"The Canary Islands (/kəˈnɛəri ˈaɪləndz/; Spanish: Islas Canarias [ˈizlas kaˈnaɾjas], locally: [ˈiʱlːaʰ kaˈnaːɾjaʰ]), also known as the Canaries (Spanish: Canarias), are an archipelago and autonomous community of Spain located just off the southern coast of Morocco, 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of its southern border. The Canaries are among the outermost regions (OMR) of the European Union proper. It is also one of the eight regions with special consideration of Historical Nationality recognized as such by the Spanish Government.
The main islands are (from largest to smallest) Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The archipelago also includes a number of islands and islets: La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este. In ancient times, the island chain was often referred to as "the Fortunate Isles". Due to its geographical situation, the Canary Islands is the most southerly region of Spain. The Canary Islands is the largest and most populated archipelago of the Macaronesia region.
The archipelago's beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especially Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and Teide National Park and Mount Teide (a World Heritage Site) in Tenerife (the third tallest volcano in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor), make it a major tourist destination with over 12 million visitors per year, especially Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. The islands have a subtropical climate, with long warm summers and moderately warm winters. The precipitation levels and the level of maritime moderation varies depending on location and elevation. Green areas as well as desert exist on the archipelago. Due to their location above the temperature inversion layer, the high mountains of these islands are ideal for astronomical observation. For this reason, two professional observatories, Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, have been built on the islands.
The capital of the Autonomous Community is shared by the rival cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which in turn are the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Province of Las Palmas. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been the largest city in the Canaries since 1768, except for a brief period in the 1910s. Between the 1833 territorial division of Spain and 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands. In 1927 a decree ordered that the capital of the Canary Islands be shared, as it remains at present. The third largest city of the Canary Islands is San Cristóbal de La Laguna (a World Heritage Site) on Tenerife. This city is also home to the Consejo Consultivo de Canarias, which is the supreme consultative body of the Canary Islands.