Guanches were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands.[1] In 2017, the first genome-wide data from the Guanches confirmed a North African origin and that they were genetically most similar to modern North African Berber peoples of the nearby North African mainland.[2] It is believed that they migrated to the archipelago around 1000 BCE or perhaps earlier.

The Guanches were the only native people known to have lived in the Macaronesian region before the arrival of Europeans, as there is no evidence that the other Macaronesian archipelagos (Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira) were inhabited before Europeans arrived. After the Spanish conquest of the Canaries they were ethnically and culturally absorbed by Spanish settlers,[1] although elements of their culture survive to this day, intermixed within Canarian customs and traditions such as Silbo (the whistled language of La Gomera Island).

Regions with significant populations
Guanche language · Silbo
Animism (Guanche mythology)
Related ethnic groups
Berbers, Canarian people


The native term guanchinet literally translated means "person of Tenerife" (from Guan = person and Chinet = Tenerife).[1] It was modified, according to Juan Núñez de la Peña, by the Castilians into "Guanchos".[3] Though etymologically being an ancient, Tenerife-specific, term, the word Guanche is now mostly used to refer to the pre-Hispanic aboriginal inhabitants of the entire archipelago.[4]

Historical background

La Palma-gravures
Guanche rock carvings in La Palma

Roman author and military officer Pliny the Elder, drawing upon the accounts of Juba II, king of Mauretania, stated that a Mauretanian expedition to the islands around 50 BCE found the ruins of great buildings, but otherwise no population to speak of.[5] If this account is accurate, it may suggest that the Guanches were not the only inhabitants, or the first ones;[1] or that the expedition simply did not explore the islands thoroughly. Tenerife, specifically the archaeological site of the Cave of the Guanches in Icod de los Vinos, has provided habitation dates dating back to the 6th century BCE, according to analysis carried out on ceramics that were found inside the cave.[6]

Strictly speaking, the Guanches were the indigenous peoples of Tenerife. The population seems to have lived in relative isolation up to the time of the Castilian conquest, around the 14th century (though Genoese, Portuguese, and Castilians may have visited there from the second half of the 8th century onwards). The name came to be applied to the indigenous populations of all the seven Canary Islands,[1] those of Tenerife being the most important or powerful.

What remains of their language, Guanche – a few expressions, vocabulary words and the proper names of ancient chieftains still borne by certain families[1] – exhibits positive similarities with the Berber languages.[7][8] The first reliable account of the Guanche language was provided by the Genoese explorer Nicoloso da Recco in 1341, with a translation of numbers used by the islanders.

According to European chroniclers, the Guanches did not possess a system of writing at the time of conquest; the writing system may have fallen into disuse or aspects of it were simply overlooked by the colonizers. Inscriptions, glyphs and rock paintings and carvings are quite abundant throughout the islands. Petroglyphs attributed to various Mediterranean civilizations have been found on some of the islands. In 1752, Domingo Vandewalle, a military governor of Las Palmas,[1] attempted to investigate them, and Aquilino Padron, a priest at Las Palmas, catalogued inscriptions at El Julan, La Candía and La Caleta on El Hierro. In 1878 Dr. René Verneau discovered rock carvings in the ravines of Las Balos that resemble Libyan[1] or Numidian writing dating from the time of Roman occupation or earlier. In other locations, Libyco-Berber script has been identified.

Pre-conquest exploration

The geographic accounts of Pliny the Elder and of Strabo mention the Fortunate Isles but do not report anything about their populations. An account of the Guanche population may have been made around AD 1150 by the Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi in the Nuzhatul Mushtaq, a book he wrote for King Roger II of Sicily, in which al-Idrisi reports a journey in the Atlantic Ocean made by the Mugharrarin ("the adventurers"), a family of Andalusian seafarers from Lisbon. The only surviving version of this book, kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and first translated by Pierre Amédée Jaubert, reports that, after having reached an area of "sticky and stinking waters", the Mugharrarin moved back and first reached an uninhabited Island (Madeira or Hierro), where they found "a huge quantity of sheep, which its meat was bitter and inedible" and, then, "continued southward" and reached another island where they were soon surrounded by barks and brought to "a village whose inhabitants were often fair haired with long and flaxen hair and the women of a rare beauty". Among the villagers, one did speak Arabic and asked them where they came from. Then the king of the village ordered them to bring them back to the continent where they were surprised to be welcomed by Berbers.[9] Apart from the marvelous and fanciful content of this history, this account would suggest that Guanches had sporadic contacts with populations from the mainland. Al-Idrisi also described the Guanche men as tall and of a reddish-brown complexion.[10]

During the 14th century, the Guanches are presumed to have had other contacts with Balearic seafarers from Spain, suggested by the presence of Balearic artifacts found on several of the Canary Islands.

Castilian Conquest

Alonso Fernández de Lugo presenting the captured Guanche kings of Tenerife to Ferdinand and Isabella.

The Castilian conquest of the Canary Islands began in 1402, with the expedition of Jean de Béthencourt and Gadifer de la Salle to the island of Lanzarote. Gadifer would invade Lanzarote and Fuerteventura with ease since many of the aboriginals, faced with issues of starvation and poor agriculture, would surrender to Spanish rule.

The other five islands fought back. El Hierro and the Bimbache population were the next to fall, then La Gomera, Gran Canaria, La Palma and in 1496, Tenerife.

In the First Battle of Acentejo (31 May 1494), called La Matanza (the slaughter), Guanches ambushed the Castilians in a valley and killed many. Only one in five of the Castilians survived, including the leader of the expedition, Alonso Fernandez de Lugo.

Lugo would return later to the island with the alliance of the kings of the southern part of the island, and defeated the Guanches in the Battle of Aguere. The northern Menceyatos or provinces fell after the Second Battle of Acentejo with the defeat of the successor of Bencomo, Bentor, Mencey of Taoro – what is now the Orotava Valley – in 1496.


