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Canary Islands

spain, guanchos and ancient

CANARY ISLANDS. The first glimpse of the Cana ries is frequently the single snow-covered peak 12,000 feet high which dominates the island of Teneriffe, and which in clear weather can be seen at sea for many miles. It is a partially extinct volcano, and the natives thought it was the dwelling place of the evil one. Drawing nearer to the islands, the boat makes its first landing at Santa Cruz, also in Teneriffe, which is the Spanish capital. The white flat-roofed houses make a dazzling picture under the tropic sun, and presently we see that the trees and shrubs are those of hot climates—date palms, orange trees, bananas, and cactus. The swarthy loafers along the quay and the handsome black-eyed girls suggest southern Spain, for the Spaniards have intermarried with the original native population to such an extent that it is impossible to distinguish any of the descend ants of the ancient Guanchos.

Today the Canary Islands remain as one of the few possessions of the once mighty empire of Spain.

Modern commerce has made them prosperous, but they still have a dreamy Old-World charm, and every where there are ancient monuments and castles that recall the fierce conflicts with the Guanchos, and the time when richly laden galleons used to stop at the islands on their way from the New World to Spain.

And everywhere is the same contrast, so frequent in Spanish-speaking countries, typified in the narrow street where ox-cart and electric street-cars alternate.

The Canaries comprise seven principal islands—Teneriffe, Grand Canary, Palma, Hierro, Gomera, Lanzarote, and Fuerteventura—besides a number of small uninhabited islands. It is thought they may be the "Fortunate Isles" or "Isles of the Blest" which were often referred to in Greek and Roman legends, and their existence was probably known to the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. They were not rediscovered, however, till the 14th and 15th centuries. The chief products today are potatoes, onions, cochineal, tobacco, wine, sugar, and fruits. The islands are volcanic in origin and lie about 60 miles from the northwest coast of Africa. The total area of the larger islands-2,835 square miles—is a little more than that of the state of Delaware, and the population (about 510,000) twice as great.