La Graciosa island: the 8th of the Canary Islands🌊🏝️

La Graciosa island
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La Graciosa island in the Canaries, known as the 8th island of the Canary Islands, is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in tourism and exploring the jewels of the Canarian archipelago. With just 700 inhabitants and an area of only 29 km², this island offers a virtually untouched paradise full of charm. But in addition to its natural beauty, La Graciosa has a extrange and interesting history that has led it from being just an islet to being recognised as an island within the Canary archipelago. Do you want to learn more?

📍 Location and key features

La Graciosa is a Canary Island located to the northeast of Lanzarote, the island on which it depends administratively, and forms part of the Chinijo archipelago together with the islets of Alegranza, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste, all belonging to the municipality of Teguise. It is separated from Lanzarote by an arm of the sea known as El Río (The River), with a minimum width of just over a kilometre. Traditionally dedicated to fishing, its economy is nowadays based mainly on tourism and, since 2018, it has been known as the “eighth island” of the Canary Islands.

📜 History of La Graciosa

La Graciosa was conquered in 1402 by the Norman explorer Jean de Béthencourt under the command of Henry III of Castile, and was mentioned in the Treaty of Alcázovas in 1479 as part of the Canary Islands. In 1880, a fish salting factory was built on the island, which boosted the development of La Graciosa.

In 1945, the church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen was built in Caleta del Sebo, which became a parish church in 1993. Today, La Graciosa is accessible only by sea or air, and has a councillor in the municipality of Teguise in Lanzarote.  Since 1986, the island has been declared a Natural Park.

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🏝️ From islet to island: how La Graciosa gained reconnaissance

The transformation of La Graciosa into the eighth island of the Canary Islands was led by Miguel Ángel Páez, who started a campaign in 2013 to obtain official recognition for this small territory of 29 km² and 750 inhabitants, seeking more autonomy and decision-making power to solve the island’s problems and protect it from the tourist overcrowding that are suffering other islands.

The campaign, which started as a personal proposal on change.org, gained momentum with local support and reached national relevance, being supported by more than 11,000 signatures. On 26 June 2018, the Spanish Senate unanimously recognised La Graciosa as the eighth inhabited island of the Canary Islands, no longer considering it an islet.

Although this recognition was an important milestone in the history of La Graciosa, it has not brought about a significant change in terms of administrative autonomy. Current legislation in Spain prevents the creation of new municipalities for populations of less than 5,000 inhabitants, so the naming of La Graciosa as an island has remained a mere symbolic declaration with no significant organisational changes.

In practice, despite its recognition as an island, La Graciosa does not have its own island council, which impedes its real administrative equality with the other islands of the archipelago. La Graciosa is now considered a pedania (district) island, with its own legal personality and budget for public services for its inhabitants, but it continues depending on the municipality of Teguise in Lanzarote.

La Graciosa, Canary Islands

🚢 How to get to the island

The 8th of the Canary Islands, La Graciosa, is accessible only by sea or by helicopter, with departures from the port of Órzola in Lanzarote. The crossing of the approximately seven kilometres route is made by small boats.

🏖️ What to do and what to visit in La Graciosa

The island stands out for its natural beauty, with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters such as La Francesa, Montaña Amarilla and Las Conchas. Despite the influx of tourism, artisanal fishing continues to be an important activity on the island. In addition, La Graciosa is home to traditional local activities and businesses, although these have declined over time. The island is also known for its celebration of the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen, patron saint of La Graciosa, every 16th July.

🚧 The challenges that faces La Graciosa in the Canary Islands

Despite its recent recognition as an island, this has brought few significant changes to the daily life and needs of its inhabitants. La Graciosa faces challenges related to infrastructure and public services, mainly in terms of sanitation and water supply, but also internet connectivity. The island also faces environmental and waste management challenges, exacerbated by growing tourism.

In any case, La Graciosa island is a destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, history and local culture. Despite the challenges it faces, it is an enchanting place that is worth a visit by those seeking an authentic Canary Islands experience. 🌊🌞🏝️

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