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This article is about the Canary Island. For other uses, see Lanzarote (disambiguation).
Native name: Lanzarote
Nickname: Lanza
Flag of Lanzarote.svg
Flag of Lanzarote
LZ Canarias.png
Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 29°02′06″N 13°37′59″W / 29.035°N 13.633°W / 29.035; -13.633Coordinates: 29°02′06″N 13°37′59″W / 29.035°N 13.633°W / 29.035; -13.633
Archipelago Canary Islands
Total islands 7
Major islands Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria
Area 845.9 km2 (326.6 sq mi)
Highest elevation 671 m (2,201 ft)
Highest point Peñas del Chache, Famara
Autonomous Community Canary Islands
Province Las Palmas
Largest settlement Arrecife (pop. 55,203)
Population 142,132 (2011)
Pop. density 227,6 /km2 (5,895 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Spanish, other minority groups
Overlooking the harbour in the Old Town, Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote

Lanzarote (/ˌlænzəˈrɒti/; Spanish pronunciation: [lanθaˈɾote, lansaˈɾote]) is a Spanish island, the easternmost of the autonomous Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 125 kilometres (78 miles) off the coast of Africa and 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) from the Iberian Peninsula. Covering 845.94 square kilometres (326.62 square miles), it is the fourth-largest of the islands in the archipelago. With 141,938 inhabitants, Lanzarote is the third-most populous island of the Canary Islands, after Tenerife and Gran Canaria. In the centre-west of the island is the Timanfaya National Park, which is one of the main attractions of Lanzarote. Its capital is Arrecife.

The first recorded name for the island, given by Angelino Dulcert, was Insula de Lanzarotus Marocelus, after the Genovese navigator Lancelotto Malocello, from which the modern name is derived. The island's name in the native language was Tyterogaka or Tytheroygaka, which may mean "one that is all ochre" (referring to the island's predominant colour).[1]

Beautiful sunset overlooking the beach in Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote


Lanzarote is located 11 kilometres (7 miles) north-east of Fuerteventura and just over 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) from Graciosa. The dimensions of the island are 60 kilometres (37 miles) from north to south and 25 kilometres (16 miles) from west to east. Lanzarote has 213 kilometres (132 miles) of coastline, of which 10 kilometres (6 miles) are sand, 16.5 kilometres (10 miles) are beach, and the remainder is rocky. Its landscape includes the mountain ranges of Famara (671 metres (2,201 ft))[2] in the north and Ajaches (608 metres or 1,995 feet) to the south. South of the Famara massif is the El Jable desert which separates Famara and Montañas del Fuego. The highest peak is Peñas del Chache rising to 670 metres (2,200 feet) above sea level. The "Tunnel of Atlantis," the largest underwater volcanic tunnel in the world, is part of the Cueva de los Verdes lava tube.[citation needed]


Often called 'Island of Eternal Spring' Lanzarote[3] is one of the Canary Islands in which has a subtropical-desert climate according to the Köppen climatic classification.[4] The small amount of precipitation is mainly concentrated in the winter. Rainfall during summer is a rare phenomenon (there has never been any recorded rainfall in July) and several summers are completely dry without any precipitation. On average the Island receives approximately 16 days of precipitation between December and February.[3] Sometimes, the hot sirroco wind prevails causing dry and dusty conditions across the island.[3] Average precipitation in June and August is less than 0.5 millimetres (0.020 inches). It closely borders on a tropical climate, with winter means of 18 °C (64 °F) and summer means of 25 °C (77 °F).

Climate data for Lanzarote Airport (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 27.9
Average high °C (°F) 20.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.4
Average low °C (°F) 14.0
Record low °C (°F) 8.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 16.5
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 4 18
Average relative humidity (%) 68 68 66 66 66 66 68 68 70 71 69 71 68
Mean monthly sunshine hours 203 201 241 255 297 292 308 295 248 235 207 196 2,978
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología[5]


View over a lava field towards the Montañas del Fuego.

