The Spanish Prime Minister was recently accused of celebrating misery when he suggested that the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano could attract tourists to the La Palma Island. Well, La Palma, being one of the Canary Islands, is no stranger to tourists. The Canary Islands are one of the most frequently visited island attractions in the Atlantic and its history is no less interesting than that of Spain and all of Europe. The eruption has suddenly increased global interest in the Canary Islands. Despite being such an important part of ancient and modern geopolitics and one of the most beautiful places in the world, there is so much that people don’t know about the canaries. Here are the top 10 interesting facts about the islands.
They Are Closer To Morocco Than They Are To Spain
The Canary Islands are closer to Africa than they are to Mainland Spain and they happen to be one of the few places in Spain that don’t experience the same freezing winters as the mainland. The current erupting volcano is just 300 miles off the coast of Morocco, Moroccans can see the clouds of ash and rock more clearly than people on Mainland Spain which is over 1700 kilometres away.
The Islands Also Have Pyramids
If you thought pyramids are only found in Egypt, then you have to think again because the volcanic island of Tenerife has its own pyramids too. The pyramids of Guimar were made out of lava stone which is abundant on all Canary Islands and no mortar. They are not as huge and majestic as the Egyptian pyramids and many have been destroyed since they were last discovered but you can still find some on Tenerife. They date back to the 19th century and they are believed to have been created by people in agricultural practices.
They Were Not Named After The Canary Birds
The Canary birds share a name with the archipelago but so some people may assume that the islands were named after the birds for some reason but that is not the case. The cute little yellow birds may have gotten their name from the island and not the other way around. The Island’s name actually comes from the Latin term Canaria which means dog. It is rumoured that the island had lots of monk seals when it was discovered which the roman called sea dogs. Another story however claims that the locals really loved dogs and even worshipped them which is why the Romans gave the archipelago the cute name.
They Were All Formed By Volcanic Eruptions
The Canary Islands are famous for their black and white sand beaches and super-blue shores as well as natural swimming pools all created by lava flow. They are a series of about a dozen islands but eight are the most popular which include Tenerife, La Palma, La Graciosa, La Gomera, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria. All these islands came to existence as a result of volcanic activity and all of them have super-fertile soils that the locals use to grow grapes, bananas and other crops. Most of the islands have a tropical microclimate with lots of forest cover which is unlike any other region in Spain. All the volcanos are still very much active which is why the Sep 19th eruption wasn’t so strange.
The Island Of La Gomera Is Home to a Whistling Language
La Gomera is the smallest of the Canary Islands but like all the neighbouring territories, the area is a series of hills and deep valleys which made it hard to travel and communicate back then when good roads and telephones were not an option on the island. The locals have their own whistling language called Silbo Gomero which some believe it originated from Africa. The local authorities made it a mandatory subject for kids in local schools to revive the interesting ancient language which was fading away.
Christopher Columbus Made A Stop There On His Way To The New World
Christopher Colombus is one of the most significant historic figures that visited the Canary Islands and made them so popular. In 1492, while sailing west to the New World, Columbus docked on the island of La Gomera after sailing for a few days. It is not clear why he stopped there but some people claim that his ships had been sabotaged by the crew who believed that the entire voyage West on wooden ships was doomed. It is believed that he had to hang some of his crew on either La Palma or La Gomera where he stopped for supplies multiple times during his journeys.
The Worst Ever Aviation Disaster Happened On The Islands
On March 27 1977, two Boeing 747S collided on the runway of the Los Rodeos airport as a result of poor visibility. Flights had been diverted to the island after a terrorist attack on the Gran Canaria airport which is the main airport to the Canary Island. 583 people died in the incident which remains the deadliest aviation disaster in history and which has changed the way airports operate and how crew and flight controllers communicate over the years. The airport in now called the Tenerife North Airport.
They Are Home To The World’s Third Largest Volcano
Spain isn’t famous for the highest volcanic peaks in the world, but it actually should because Mount Teide on Tenerife is the third highest volcanic mountain peak in the world. Teide is also the third most voluminous volcanic mountain in the world. The Canary islands, therefore, host the highest point of all Spanish territories.
Nelson Lost His Arm On The Island
Like other Spanish foreign territories, many countries tried to claim the islands for themselves and Britain was one of them. Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson is known for lots of things and is considered one of the national heroes of Britain. He was popular for his bold actions in the battle that saw him see off Napoleon’s fleet in the Battle of the Nile quashing his hopes of getting trading rights in India. Nelson lost sight in his right eye in one of the early battles of his life but continued to win lots of victories. In 1797, while trying to take control of Tenerife, the British Navy was given a thorough beating by the Spanish causing the death of 400 soldiers and costing Admiral Nelson his arm.
You Can Cook Food Over A Volcano On The Island
Ever imagined eating a dinner cooked on an active Volcano? Well, you won’t get many opportunities for that unless you visit the El Diablo BBQ restaurant on the Island of Lanzarote. The volcano last erupted in 1824 but the pit left still tunnels lots of heat from the earth’s core bringing heat of up to 600°C to the surface which is enough to cook your chicken and lambs. You can have your dinner cooked directly by the Earth’s core on the island if you make your reservation on time.