Map courtesy of Mirelis Peraza
The Islas Canarias (Canary Islands) are a Spanish archipelago and the southernmost autonomous community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean, 62 miles west of Morocco at the closest point.
The seven main islands are (from largest to smallest in area) Tenerife, La Palma, El Hierro, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote. The archipelago includes many smaller islands and islets: La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste, and Roque del Este. It also includes a series of adjacent roques (those of Salmor, Fasnia, Bonanza, Garachico, and Anaga). In ancient times, the island chain was often referred to as "Las Afortunadas" (the Fortunate Isles.) The Canary Islands are the most southerly region of Spain and the largest and most populated archipelago of the Macaronesia region. Historically, the Canary Islands have been considered a bridge between four continents: Africa, North America, South America, and Europe.
In 1927, the Province of Canary Islands was split into two provinces. The autonomous community of the Canary Islands was established in 1982. Its capital is shared by the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which in turn are the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been the largest city in the Canaries since 1768, except for a brief period in the 1910s. Between the 1833 territorial division of Spain and 1927, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands. In 1927 a decree ordered that the capital of the Canary Islands be shared, as it remains at present. The third-largest city of the Canary Islands is San Cristóbal de La Laguna (a World Heritage Site) on Tenerife. This city is also home to the Consejo Consultivo de Canarias, which is the supreme consultative body of the Canary Islands. During the time of the Spanish Empire, the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to the Americas, which came south to catch the prevailing northeasterly trade winds.