Thirteen, to be exact, and these are the land masses that form the Canary Islands.
From the largest, Tenerife, to the smallest, Roque del Oeste, this remarkable archipelago of thirteen sun kissed islands may single-handedly be the reason why Europeans, and people from around the world, are able to survive cold winter months.
If you plan to be one of the millions of people attracted by these islands, you’ll enjoy your stay even more when you know these twenty one fascinating facts about the Canary Islands:
1. There are several theories about the origin of the name for these islands, and almost all have to do with dogs.
2. The canary bird was named after the islands, not the other way around.
3. All of the Canary Islands are volcanic islands.
4. Four of the islands have had active volcano eruptions since the 14th century discovery by Europeans. The most recent was Pico del Teide which erupted as recently as 1909.
5. The islands have their own micro-climates, ranging from very wet to very dry, depending on which island and which part of it you visit.
6. Christopher Columbus used the Canary Islands as a stopover when en route to the Americas.
7. In 1797 Great Britain’s famous admiral, Horatio Nelson, attempted to storm Santa Cruz on Tenerife. He lost the battle and lost an arm.
8. Lanzarote offers a volcanic moonscape that would make astronauts feel right at home.
9. Science fiction fans love Lanzarote’s El Golfo Crater - its green water glows.
10. Besides flying in, the only other way to reach the Canary Islands is by a ferry from the Spanish mainland, which provides a bumpy ocean crossing that takes almost 20 hours.
11. The cuisine of the Canary Islands are considered a crossroads of Spain, North Africa, and Latin America. The influence of the latter is due to Spanish ships stopping by on their way back from the Americas.
12. Many culinary dishes in the Canary Islands utilize an aromatic banana called La Gomera, which is not grown on Spain’s mainland.
13. No matter when you have winter – in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere - the Canary Islands, with their perpetual spring/summer climate, stand ready to offer warmth and sunshine year round.
14. Agriculture is booming with the recent introduction of such crops as grapes, avocados, and tropical flowers.
15. During the past decade vast improvements in roads and infrastructure have been made possible by large investments by the European Union (EU).
16. The small island of El Hirro is working toward making the entire island self-sufficient by using only sustainable energy resources such as solar power, wind and water.
17. The active Tenerife volcano, Pico del Teide, or MountTiede, (12,195ft – 3,718m) is the highest peakt in the whole of Spain, and measuring from its ocean floor base, is the third highest volcano in the world after Hawaii’s Moana Loa and Moana Kea.
18. Tenerife’s Tiede National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the most visited national parks in the entire world.
19. Famous architect, Cesar Manrique, who designed the magnificent salt-water swimming pools in Puerto de la Cruz, was a native of Lanzarote, and it is due to his influence that there are no high-rise hotel buildings on that island to spoil the natural beauty.
20. Each island speaks with its own particular accent, and the accents are closer to Latin American Spanish than Spain’s official language, Castilian Spanish.
21. Spain’s Canary Islands are just 62 miles (100 km) from Africa, and a whopping 1,700 miles (1,056 km) from Spain’s mainland.