Canary Islands Travel Guide

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Palm trees at night

Palm trees at night

Jan Moonen

The seven islands that comprise the Canary archipelago are located more than one thousand kilometers (620 miles) south of the Iberian peninsula, and only 115 kilometers (71 miles) from the closest point on the African coast. Their volcanic origin and special position in the Atlantic ocean have granted them some unique features with regard to geology and vegetation, resulting in a landscape that is unlike any other found in Europe or Africa. These natural characteristics favour the existence of a temperate climate with mild temperatures (22ºC - 72ºF average on the coasts) with little seasonal variation in temperatures between day and night.

The climate of perpetual springtime, which permits enjoyment of the beach during all the seasons of the year without extreme oppressive heat, has also shaped the easy-going and good-natured character of its inhabitants.

Since ancient times, the mild climate has been the most outstanding attribute of the Canary Islands. The Greeks located the Garden of Hesperides here, and during centuries, they were known as the "Fortunate Islands". The fame of the Canaries as a travel destination began with the great scientific explorations of the 18th and 19th centuries, when European naturalists frequently visited the unique volcanic landscapes and the varied native flora. At the close of the last century, the fame of these islands was increased as a place to rest, and they were recommended for the treatment of a variety of illnesses. Presently, the Canary Islands are one of the leading destinations of European tourism, welcoming more than eight million visitors annually who are drawn to the irresistible charm of these islands.

The appeal of the Canary Islands for most visitors, 50% of whom return, is closely linked to the extraordinary climate of the islands, but it also has to do with the more than 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) of coastline, the magnificent beaches, and the numerous sports and water-related recreation available. The subtropical environment has also provided the allure of volcanos, forests and other spectacular scenery, with a variety difficult to imagine in such a small territory. The people, their traditions and cuisine, inherited from a culture blending traditions from Europe, Africa and the Americas, have also played a large part. All of these factors have contributed to the islands’ popularity, in addition to their easy accessibility, only a few hours by plane from the great cities of the Old Continent, and a complete tourist infrastructure, an example of quality for many places around the world.

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