Genetic evidence shows that northern African peoples made a significant contribution to the aboriginal population of the Canaries following desertification of the Sahara at some point after 6000 BC. Linguistic evidence suggests ties between the Guanche language and the Berber languages of North Africa, particularly when comparing numeral systems.[8][11] Research into the genetics of the Guanche population have led to the conclusion that they share an ancestry with Berber peoples.[12][13]

The islands were visited by a number of peoples within recorded history. The Numidians, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians knew of the islands and made frequent visits,[14] including expeditions dispatched from Mogador by Juba.[15] The Romans occupied northern Africa and visited the Canaries between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, judging from Roman artifacts found on and near the island of Lanzarote. These show that Romans did trade with the Canaries, though there is no evidence of them ever settling there.[16] Archaeology of the Canaries seems to reflect diverse levels of technology, some differing from the Neolithic culture that was encountered at the time of conquest.

It is thought that the arrival of the aborigines to the archipelago led to the extinction of some big reptiles and insular mammals, for example, the giant lizard Gallotia goliath (which managed to reach up to a meter in length) and Canariomys bravoi, the giant rat of Tenerife.

Population genetics

A 2003 genetics research article by Nicole Maca-Meyer et al. published in the European Journal of Human Genetics compared aboriginal Guanche mtDNA (collected from Canarian archaeological sites) to that of today's Canarians and concluded that, "despite the continuous changes suffered by the population (Spanish colonisation, slave trade), aboriginal mtDNA (direct maternal) lineages constitute a considerable proportion (42 – 73%) of the Canarian gene pool. According to this article, both percentages are obtained using two different estimation methods; nevertheless according to the same study the percentage that could be more reliable is the one of 73%.[17] Although the Berbers are the closest identifiable relatives of the Guanches, it is deduced that important human movements (e.g., the Islamic-Arabic conquest of the Berbers) have reshaped Northwest Africa after the migratory wave to the Canary Islands" and the "results support, from a maternal perspective, the supposition that since the end of the 16th century, at least, two-thirds of the Canarian population had an indigenous substrate, as was previously inferred from historical and anthropological data."[12] mtDNA haplogroup U subclade U6b1 is Canarian-specific[18] and is the most common mtDNA haplogroup found in aboriginal Guanche archaeological burial sites.[12]

Both the study done by Maca-Meyer et al. (2003) on Tenerife aborigines and the study done by Fregel et al. (2009) on La Palma aborigines found the majority of mt-DNA haplogroups belonging to the Eurasian clades such as H/HV/U*/R. The study done by Maca-Meyer et al. (2003) on Tenerife Aborigines used a total sample of 71 aborigines and found that the frequency of the Cambridge Reference Sequence (CRS) which belongs to the European haplogroup H2a2 was 21.12% of the total sample. Meanwhile, the same study Maca-Meyer et al.(2003) found out that frequencies of haplogroups H/HV/U*/R(-CRS) at 30.98% of the total; also mtDNA haplogroup V was observed at frequencies of 4.23% of the total sample."[12]

Y-DNA, or Y-chromosomal, (direct paternal) lineages were not analyzed in this study; however, an earlier study giving the aboriginal y-DNA contribution at 6% was cited by Maca-Meyer et al., but the results were criticized as possibly flawed due to the widespread phylogeography of y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b1b, which may skew determination of the aboriginality versus coloniality of contemporary y-DNA lineages in the Canaries. Regardless, Maca-Meyer et al. states that historical evidence does support the explanation of "strong sexual a result of a strong bias favoring matings between European males and aboriginal females, and to the important aboriginal male mortality during the Conquest."[12] The genetics thus suggests the native men were sharply reduced in numbers due to the war, large numbers of Spaniard men stayed in the islands and married the local women, the Canarians adopted Spanish names, language, and religion, and in this way, the Canarians were Hispanicized.

According to a recent study by Fregel et al. 2009, in spite of the geographic nearness between the Canary Islands and Morocco, the genetic heritage of the Canary islands male lineages, is mainly from European origin. Indeed, nearly 67% of the haplogroups resulting from are Euro–Eurasian (R1a (2.76%), R1b (50.62%), I (9.66%) and G (3.99%)). Unsurprisingly the Spanish conquest brought the genetic base of the current male population of the Canary Islands. Nevertheless, the second most important haplogroup family is from Northern Africa, Near and Middle East. E1b1b (14% including 8.30% of the typical Berber haplogroup E-M81), E1b1a and E1a (1.50%), J (14%) and T (3%) Haplogroups are present at a rate of 33%.

Even if a part of these "eastern" haplogroups were introduced by the Spanish too, we can suppose that a good portion of this rate was already there at the time of the conquest.[19][20] According to this same study the presence of autochthonous North African E-M81 lineages, and also other relatively abundant markers (E-M78 and J-M267) from the same region in the indigenous Guanche population, "strongly points to that area [North Africa] as the most probable origin of the Guanche ancestors". In this study, Fregel et al. estimated that, based on Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplogroup frequencies, the relative female and male indigenous Guanche contributions to the present-day Canary Islands populations was respectively of 41.8% and 16.1%.[19]

Autochthonous (E-M81) and prominent (E-M78 and J-M267) Berber Y-chromosome lineages were detected in the indigenous remains, confirming a North West African origin for their ancestors which confirms previous mitochondrial DNA results.

