What do you know about the Canary Islands? Where are they and how are the Canary Islands connected with Franco, astronomy and Lord Nelson?
Gemma from Ciudad Real
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Carla from Gran Canaria
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Pronunciation of ‘island’ – silent ‘s’.
The Canary Islands – Main facts
The islands are an autonomous community of Spain 100 kilometres west of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are 1,700 kilometres from the Spanish mainland.
Just over 2 million people live on the seven islands: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro.
There are also some smaller islands in this archipelago (island chain).
It is famed for its very mild and mostly stable climate. In January, the coldest month, the average temperature is about 18 degrees and in August, the hottest month, about 26.2 degrees.
The islands get as many as 12 million visitors per year, many of them British.
The highest point in the Spanish territories is Mount Teide. It’s 3,718 metres high, higher than any mountain in the Pyrenees!
The accent is completely different to any other part of Spain. It sounds more similar to some Latin American accents than anything from Spain.
Nelson lost his arm on the island of Tenerife in the battle for Santa Cruz in 1797. He also lost the battle!
All of the Canary Islands were formed from volcanic eruptions – Tenerife’s Mount Teide erupted in 1909.
The original inhabitants of the islands were probably the Guanches, a Berber tribe. There have been many explorers/invaders over the centuries, including the Portuguese, who controlled some parts for a while.
As well as a particular accent, the Spanish dialect spoken in The Canaries includes some unique words which probably come from Portuguese.
The island of La Gomera developed a whistling language so that they could communicate across the wide valleys. It’s called ‘Silbo Gomero’ and it’s a whistling form of Castilian Spanish. Residents use it to communicate announcements and pieces of news.
The canary bird was named after the islands (not the other way around!)
In fact, the islands are named after dogs!! According to Roman writers, the islands had a large number of big dogs – canes. Thus “Canaria”.
Bananas have been a very important product of the islands for decades. However, until the mid-19th-century wine from locally grown grapes had been the staple product, but were decimated by the disease phylloxera.
Some popular films have been made on the islands:
Fast & Furious 6
The Land That Time Forgot
Clash of the Titans
Exodus: Gods and Kings
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Rambo V: Last Blood
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Fuerteventura is over 20 million years old. It also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Canaries.
La Palma island has one of the largest collections of astronomical telescopes in the world, including the largest telescope, which is 10.4 meters.
Javier Bardem was born in Gran Canaria in 1969. He won an Oscar for best supporting actor in 2007 for No Country for Old Men (with Tommy Lee Jones)
David Silva is from Gran Canaria also. Born in 1986. He plays for Manchester City and used to play for Valencia. Helped Spain win the World Cup in 2010.
The Spanish Civil War started in the Canaries because Franco’s headquarters was in Las Palmas (He was the General Commandant of the Canaries) and he planned his strategy there in 1936 before moving to mainland Spain.
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English.
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