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Canary Islands


The Canary Islands archipelago is an autonomous region of Spain, situated approximately 1,050 kilometres from mainland Spain and 100 kilometres off the northwest coast of Africa. The region, which includes 7 inhabited islands, has a population of just over 1.9 million people and is divided into two provinces. The western province, Santa Cruz, is comprised of the islands of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The eastern province of Las Palmas includes Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. The modern history of the islands reaches back to a time somewhere between 633 and 530 BC, when it is thought Hanno the navigator, a Carthaginian sea captain, while exploring the African coast, first discovered the islands. Between 1402 and 1496 the islands were conquered by Spain, to whom they remain linked to this day.


The region's economy depends heavily on the service sector, and more specifically the tourist industry, both in terms of employment and income. In the region of 12 million people visit the islands each year, with the vast majority of these coming from Europe, particularly from Germany and Great Britain. The tourist industry accounts for almost 80% of the income of the Canary Islands followed by agricultural exports (tomatoes, bananas and tobacco) and on a lesser scale, traditional crafts such as pottery and embroidery.

Whilst the location of the islands is advantageous for commerce and tourism, it has been noted that the economy is highly dependant on both air and marine transport. The islands benefit from a Freezone located at Las Palmas port on the island of Gran Canaria, which is around 300,000 square metres in area and encourages foreign investment due to low taxation. The port is also linked to approximately 380 ports worldwide.

The industrial sector is dominated by the production of consumer goods, food and drink, and is largely geared towards the internal market, while the principal products of the agricultural sector include bananas, tobacco, fruit and flowers.

Standard Of Living

The islands boast a large array of hotels and accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets, although sadly many tourists stay in the newly built modern resort complexes with all modern conveniences. As with the rest of Spain there are state run Paradors, buildings that have been converted into hotels that were castles, monasteries and other historic buildings.

The diversity of the islands both in culture and ecology two of the Canary biggest attractions, the island Gran Canaria has become known as ‘the Miniature Continent’ due to its many different climates and landscape. Among the islands, everything from deserts to lush forests, golden beaches and the volcano Pico de Teide, this is Spain’s highest mountain at 3717 metres above sea level. Of the 13 Spanish national parks 4 are located in the Canary Islands; also the islands have a high number of theme parks.


There are a total of 8 airports, with 2 on Tenerife and 1 each on the other 6 islands, catering for regional and international traffic. Regular flights are in operation to and from most major European cities, with the majority of traffic passing in and out of Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife.

On each of the islands, roads are the only way to get around; railways have been considered in the past but have never progressed past the planning stage. There are many marinas catering for yachts, with the islands being a popular choice for those wishing to make the Atlantic crossing to the Caribbean.

Conference facilities can be found on Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife all with modern amenities including WiFi hotspots. The Canary Islands are also the meeting place of the highest number of undersea cables on the planet, giving the island unparalleled communication links to Africa, the Americas and Europe.


The labour force of the Canary Islands is relatively youthful, as is the population. Figures published by Cordis indicate that 51.1% are less than 30 years of age as opposed to the Spanish national average of 44.2%. The Majority of the workforce of the islands are engaged in tourist related trades and business with around 17% occupied in agriculture, fishing and mining.
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