— Fregel et al 2009

An autosomal study in 2011 found an average Northwest African influence of about 17% in Canary Islanders with a wide interindividual variation ranging from 0% to 96%. According to the authors, the substantial Northwest African ancestry found for Canary Islanders supports that, despite the aggressive conquest by the Spanish in the 15th century and the subsequent immigration, genetic footprints of the first settlers of the Canary Islands persist in the current inhabitants. Paralleling mtDNA findings, the largest average Northwest African contribution was found for the samples from La Gomera.[21]

Canary Islands N Average NW African ancestry
La Gomera 7 42.50%
Fuerteventura 10 21.60%
La Palma 7 21.00%
El Hierro 7 19.80%
Lanzarote 13 16.40%
Tenerife 30 14.30%
Gran Canaria 30 12.40%
Total Canary Islanders 104 17.40%
Canary Islands/NW African mtDna N %U6 %L Total Study
La Gomera 46 50.01% 10.86% 60.87% Fregel 2009[22]
El Hierro 32 21.88% 12.49% 34.37% Fregel 2009
Lanzarote 49 20.40% 8.16% 28.56% Fregel 2009
Gran Canaria 80 11.25% 10% 21.25% Fregel 2009
Tenerife 174 12.09% 7.45% 19.54% Fregel 2009
La Palma 68 17.65% 1.47% 19.12% Fregel 2009
Fuerteventura 42 16.66% 2.38% 19.04% Fregel 2009

Guanche DNA in Puerto Rico

A group of researchers from Puerto Rican universities conducted a study of mitochondrial DNA that revealed that the modern population of Puerto Rico has a high genetic component of Taíno and Guanche (especially of the island of Tenerife).[23] This type of Guanche genes have also been detected in the Dominican Republic.[24]

Links with Anatolia

According to an international investigation whose results were given in 2017, a small part of the Guanches aborigines had as relatives the first European farmers from Anatolia (present-day Turkey). This data has been discovered thanks to the analysis of the genome which also confirms that the vast majority of Canarian aborigines come from North Africa but were also related to the first European farmers, whose genetics were introduced into Europe from Anatolia through the migrations of farmers during the Neolithic expansion, around 7,000 years ago.[25] Another study in 2018 confirmed that, like the Guanches, both ancient and modern North Africans are also partly related to Anatolia/Europe.[26]

Autosomal DNA

Another recent study that took as a reference 400 adult men and women of all the islands, except La Graciosa, and whose intention was to determine the relationships of Canarian genetic diversity with the more frequent complex pathologies in the archipielago, detected that Canarian DNA shows a distinctive genetic, result of a combination of factors as the geographic isolation of the islands, the adaption to the environment of its inhabitants and the historic mixture of the Pre-hispanic population of the archipielago (coming from North Africa), with European and from Sub-Saharan area individuals. Specifically, was estimated that Canarian population is, at an autosomal level, 75% European, 22% North African and 3% Sub-saharan.[27]


The native Guanche language is now only known through a few sentences and individual words, supplemented by several placenames. It has been classified by modern linguists as belonging to the Berber branch of the Afroasiatic languages.[28][29][30]

Recognizable Berber words (particularly with regards to agriculture) and numerous Berber grammatical inflections have been identified within the Guanche language; however there is a large stock of vocabulary that does not bear any resemblance to Berber whatsoever.[31]

System of beliefs

Religion and mythology

Idolo guanche Museo Canario
Guanche idol.

Little is known of the religion of the Guanches. There was a general belief in a supreme being, called Achamán in Tenerife, Acoran in Gran Canaria, Eraoranhan in Hierro, and Abora in La Palma. The women of Hierro worshipped a goddess called Moneiba. According to tradition, the male and female gods lived in mountains, from which they descended to hear the prayers of the people. On other islands, the natives venerated the sun, moon, earth and stars. A belief in an evil spirit was general. The demon of Tenerife was called Guayota and lived at the peak of Teide volcano, which was the hell called Echeyde;[1] in Tenerife and Gran Canaria, the minor demons took the form of wild black woolly dogs called Jucanchas[32] in the first and Tibicenas[33] in the latter, which lived in deep caves of the mountains, emerging at night to attack livestock and human beings.

In Tenerife, Magec (god of the Sun) and Chaxiraxi (the goddess mother) were also worshipped. In times of drought, the Guanches drove their flocks to consecrated grounds, where the lambs were separated from their mothers in the belief that their plaintive bleating would melt the heart of the Great Spirit.[1] During the religious feasts, hostilities were held in abeyance, from war to personal quarrels.

Idols have been found in the islands, including the Idol of Tara (Museo Canario, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) and the Guatimac (Museum Archaeological of Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife). But many more figures have been found in the rest of the archipelago.

Most researchers agree that the Guanches performed their worship in the open, under sacred trees such as pine or drago, or near sacred mountains such as Mount Teide, which was believed to be the abode of the devil Guayota. Mount Teide was sacred to the aboriginal Guanches and since 2007 is a World Heritage Site. But sometimes the Guanches also performed worship in caves, as in "Cave of Achbinico" in Tenerife. Until the 20th century, there were in the Canary Islands (especially in northern Tenerife) individuals called "Animeros". They were similar to healers and mystics with a syncretic beliefs combining elements of the Guanche religion and Christianity. As in other countries close to the islands (e.g. marabouts from the Maghreb), the Animeros were considered "persons blessed by God".[34]

Teide Tenerife3
Mount Teide on Tenerife.
Principal gods of Tenerife
God Role
Achamán The supreme god of the Guanches on the island of Tenerife; he is the father god and creator.
Chaxiraxi The native Guanche goddess known as the Sun Mother.
Chijoraji A divine child, son of Chaxiraxi.
Magec The god of the Sun and the light, and also thought to be one of the principal divinities.
Achuguayo God of the moon. It was the duality of the god Magec (god of the sun).
Achuhucanac Rain god, identified with the supreme god (Achamán).
Guayota The principal malignant deity and Achamán's adversary.
Mythical beings
Being Role
Maxios Benevolent minor gods or genies; domestic spirits and guardians of specific places.
Tibicenas Demons in the form of black dogs, these were children of Guayota, the malignant deity.

Aboriginal priests

The Guanches had priests or shamans who were connected with the gods and ordained hierarchically:

Religious authority Jurisdiction Definition
Guadameñe or Guañameñe Tenerife spiritual advisers to the Menceyes (Aboriginal kings), who directed the worship.
Faykan or Faicán Gran Canaria a spiritual and religious person in charge, who directed the worship.
Maguadas or Arimaguadas Tenerife

Gran Canaria

women priestesses dedicated to worship. They took part in some rituals.
Kankus Tenerife the priests responsible for the worship of the ancestor spirits and Maxios (minor gods or genies).


