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Guide to Canary Islands

Currency: Euro

Dialing Code: (+34)

Language: Spanish

Temprature: 18C to 24C

Canary Islands Map

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. Canarian time is one hour behind that of mainland Spain and the same as that of the British Isles and Portugal all year round. The islands are outside the European Union customs territory and VAT area, though politically within the EU.


Islands and their capitals

El Hierro - Valverde
Fuerteventura - Puerto del Rosario
Gran Canaria - Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
La Gomera - San Sebastián de La Gomera
La Graciosa - Caleta de Sebo
La Palma - Santa Cruz de La Palma
Lanzarote - Arrecife
Tenerife - Santa Cruz de Tenerife

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. There are claims that the Portuguese had discovered the Canaries as early as 1336, though there appears to be little evidence for this. 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.

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 combination of high mountains, proximity to Europe, and clean air has made the Roque de los Muchachos peak (on La Palma island) a leading location for telescopes like the Grantecan.

The bird life includes European and African species, such as the Black-bellied Sandgrouse; and a rich variety of endemic (local) species including the: The Marine life found in the Canary Islands is also varied, being a combination of North Atlantic, Mediterranean and endemic species. 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; however, local fisherman continue to take this endangered species.

Construction makes up nearly 20% of the GDP and tropical agriculture, primarily bananas and tobacco, are grown for export to Europe and the Americas. 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).