Lanzarote is the easternmost island of the Canary Islands and has a volcanic origin. It was born through fiery eruptions and has solidified lava streams as well as extravagant rock formations. The island emerged about 15 million years ago as product of the Canary hotspot. The island, along with others, emerged after the break-up of the African and the American continental plates. The greatest recorded eruptions occurred between 1730 and 1736 in the area now designated Timanfaya National Park.[citation needed]


Papagayo beach

As of 2010, 139,000 people live on Lanzarote[6] which is an increase of 9.4% from 2006 (127,000).[7] The seat of the island government (Cabildo Insular) is in the capital, Arrecife, which has a population of 59,000.[6] The majority of the inhabitants (73.9%) are Spanish, with a sizeable number of residents from other European nations, mainly British (4.0%), Germans (2.6%) and Irish (2.5%).[8] Other populous groups include immigrants from Colombia, Morocco, Ecuador, Western Africa, China and India, which constitute a large proportion of the remaining 15.6% of the population.[citation needed]

Nationality Population  % of Lanzarote's Population
Spanish 99,998 73.9%
Colombian 5,703 4.2%
British 5,420 4.0%
Moroccan 3,606 2.7%
German 3,450 2.6%
Irish 3,378 2.5%
Ecuadorians 1,950 1.4%
Other nationalities 11,758 8.7%

The island has an international airport, Arrecife Airport, through which 5,438,178 passengers travelled in 2008.[9] Tourism has been the mainstay of the island's economy for the past 40 years, the only other industry being agriculture.

Lanzarote is part of the province of Las Palmas, and is divided into seven municipalities:



There are five hundred different kinds of plants on the island of which 17 species are endemic. These plants have adapted to the relative scarcity of water in the same way as succulents. They include the Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), which is found in damper areas of the north, the Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis), ferns, and wild olive trees (Olea europaea). Laurisilva trees which once covered the highest parts of Risco de Famara are rarely found today. After winter rainfall, the vegetation comes to a colourful bloom between February and March.

Malvasia grape vines growing in topsoil, covered in lapilli, La Geria, Lanzarote. The low, curved walls protect the vines from the constant, drying wind.

The vineyards of La Gería, Lanzarote DO wine region, are a protected area. Single vines are planted in pits 4–5 metres (13–16 feet) wide and 2–3 metres (6 feet 7 inches–9 feet 10 inches) deep, with small stone walls around each pit. This agricultural technique is designed to harvest rainfall and overnight dew and to protect the plants from the winds.


There are 180 different species of lichen-forming fungi. These survive in the suitable areas like rock surfaces, and promote weathering.


Apart from bats and other mammals which accompanied humans to the island (including the dromedary which was used for agriculture and is now a tourist attraction), there are few vertebrate species on Lanzarote. These include birds (such as falcons), and reptiles. Some interesting endemic animals are the Gallotia lizards, and the blind Munidopsis polymorpha crabs found in the Jameos del Agua lagoon, which was formed by a volcanic eruption. The island is also home to one of two surviving populations of the threatened Canarian Egyptian vulture.

Natural symbols[edit]

The official symbols from nature associated with Lanzarote are Munidopsis polymorpha (Blind crab) and Euphorbia balsamifera (Tabaiba dulce).[10]


Lanzarote is estimated the first Canary Island to be settled. The Phoenicians may have settled there around 1100 BC, though no material evidence survives. The Greek writers and philosophers Herodotus, Plato and Plutarch described the garden of the Hesperides, a mythic orchard at the far West of the world, which some like to identify with the Canaries.[citation needed]

The first known record came from Pliny the Elder in the encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia on an expedition to the Canary Islands.[11] The names of the islands (then called Insulae Fortunatae, the "Fortunate Isles") were recorded as Junonia (Fuerteventura), Canaria (Gran Canaria), Ninguaria (Tenerife), Junonia Major (La Palma), Pluvialia(El Hierro) and Capraria (La Gomera). Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, the two easternmost Canary Islands, were only mentioned as the archipelago of the "purple islands".[clarification needed] The Roman poet Lucan and the Greek astronomer and geographer Ptolemy gave their precise locations.[12] After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Canary islands were ignored until 999 when the Arabs arrived at the island which they dubbed al-Djezir al-Khalida and other names.

