The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are one of Spain's 17 autonomous communities and are among the outermost region of the European Union proper. The islands include (from largest to smallest): Tenerife, Fuerteventura,Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este andRoque del Oeste..- 13 main islands.
The name Islas Canarias is likely derived from the Latin name Canariae Insulae, meaning "Island of the Dogs", a name applied originally only to Gran Canaria. According to the historian Pliny the Elder, the Mauretanian
king Juba II named the island Canariabecause it contained "vast multitudes of dogs of very large size"
The economy is based primarily on tourism, which makes up 32% of the GDP. The Canaries receive about 12 million tourists per year. Construction makes up nearly 20% of the GDP and tropical agriculture, primarily bananas and tobacco, are grown for export to Europe and the Americas. Ecologists are concerned that the resources, especially in the more arid islands, are being overexploited but there are still many agricultural resources like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, cochineal, sugarcane, grapes, vines, dates, oranges, lemons, figs, wheat, barley, maize, apricots, peaches andalmonds.
The economy is € 25 billion (2001 GDP figures). The islands experienced continuous growth during a 20 year period, up until 2001, at a rate of approximately 5% annually. This growth was fueled mainly by huge amounts of Foreign Direct Investment, mostly to develop tourism real estate (hotels and apartments), and European Funds (near € 11 billion euro in the period from 2000 to 2007), since the Canary Islands are labelled Region Objective 1 (eligible for euro structural funds). Additionally, the EU allows the Canary Islands Government to offer special tax concessions for investors who incorporate under the Zona Especial Canaria (ZEC) regime and create more than 5 jobs.
The Canary Islands have great natural attractions, climate and beaches make the islands a major tourist destination, being visited each year by about 12 million people (11,986,059 in 2007, noting 29% of Britons, 22% of Spanish, not residents of the Canaries, and 21% of Germans). Among the islands, Tenerife has the largest number of tourists received annually, followed by Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. The archipelago's principal tourist attraction is the Teide National Park (in Tenerife) where the highest mountain in Spain and third largest volcano in the world (Mount Teide), receives over 2.8 million visitors annually.
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 islands are outside the European Union customs territory and VAT area, though politically within the EU. Instead of VAT there is a local Sales Tax (IGIC) which has a general rate of 7%, an increased tax rate of 13.5%, a reduced tax rate of 3% and a zero tax rate for certain basic need products and services.
Canarian time is Western European Time (WET) (or GMT; in summer one hour ahead of GMT). So Canarian time is one hour behind that of mainland Spain and the same as that of the UK, Ireland and Portugal all year round..
Data of islands
|Flag||Coat of arms||Island||Capital||Area (km²)||Population (2010)|
|Fuerteventura||Puerto del Rosario||1,660||103,492|
|Gran Canaria||Las Palmas de Gran Canaria||1,560.1||845,676|
|La Gomera||San Sebastián de La Gomera||369.76||22,776|
|La Palma||Santa Cruz de La Palma||708.32||86,324|
|Tenerife||Santa Cruz de Tenerife||2,034.38||906,854|
|-||-||La Graciosa||Caleta de Sebo||29.05||658|
|-||-||Isla de Lobos||-||4.5||-|
|-||-||Roque del Este||-||0.06||-|
|-||-||Roque del Oeste||-||0.015||-|