Fuerteventura is one of seven main islands known as the Canary Islands. The island's neighbours are Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro that sweep in an arch towards Latin America from the West coast of Morocco. Fuerteventura is the closest to the African continent and is separated by a channel of only 52 nautical miles.
These islands were formed by volcanic eruptions along the deep under water Atlantic Ridge some 20 million years ago. Not that this should concern visitors today, as Fuerteventura is one of the Canaries where all the landscape is now completely dormant. Although arid and desert like in its appearance, the soil is abundantly fertile and in areas where settlements and irrigation have been established the harsh landscape has been transformed into areas of lush gardens, the 780,000 square meter area of Oasis La Lajita representing one excellent example.
Rainfall is typically only 15 days per annum. To create an environment to sustain habitation in these conditions, the Canarian authorities have become world leaders in extracting the salt from seawater to produce plentiful supplies of fresh water.
In recent years, Fuerteventura is the last of the big four islands to be opened up to tourist development. The vast swathes of white sand beaches and dunes captivate island visitors throughout the year and nowhere in this archipelago can match the sheer size of these areas, many of them now benefitting from protected Natural Park status. It is still possible to discover one of these spectacular beaches and not see another person for hours.
In the North of Fuerteventura a narrow strait seperates the resort of Corralejo from the small island of Lobos. Deepwater waves hit this relatively shallow channel and create world class conditions for surfers. Likewise, the Western seaboard produces some large Altantic rollers ideal for serious surfers. The latest water sport to become popular is kite surfing and many of these Northern beaches attract large numbers of followers in this active and exhilarating sport. Scuba diving and snorkelling is also extremely popular and there are several beaches where rocky reefs have created large calm lagoons to enjoy the crystal clear waters in more sedate fashion.
Although Fuerteventura is now governed from Spain, its original inhabitants in the 1st and 2nd century B.C. were the 'Guanches'. They were a cave dwelling race of tall blonde blue eyed settlers from the African mainland. Much of the island was popular with pirate skirmishes in the 16th and 17th centuries, but the Spanish Conquistadors eventually retained control laying the foundations for present day sovereignty. The Southern part of the island is patronised in the main by German tourists and they make up 50% of the total numbers of Fuerteventura visitors annually.
Nautically, the islands represented the traditional stopping off point to replenish provisions for the final leg to the Americas. In 1492 Columbus commenced his famous voyage of discovery from these islands. Equally interesting is that Charles Darwin was originally commissioned to study animal life on the Canary Islands. At the last minute he was diverted to the Galapagos islands where his work on our prevailing modern day view of life's evolution on earth first began.
The Canary Islands are on the same latitude as Orlando, Delhi and Mexico, but there are distinct differences in the Fuerteventura climate. The island boasts a fantastic all year round climate with warm winters and temperate summers. Generally the annual temperature variation is relatively small, with year round temperatures in the 20 to 27 degrees Celsius range.