The Canary Islands
are a Spanish archipelago which, in turn, forms one of the
Spanish Autonomous Communities and an Outermost Region of
the European Union. The archipelago is located just off the
northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the
disputed border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The
sea currents which depart from Canary's coasts used to lead
ships away to America. The islands from largest to smallest
are: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La
Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa, Alegranza and
The Canary Islands have great natural attractions, climate and beaches make the islands a major tourist destination, being visited each year by about 12 million people (11,986,059 in 2007, noting 29% of Britons, 22% of Spanish not Canarians and 21% of Germans). Among the islands, Tenerife has the most number of tourists received annually, followed by Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. The archipelago principal tourist attraction is the Teide National Park (in Tenerife) where the highest mountain in Spain and third largest volcano in the world (the mount Teide) is located, it receives over 2.8 million visitors annually.
The Canary Islands currently has a population of 2,098,593 inhabitants, making it the eighth most populous of Spain's autonomous communities, with a density of 281.8 inhabitants per km². Tenerife is its most populous island with approximately one million inhabitants; the island of Gran Canaria is the second most-populous. The total area of the archipelago is 7447 km². It also enjoys sub-tropical climate with longer hot days in summer and cooler days in winter.
The status of capital city 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 (known as "Las Palmas de Gran Canaria", as the "GC" indicates on the local license plates). Until 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the only capital. The third largest city of the Canary Islands is San Cristóbal de La Laguna (City World Heritage Site) on the island of Tenerife.