Beñesmen or Beñesmer was a festival of the agricultural calendar of the Guanches (the Guanche new year) to be held after the gathering of crops devoted to Chaxiraxi (on August 15). In this event the Guanches shared milk, gofio, sheep or goat meat. At the present time, this coincides with the pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Virgin of Candelaria (Patron of Canary Islands).

Among the cultural events are significant traces of aboriginal traditions at the holidays and in the current Romería Relief in Güímar (Tenerife) and the lowering of the Rama, in Agaete (Gran Canaria).[35]

Funerals and mummies

Mummification was practiced throughout the islands and was highly developed on Tenerife in particular. In La Palma, the elderly were left to die alone at their own wish. After bidding their family farewell, they were carried to the sepulchral cave, with nothing but a bowl of milk being left to them. The Guanches embalmed their dead; many mummies have been found in an extreme state of desiccation, each weighing not more than 6 or 7 pounds. Two almost inaccessible caves in a vertical rock by the shore 3 miles from Santa Cruz on Tenerife are said still to contain remains. The process of embalming seems to have varied. In Tenerife and Gran Canaria, the corpse was simply wrapped up in goat and sheep skins, while in other islands a resinous substance was used to preserve the body, which was then placed in a cave difficult to access, or buried under a tumulus. The work of embalming was reserved for a special class, with women tending to female corpses, and men for the male ones. Embalming seems not to have been universal, and bodies were often simply hidden in caves or buried.[1]

In the Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre (Santa Cruz de Tenerife) mummies of original inhabitants of the Canary Islands are displayed.

In 1933, the largest Guanche necropolis of the Canary Islands was found, at Uchova in the municipality of San Miguel de Abona in the south of the island of Tenerife. This cemetery was almost completely looted; it is estimated to have contained between 60 and 74 mummies.[36]


Although little is known about this practice among the aboriginals, it has been shown that they performed both animal sacrifices and human sacrifices.[37]

In Tenerife during the summer solstice, the Guanches were accustomed to kill livestock and throw them into a fire as an offering to the gods.[37] Bethencourt Alfonso has claimed that goat kids were tied by the legs, alive, to a stake so that they could be heard bleating by the gods. It is likely that animals were also sacrificed on the other islands.[37]

As for human sacrifices, in Tenerife it was the custom to throw the Punta de Rasca a living child at sunrise at the summer solstice. Sometimes these children came from all parts of the island, even from remote areas of Punta de Rasca. It follows that it was a common custom of the island.[37] On this island sacrificing other human victims associated with the death of the king, where adult men rushed to the sea are also known. Embalmers who produced the Guanche mummies, also had a habit of throwing into the sea one year after the king's death.[37]

Bones of children mixed with lambs and kids were found in Gran Canaria, and in Tenerife amphorae have been found with remains of children inside. This suggests a different kind of ritual infanticide to those who were thrown overboard.[38]

Child sacrifice has been seen in other cultures, especially in the Mediterranean- Carthage (now Tunisia), Ugarit in the current Syria, Cyprus and Crete.[38]

Political system

Tenerife preconquista
Tenerife prior to the Castilian invasion.

The political and social institutions of the Guanches varied. In some islands like Gran Canaria, hereditary autocracy by matrilineality prevailed,[39] in others the government was elective. In Tenerife all the land belonged to the kings who leased it to their subjects.[1] In Gran Canaria, suicide was regarded as honourable, and whenever a new king was installed, one of his subjects willingly honoured the occasion by throwing himself over a precipice.[1][40] In some islands, polyandry was practised;[1] in others they were monogamous. Insult of a woman by an armed man was allegedly a capital offense.[1] Anyone who had been accused of a crime, had to attend a public trial in Tagoror, a public court where those being prosecuted were sentenced after a trial.

The island of Tenerife was divided into nine small kingdoms (menceyatos), each ruled by a king or Mencey. The Mencey was the ultimate ruler of the kingdom, and at times, meetings were held between the various kings. When the Castilians invaded the Canary Islands, the southern kingdoms joined the Castilian invaders on the promise of the richer lands of the north; the Castilians betrayed them after ultimately securing victory at the Battles of Aguere and Acentejo.

Kings (Menceys) of Tenerife

In Tenerife the grand Mencey Tinerfe and his father Sunta governed the unified island, which afterwards was divided into nine kingdoms by the children of Tinerfe.

Clothes and weapons

Añaterve cropped
A statue of the Guanche mencey Añaterve. Candelaria, Tenerife.

Guanches wore garments made from goat skins or woven from plant fibers called Tamarcos, which have been found in the tombs of Tenerife. They had a taste for ornaments and necklaces of wood, bone and shells, worked in different designs. Beads of baked earth, cylindrical and of all shapes, with smooth or polished surfaces, mostly colored black and red, were fairly common. Dr. René Verneau suggested that the objects the Castilians referred to as pintaderas, baked clay seal-shaped objects, were used as vessels for painting the body in various colours. They manufactured rough pottery, mostly without decorations, or ornamented by making fingernail indentations.

Guanche weapons adapted to the insular environment (using wood, bone, obsidian and stone as primary materials), with later influences from medieval European weaponry. Basic armaments in several of the islands included javelins of 1 to 2 m in length (known as Banot on Tenerife); round, polished stones; spears; maces (common in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, and known as Magado and Sunta, respectively); and shields (small in Tenerife and human-sized in Gran Canaria, where they were known as Tarja, made of Drago wood and painted with geometric shapes). After the arrival of the Europeans, Guanche nobility from Gran Canaria were known to wield large wooden swords (larger than the European two-handed type) called Magido, which were said to be very effective against both infantrymen and cavalry. Weaponry made of wood was hardened with fire. These armaments were commonly complemented with an obsidian knife known as Tabona.

Pueblo Chico Guanchen2
Reconstruction of a Guanche settlement of Tenerife.

Dwellings were situated in natural or artificial caves in the mountains. In areas where cave dwellings were not feasible, they built small round houses and, according to the Castilians, practiced crude fortification.

