed, losing almost 400 men. It was during this battle that Nelson lost his right arm.
The sugar-based economy of the islands faced stiff competition from Spain's American colonies. Crises in the sugar market in the 19th century caused severe recessions on the islands. A new cash crop, cochineal (cochinilla), came into cultivation during this time, saving the islands' economy.
By the end of the 18th century, Canary Islanders had already emigrated to Spanish American territories, such as Havana, Veracruz, Santo Domingo,  San Antonio, Texas  and St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana   These economic difficulties spurred mass emigration, primarily to the Americas, during the 19th and first half of the 20th century. From 1840 to 1890, as many as 40,000 Canary Islanders emigrated to Venezuela. Also, thousands of Canarians moved to Puerto Rico; the Spanish monarchy felt that Canarians would adapt to island life better than other immigrants from the mainland of Spain. Deeply entrenched traditions such as the Mascaras Festival in the town of Hatillo, Puerto Rico, are an example of Canarian culture still preserved in Puerto Rico. Similarly, many thousands of Canarians emigrated to the shores of Cuba as well. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Spanish fortified the islands against possible American attack, but an attack never came.
The rivalry between the elites of the cities of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife for the capital of the islands led to the division of the archipelago into two provinces in 1927. This has not laid to rest the rivalry between the two cities, which continues to this day.
During the time of the Second Spanish Republic, Marxist and anarchist workers' movements began to develop, led by figures such as Jose Miguel Perez and Guillermo Ascanio. However, outside of a few municipalities, these organizations were a minority and fell easily to Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War.
In 1936, Francisco Franco was appointed General Commandant of the Canaries. He joined the military revolt of July 17 which began the Spanish Civil War. Franco quickly took control of the archipelago, except for a few points of resistance on the island of La Palma and in the town of Vallehermoso, on La Gomera. Though there was never a proper war in the islands, the post-war repression on the Canaries was most severe.
Opposition to Franco's regime did not begin to organize until the late 1950s, which experienced an upheaval of parties such as the Communist Party of Spain and the formation of various nationalist, leftist parties.
After the death of Franco, there was a pro-independence armed movement based in Algeria, the MPAIAC. Now there are some pro-independence political parties, like the CNC and the Popular Front of the Canary Islands, but none of them calls for an armed struggle. Their popular support is insignificant, with no presence in both the autonomous parliament and the cabildos insulares.
After the establishment of a democratic constitutional monarchy in Spain, autonomy was granted to the Canaries via a law passed in 1982. In 1983, the first autonomous elections were held. The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) won. In the most recent autonomous elections (2007), the PSOE gained a plurality of seats, but the nationalist Canarian Coalition and the conservative Partido Popular (PP) formed a ruling coalition government.
In Santa Cruz de Tenerife are the Torres de Santa Cruz (towers of Santa Cruz). These sky-scrapers are at a height of 120 meters, without counting the antennas or lightning rod. They are the highest sky-scrapers in the city and of the Archipelago Canary, and also residentially are the highest towers in Spain, they are next to the Tenerife Auditorium, in downtown. The Tenerife Auditorium is the best known modern building of Canaries.
See main article: Canarian people.
|colspan=3||Population history |
of the Canary Islands
|colspan=3||Figures between 1768-2008.|
The Canarian population includes long-tenured and new waves of Spanish immigrants, including Galicians, Castilians, Catalans, Basques, and Portuguese, Italians, Flemings. As of 2008, the total Canarian population is 2,075,968. Over 1,541,381 people are native Canarian-born, and another 178,613 people from the Spanish mainland with a total 1,792,121 Spanish population. Most of the 283,847 foreign-born citizens are Europeans with 155,415, such as Germans (39,505), British (37,937) and Italians (24,177). There are 86,287 from the Americas, with Colombians (21,798), Venezuelans (11,958), Cubans (11,098) and Argentines (10,159) being the most numerous.
The Guanches are believed to be related to the indigenous Berbers of neighboring Morocco. Other believe that the Guanches are related to the Celts of Western Europe, and that the Canary Islands were an early realm of these races. They were left isolated on the islands, until the Spanish arrived in the 15th century, allowing no contact and mixing with other ethnic groups.
