Gran Canaria History

Filed under: Guide |

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.

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

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.

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

The Guanche king Doramas is killed at Montana de Arcas.

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

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

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.

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.

Las Palmas becomes the capital of Gran Canaria.

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

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

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

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.

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

Canarians demand home rule.

Plans to develop the south of the idland for tourism.

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

Death of Franco.

Spain becomes a consitutional monarchy under King Juan Carols I.

Spanish devolution leads to greater autonomy for the islands.

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

Canary Islands introduce the euro.