Pueblo Chico Guanchen1
The Guanches on Tenerife.
Presumed Guanche names of the Canary Islands
Spanish Guanche
Tenerife Achinech
La Gomera Gomera
La Palma Benahoare
El Hierro Eseró
Gran Canaria Tamaran
Lanzarote Titerogakaet
Fuerteventura Maxorata


Many of the islands' museums possess collections of archaeological material and human remains from the prehistory and history of the archipelago of the Canaries. Some of the most important are:

New religious movement

In 2001, the Church of the Guanche People (Iglesia del Pueblo Guanche), a Neopagan movement with several hundred followers, was founded in San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Tenerife).[41][42]

Guanche people

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Guanches" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 650–651.
  2. ^ Ricardo Rodríguez-Varel et al. 2017, Genomic Analyses of Pre-European Conquest Human Remains from the Canary Islands Reveal Close Affinity to Modern North Africans
  3. ^ Conquista y antigüedades de las islas de la Gran Canaria y su descripción, con muchas advertencias de sus privilegios, conquistadores, pobladores y otras particularidades en la muy poderosa isla de Tenerife, dirigido a la milagrosa imagen de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria (in Spanish).
  4. ^ "Guanche meaning following the RAE Dictionary" (in Spanish).
  5. ^ Pliny, "Natural History" Bk 6 ch 37
  6. ^ Protohistoria de Tenerife
  7. ^ Andrew Dalby, Dictionary of Languages, 1998, p. 88 "Guanche, indigenous language of the Canary Islands, is generally thought to have been a Berber language."
  8. ^ a b Bynon J., "The contribution of linguistics to history in the field of Berber studies." In: Dalby D, (editor) Language and history in Africa New York: Africana Publishing Corporation, 1970, p 64–77.
  9. ^ Idrisi, La première géographie de l'Occident, NEF, Paris 1999
  10. ^ Hodgkin, Thomas (1848). On the Ancient Inhabitants of the Canary Islands (PDF). Journal of the Ethnological Society. p. 173. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  11. ^ Andrew Dalby, Dictionary of Languages, 1998, p. 88
  12. ^ a b c d e Maca-Meyer, Nicole; Arnay, Matilde; Rando, Juan Carlos; Flores, Carlos; González, Ana M; Cabrera, Vicente M; Larruga, José M (2003). "Ancient mtDNA analysis and the origin of the Guanches". European Journal of Human Genetics. 12 (2): 155–62. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201075. PMID 14508507.
  13. ^ "Genomic Analyses of Pre-European Conquest Human Remains from the Canary Islands Reveal Close Affinity to Modern North Africans", Rodriguez-Varela et al, Cell Biology, Published Online October 26, 2017
  14. ^ Galindo, Juan de Abreu. "VII". The History of the Discovery and Conquest of the Canary Islands. Adamant Media Corporation. p. 173. ISBN 1-4021-7269-9.
  15. ^ C.Michael Hogan, Mogador: promontory fort, The Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham, Nov. 2, 2007 [1]
  16. ^ Andrew L. Slayman, "Roman Trade With the Canary Islands", Archeology Newsbriefs, A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, Volume 50 Number 3, May/June 1997 [2]
  17. ^ Ancient mtDNA analysis and the origin of the Guanches
  18. ^ Pereira, L; MacAulay, V; Prata, M.J; Amorim, A (2003). "Phylogeny of the mtDNA haplogroup U6. Analysis of the sequences observed in North Africa and Iberia". International Congress Series. 1239: 491. doi:10.1016/S0531-5131(02)00553-8.
  19. ^ a b Fregel, Rosa; Gomes, Verónica; Gusmão, Leonor; González, Ana M; Cabrera, Vicente M; Amorim, António; Larruga, Jose M (2009). "Demographic history of Canary Islands male gene-pool: Replacement of native lineages by European". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 9: 181. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-181. PMC 2728732. PMID 19650893.
  20. ^ Zurita AI, Hernandez A, Sanchez JJ, Cuellas JA (March 2005). "Y-chromosome STR haplotypes in the Canary Islands population (Spain)". Forensic Science International. 148 (2–3): 233–8. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.05.004. PMID 15639620.
  21. ^ Pino-Yanes, María; Corrales, Almudena; Basaldúa, Santiago; Hernández, Alexis; Guerra, Luisa; Villar, Jesús; Flores, Carlos (2011). O'Rourke, Dennis (ed.). "North African Influences and Potential Bias in Case-Control Association Studies in the Spanish Population". PLoS ONE. 6 (3): e18389. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018389. PMC 3068190. PMID 21479138.
  22. ^ Fregel, Rosa; Pestano, Jose; Arnay, Matilde; Cabrera, Vicente M; Larruga, Jose M; González, Ana M (2009). "The maternal aborigine colonization of La Palma (Canary Islands)". European Journal of Human Genetics. 17 (10): 1314–24. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.46. PMC 2986650. PMID 19337312.
  23. ^ Estudio del genoma Taíno y Guanche
  24. ^ Un estudio descubre la presencia de genes guanches en la República Dominicana
  25. ^ Una pequeña parte de los guanches eran parientes de agricultores de Turquía
  26. ^ Fregel et al. 2018, Ancient genomes from North Africa evidence prehistoric migrations to the Maghreb from both the Levant and Europe
  27. ^ Cuatro apellidos canarios, un bisabuelo peninsular y otro africano
  28. ^ Richard Hayward, 2000, "Afroasiatic", in Heine & Nurse eds, African Languages, Cambridge University Press
  29. ^ Andrew Dalby, Dictionary of Languages, 1998, p. 88 "Guanche, indigenous language of the Canary Islands, is generally thought to have been a Berber language."
  30. ^ Bynon J., "The contribution of linguistics to history in the field of Berber studies." In: Dalby D, (editor) Language and history in Africa New York: Africana Publishing Corporation, 1970, p 64-77.
  31. ^ Maarten Kossmann, Berber subclassification (preliminary version), Leiden (2011)
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2013-10-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2013-10-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ Animeros en Canarias - in Spanish
  35. ^ 1
  36. ^ Un estudio recuerda el expolio de la mayor necrópolis guanche jamás hallada
  37. ^ a b c d e Sacrificios entre los Aborígenes canarios
  38. ^ a b Aparición de sacrificios de niños entre los Aborígenes Canarios
  39. ^ Jose Farrujia de la Rosa, Augusto (2014). An Archaeology of the Margins: Colonialism, Amazighity and Heritage Management in the Canary Islands. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 8. ISBN 9781461493969.
  40. ^ Aliño, López-Ibor; Carmen Leal Cercós; Carlos Carbonell Masiá; Janssen-Cilag. Images of Spanish Psychiatry. World Psychiatric Association. Editorial Glosa, S.L. p. 574. ISBN 84-7429-200-X.
  41. ^ Minorías religiosas en Canarias (in Spanish)
  42. ^ La Opinión de Tenerife on religious minorities in the Canaries (in Spanish)

