La Palma


Why Go?
Perhaps more than any other island in the archipelago,
La Palma, the greenest of the Canarian islands, off ers the
chance to experience real, unspoiled nature – from the verdant
forests of the north, where lush vegetation drips from
the rainforest canopy; to the desertscapes of the south,
where volcanic craters and twisted rock formations defi ne
the views; to the serene pine forests of the Parque Nacional
de la Caldera de Taburiente. No wonder the entire island
was declared a Unesco biosphere reserve.
The absence of golden beaches has diverted many travellers’
attention elsewhere and mass tourism has yet to make
a major mark on ‘The Pretty Island’, as La Palma is nicknamed,
but walkers are one group who have cottoned on to
what the trails of La Palma have to off er, and what they’ve
discovered has made them very happy indeed. We’re not
surprised: La Palma can make anyone happy.

When to Go
La Palma follows in the climatic footsteps of all the islands
in the archipelago and is a year-round destination. As on
other islands, spring and autumn off er the most pleasant
conditions for hiking, with generally clear skies and warm
temperatures. As the most northwesterly island La Palma
catches more Atlantic cloud, and rain, than any other island
and winters in the north can be quite wet. Carnaval (March/
April) in Santa Cruz is an unmissable spectacle of costumes,
fl oats and, ahem, talcum powder…

History
Long before Castilla conquered the island
in the 15th century, this rugged land was known as Benahoare. The fi rst inhabitants could have arrived as early as the 5th century BC (although there’s no hard and fast evidence to set the date), and they set up an orderly society that eventually divided into 12 cantons, each with its own chief.
The island offi cially became part of the Spanish empire in 1493, after Alonso Fernández de Lugo (a conquistador and, later, island governor) used a tribesmanturned- Christian to trick the Benahoaritas into coming down from their mountain stronghold for ‘peace talks’. They were ambushed on the way at the spot now known as El Riachuelo. Their leader, Tanausú, was shipped to Spain as a slave, but went on a hunger strike on board the boat and never saw the Spanish mainland. The next century was an important one for the island. Sugar, honey and sweet malvasía (Malmsey wine) became the major exports and abundant Canary pine provided timber for burgeoning shipyards. By the late 16th century, as transatlantic trade fl ourished, Santa Cruz de la Palma was considered the third most important port in the Spanish empire, after Seville and Antwerp.
The sugar, shipbuilding and cochineal (a bug used to make red dye) industries kept the island economy afl oat for the next several centuries, but the island’s fortunes eventually took a downward turn, and the 20th century was one of poverty and mass emigration. These days around 40% of the island’s workforce depends on the banana crop, but the tourism industry is quickly gaining ground.


La Palma info

La Palma – GomeraToday

Periódico Digital de la Isla de La Gomera, Noticias e Informaciones