Lanzarote is the smallest of the four main Canary Islands, located off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. Lanzarote, like the rest of the Canary Islands, is controlled by the government of Spain although it is an autonomous territory. The island covers a total area of approximately three hundred and twenty seven square miles, and has a total population of about one hundred and twenty eight thousand residents. The largest city on Lanzarote is Arrecife, with about fifty five thousand residents. Lanzarote is a relatively mountainous island, a testament to its volcanic origins nearly thirty five million years ago. Although the island can be accessed by boat, Arrecife Airport in the provincial capital saw more than five million visitors over the course of last year. These tourists help to drive the local economy, which relies heavily on the hospitality industry. Lanzarote boasts considerable biodiversity, hosting a number of endemic species such as the Canary Island Date Palm, the Gallotia lizards, and the Canarian Egyptian Vulture.
Lanzarote was settled by the Phoenicians before any other major imperial power, and was also encountered by the Arabs, the Romans, and the Ottomans before coming under permanent Spanish control. Recently, a number of archeological sites have been unearthed on Lanzarote that confirm Roman influence in the Canary Islands for hundreds of years. Tourists to Lanzarote are often drawn to the land’s impressive landscape, which provides for picturesque views of the mountains and the ocean. The island has several miles of beach, which are great places to relax in the warm weather of the Canary Island archipelago. One unusual tourist attraction is the Timanfaya National Park, which preserves the lava fields and flow of a massive eighteenth century volcanic eruption.