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The Canary Islands (English /kəˈnɛəri ˈaɪləndz/; Spanish: Islas Canarias [ˈizlas kaˈnaɾjas], locally: [ˈihlah kaˈnaɾjah]), also known as the Canaries (Spanish:Canarias), is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries is one of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities and anoutermost region of the European Union. The islands include (from largest to smallest): Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste.
The archipelago’s beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especiallyMaspalomas in Gran Canaria and Teide National Park and Mount Teide (the third tallest volcano in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor), make it a major tourist destination with over 12 million visitors per year, especially Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. The islands have a subtropical climate, with long warm summers and moderately warm winters. Due to their location above thetemperature inversion layer, these islands are ideal for astronomical observation. For this reason, two professional observatories, Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, have been built on the islands.