Did you know that one of the “autonomous communities” of Spain is a group of islands quite close to Morocco, in Africa?
The Canary Islands is a group of eight inhabited islands. These volcanic islands form an archipelago. Back in the days of exploration and colonization, Spanish galleons on the way to the “New World” would stop at the Canaries for fresh food and water—and mostly so that they could catch the prevailing trade winds. Being such an important stopover spot brought great wealth to some of the Spaniards living on the islands.
Of course, being in a good spot for European ships was not so good for the original inhabitants of the islands. The various peoples living on the islands were either fought against and killed or converted and assimilated. The native peoples of two islands surrendered to the Spaniards quite quickly, but the other islanders resisted for decades – in some cases, for almost a century!
A few elements of the original cultures still survive today. One interesting element is Silbo, a whistled language that was spoken on four of the islands before the Spaniards arrived. Silbo was adapted to Spanish and is still used today in some cases.
Apparently the whistling could be used to communicate across deep ravines and narrow valleys of the islands – up to five kilometers (three miles)! So it is often used to announce events and to advise or warn the public. Check it out!
These days, the beaches and sunny weather attract a lot of tourists. I guess you can see that there are some beautiful things to see in the Canaries:
|Famara Beach, on Lanzarote, above|
Garajonay National Park, in La Gomera, below
|Las Palmas, on Gran Canaria, above|
Mount Teide, on Tenerife, below
|Rocky shore on Lanzarote, above|
Sand dunes on Gran Canaria, below
|There are such clear skies that there are three international observatories on the islands.|
Below, Lanzarote has an underwater sculpture museum.
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