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Canarian Archipelago

The Canarian archipelago is made up of seven major islands and numerous smaller islands and rocks lying just off the African coast between 27˚ 39΄N to 29˚ 24΄N and 13˚ 25΄W to 18˚ 10΄W. The total land area is about 7300 sq km, with the island of Tenerife being the largest. Fuerteventura is the second largest and the closest to Morocco at a distance of just less than 60 NM. The islands were once thought to be part of the African continent, and their appearance today though is due to a period of intense volcanic activity. The last volcanic eruption was on the island of La Palma in 1971. 

Daytime temperatures on the islands range from 20˚C in January to 30˚C in August. Temperatures during the summer months can rise substantially particularly during "Sirrocos" when the winds come from the Sahara desert. Usually temperatures are softened by the trade winds that refresh the archipelago serving it with pleasant mild summers. The temperature can also be a lot cooler at greater heights and El Teide is frequently capped with snow. Mount Teide is Spain's highest peak at 3717m. The northeast trades are predominant between April and October, and the least rain is found between June and September.

The indigenous flora is a mixture from southern Europe and Africa, many fruits and vegetables are grown and exported including coffee, bananas, sugar, dates, avocados, grapes and potatoes. Wild life is scarce but the islands are famous for the bird life found here. More than 200 different species are to be found many of which breed in the archipelago. Some are unique to the islands such as the Canary (named after the islands).

The islands revenue is generated from silk and linen work, fishing and agriculture but the largest industry is tourism. The ever increasing number of yachts either based in the islands or just visiting is also a booming industry. There are now more marinas which are of similar standards to mainland Europe and more and more marine facilities are to be found in the major harbours. The islands  history has been tied to the sea from Christopher Columbus setting sail from the Canaries to discover the new world right up to the ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, when hundreds of yachts annually set sail from Gran Canaria to cross the Atlantic ocean to St Lucia. Yacht charter is also popular and more marinas and companies chartering yachts are relalising the benefits of the all round summer climate of the Canary Islands and its cruising grounds.

The archipelago is an autonomous region of Spain and is divided into two provinces of Gran Canaria, consisting of the islands Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura; and Tenerife consisting of the islands of Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro. Mainland Spain is often referred to as "The Peninsula". Although Spain is a member of the EU the Canaries are not, but the currency is the same as Spain which is the Euro. The principle language is Spanish. The islands use UT (GMT) with daylight saving (+1 Hour) from late March until late October.

Useful Links Canarian Tourist site Canary Island accomodation web site Encyclopedia