Gran Canaria History

Filed under: Guide |

3000BC-AD1500
The island is inhabited by Cro-Magnon and Mediterranean-type Stone Age people, who wear skins, keep livestock and grow cereals. The have no written language.

1st Centuary AD
First mention of the name ‘Canaria’ by the historian Pliny the Elder. He calls the archipelago ‘The Fortunate Isles’.

13th century AD
Arrival of slaving expeditions from Europe.

1405
The Norman Jean de Bethencourt fails in his attempt to conquer Gran Canaria for the Spanish throne.

1478
Juan Rejon founds the town of Real de las Palmas and begins subduing the island. The aboriginal people are led by two kings; Tenesor Semidan, who rules the west of the island from his base at Galdar, and Doramas, chief of the east, who rules from Telde. Juan Rejon wins the first major battle.

1480
Under the Treaty of Alcacovas, Portugal renounces her claims to the Canary Islands.

1481
The Guanche king Doramas is killed at Montana de Arcas.

1482
The Guanche king Tenesor Semidan is captured, taken to Spain and baptised as ‘Fernando Guanarteme’. He then joins the Spanish cause.

1483
Siege of Ansite. Most Canarios surrender. Others throw themselves off cliffs. The end of aboriginal resistence.

1492
Christopher Columbus puts in at Las Palmas for repairs to his ships on his first expedition to the New World. He returns on his second and fourth voyages.

1496-c1525
Intensive colonisation by Spaniards , Portuguese and Italians. Portuguese bring knowledge of the sugar cane industry from Madeira and Italians provide capital investment.

Early 16th century
Growing prosperity for Gran Canaria from trade with the New World and cultivation of sugar cane brought from Madeira. The island is targeted by British, Dutch and Portuguese pirates.

18th and 19th centuries
After collapse of the sugar trade, following competition from the New World, main exports are wine and cochineal (the insects which produce the dye are bred and fed on prickly pear). Las Palmas becomes an important refuelling port for transatlantic shipping.

Early 19th century
Growing resentment at Spanish control, encouraged by udeas of American Independence, French Revolution and colonial liberation in Spanish South America.

1820
Las Palmas becomes the capital of Gran Canaria.

1852
The Canaries are declared a free trade zone in an effort to boost the islands’ economy.

1882
Work begins on the harbour, Puerto de la Luz, at Las Palmas.

Early 20th century
Intensive cultivation of bananas and tomatoes is undertaken.

1927
The Canary Islands are divided into two provinces, with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria as the head of the eastern province. Growing rural poverty results in illegal emigration to Latin America.

1936
General Franco visits Gran Canaria and, from here, announces the launching of the military coup which begins the Spanish Civil War (1936-9).

1950s
Canarians demand home rule.

1960s
Plans to develop the south of the idland for tourism.

1970s
Mass tourism arrives; tomato fields give way to build hotels.

1975
Death of Franco.

1978
Spain becomes a consitutional monarchy under King Juan Carols I.

1983
Spanish devolution leads to greater autonomy for the islands.

1989
Canary Islands become full members of the European Community (as part of Spain).

2002
Canary Islands introduce the euro.