The Canary Islands are one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, with ten million tourists every year. Off the northwest coast of Africa, the thirteen volcanic islands that make up this chain are a nationality of Spain and part of the European Union. There are many natural attractions for tourists. There are several volcanoes, including the third-largest volcano in the world, Mount Teide. While mostly covered in subtropical forest, the islands nearer to Africa are arid desert. Four of Spain’s national parks are spread among the isles. The largest island, called Tenerife, has over 60 kilometers of beaches that vary between black and white sands.
Located on Tenerife, Teide National Park’s most noteworthy feature is Mount Teide. It is still geologically active. The many unique plants and animals that reside in the park include two native lizards, the wall gecko and the skink. The Teide Astronomical Observatory resides halfway up the volcano and is one of the world’s foremost telescopes.
Another unique feature of the Canary Islands is the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, one of the largest and most well-recognized festivals in the world. Held in February, the festival lasts a week and is known for elaborate events, costumes and days of dancing. Masked bands of street musicians roam the streets, and a Queen of the Festival is elected every year with extra tourist flights booked.
There are the pilgrimages, which are celebrations of well-known local saints. These are accompanied by many rustic dances, dishes, local arts and other activities related to the island’s unique folklore and culture. An interesting fact is that the original inhabitants of the islands worshiped dogs and treated them as holy. This is still reflected in their national flag, and the name of the Canary Islands comes from Latin, meaning “Island of the Dogs.”
The architecture of the islands is of a very specific and native character, with many charming towns holding individual customs. There are several great cathedrals and museums, ancient archaeological digs and caves, old castles, and the mysterious buildings called the Güímar Pyramids seen best from a scenic flight
The islands hold an incredibly varied culture in a tropical paradise.