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CANARY ISLANDS

The Canary Islands (Islas Canarias) are a group of seven major islands and six smaller ones in the Atlantic.

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Maspalomas Dunes

The western islands are: Tenerife (794 sq. miles), La Palma (281 sq. miles), La Gomera (146 sq. miles), El Hierro (107 sq. miles). The Eastern islands form the province of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, chief town Las Palmas. The eastern islands are: Gran Canaria (592 sq. miles), Fuerteventura (668 sq. miles), Lazarotte (307 sq. miles). The two regions make up the Autonomous Region of the Canary Islands with Las Palmas and Santa Cruz alternating as capital of the region.

In geological terms the Canary Islands are quite young. The age of the eastern islands of Lazareto and Fuerteventura is estimated to be between 16 and 20 million years and that of Gran Canary between 13 and 14 million years, while the western islands are thought to have come into being even later, Tenerife and Gomera perhaps between 8 and 12 million years ago, La Palma and Hierro between 2 and 3 million years ago.

VOLCANIC ACTIVITY
It is well established that all the islands are of volcanic origin. There have been repeated volcanic eruptions in the Canaries, continuing into our day, the most recent have been the eruptions on La Palma in 1949 and 1971. On Tenerife there were eruptions of Chinyero (6 miles north west of the peak of Mt, Teide) in 1909 and Chahorra, south west of the " OLD PEAK " (PICO viejo) in 1798.

TOPOGRAPHY OF TENERIFE
Tenerife, the largest of the Canaries is shaped like an isosceles triangle pointing northeast with the peak of Teide (12,199 ft) in its centre. Encircling the peak is the "Caldera de las Ca?adas", a gigantic collapsed crater. The northeast tip of the island is occupied by the rugged Anaga Hills, which, like the Teno hills in the extreme west of the island, consist of older basaltic rocks. The two ranges of hills are believed at one time to have been separate islands, which were linked with one another by a later volcanic eruption. They divide Tenerife into two totally different topographic zones; while the hill slopes in the north are covered with a luxuriant growth of vegetation, the country to the south is desert in character.

CLIMATE
The Canaries have a warm temperature climate - milder and more agreeable than would normally be expected in these latitudes

TEMPERATURES
Temperature variations over the year are remarkably slight. The average temperature you will find in the coastal regions are: In January the coldest month is 64.0 f approx.

  • The absolute minimum 50.9 f
  • The absolute maximum 79.7 f
In August the hottest month, is 75.6 f approx.
  • The absolute minimum 63.0 f
  • The absolute maximum 104.7 f
In the hill regions there is of course a temperature gradation according to altitude. In July and August the weather pattern is sometimes affected by 3 or 4 day heat waves coming from the Sahara. Water temperatures are about 66 f in winter and may reach 72 f in the summer.

POPULATION
The Region of the Canary Islands has a total population of just under 1,500,000 of whom some 600,000 live on Tenerife. The density of population on Tenerife is 743 to the square mile. The area with the largest concentration of population in the western Canaries is Santa Cruz de Tenerife, population 190,000. The people of the Canaries are predominantly Roman Catholic, with only small minorities of Protestants.

FLORA
The Flora of the Canaries is unique in two respects. On the one hand there are found here, within a relatively small area, species of plants from almost every vegetation zone in the world, on the other hand there is a strikingly high proportion of endemic species (plants which are found only here). Altogether the flora of the Canaries comprises almost 2000 species 30% of which are endemic. The most striking and the most characteristic plant in the Canaries, with its tall stem and many-branched crown, is the dragon tree (Dracaena Draco). It belongs to the Liliaceae and is closely related to the yucca. Some specimens grow to a height of 65 ft. The most important food crop on the islands is the Banana. Since the end of the 19th century a small species imported from Indochina, which is not sensitive to weather conditions, has been cultivated on Tenerife.

FAUNA
The Fauna of the Canaries shows a much narrower range of species than their flora. There are no large mammals only rabbits, hedgehogs and bats. It is reassuring for you to know that there are no scorpions or poisonous snakes. Lizards however are everywhere to be seen. Birds are well represented with blackbirds, blue tits, chaffinches, woodpeckers, and various species of pigeons, buzzards, kestrels, and seagulls. The water round the Canaries contains an abundance of fish. Salmon, cuttlefish, moray, bass, ray and sprat are merely a few examples. No dangerous sharks have been seen near the coast but often schools of dolphins or whales are seen in the Atlantic seas, very near the yachts, catamarans and accompanying the inter island ferries.



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