Canary Islanders may descend from the Guanches as much as the Spanish. Fischer, who studied the modern Canarians, found among them the following types:
Modern Canarians appear less blond than the Riffians. Despite the statistical evidence that most modern Canarians are brunettes, the legend of the blond beauty of the female inhabitants of Teneriffe is famous in seafaring quarters, just as the blond looks of the early Guanches struck the Spaniards.
The most frequent mtDNA haplogroup in Canary Islands is H (37.6%), followed by North African U6 (14.0%), T (12.7%), U (except U6) (10.3%) and J (7.0%). Two haplogroups, H and U6 alone account for more than 50% of the individuals. Significant frequencies of sub-Saharan L haplogroups (6.6%) is also consistent with the historical records on introduction of sub-Saharan slave labour in Canary Islands  .
A 2003 genetics research article by Nicole Maca-Meyer et al. published in the European Journal of Human Genetics compared aboriginal Guanche mtDNA (collected from Canarian archaeological sites) to that of today's Canarians and concluded that, "despite the continuous changes suffered by the population (Spanish colonization, slave trade), aboriginal mtDNA [direct maternal] lineages constitute a considerable proportion [42 – 73%] of the Canarian gene pool. Although the Berbers are the most probable ancestors of the Guanches, it is deduced that important human movements [e.g., the Islamic-Arabic conquest of the Berbers] have reshaped Northwest Africa after the migratory wave to the Canary Islands" and the "results support, from a maternal perspective, the supposition that since the end of the 16th century, at least, two-thirds of the Canarian population had an indigenous substrate, as was previously inferred from historical and anthropological data." mtDNA haplogroup U subclade U6b1 is Canarian-specific and is the most common mtDNA haplogroup found in aboriginal Guanche archaeological burial sites.
Y-DNA, or Y-chromosomal, (direct paternal) lineages were not analyzed in this study; however, an earlier study giving the aboriginal y-DNA contribution at 6% was cited by Maca-Meyer et al., but the results were criticized as possibly flawed due to the widespread phylogeography of y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b1b, which may skew determination of the aboriginality versus coloniality of contemporary y-DNA lineages in the Canaries. Regardless, Maca-Meyer et al. states that historical evidence does support the explanation of "strong sexual asymmetry...as a result of a strong bias favoring matings between European males and aboriginal females, and to the important aboriginal male mortality during the Conquest." The genetics thus suggests the native men were sharply reduced in numbers due to the war, large numbers of Spaniard men stayed in the islands and married the local women, the Canarians adopted Spanish names, language, and religion, and in this way, the Canarians were Hispanicized.
According to a 2005 study, in spite of the geographic nearness between the Canary Islands and Morocco, the genetic heritage of the Canary islands male lineages, is mainly from European origin. Indeed, nearly 72% of the haplogroups resulting from are Euro–Eurasian (R1a, R1b, I and G). Unsurprisingly the Spanish conquest brought the genetic base of the current male population of the Canary Islands. Nevertheless, the second most important Haplogroup family is from Africa, Near and Middle East. E1b1b (12% including 7% of the typically berber haplogroup E-M81), E1b1a (2%), J (10%) and T (3%) Haplogroups are present at a rate of 27%. Even if a part of these "eastern" haplogroups were introduced by the Spanish too, we can suppose that a good portion of this rate was already there at the time of the conquest .
The islands and their capitals are:
|Tenerife||Santa Cruz de Tenerife|
|Gran Canaria||Las Palmas de Gran Canaria|
|La Palma||Santa Cruz de La Palma|
|La Gomera||San Sebastián de La Gomera|
|Fuerteventura||Puerto del Rosario|
|La Graciosa (Lanzarote)||Caleta de Sebo|
The islands form the Macaronesia ecoregion with the Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. The archipelago consists of seven large and several smaller islands, all of which are volcanic in origin. The Teide volcano on Tenerife is the highest mountain in Spain, and the third largest volcano on Earth on a volcanic ocean island. All the islands except La Gomera have been active in the last million years; four of them (Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma and El Hierro) have historical records of eruptions since European discovery. The islands rise from Jurassic oceanic crust associated with the opening of the Atlantic. Underwater magmatism commenced during the Cretaceous, and reached the ocean's surface during the Miocene. The islands are considered as a distinct physiographic section of the Atlas Mountains province, which in turn is part of the larger African Alpine System division.
