Fuerteventura, is one of the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean and is part of the North Africa region, politically part of Spain. At 1,659.74 square kilometres (640.83 sq mi), it is the second largest of the Canary Islands, after Tenerife. As at the start of 2019, Fuerteventura had 116,886 inhabitants. It was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in May 2009. Its capital is Puerto del Rosario.
The island’s name is a compound word formed by the Spanish words for “strong” (fuerte) and “fortune” (ventura). Traditionally, Fuerteventura’s name has been regarded as a reference to the strong winds around the island and the resulting danger to nautical adventurers. However, it might have referred instead (or also) to wealth, luck or destiny.
In 1339 the Mallorcan navigator Angelino Dulcert, in the Planisferio de Angelino Dulcert, referred to the island as “Forte Ventura”.
Another theory is that the island’s name derives from “Fortunatae Insulae” (Fortunate Islands), the name by which the Romans knew the Canary Islands.
The indigenous name of the island, before its conquest in the 15th century, was Erbania, divided into two regions (Jandía and Maxorata), from which the name majorero (originally majo or maxo) derives. However, it has been suggested that, at some point, Maxorata (which meant “the children of the country”) was the aboriginal toponym of the entire island.
The elongated island has an area of 1,660 km2 (641 sq mi). The island is 100 kilometres (62 miles) long and 31 kilometres (19 miles) wide. It is part of the province of Las Palmas. It is divided into six municipalities:
Puerto del Rosario
100 individual settlements are distributed through these municipalities. A nearby islet, Islote de Lobos, is part of the municipality of La Oliva.
Located just 100 km (62 mi) off the coast of North Africa, it is the second biggest of the islands, after Tenerife, and has the longest white sand beaches in the archipelago. The island is a destination for sun, beach and watersports enthusiasts. It lies at the same latitude as Florida and Mexico and temperatures rarely fall below 18 °C (64 °F) or rise above 32 °C (90 °F). It counts 152 separate beaches along its seaboard — 50 km (31 mi) of white sand and 25 km (16 mi) of black volcanic shingle.
The highest point in Fuerteventura is Pico de la Zarza (807 m) in the southwestern part of the island. Geographical features include Istmo de la Pared which is 5 km (3 mi) wide and is the narrowest part of Fuerteventura. The island is divided into two parts, the northern portion which is Maxorata and the southwestern part called the Jandía peninsula.
In the winter months, up to 80% of the rainwater flows unused into the ocean, as there is no vegetation to capture the water (also due to overgrazing by free-ranging goats near the coast). The mountain forests, which were still present in the 19th century, were all chopped down. Instead, there are many desalination plants (running on electricity) which produce the required amount of freshwater on the island. The tourists on the island use about double the amount of water as the native inhabitants of Fuerteventura. Causes are the filling of swimming pools, watering hotel gardens and washing towels, …
Fuerteventura is the oldest island in the Canary Islands dating back 20 million years to a volcanic eruption from the Canary hotspot. The majority of the island was created about 5 million years ago and since then has been eroded by wind and precipitation. On the seabed off the West coast of the island rests an enormous slab of bedrock 22 km (14 mi) long and 11 km (7 mi) wide, which appears to have slid off the island largely intact at some point in prehistory, similar to the predicted future collapse of Cumbre Vieja, a geological fault on another Canary Island, La Palma. The last volcanic activity in Fuerteventura occurred between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago.
Fuerteventura was chosen among 500 European destinations by the Quality Coast International Certification Program of the European Coastal and Marine Union as one of the most attractive tourist destinations for visitors interested in cultural heritage, environment and sustainability.
The climate on Fuerteventura is pleasant throughout the year. The island is hence referred to as the island of eternal spring. The sea regulates air temperature, diverting hot Sahara winds away from the island. The island’s name in English translates as “strong fortune” or “strong wind”, the Spanish word for wind being viento. During the winter months, temperatures average a high of 22 °C (72 °F) and a low of around 15 °C (59 °F), whereas during the summer a mean high of 28 °C (82 °F) and a low of 20 °C (68 °F) can be expected. Precipitation is about 147 mm (6 in) per year, most of which falls in autumn and winter. December is the month with highest rainfall.
A sandstorm known as the Calima (similar to the Sirocco wind, which blows to the North of the Sahara, to Europe) may blow from the Sahara Desert to the Northwest, and can cause high temperatures, low visibility and drying air. Temperatures during this phenomenon rise temporarily by approximately 10 degrees Celsius. The wind brings in fine red dust, The fine white sand is not blown in from Sahara, It is made up of dead coral reef and local seabed upheaval. visibility can drop to between 100 to 200 m (328.08 to 656.17 ft) or even lower and can even bring African locusts to the island.
Sites of interest include Corralejo and El Jable to the north which are made up of fine sand dunes whilst the south is filled with long beaches and remote bays. The constant winds blowing onto the beaches provide a paradise for windsurfing. Surfing is common on the west and north coasts where there are large waves. Windsurfing is common around Corralejo and Playas de Sotavento and wave sailing (windsurfing on the waves) on the coast along the northern half of the island. El Cotillo is a small fishing village in the north-west of the Island famous for a very long beach to the south of the village and few very calm beaches to the north. The northern beaches frequented by snorkeling enthusiasts and sun worshippers alike are referred to as lakes by the locals.
At Cofete on the western side of Jandía a remote and imposing house – Villa Winter – looks out to sea across wide beaches. It was reputedly built by a Mr Winter on land given by Generalisimo Franco.
For a time, the beaches were home to a popular accidental attraction. On 18 January 1994 the United States Lines ocean liner SS American Star (former America, USS West Point, Australis) was beached in Playa de Garcey during a severe storm. Within a year, she broke in two and later lost her stern. By 2007 the rest of the severely deteriorated ship had collapsed onto her port side, gradually keeling over further and almost completely submerged. By 2008–2012, most of the remains finally slipped below the surface.
The cuisine is fairly basic due to the customs and climate conditions. They share this simplicity with the other Canary islands, and similarly to them, they use a large quantity of fish. They also use whatever they can grow in the near-barren land. This includes papas arrugadas, a dish of wrinkled potatoes usually served with mojo, which is a hot pepper sauce or with puchero canario, a meat stew.
Seafood is prepared in many ways traditionally, such as pejines (salted fish), jareas, or sancocho (a type of stew) made from fish, generally the grouper, corvina or sama, boiled after salting, and served with mojo, potatoes, or gofio (a type of grain). People are also very keen on the mussels and limpets collected on the island’s coasts.
They also use meat such as beef and pork to make different dishes or simply to for braising, but their main meat is goat, both from the kids and from the older animals. They eat the goat roasted or stewed. Goats are not only useful for their meat – the Fuerteventurans also use the milk to make the cheese majorero, which has won many prizes. The majorero is mostly made of goats milk, and occasionally it is up to 15% ewes milk. It is cured in pimento oil or gofio meal. Majorero and palmero cheese are the only two Canarian cheeses with protected denomination of origin.