Bibliography and further reading

External links

Battle of Aguere

The Battle of Aguere, or Battle of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, was fought between forces of the Crown of Castile, led by the Adelantado (military governor) Alonso Fernández de Lugo, and the natives of Tenerife, called Guanches. The battle took place on 14-15 November 1494.

Fernández de Lugo had suffered defeat by Guanche forces at the First Battle of Acentejo. The Battle of Aguere was a Castilian victory; whereas in the First Battle of Acentejo the Guanches had been favored by their knowledge of the mountainous terrain, in this engagement, the native forces found themselves at a disadvantage on the plain of Aguere.

The Battle of Aguere was later followed by the decisive Second Battle of Acentejo more than a month later, which resulted in the complete Castilian conquest of Tenerife.


Beneharo was a Guanche king of Menceyato de Anaga on the island of Tenerife.

Beneharo made peace in 1492 with Lope de Salazar, who had been sent by the governor of Gran Canaria Francisco Maldonado. After a slave rape shortly after against the Guanches of Anaga, the mencey withdrew its support to the Europeans although after the landing of Alonso Fernández de Lugo renewed the peace with the Castilians.A bronze statue of Beneharo is located in Candelaria with the other menceyes Guanches of Tenerife.

Canary Islands in pre-colonial times

The Canary Islands have been known since antiquity. Until the Spanish colonization between 1402 and 1496, the Canaries were populated by an indigenous population, whose origin is still the subject of discussion among historians and linguists.

The islands were visited by the Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Carthaginians. According to the 1st century CE Roman author and philosopher Pliny the Elder, the archipelago was found to be uninhabited when visited by the Carthaginians under Hanno the Navigator in 5th century BCE, but ruins of great buildings were seen. This story may suggest that the islands were inhabited by other peoples prior to the Guanches.

At the time of medieval European engagement, the Canary Islands were inhabited by a variety of indigenous communities. The pre-colonial population of the Canaries is generically referred to as Guanches, although, strictly speaking, Guanches were originally the inhabitants of Tenerife. According to the chronicles, the inhabitants of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote were referred to as Maxos, Gran Canaria was inhabited by the Canarii, El Hierro by the Bimbaches, La Palma by the Auaritas and La Gomera by the Gomeros. Evidence does seem to suggest that inter-insular interaction was relatively low and each island was populated by its own distinct socio-cultural groups who lived in relative isolation separated from each other.

Candelaria, Tenerife

Candelaria, also Villa Mariana de Candelaria, is a municipality and city in the eastern part of the island of Tenerife in the Province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, Spain. The city is located on the coast, 17 km southwest of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The population is 25,140 (2010), and the area is 49.18 km².

The town is noted by Catholics in Spain and Latin America as a place of veneration of the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron of the Canary Islands. The most prominent building is the Basilica of Candelaria, which includes the sculpture of the Virgin Mary (Virgin of Candelaria) and mural paintings. Also highlighted in the square, statues of the nine aboriginal kings of Tenerife.

In the times of the Guanches, the region was part of the menceyato, or kingdom, of Güímar. A cave is situated around Candelaria. The famous Festival de la Canción de Candelaria is one of the most important festivities on the island. It celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2005.

Cave of the Guanches

The Cave of the Guanches, or Archaeological area of the Cave of the Guanches (Spanish: Zona Arqueológica de la Cueva de los Guanches), is an important archaeological site located in the north of the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain).

Caves of Don Gaspar

The Caves of Don Gaspar (Spanish: Zona Arqueológica de la Cueva de Las Caves of Don Gaspar) is an important archaeological site located in the north of the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain).

The cueva is located in the municipality of Icod de los Vinos. It consists of a series of deposits belonging to the ancient Guanche culture, which form an interrelated complex. The caves include the Cave of Don Gaspar itself, the Cave of Las Palomas and three nearby caves. They were inhabited by the aboriginal Guanche Berbers.

In the Cave of Don Gaspar there are three levels of occupation, the oldest from the third century CE, while the occupation level in the Cave of Las Palomas is even older, dating back to the third century BCE.The caves are however famous for the discovery of plant debris in the form of carbonized seeds of wheat, barley and beans. This finding helps verify the practice of agriculture on the island of Tenerife in times of the Guanches.The cave is declared a Site of cultural interest by the Government of the Canary Islands.


Chijoraji or Chijoragi is a name given to the infant Jesus carried in the hand of

the Virgin of Candelaria (called by the Guanches Chaxiraxi) in Tenerife. Chijoraji is the aboriginal Guanches name given to this representation of Christ.

Conquest of the Canary Islands

The conquest of the Canary Islands by the Crown of Castille took place between 1402 and 1496. It can be divided into two periods: the Conquista señorial, carried out by Castilian nobility in exchange for a covenant of allegiance with the crown, and the Conquista realenga, carried out by the Spanish crown itself, during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs.