Four of Spain's thirteen national parks are located in the Canary Islands, more than any other autonomous community. In the early 90's, there were only five Spanish national parks, four of them being the Canarian parks, and the other one Doñana. The parks are:
|Parque Nacional de la Caldera de Taburiente||La Palma|
|Garajonay National Park||La Gomera|
|Teide National Park||Tenerife|
|Timanfaya National Park||Lanzarote|
Tenerife is, with its 2,034 km², the most extensive island of the Canaries. In addition, the 865,071 inhabitants make it the most populated island in Spain. Two of the archipelago's principal cities are located on it: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and San Cristóbal de La Laguna (World Heritage Site). Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital and seat of the Parliament of Canaries and of the Government of Tenerife. Santa Cruz de Tenerife share the status of capital of the Canaries with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.The Teide, with its 3,718 m is the highest peak of Spain and also A World Heritage Site. This island is in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Gran Canaria is the province of Las Palmas' most populated island, with 815,379 inhabitants. The capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (377,203 inhabitants), share the status of capital of the Canaries with Santa Cruz de Tenerife. In center of the island lie the Roque Nublo (1,813 m) and the Peak of Snow (1,949 m), the two highest points of the island.
Fuerteventura, with a surface of 1,659 km², is the second-most extensive island of the archipelago, as well as the second most oriental. Being also the most ancient of the islands, it is the one that is more eroded: its highest point is the Peak of the Bramble, at a height of 807 m. Its capital is Puerto del Rosario.
La Palma, with 85,933 inhabitants, covering an area of 708.32 km ² is in its entirety a biosphere reserve. It shows no recent signs of volcanic activity, even though the volcano Teneguía entered into eruption last in 1971. In addition, it is the second-highest island of the Canaries, with the Roque de los Muchachos (2,423 m) as highest point. Santa Cruz de La Palma is its capital.
Lanzarote, is the easternmost island and one of the most ancient of the archipelago, and it has shown recent volcanic activity. It has a surface of 845.94 km², and a population of 132,366 inhabitants. The capital is Arrecife, with 56,834 inhabitants.
La Graciosa, is the smallest inhabited island of the archipelago, and the major island of the Chinijo Archipelago. The whole archipelago is administrated by Lanzarote. It has a surface of 29.05 km², and a population of 658 inhabitants. The capital is Caleta de Sebo, with 656 inhabitants.
El Hierro, the westernmost island, covers 268.71 km², making it the smallest of the major islands, and the least populated with 10,558 inhabitants. The whole island was declared Reserve of the Biosphere in 2000. Its capital is Valverde.
La Gomera, has an area of 369.76 km2 and is the third-least-populated island with 22,259 inhabitants. Geologically it is one of the oldest of the archipelago. The insular capital is San Sebastian de La Gomera. Garajonay's National Park is here.
The Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands consists of two provinces, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, whose capitals (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife) are capitals of the autonomous community. Each of the seven major islands is ruled by an island council named cabildo insular.
The international boundary of the Canaries is the subject of dispute between Spain and Morocco. Morocco does not agree that the laws regarding territorial limits allow Spain to claim for itself seabed boundaries based on the territory of the Canaries, because the Canary Islands are autonomous. In fact, the islands do not enjoy any special degree of autonomy as each one of the Spanish regions is considered an autonomous community. Under the Law of the Sea, the only islands not granted territorial waters or an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are those that are not fit for human habitation or do not have an economic life of their own, which is clearly not the case of the Canary Islands.
The boundary is relevant for possible seabed oil deposits and other ocean resource exploitation. Morocco therefore does not formally agree to the territorial boundary; it rejected a 2002 unilateral Spanish proposal.
The Islands have 13 seats in the Spanish Senate. Of these, 11 seats are directly elected, 3 for Gran Canaria, 3 for Tenerife, 1 for each other island; 2 seats are indirectly elected by the regional Autonomous Government. The local government is presided over by Paulino Rivero Baute.
The economy is based primarily on tourism, which makes up 32% of the GDP. The Canaries receive about 10 million tourists per year. Construction makes up nearly 20% of the GDP and tropical agriculture, primarily bananas and tobacco, are grown for export to Europe and the Americas. Ecologists are concerned that the resources, especially in the more arid islands, are being overexploited but there are still many agricultural resources like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, cochineal, sugarcane, grapes, vines, dates, oranges, lemons, figs, wheat, barley, maize, apricots, peaches and almonds.
