Guide to Gran Canaria, one of the popular Spanish Canary Islands.
The Canary Islands - Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria - The third largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria lies at the centre of the island group about 210 kilometres from the northwest coast of Africa and has the highest population of all the Canaries with over 800,000 inhabitants. In terms of tourism it is one of the most popular islands and attracts between 1 and 2 million visitors every year.
Gran Canaria History: The early inhabitants of Gran Canaria would have come from North Africa in around 3000 BC and similar to the other Canary Islands was later settled by the Guanches, a tall, blonde-haired race of people. Gran Canaria along with Tenerife had a sizeable population of Guanches, who held sway over the island until the arrival of the Spanish in the 14th and 15th Centuries.
Conquered by the Spain in the latter part of the 15th Century, Gran Canaria was colonised by the first half of the 16th Century.
Present day Gran Canaria has a thriving tourist industry and attracts more visitors than any of its neighbouring islands. Holidaymakers arrive in their thousands to enjoy the mild climate, the sandy beaches and the wide variety of tourist attractions. There are a huge choice of hotels on the island, and we have some featured hotels including the Oasis Club Bungalows in Maspalomas, the Princess Hotel in Playa Taurito.
The capital of Gran Canaria is Las Palmas, located in the north of the island. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the largest town in the Canary Islands, with a population of almost 400,000 and was founded by the Spanish in 1478, subsequently becoming an important port. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a charming old town with lots of interesting places to visit.
Gran Canaria is divided into two distinct climatic regions by a mountain range at its centre. At its highest point, the volcano Pico de las Nieves rises to 6,394 feet and is the highest point on Gran Canaria, here it is usually cold and misty and can sometimes experience snow and cold weather during the winter time. To the north of this mountain range, the climate is warm and humid and the landscape lush and fertile, to the south the climate is hot and dry and the landscape more arid. Overall Gran Canaria enjoys a wonderful mild climate with an average annual temperature of 21 degrees Centigrade (70 degrees Farenheit), its terrific winter weather is one of the main attractions of the island.
Most of the sun-seeking visitors to Gran Canaria head for the southern resorts such as Playa del Ingles, Puerto Rico, Puerto Mogan and Maspalomas, Maspalomas being the largest resort on Gran Canaria, boating a huge number of hotels and apartment blocks, catering for a large percentage of Gran Canaria’s holidaymakers.
Attracted by miles of sandy beaches, great water sports facilities and wide variety of bars and restaurants, thousands visit each year.
Puerto Rico, a former fishing village has also become a significant resort with plenty of first class hotels and accommodation. Puerto Rico is especially popular with golfers and water sports enthusiasts but only has a small beach, made prettier with sand imported from the Sahara Desert.
Gran Canaria Tourist Attractions: There are a number of popular tourist attractions throughout Gran Canaria, among the best known are Palmitos Park, Aqualand, the Museo Canario in Las Palmas, Sioux City near San Agustin, the Casa de Colon, and Reptilandia, and Holiday World in Maspalomas. There are organised trips to many of these attractions though of course hiring a car is the best option for seeing the island.
Gran Canaria is easily reached by air from most major European and UK airports, from mainland Spain and from the other Canary Islands, it can also be reached by ferry and hydrofoil. Airport transfers are readily available to major resorts.
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