CANARY ISLANDS CANARIAS; Islas Canarias.
Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwestern coast of Africa, west of southern Morocco; a province of Spain until 1927 and since 1983 an autonomous community.
The Islands were known to the Romans, colonised by Berbers or Arabs, rediscovered by the Genoese, and in 1344 granted by the Pope to a descendant of the Kings of Castile, with the, unfulfilled, object of launching a Crusade.
A couple of Norman adventurers came to the Islands in 1402, and began the conversion of the inhabitants, the Guanchos. One of the two, Jean de Bethencourt, obtained recognition as King of the Canaries from the King of Castile. His rights, such as they were, later passed from one person to another, ending up with a Spanish family called Herrera, though Portugal also acquired claims on the Islands.
In 1479 Castile began the conquest of the islands, though it was not until 1496 that full control was established in the main islands. The Herrera family however kept their interests in the smaller islands until well into the 18th century. The islands were administratively under the Captain General for Andalucía until 1833, when they became a province.
The province was divided in 1927 into the provinces of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
In democratic Spain, the islands became an autonomous Community, whose first parliament was elected in 1983 and whose executive is called the Gobierno. The Community of the Canary Islands is larger in area than the Balearic Islands and the mainland Communities of Pais Vasco (but only just), Cantabria and La Rioja, and is 8th of the 17 Communities in population.