Interesting facts about the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are a collection of beautiful Spanish islands but they’re actually far closer to Africa than Spain.

When you head off on your holiday to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote or Fuerteventura you might want the scoop to impress your friends and family with.

So, from wrestling and astronomy to sea lions and whistling, we’ve compiled some interesting facts about the Canary Islands to know before you go.

The islands were named after dogs, not birds

The chirpy canary bird does come from the Canary Islands.

But, the name actually originated from the Latin word for dogs – canaria. Most likely, the name developed from the resident sea lions on the island, which the Romans called sea dogs.

Originally only the rich owned canary birds

The domestic canary comes from a songbird species which originated in the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands.

They were brought to Europe by Spanish sailors and have been bred for their beautiful voices since the 17th century. Only the males sing, so they were in short supply and very expensive, meaning originally only the rich could afford them.

The islands are closer to Africa than Spain

Many people believe the Canary Islands must be close to Spain as they are politically part of it – but are surprised when they find out the islands are actually closer to Africa.

Fuerteventura is the closest to Africa, just 100km from the coast of Morocco while Lanzarote is the closest to Spain – but still at least 1,000km away!

This is why the islands boast such a great climate all year round.