In 1336, a ship arrived from Lisbon under the guidance of Lanzarote da Framqua, alias Lancelotto Malocello. A fort was later built in the area of Montaña de Guanapay near today's Teguise. Castilian slaving expeditions in 1385 and 1393 seized hundreds of Guanches and sold them in Spain, initiating the slave trade in the islands.[13]

Jean de Béthencourt arrived in 1402, heading a private expedition under Castilian auspices. Bethencourt first visited the south of Lanzarote at Playas de Papagayo, and within a matter of months the French overran the island, which lacked mountains and gorges to serve as retreats for the small remaining population of Guanches, so many of whom were taken away as slaves, it was said that only 300 men remained.

At the southern end of the municipality of Yaiza, in the area known as "El Rubicón", the first European settlement in the Canary Islands in 1402, where the conquest of the Archipelago began he was installed.[14] In this place the Cathedral of Saint Martial of Limoges. This cathedral was destroyed by English pirates in the sixteenth century and is currently in Femés, the Hermitage of Saint Martial of Limoges dedicated to this saint. This diocese was moved in 1483 to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Roman Catholic Diocese of Canarias).[14]

In 1404, the Castilians with the support of the King of Castile came and fought the local Guanches, who were further decimated. The islands of Fuerteventura and El Hierro were later similarly conquered. In 1477 a decision by the royal council of Castile confirmed a grant of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, with the smaller islands of Ferro and Gomera to the Castilian nobles Herrera, who held their fief until the end of the 18th century.[15]

In 1585, the Ottoman admiral Murat Reis temporarily seized Lanzarote. In the 17th century, pirates raided the island and took 1,000 inhabitants to slavery in Cueva de los Verdes.

From 1730 to 1736 (for 2,053 days), the island was hit by a series of volcanic eruptions, producing 32 new volcanoes in a stretch of 18 kilometres (11 miles). The minister of Yaiza, Don Andrés Lorenzo Curbelo documented the eruption in detail until 1731. Lava covered a quarter of the island's surface, including the most fertile soil and eleven villages. One hundred smaller volcanoes were located in the area called Montañas del Fuego, the "Mountains of Fire".

In 1768, drought affected the deforested island, and winter rains did not fall. Much of the population was forced to emigrate to Cuba and the Americas, including a group which formed a significant addition to the Spanish settlers in Texas at San Antonio de Bexar in 1731. Another volcanic eruption occurred within the range of Tiagua in 1824 which was less violent than the major eruption between 1730 and 1736.

In 1927, Lanzarote, along with Fuerteventura, became part of the province of Las Palmas.

Several archaeological expeditions have uncovered the prehistoric settlement at the archaeologic site of El Bebedero in Teguise (village).[16] In one of those expeditions, by a team from the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and a team from the Universidad de Zaragoza, yielded about 100 Roman potsherds, nine pieces of metal, and one piece of glass. The artefacts were found in strata dated between the first and 4th centuries. The finds show that Romans did trade with the Canaries, though there is no evidence of settlements.[12]

Biosphere Reserve controversy[edit]

The island has a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve protected site status. According to a report in the Financial Times, this status was endangered by a local corruption scandal. Since May 2009, police have arrested the former president of Lanzarote, the former mayor of Arrecife and more than 20 politicians and businessmen in connection with illegal building permits along Lanzarote's coastline. UNESCO has threatened to revoke Lanzarote's Biosphere Reserve status, "(i)f the developments are not respecting local needs and are impacting on the environment".[17][18]

The President of the Cabildo of Lanzarote denied "any threat to Lanzarote's UNESCO status".[19]


Famous people who were born or have lived on the island are Rosana Arbelo, a singer; César Manrique, an artist; José Saramago, a Portuguese Nobel Prize for Literature winner who died there; Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark and husband, Carlos Morales Quintana; Jean Arriete Prud'homme (Surname later Hispanicized to Perdomo), a French nobleman who arrived with Jean de Béthencourt and gave his name to the village of Arrieta.


