Gran Canaria, an island with its own historic identity
Nov. 10, 2016, 12:56 p.m.
There are many legends about the creation of the Canary Islands, but its history is undeniable.
The true story of Canary Islands mingles with the amount of myths of ancient literature. Some legends even say that it was a magical place and its people came from a lost and unknown continent. It was then when they began to be identified by the Fortunate Islands. So many stories create some confusion among tourists about where their real origins come from. For all those who come to visit us at Dunas Hotels & Resorts and are curious about the origin of Gran Canaria, we recommend reading this brief summary of the history of the island.
The first historical references about Gran Canaria date back classical times. Its first inhabitants, known as Guanches or canarii, maintained close links with the North African area and the Berbers, who colonized the island in the middle of the first millennium B.C. However, the conquest of Gran Canaria was conducted by Europeans, under the leadership of the Catholic Monarchs. The resistance of the islanders made this an over five year’s venture. Finally, Pedro de Vera concluded the conquest which Juan Rejon had begun in 1483.
The conquest can be structured into three main phases: the first, the Aboriginal Period (B.C. - 1483). Although the exact year is unknown, many archaeologists argue that the first settlers of the islands came from North Africa and arrived in the first millennium B.C. The aborigines (Guanches) lived in a very primitive way, but the people of Gran Canaria were identified as those who greatly contributed to its culture. As proof of it we can still admire the pottery and their completely adapted cave-houses. The second, were the first European contacts (1341-1478). And third one, the Castellana conquest (1478-1483).
The latter is the most important of the three periods since it is when the island was conquered by Castilla that its present history began. For five long years and three prominent stages, the Crown tries to colonize Gran Canaria, finding, among other things, the resistance of the islanders. This is the main reason why the island took so long to be conquered. Pedro de Vera, who finally managed to conquer the island, needed reinforcements to achieve his goal.
Within the history of this island we can highlight, the colonial expansion of the British during the nineteenth century, who settled and developed their colonial strategy from the port of Gran Canaria; as well as the decline of the Spanish Empire in America, with the loss of its last colony; and finally, the administrative launch of the two provinces of the Canary Islands. The activity that the British established started to grow maritime tourism, and the rest followed up until nowadays’ tourism. As a result of this, the first economic activity of the island arose. Although wars prevented tourists from coming to the islands, in the fifties it was back and running, until it became the great economic engine of Gran Canaria.
Nowadays, it is not only the island of Gran Canaria, but all Islands of the archipelago that have tourism as their major industry. There are many different reasons why the islands are the perfect destination for many Europeans, i.e.: leisure, business, or just the excellent quality of life. Every year Gran Canaria welcomes thousands of tourists.
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