The economy is € 25 billion (2001 GDP figures). The islands experienced continuous growth during a 20 year period, up until 2001, at a rate of approximately 5% annually. This growth was fueled mainly by huge amounts of Foreign Direct Investment, mostly to develop tourism real estate (hotels and apartments), and European Funds (near 11 billion euro in the period from 2000 to 2007), since the Canary Islands are labelled Region Objective 1 (eligible for euro structural funds). Additionally, the EU allows the Canary Island's government to offer special tax concessions for investors who incorporate under the as Zona Especial Canaria (ZEC) regime and create more than 5 jobs.
The islands are outside the European Union customs territory and VAT area, though politically within the EU. Instead of VAT there is a local Sales Tax (IGIC) which has a general rate of 5%, an increased tax rate of 12%, a reduced tax rate of 2% and a zero tax rate for certain basic need products and services (eg telecommunications). The ISO 3166-1 α-2 code IC is reserved for representing them in customs affairs. Goods subject to Spanish customs and excise duties and Value Added Tax (VAT), such as tobacco or electronic goods, are therefore significantly cheaper in the Canaries. Spanish magazines usually have a similar or higher price than in the peninsula since VAT is substituted with air transport costs. The islands' country calling code is (+34) and the Internet country code is the same as Spain's (.es). The currency is the euro.
Canarian time is Western European Time (WET) (or GMT; in summer one hour ahead of GMT). So Canarian time is one hour behind that of mainland Spain and the same as that of the British Isles and Portugal all year round.
With a range of habitats, the Canary Islands exhibit diverse plant species. The bird life includes European and African species, such as the Black-bellied Sandgrouse; and a rich variety of endemic (local) species including the:
Terrestrial fauna includes geckos (such as the striped Canary Islands Gecko) and wall lizards, and three endemic species of recently rediscovered and critically endangered giant lizard: the El Hierro Giant Lizard (or Roque Chico de Salmor Giant Lizard), La Gomera Giant Lizard, and La Palma Giant Lizard. Mammals include the Canarian Shrew, Canary Big-Eared Bat, the Algerian Hedgehog (which may have been introduced) and the more recently introduced Mouflon. Some endemic mammals, the Lava Mouse and Canary Islands Giant Rat, are extinct, as are the Canary Islands Quail, Long-legged Bunting, and the Eastern Canary Islands Chiffchaff.
See main article: Marine life of the Canary Islands.
The Marine life found in the Canary Islands is also varied, being a combination of North Atlantic, Mediterranean and endemic species. In recent years, the increasing popularity of both scuba diving and underwater photography have provided biologists with much new information on the marine life of the islands.
Fish species found in the islands include many species of shark, ray, moray eel, bream, jack, grunt, scorpionfish, triggerfish, grouper, goby, and blenny. In addition, there are many invertebrate species including sponge, jellyfish, anemone, crab, mollusc, sea urchin, starfish, sea cucumber and coral.
There are a total of 5 different species of marine turtle that are sighted periodically in the islands, the most common of these being the endangered Loggerhead Turtle. The other four are the Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback and Kemp's Ridley Turtle. Currently, there are no signs that any of these species breed in the islands, and so those seen in the water are usually migrating. However, it is believed that some of these species may have bred in the islands in the past, and there are records of several sightings of leatherback turtle on beaches in Fuerteventura, adding credibility to the theory.
Marine mammals include the Short-Finned Pilot Whale, Common and Bottlenose dolphins. The Canary Islands were also formerly home to a population of the rarest Pinniped in the world, the Mediterranean Monk Seal.
A unique form of wrestling known as Canarian Wrestling (lucha canaria) has opponents stand in a special area called a "terrero" and try to throw each other to the ground using strength and quick movements.
Another sport is the "game of the sticks" where opponents fence with long sticks. This may have come about from the shepherds of the islands who would challenge each other using their long walking sticks. Another sport is called the Shepard's jump. This involves using a long stick to vault over an open area. This sport possible evolved from the shepard's need to occassionally get over an open area in the hills as they were tending their sheep.
See:-Borgesen, F. 1929. Marine algae from the Canary Islands. III Rhodophyceae. Part II. Cryptonemiales, Gigartinales, and Rhodymeniales. Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs BiologiskeMeddelelser. 8: 1 — 97.