The most established festival on the island is held each year on 15 September in the village of Mancha Blanca in the municipality of Tinajo in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows (Virgen de los Dolores), also called Virgin of the Volcanoes (the Patron Saint of Lanzarote). In this pilgrimage people from all over the island, mostly dressed in traditional costumes, participate.


Hacha Grande, in the south of the island, viewed from the road to Papagayo beach.
Salinas de Janubio, in the west of the island.
Crater and laguna in El Golfo.


  1. ^ "Diccionario Ínsuloamaziq-Tyterogaka". 
  2. ^ Photo: Famara Official Tourism Office of the Canaries
  3. ^ a b c none, none (2001–2016). "SpainLanzarote". SpainLanzarote. SpainLanzarote. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  4. ^ "Arrecife, Spain Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". 
  5. ^ "Guía resumida del clima en España (1981–2010)". 
  6. ^ a b "Datos de Lanzarote – Población de derecho de Lanzarote según municipio". Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  7. ^ "Datos de Lanzarote — Población de derecho de Lanzarote según municipio". Retrieved 8 November 2007. 
  8. ^ "Informe sobre la Población de Lanzarote — Marzo 2006" (pdf). Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  9. ^ "Tráfico de pasajeros, operaciones y carga en los aeropuertos españoles 2008" (pdf). Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  10. ^ "BOC – 1991/061. Viernes 10 de Mayo de 1991 – 577". 
  12. ^ a b "Roman Trade with the Canary Islands". Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  13. ^ Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: the biological expansion of Europe 900–1900 (Cambridge) 1986:87, citing John Mercer, The Canary Islands, Their Prehistory, Conquest and Survival 1980:148-59.
  14. ^ a b San Marcial del Rubicón y los Obispados de Canarias
  15. ^ Henry Kamen, Empire: how Spain became a world power, 1492–1763 2002:11.
  16. ^ Atoche Peña, Pablo. "EXCAVACIONES on the Canary islands". Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  17. ^ Barr, Caelainn; Mulligan, Mark (5 July 2010). "Lanzarote faces losing its eco status". Financial Times. London, Madrid. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  18. ^ Building craze threatens to end Lanzarote's biosphere status The Independent. 7 July 2010
  19. ^ Greenslade, Roy (8 July 2010). "Canary Islands protests at Financial Times investigation". Greenslade Blog. London: The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Joachim Pott, Joachim Hüppe/de la Torre, Wofredo Wildpret Die Kanarischen Inseln. Natur- und Kulturlandschaften = The Canary Islands. Natural and Cultural Landscapes, Ulmer : Stuttgart 2003, 320 S., 295 colour photos, 28 coloured graphica, 3 tables. (represented and illustrated by Geobotanik). ISBN 3-8001-3284-2.
  • Wilkens, Horst: Lanzarote — Blind Crabs, Hoopoes and Volcanoes. A Guide to the Countryside, Plants and Animals of an Exceptional Volcanic Island. NATURALANZA Ulrike Strecker 2009, 120 pages, with colour photos. ISBN 978-3-942999-03-8.
  • Strecker, Ulrike & Wilkens, Horst: Lanzarote — Life on Lava. Book of Illustrations of the most impressive landscapes, animals and plants. 120 pages, more than 90 colour photos, hardcover. ISBN 3-942999-02-1.

External links[edit]