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Antiquity and early Europeans

Around 3000 years ago, writers such as Homer already spoke of the 'islands of the blessed'. Between 1100 and 800 B.C., the Canary Islands were discovered by the Phoenicians, coming from present-day Cadiz, and the Carthaginians. The oldest finds date back to 500-200 BC.

The oldest map showing the Canary Islands dates back to 1339. Laforte Ventura, 'the strong adventure', is also indicated on it. It is still unknown how the island got this name.

In 1402, the Norman Jean de Béthencourt conquered Lanzarote for the Castilian crown and thus received the title of "King of the Canary Islands". In the period 1403-1405, Béthencourt conquered Fuerteventura and founded Betancuria as his capital, after which he returned to the mainland.

In 1414, De Béthencourt donated the Canary Islands to the Iberian Count of Niebla. From 1440, the Canary Islands were brutally ruled by the Peraza people and this period was marked by many rebellions.

Fuerteventura definitively Spanish territory

In the period 1433-1479, the Spanish and the Portuguese fought over the Canary Islands. In 1479, the archipelago was granted to Spain in the Treaty of Alcáçovas. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the slave trade flourished on Fuerteventura, but Berber and Algerian pirates regularly plundered the island's coastal towns. Hundreds of the island's inhabitants were kidnapped.

From the end of the 17th century, droughts followed in quick succession, so that recurring famines forced many residents to emigrate.

From 1730 to 1736, volcanic eruptions destroyed the south of Lanzarote. A famine ensued and a large part of the population emigrated to Latin America. However, many residents of Lanzarote fled to Fuerteventura. In October 1740, Tuineje was attacked by the English, but a small group of farmers succeeded in chasing off the English at the Battle of Tamasite.

The capital Puerto del Rosario was created in 1797 as a port for the more inland hamlet of Tetir. A spring attracted many goats, giving the new settlement the name Puerto de Cabras, 'Goat Port'. In 1835, the small village broke away from Tetir and became an independent municipality.

Puerto de Cabras soon became Fuerteventura's most important port and in the 19th century the town was declared the capital. However, the inhabitants did not like the name 'Goat Port' and in 1956 it was changed to Puerto del Rosario, 'Port of the Rosary'.

Canary Islands free trade zone

The eastern islands of Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura were merged in 1927 to form the Spanish province of Gran Canaria.

Francisco Franco, at that time military commander in the Canary Islands, staged a coup against the government in Madrid. However, the Spanish Civil War brought only economic malaise and political isolation. The Canary Islands were at that time the poorest area of Spain.

From the late 1960s, tourism increased and rapidly replaced agriculture as the main source of livelihood. In 1966, the first holiday hotel opened its doors. It was the Casa Atlántica in Jandía, built by Gustav Schütte, the island's tourism pioneer.

After General Franco's death in 1975, there was more political openness and tourism also experienced a boom. In 1975, Spain withdrew from its last African colony, the Spanish Sahara. The 4,000-strong Foreign Legion stationed there was then transferred to Fuerteventura. They soon behaved like the rulers of the island, much to the annoyance of the young Majoreros in particular. In 1980, street fights broke out in the capital Puerto del Rosario, after which the legion was removed from the island.

In 1982, the Canary Islands, along with several other Spanish provinces, were granted autonomous status and in 1986, despite joining the European Union, the archipelago retained its separate status as a free trade zone.

See also the history of Spain.


Evers, K. / Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote

Gawin, I. / Fuerteventura
Zuidnederlandse Uitgeverij

Grimm, P. / Lanzarote & Fuerteventura

Lipps, S. / Fuerteventura

Schütte, H. / Fuerteventura
Van Reemst

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated April 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info