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The Canary Islands explained; Are the Canary Islands A Country?

Time for another geography lesson folks! As someone obsessed with countries since spending 10 years visiting all 197 of them, places like the Canary Islands are confusing, are the Canary Islands a country even?! I was getting frustrated at someone from an unnamed country (I’m sure you can guess) and their sheer lack of understanding about the geography of Europe, then I took a step back and realised it can get pretty confusing! Rarely more so than the Canary islands, so here’s a quick run down at how they work:

traveling in the canary islands

Where are the Canary Islands?

The Canary Islands are just off the coast of northwest Africa, about 100km west of Morocco. So they look like they’re more likely to belong to an African country, but you’d be wrong! Here’s where they are on a Google Map:

Or a google map screenshot for the old school readers:

where are the Canary Islands
Where are the Canary Islands

Are the Canary Islands A Country? & are the Canary Islands in Europe?

Despite the fact that they’re geographically part of the African continent, as mentioned above, they’re actually recognized under the protecterate of Spain and are therefore European. So people from the Canary Islands carry a Spanish Passport, and there is no such thing as a Canary Islands passport.


Are the Canary Islands part of Spain?

Yes. The Canary Islands are part of Spain, and are still controlled from the Spanish central government but with their own political management


Are the Canary Islands part of the EU (European Union)?

Yes they are, as they are Spanish, they are very much part of the European Union.


How many islands are in the Canary Islands?

There are 13 officially recognized islands, the most famous of which are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. These are all common tourist hotspots.

The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands

How do I get to the Canary Islands?

With 4 or 5 of the islands being such great destinations for European tourists, there are countless flights to Tenerife south and Gran Canaria, the 2 major airports. Other islands have airports but can prove quite pricey.

You can also take a ferry from Portimao in Portugal, it takes around 2 days and costs about $60 USD.

At the moment there are no ferries from Africa to the Canary Islands.


What can I do on the Canary Islands?

Too much to list! Fuerteventura is a windsurfer’s paradise. La Gomera is home for trekkers. Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote have everything you’d expect from holidaymaker’s islands, there’s lots of stuff to do there or climb Spain’s Highest mountain in Tenerife.

climbing Mount Teide
Climbing Mount Teide

When is best to visit the Canary Islands?

Ok, listen up. During school holidays and Easter holidays, this places fills up with British and German tourists so if possible avoid these times, although the nightlife will be pretty busy then, if that’s what you’re after. If you go in low season, you’ll catch yourself some serious bargains too.


Hope you guys now understand where the Canary Islands are, are the Canary Islands a country or not, are they part of the EU, and how to get to them.

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