The Spanish Canary Islands are a popular tourist destination, thanks to a pleasant climate and distinct characteristics.
Much of this may be due to volcanic eruptions that occurred over millions of years and still occur today. The last land eruption in the islands was in 1971, and an underwater eruption took place in 2012.
One of these volcanoes, Teide, rises to 7,500 meters above sea level, making it the third highest volcano on the planet.
Teide and Canadas del Teide from Caldera Rim / Tenerife, Spain (Ingo Mehling /Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0)
Numerous eruptions have helped provide the islands with a rich soil that supports various types of vegetation, making it one of the most biodiversity zones in the world.
The archipelago is home to eight main islands and is home to a pleasant climate, characterized by sea winds that blow from the north and are then obstructed by the mountains, leaving the south side mild and sunny all year round.
Santa Cruz, La Palma. (Bengt Nyman /Wikipedia CC BY 2.0)
The Anaga massif in Tenerife. (Jens Steckert /Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Canaries are also home to several “microclimates” – specific weather conditions that only occur in certain areas due to terrain or altitude, distinct from the climatic conditions of neighboring localities. The climate is also influenced by north-south winds, called alisios.
In the north, moisture is absorbed by vegetation at higher elevations. Plants condense moisture, creating a localized phenomenon called “horizontal rain”.
The economy is heavily dependent on tourism, with more than 10 million visitors per year. While this has put pressure on some natural areas and resources, government officials have taken steps to preserve natural habitats and protect wildlife. Initiatives include the reintroduction of El Hierro, a giant lizard, and the conservation of endemic birds, WWF says.
The serinus canaria is one of the many birds that can be found in the Canary Islands. (Juan Emilio /Wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.0)