The Canary Islands (Spanish: Islas Canarias) are an Atlantic territory of Spain on the west coast of Africa, near Morocco, Cape Verde and the archipelagos of the Azores Islands and Madeira Islands, both Portuguese territories.
The islands have a population of 2 million. Since the Canary Islands are a major European tourist destination, all the major islands have well-developed communication systems, airports, and ports.
Ethnically the population is mostly a mix of Spanish, European (German and British) and South American, especially Cuba and Venezuela as well as Northern and Sub-Sahara African. There are also historical minorities such as Indians, Koreans and lately Russians.
Pico del Teide (on Tenerife) at 3718 metres above sea level is the highest point in both the Canary Islands and Spanish territory.
Each island speaks with a slightly different accent and there is a strong rivalry between the main islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Most of the canary islands accent is closer to Latin American spanish than Spain.
Very modern, very European and extremely liberal.
The following major islands make up the Canary chain:
Province of Las Palmas is made up of:
Gran Canaria - The largest island by population, its capital city (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) is also the capital of the Canaries. Green and steep in the north, dry and flat in the south.
Fuerteventura - windsurfer's mecca
Lanzarote - low lying and arid, with a spectacular volcanic landscape in the west of the island (National Park of Timanfaya). The capital is Arrecife and has its own airport (ACE code).
Province of Tenerife s is made up of:
Tenerife - The biggest island of the Canaries. The Capital city is Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The island has two different airports. The highest mountain of Spain, El Teide. 3rd largest volcano in the world in extension. (Volcano 3718 meters high)
La Palma -
La Gomera - The Magic Isle - walker's paradise. Home to only remaining Laurisilva rain forest in northern Africa.
El Hierro - The edge of the world
Minor islands of note:
To rent a car is the best option for discovering the remote wilderness regions.
A tram linking Santa Cruz bus station and La Laguna opened in in 2007 costing €2.35 return in about 40 minutes.
There are also tentative plans for a train linking Santa Cruz and Los Cristianos.
Buses are the most common method of public transportation around the islands. Mile per mile they are expensive while compared to mainland Spain but you are not going to travel really far away. We are, after all, islands. Most buses in touristic routes are adequate. Do not expect the drivers to know more than a couple of sentences in English or German, though they would try to be helpful.
Taxis can be expensive, and inside a city they are not worth the money unless you are in a real hurry or cannot balance yourself after a shopping day. It is unlikely that you would be cheated.
If you want to travel between the islands a good option might be to take a ship if you are in any particular hurry, specially between close by islands. Most ferries are now quite modern and cheap. The most important companies are Fred Olsen, Transmediterránea and Armas.
If you are afraid of the sea, or get sick just by staring at a ship, then a plane is what you need, and that usually means a turboprop ATR-72 by one of the airlines like Binter or Islas Airways. They are perfectly safe and adequately fast as you are likely to spend more time at the airport than in the plane itself.
Wines. There are several branchs of wines in the islands. North of Tenerife, La Geria in Lanzarote or La Palma have very appreciated vineyards.
Rum. There are also well know rum factories, specially in Gran Canaria (Artemi and Arehucas). The 'ron miel' is a sweet liquor made from rum and honey.
Beer. There are three locals beer factories (Dorada, Tropical and Reina).
112 is the common emergency number.
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