Las Palmas (/ˌlɑːs ˈpɑːlməs/ or /ˌlɑːs ˈpɑːməs/, Spanish: [las ˈpalmas], locally [lah ˈpalmah]), officially Las Palmas de Gran Canaria,[a] is a city and capital of Gran Canaria island, in the Canary Islands, on the Atlantic Ocean.
It is the co-capital (jointly with Santa Cruz de Tenerife), the most populous city in the autonomous community of the Canary Islands, and the ninth largest city in Spain with a population of 383,308 in 2010. It is also the fifth most populous urban area in Spain and (depending on sources) ninth or tenth most populous metropolitan area in Spain.
Las Palmas is located in the northeastern part of the island of Gran Canaria, about 150 kilometres (93 miles) off the Moroccan coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Las Palmas experiences a hot desert climate,[note 1] offset by the local cooler Canary Current, with warm temperatures throughout the year. It has an average annual temperature of 21.2 °C (70.2 °F). According to a study carried out by Thomas Whitmore, director of research on climatology at Syracuse University in the U.S., Las Palmas enjoys "the best climate in the world".
The city was founded in 1478, and considered the de facto (without legal recognition) capital of the Canary Islands until the seventeenth century. It is the home of the Canarian Ministry of Presidency (shared in a four-year term with Santa Cruz de Tenerife), as well as half of the Ministries and Boards of the Canarian Government, and the High Court of Justice of the Canary Islands. It is the judicial and commercial capital of the Canary Islands, and is also home to a large part of the executive power.
The city was founded by Juan Rejón on 24 June 1478, with the name "Real de Las Palmas". Rejón was head of the invading Castilian army, which then engaged in war with the locals.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus (Spanish:Cristóbal Colón) anchored in the port of Las Palmas and spent some time on the island on his first trip to the Americas. He also stopped there on the way back to Spain. The Colón House (es) museum in the Vegueta (es) area of the city is named after him.
In 1595 Francis Drake tried to plunder the town, leading to the Battle of Las Palmas. A Dutch raid under vice-admiral Pieter van der Does in 1599 was only slightly more successful; some of the town was destroyed but the raiders were repelled.
Las Palmas' seaport, Puerto de la Luz (known internationally as La Luz port), benefited greatly from the closure of the Suez Canal during the Suez Crisis. Many foreign workers migrated to the city at this time.
Las Palmas is a sister city of San Antonio, Texas in the United States, which was founded in 1718 by about 25 Canary Islanders.
Throughout history, Las Palmas received waves of immigrants from mainland Spain and countries from every continent. The majority of the population is Spanish, although there are large North- and Sub-Saharan African and Latin American communities (especially the Venezuelan community, which is growing fast), as well as important historical minorities such as Indians (Sindhi) and Koreans and a growing Chinese population.
Ethnically, most autochthonous Canarians are descendants of a mixture of aboriginal people (guanches) of the Canary Islands (now extinct), the Spanish conquistadores and later European (mainly Spanish, Portuguese, Flemish, Irish, French, Italian, German and British) colonizers.
The Casa Museo de Colón is in the Plaza de San Antonio Abad, behind the cathedral of Santa Ana. It focuses on the history of the Canary Islands and its relations with America. It has 13 permanent exhibition halls, a library and dedicated study center, and diverse spaces for temporary activities. The complex consists of several houses, one of which was accessed by Christopher Columbus during his first trip to America in 1492; it was the residence of former Governor (now better known as home of Columbus). It is organized into five subject areas: America before the Discovery, Columbus and his journeys, Canary enclave strategic base for experimenting with the New World, The history and genesis of the city of Palmas, and painting of the 16th century to start of the 20th century.
The Casa Museo Pérez Galdós is located in the Triana neighborhood of the city. It is the birthplace of Benito Pérez Galdós. It has an extensive collection of documents, books, furniture and personal belongings of the writer.
The Museo Néstor is in the neighborhood of Garden City. Dedicated to the modernist painter Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre, the museum was opened in 1956 in the architectural ensemble of the Pueblo Canario, which was conceived and built by his brother Miguel. It has 10 exhibition halls, as well as a documentation center and pedagogy.
The Elder Museum of Science and Technology is an innovative, interactive, engaged in scientific and technological culture. Elder located in the building, which dates from the end of the 19th century has 4,500 m2 (48,438 sq ft) of exhibition halls, workshops, interactive modules, large-format film and greenhouse ecosystem.
The Maritime Museum, located in the former Jet Foil station has around 1,000 m2 (10,764 sq ft) of floor space. When the expansion is finished, will have a giant pool to simulate interactive bay, where a large ship can be handled by visitors.
The Atlantic Center of Modern Art (CAAM), opened in 1989, is one of the most important references for the cultural and artistic life of the Canary Islands, and is responsible for disseminating the art made in the islands to the rest of the world, especially Africa, America and Europe. It has permanent and temporary exhibitions that range from the historical avant-garde to the latest trends. It is located on Calle Los Balcones de Vegueta, and preserves the original façade of the 18th century.
Playa de Las Canteras (Las Canteras Beach) is the largest of the existing city, and is frequented throughout the year by most city dwellers and foreign visitors. It lies on the west side of the isthmus of Guanarteme, which links the peninsula of La Isleta, located to the northeast, with the rest of the island of Gran Canaria. The 3,100 m beach is oriented to the northwest in what is known as Confital bow or bay, and stretches from the foothills of La Isleta until shortly before the mouth of the ravine Tamaraceite. Along much of this length, the beach is sheltered from the currents of the Atlantic by a natural barrier of coral sandstone popularly known as "the bar", which is in easy swimming distance from shore. A system for environmental management has been introduced, and the beach has received ISO 14001 certification – one of only three beaches in Spain to do so, namely La Concha in San Sebastián and La Victoria in Cádiz. On the inner side of the coast runs the Paseo de Las Canteras, a pedestrian street that runs parallel to the beach from near the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus to the area known as "Puntilla" until reaching Playa del Confital. La Playa de Las Canteras covers three areas that correspond to the arches and inflections that it conducts on the coast. Each presents certain morphological characteristics.