Canary Islands, Incoming Travel Agency in Spain
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are an archipelago of the Kingdom of Spain consisting of seven islands of volcanic origin in the Atlantic Ocean. They are located off the north-western coast of Africa (Morocco and the Western Sahara). They form an autonomous community of Spain.
The nearest island (Fuerteventura) is 108 km from the northwest African coast.
The islands form the Macaronesia ecoregion with the Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. The Teide volcano on Tenerife is the highest mountain in Spain, and the third largest volcano on Earth. According to the position of the islands with respect to the trade winds, the climate can be mild and wet or very dry. Several native species are laurisilva forests.
The Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands consists of two provinces, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, whose capitals (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife) are co-capitals of the autonomous community. Each of the seven major islands is ruled by an assembly named cabildo insular.
The international boundary of the Canaries is the subject of dispute between Spain and Morocco. Morocco does not agree that the laws regarding territorial limits allow Spain to claim for itself sea-bed boundaries based on the territory of the Canaries, because the Canary Islands are autonomous. The boundary is relevant for possible seabed oil deposits and other ocean resource exploitation. Morocco therefore does not formally agree to the territorial boundary; it rejected a 2002 unilateral Spanish proposal . Morocco has also made some vague historical claims to the Canary Islands themselves , but these claims have not been formally pursued.
The Islands have 13 seats in the Senate. Of these, 11 seats are directly elected, 3 for Tenerife, 3 for Gran Canaria, 1 for each other island; 2 seats are indirectly elected by the regional Autonomous Government.
The economy is based primarily on tourism, which makes up 32% of the GDP. The Canaries receive about 10 million tourists per year. Construction makes up nearly 20% of the GDP and tropical agriculture, primarily bananas and tobacco, are grown for export to Europe and the Americas. Ecologists are concerned that the resources, especially in the more arid islands, are being overexploited but there are still many agricultural resources like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, cochineal, sugarcane, grapes, vines, dates, oranges, lemons, figs, wheat, barley, corn, apricots, peaches and almonds.
The economy is € 25 billion (2001 GDP figures). The islands experienced continuous growth during a 20 year period, up until 2001, at a rate of approximately 5% annually. This growth was fueled mainly by huge amounts of Foreign Direct Investment, mostly to develop tourism real estate (hotels and apartments), and European Funds (near 11 billion euro in the period from 2000 to 2007), since the Canary Islands are labelled Region Objective 1 (eligible for euro structural funds).
The combination of high mountains, proximity to Europe, and clean air has made the Roque de los Muchachos peak (on La Palma island) a leading location for telescopes like the Grantecan.
The islands are outside European Union customs territory, though politically within the EU. The ISO 3166-1 α-2 code IC is reserved for representing them in customs affairs. Goods subject to Spanish customs and excise duties and Value Added Tax (VAT), such as tobacco or electronic goods, are therefore significantly cheaper in the Canaries. Spanish magazines usually have a similar or higher price than in the peninsula since VAT is substituted with air transport costs. The islands do not have a separate Internet country code from the rest of Spain. The currency is the euro.
Canarian time is GMT, in summer one hour ahead of GMT, so one hour behind that of mainland Spain and the same as that of London all year round.