Fag may refer to:

FAG, a division of the Schaeffler Group

Cigarette, known as a fag in colloquial British English

Fagging, in British public schools

Faggot (slang), an American English slur for a homosexual

FAGS (candy), now FADS, an Australian candy

Fagurhólsmýri Airport, in Iceland by IATA code

Federação Anarquista Gaúcha, a Brazilian anarchist organization

Feminist Art Gallery, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Finongan language, spoken in Papua New Guinea (ISO 639 code)

Fluorescein angiography

Frisch Auf Göppingen, a German sport club

Fuerzas Armadas Guanches, a terrorist group in the Canary Islands

Guatemalan Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca)

Frame Arms Girl, a model kit line by Kotobukiya

First Battle of Acentejo

The First Battle of Acentejo took place on the island of Tenerife between the Guanches and an alliance of Spaniards, other Europeans, and associated natives (mostly from other islands), on 31 May 1494, during the Spanish conquest of this island. It resulted in a victory for the Guanches of Tenerife.

The Spaniards were under the command of the Adelantado ("military governor") Alonso Fernández de Lugo, who had sold his properties in order to finance his conquest of Tenerife. Fernández de Lugo was aided by the fact that missionaries had already begun to Christianize the Guanches of Tenerife, and several of the Guanches' menceyatos or kingdoms, which included Guimar, Abona, Adeje, and later Anaga, were friendly to the Castilians (and known in Spanish as bandos de paz). Fernández de Lugo landed at Añazo, near present-day Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in late April, and built the fortified camp of el Real de Santa Cruz. Advancing towards the interior of the island, Fernández de Lugo confirmed his friendship with the bandos de paz and attempted to reach the same arrangement with other Guanche menceyatos, including Taoro. Bencomo, the ruler of Taoro, refused Fernández de Lugo's terms, and instead began to form his own alliance against the Castilians, composed of the menceyatos of Tacoronte, Tegueste, Daute, and Icod.

In a state of war, Fernández de Lugo advanced through present-day San Cristóbal de La Laguna to the area known as Acentejo. The Castilians committed the terrible blunder of walking blindly into the ravine now called Barranco de San Antonio (Farfan was its Guanche name), in Acentejo. Despite their technological superiority —the Spaniards, protected with armour and shields, fought with blunderbusses and cannon— the Guanches, fighting naked, attacked them from the slopes with stones and spears of hardened wood (known as banotes). The Spaniards were unable to maneuver with their horses, because these slopes were covered with very thick, arboreal brush, and the Guanches, who numbered some 3,300 men under the leadership of Bencomo and his half-brother Tinguaro, chief of the comarca of Acentejo, made use of their mobility and intimate knowledge of the terrain to gain the upper hand. While Tinguaro with 300 men ambushed the vanguard of the Castilian forces, Bencomo arrived at the battle with 3,000 men, attacking the rearguard of the dispersed Europeans.

It is believed that four out of five Spanish soldiers fell in this battle, leaving 900–1,000 dead on the battlefield out of the initial 1,120. The defeat was not total, however. Fernández de Lugo, though wounded, was able to escape with his life (by exchanging the red cape of an Adelantado for that of a common soldier), and his surviving forces (some 200 men) were harried until he was forced to re-embark at Añazo and sail back to Gran Canaria. The Adelantado was able to return and defeat the native forces in two major battles: the Battle of Aguere and Second Battle of Acentejo, and other minor clashes, such as the Battle of Las Peñuelas.

A town built on the site where the battle occurred is called La Matanza de Acentejo ("The Slaughter of Acentejo"), which also contains a large mural commemorating the victory.

This was the greatest defeat in the history of the Spanish Atlantic expansion, in terms of casualties suffered by Spain.

Fuerzas Armadas Guanches

The Guanche Armed Forces (Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas Guanches) was the armed wing of the Movement for the Self- Determination and Independence of the Canarian Archipelago, Spanish: Movimiento por la Autodeterminación e Independencia del Archipiélago Canario (MPAIAC). It was active between 1 November 1976 and late 1978, when the group unilaterally announced a "ceasefire" in what it considered to be "struggle against Spanish colonial occupation" of the Canary Islands.

As the regime of Generalísimo Francisco Franco was collapsing, the Guanche Armed Forces planted dynamite bombs (which they obtained primarily from road construction sites) demanding Canary independence.

Guanche language

The Guanche language is an extinct Berber language that was spoken by the Guanches of the Canary Islands until the 17th century or possibly later. It died out after the conquest of the Canary Islands as the Guanche ethnic group was assimilated into the dominant Spanish culture. The Guanche language is known today through sentences and individual words that were recorded by early geographers, as well as through several place-names and Guanche words that were retained in the Canary Islanders' Spanish.

La Gomera

La Gomera (pronounced [la ɣoˈmeɾa]) is one of Spain's Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. With an area of 369.76 square kilometers, it is the third smallest of the eight main islands of this group. It belongs to the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. La Gomera is the third least populous island with 21,136 inhabitants. Its capital is San Sebastián de La Gomera, where the headquarters of the Cabildo are located.

Music of the Canary Islands

The music of the Canary Islands reflects its cultural heritage. The islands used to be inhabited by the Guanches which are related to Berbers; they mixed with Spaniards, who live on the islands now. A variant of Jota is popular, as is Latin music, which has left its mark in the form of the timple guitar.

There has been a strong connection with Cuban music, Venezuelan, Puerto Rican, and other Caribbean countries both through commerce and migration.

Popular dances from the Canary Islands include:



Baile del Candil

Baile de Cintas

Danza de Enanos

El Santo Domingo



MalagueñaOf these, the Isas, a local variation of Jota, are the best-known and most characteristic of the Canary Islands. They are graceful music, with a lot of variation among islands. In some places, a captain leads the dance and organizes others in a chain as the dance grows more and more complex.

Rondalla arrangements are very common. Instruments include charangas, timples (similar to a cavaquinho / ukulele), castanets, panderetas, lauds and guitars. A peculiar ensemble in El Hierro island is made of pito herreño players (a wooden transverse flute) and drums. Some ritual dances in Tenerife island are led by a tabor pipe player. Joyful music for carnival lies to a big extent on brass bands and Latin American patterns.


In the context of the Spanish colonial caste system, a peninsular (Spanish pronunciation: [peninsuˈlaɾ], pl. peninsulares) was a Spanish-born Spaniard residing in the New World or the Spanish East Indies. The word "peninsulars" makes reference to Peninsular Spain and was originally used in contrast to the "islanders" (isleños), viz. the native Canary Islanders (also known as guanches).

