Skip over navigation

New Things! The Canary Islands

New Things! The Canary Islands

By Janet Manley

Hi, and welcome to New Things!

Here's a good New Thing I just found out about: The Canary Islands! Contrary to my first guess, they are not a new kind of salad dressing. In fact, they are an archipelago of islands off the west coast of Africa. Even though they're not near Spain, Spain has been "going steady" with the country since forever ago.

A lot of people wonder how the Canary Islands got their name. Well, that's an interesting question! I thought it might just be where all the escaped pet canaries go, but I was wrong. Historian Pliny the Elder believed that they were named for the Latin "Canariea Insulie," which means "island of the dogs," either because the Canary Islands were the world's biggest dog run when they arrived, or because the dogs were very large (pitbull rescue operation?), or because the dogs wore very, very tall top hats.

BUT, other people think that the term "dogs" refers to the monk seal population (now critically endangered) that the ancient Romans first encountered. The indigenous Guanches used to worship seals, though it is unclear whether they just had the spelling for "gods" the wrong way around. Personally, I think the name probably refers to the time when dogs ruled over humans, in ancient times past.

Anyway, you can call them "the Canaries" if you're feeling all caj and stuff.

So it turns out the Canary Islands have amazing flora and fauna, plus VOLCANOES, possibly making it the world's greatest putt-putt golf course. In the 1400s, French explorers made their way to the islands, establishing a sugar-cane-dependent economy, after which the area endured attacks from the Spanish, pirates, the Ottomans, the Dutch and the British. Today it is an autonomous Spanish region that thrives on tourism.

Business aside, let's talk about PLAY. The Canary Islands have some of the best sports we have ever heard of. Canarian wrestling is a thing, as is "game of the sticks" (this could be a whole New Thing all on its own), a game that started back in the day when the old shepherds on the island would fence with their walking sticks (YOU. SHALL NOT. PASSSSSS!). Also, a game called the shepherd's jump (sadly this does not involve leaping over sheep), in which people vault over a space using a long stick (also how I get on and off the subway). Lastly, there is soccer, because Spain.

Join with me in celebrating The Canary Islands' newness!

TOTALLY UNRELATED NEW THING: Guys, I am pretty sure that when I was eating pizza here on Sunday night, I saw Lorde. Twice. In a sweet-ass denim coat/enigma. WHAT DO I DO WITH MY LIFE NOW?

Topics: Life
Tags: history, new things, geography, wildlife, seals, the canary islands

Write your own comment!


About the Author
Janet Manley

Janet's desk was moved into the hall for the duration of coursework on Roman numerals in grade four, and she cannot tell one Rocky from another to this day. Her spirit animal is a wombat, and she has not written a novel. Dauntless, Gryffindor, Mockingjay. She tweets @janetmanley

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.