Comunidad Autónoma de
(In Detail)
CapitalsLas Palmas de Gran Canaria
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
 - total
 - % of Spain
Ranked 13th
7 447 km²
 - Total (2003)
 - % of Spain
 - Density
Ranked 8th
1 843 755
 - English
 - Spanish

Canary Islander
Statute of Autonomy August 16, 1982
ISO 3166-2ES-CN

 Congress seats
 Senate seats

PresidentAdán Martín Menis (CC)
Gobierno de Canarias

The Canary Islands are an archipelago of seven islands of volcanic origin in the Atlantic Ocean, off the northwestern coast of Africa. The islands belong to Spain, and form an autonomous community of that country.

Table of contents
1 Physical geography
2 Political geography
3 History
4 Economy

Physical geography

The islands and their capitals are:

The nearest island is 108 km from the northwest African coast.

The islands form the Macaronesia ecoregion with Cape Verde, Madeira and the Azores. The Teide volcano on Tenerife is the highest mountain in Spain. According to the position of the islands with respect to the trade winds, the climate can be mild and wet or very dry. Several native species are conserved, like the drago tree Dracaena draco and the Laurisilva forests.

Four of Spain's 13 national parks are located in the Canary Islands, more than any other autonomous community:

  • Parque Nacional de la Caldera de Taburiente on La Palma,
  • Parque Nacional Garajonay on La Gomera,
  • Parque Nacional del Teide on Tenerife,
  • Parque Nacional Timanfaya on Lanzarote.

Political geography

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 co-capitals of the autonomous community. Each of the seven major islands is ruled by a assembly named cabildo insular.


The Canary Islands are supposed to have given birth to the Greek myth of the Garden of Hesperides.

The islands were named Canaria (Latin canis, dog) because of the descriptions of the large numbers of wild dogs roaming the islands, first reported by the Roman scholar Pliny. The bird canary was named after the islands. Being initially dominated by Arabs, Norman adventurers and Portugal, the islands were finally conquered by Castile towards the end of the 15th century, and the local (possibly Berber) people —called guanches— subsequently diminished in number until their extinction or mixing with the immigrants.

See also Tenerife disaster.


The economy is based on tourism and tropical agriculture (banana, tobacco) for exportation to Europe and the Americas. They receive about 10 million tourists per year. Ecologists are concerned that the resources, especially, in the drier islands are being overexploited.

The combination of high mountains, belonging to Europe, and clean sky has made the Roque de los Muchachos (in La Palma island) peak a leading placement for telescopes like the Grantecan.

The islands are outside European Union customs territory. The ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code IC is reserved for representing them in customs affairs, but the islands are under the same Internet country code as Spain.

Canarian time is GMT, one hour less that that of mainland Spain and same of London.

Autonomous communities of Spain
Balearic Is
Basque Country
Canary Is.
Castile-La Mancha
La Rioja
Plazas de soberanía