In the Portuguese Colonial Brazil, white people born in the Iberian Peninsula were known as reinóis, while whites born in Brazil with both parents being reinóis were known as mazombos.

Higher offices in the Americas and Philippines were held by peninsulares. Apart from the distinction of peninsulares from criollos, the castas system distinguished also mestizos (of mixed Spanish and Amerindian ancestry in the Americas, and mixed Spanish and Chinese or native Filipino in the Philippines), mulatos (of mixed Spanish and black ancestry), indios, zambos (mixed Amerindian and black ancestry) and finally negros. In some places and times, such as during the wars of independence, peninsulares were called deprecatively godos (meaning Goths, referring to the "Visigoths", who had ruled Spain) or, in Mexico, gachupines or gauchos. Godos is still used in the Canary Islands for the peninsular Spanish.

Colonial officials at the highest levels arrived from Spain to fulfill their duty to govern Spanish colonies in Latin America and the Philippines. Often, the peninsulares possessed large quantities of land. They defended Cádiz's monopoly on trade, upsetting the criollos, who turned to contraband with British and French colonies, especially in areas away from the main ports of call for the Flota de Indias. They worked to preserve Spanish power and sometimes acted as agents of patrol.

In a colonial social hierarchy, the peninsulares were nominally at the top, followed by criollos, who developed a fully entrenched powerful local aristocracy in the 17th and the 18th centuries. During the French Revolution, the peninsulares were generally conservative.

Second Battle of Acentejo

The Second Battle of Acentejo was a battle that took place on 25 December 1494 between the invading Spanish forces and the natives of the island of Tenerife, known as Guanches. The battle had been preceded by the Battle of Aguere, fought on 14-15 November that year, which had been a Castilian victory.

Advancing along the northern shores of the island, the Spaniards pursued the remaining Guanche forces and faced them once again at Valley of Taoro, near Acentejo, the site of the first battle, called by the Spaniards La Matanza ("The Slaughter").

Adelantado ("military governor") Alonso Fernández de Lugo divided his forces into two, with the Castilians bearing fire-arms taking the advantage.[1] After three hours of fighting, the Guanches were defeated. Those who were not made prisoners of the Spaniards fled to the mountains.

With shouts of "Victory! Victory!" the Spanish forces celebrated their triumph, and Alonso Fernández de Lugo erected a hermitage in honor of Our Lady of Victory on the site of the battle. A town grew up around it, called La Victoria de Acentejo.

An old Canary Island pine, a witness to the battle, still stands in La Victoria de Acentejo. In its shadow the first mass was celebrated on the day of the battle. From its branches a bell was later hung, since the hermitage that Fernández de Lugo built in the same spot lacked a bell tower.

The mencey Bentor is said to have thrown himself from the heights of Tigaiga after learning of the outcome of the battle.

The Second Battle of Acentejo was certainly not the last battle on Tenerife between the Spaniards and the Guanches, but was certainly the most decisive, resulting in the ultimate incorporation of the island into the kingdom of Castile and the final subjugation of the aborigines.


Tenerife (; Spanish: [teneˈɾife]) is the largest and most populated island of the seven Canary Islands. It is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 square kilometres (785 sq mi) and 904,713 inhabitants, 43 percent of the total population of the Canary Islands.

Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of Macaronesia.Approximately five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, the most visited island of the archipelago. It is one of the most important tourist destinations in Spain, hosting one of the world's largest carnivals, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Tenerife is served by two airports, Tenerife-North Airport and Tenerife-South Airport. Tenerife is the economic capital of the Canary Islands.The capital of the island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is also the seat of the island council (cabildo insular). The city is capital of the autonomous community of Canary Islands (shared with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), sharing governmental institutions such as presidency and ministries. Between the 1833 territorial division of Spain and 1927, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands. In 1927 the Crown ordered that the capital of the Canary Islands be shared, as it remains at present. Santa Cruz contains the modern Auditorio de Tenerife, the architectural symbol of the Canary Islands.The island is home to the University of La Laguna; founded in 1792 in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, it is the oldest university in the Canaries. The city of La Laguna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the second city most populated on the island and the third in the archipelago. It was capital of the Canary Islands before Santa Cruz replaced it in 1833.Teide National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in the center of the island. In it, the Mount Teide rises as the highest elevation of Spain, the highest of the islands of the Atlantic Ocean, and the third-largest volcano in the world from its base. Also on the island, the Macizo de Anaga (massif) has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2015. It has the largest number of endemic species in Europe.


A Tibicena, also known as Guacanchas, was a mythological creature of the Guanches, prehispanic inhabitants of the Canary Islands. Tibicenas were imagined to be demons or genies who had the bodies of great wild dogs with red eyes, covered by long, black fur. They lived in deep caves inside the mountains.

Some existing caves on the Canary Islands are still referred to as Tibicena lairs, such as "Cueva del Tibicena". According to myth, Tibicenas attacked livestock and persons, particularly at night. Guanche mythology posited Tibicenas as offspring of Guayota, (the devil or malignant deity). Inhabitants of Tenerife (where they were called Guacanchas) and Gran Canaria (where they were called Tibicenas) shared a belief in them. Both names refer to the same mythical being.


Tijarafe is a town and a municipality on the island of La Palma, Province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. It is situated in the northwestern part of the island. The population of the municipality is 2,776 (2013) and the area is 53.76 km². Tijarafe is 7 km northwest of Los Llanos de Aridane and 19 km west of the island capital Santa Cruz de La Palma.

The eastern border of the municipality is formed by the crater rim of the Caldera de Taburiente and its outflow, the Barranco de las Angustias.

Tijarafe was the name of one of the twelve old areas where the Guanches used to settle before the Spanish conquest. It corresponded with the present municipalities Tijarafe and Puntagorda.

Historic sites
Museums and galleries
Musical instruments
Symbols places of the Canary Islands
Related topics
Pre-Roman peoples established into Spain
Aquitanians (in Spain)
Germanic peoples
Vascones (Basque)
Other European origin
Non-European origin

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