Canary Islands: Battling the Tourist Invasion

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The Canary Islands are in the thick of it, dealing with a flood of tourists. These gorgeous islands, steeped in history, are struggling to keep up with the massive influx of visitors.

Spread out in the Atlantic Ocean, the Canary Islands are like a mini-Spain, with its own vibe and tons of sun-seekers.

You’ve got Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife holding it down as the big cities, while Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera, and Ferro each bring their own island flavor to the mix.

According to Britannica (yeah, that old book), these islands were granted their autonomy back in 1982. And hey, it’s not just beaches and palm trees—there are over 2 million people living it up here!

Split Personality

Geographically speaking, the Canary Islands are kind of like a two-faced friend. The western side? It’s all about the mountains rising straight out of the ocean. Think Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and the gang—all reaching for the sky, with Mount Teide on Tenerife leading the charge at a whopping 3,718 meters.

The eastern side? That’s where you’ll find Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, plus a handful of tiny islands chillin’ on a submarine mountain range known as the Canary Ridge. These guys only poke their heads about 1,400 meters above sea level.

Volcanoes and Stuff

What’s cool about these islands, besides the beaches, is their volcanic history. Yeah, turns out they’re like nature’s science project, formed millions of years ago by some serious volcanic action.

Once upon a time, the Guanches were the OG inhabitants here. They were Berber peeps who got conquered by Spain in the 15th century and kind of merged into the local scene.

But let’s rewind even further: the Romans knew about these islands, thanks to a dude named Juba II, King of Mauritania. He sailed his way over here around 40 BC and scribbled down some notes about his adventures. Those notes ended up in the history books, thanks to writers like Plutarch and Pliny the Elder.

Oh, and fun fact: they’re called the Canary Islands because there were lots of big dogs here. Go figure.

Fast forward to the late 1400s, and Spain was calling the shots here, thanks to some treaties and whatnot. Then in 1496, they sealed the deal and claimed the islands as theirs.

And speaking of claiming stuff, Christopher Columbus swung by in 1492. He and his crew stocked up on supplies here before sailing off to find the Americas. Cheers for the pit stop, Chris!

In more recent times, in 1936, General Francisco Franco used these islands as his jumping-off point for stirring up some trouble on the mainland.

Sunshine Central

Forget about packing your winter coat—this place is all about sunshine and good vibes. While the rest of Europe is shivering, the Canary Islands are basking in warm temps.

In Las Palmas, for example, August afternoons hover around 26 degrees Celsius, while January temps dip to a cozy 21 degrees Celsius. And don’t even get us started on the rain—it’s like, nonexistent, except for a little sprinkle in November and December.

And thanks to the sunny weather and volcanic soil, you’ve got all sorts of plants thriving here, from bananas and oranges to coffee and tobacco. But the real winners are potatoes and grapes—they’re practically growing like weeds!

Tourist Takeover

But here’s the thing: too much of a good thing can be, well, not so good. With a whopping 48 million tourists descending on the islands in 2023, things are getting a bit crowded.

According to Mirror, all those tourists aren’t just sunbathing and sipping cocktails—they’re wreaking havoc on the environment and local communities. Sure, tourism is booming, but Spanish authorities are worried about the rising poverty levels and plummeting living standards for the locals.

Yep, housing prices are through the roof, and rents are sky-high. This has turned many homes into Airbnb goldmines. But while tourists are living the high life, locals are struggling to find affordable housing and are being pushed out of their own neighborhoods. Tough times in paradise, huh?

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