Just like other Atlantic islands as Madeira, the Azores and the Cape Verde Islands, the Canary Islands are volcanic in origin. Millions of years ago, they have risen from the sea.
A rough estimate shows that Gran Canaria, Tenerife and La Gomera originated between 8 and 13 million years ago. The Canary Islands are actually volcanic peaks that are pushed up by the moving ocean floor.
The Canary Islands were formerly inhabited by the Guanches. They say that the Gaunches where blond or red-haired and blue-eyed, tall people. The name Gaunches comes from Guan(Human) and Chinet(Tenerife), human from Tenerife. The guanches lived in caves. Still some cities in Gran Canaria have names that date from the time of the Guanches. At that time Gáldar was the capital.
In 1344 the islands were assigned to Spain by the pope. But Spain only succeeded in 1483 to overthrow the Guanches to surrender. In many places at Gran Canaria there are still caves of the Guanches. In the 16th century the Spanish built towns and villages, built plantations and chapels and churches.
During American travels Las Palmas was an important stop for Columbus. In 1820 Las Palmas becomes officially the capital of Gran Canaria.
In 1884, the first hotel in Las Palmas is opened and the tourism start taking place. In 1930 Gando airport is built. Today more than 2 million tourists a year travel to the island.
How did Gran Canaria get it´s name?
Gran Canaria gets its name from a large dog breed - Now called Dogo Presa Canario- discovered by the first explorers on the island (In Latin 'canes' = dogs). Some people think that the Islands are named after the birds, but it is the other way around. The Canary bird is named after the Canary Islands.