Fuerteventura, the history of a magic island

The history of Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is of volcanic origin and was formed 21 million years ago. However, the last volcanic eruption took place about 5,000 years ago and should not dampen the travel mood. The oldest Canary Island was first settled by the African Bedouin tribes of the Guanches around 3,000 BC. The Canary Islands were already mentioned in 850 BC in one of the 27,800 verses of Homer’s Odyssey. There they were called the “Islands of the Blissful”. The first traces of the Majoreros can be found in the 3rd century. Tradition has it that the natives of Fuerteventura lived in small huts and raised cattle. What happened on the island up to approximately 1200 remains hidden in history, as there are no records of it.

The cartographer Angelino Dulceta first recorded Forte Ventura on a map in 1339.

In the 14th century, the island was the home of gold prospectors and slave hunters. The islanders were much sought after in the slave markets. In 1417, the slave trade was banned by the pope, but could not be completely contained. In the year 1404, the Norman nobleman Jeau de Béthencourt entered the island. He found Fuerteventura divided into the two kingdoms Jandia and Maxorata. Presumably, the original border line ran not far from the present wind farm of Costa Calma, which can still be seen today by a stone wall. The Spanish defeated the two kingdoms and founded the city of Betancuria in 1405. Since the feudal oath was taken before the Spanish king in 1412, the island has been part of the territory of Spain.

The heirs of the former conquerors were not very enthusiastic about the loneliness and the barren land.

Numerous people left the island and settled in Gran Canaria or Venezuela. In the 17th and 18th century, Fuerteventura was increasingly afflicted by pirates. This is why the fortification towers El Cotillo and Callta de Fustes were built. At the end of the 18th century, 10.000 people lived in Fuerteventura. The chronicles tell about frequent crop failures and years of drought.

In 1834 Antigua became the capital of the island, replacing the first settlement of Betancuria.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Canarian Islands are declared as a free trade zone, a thing that provides Fuerteventura with an economical boom. Lime and dyestuff, among other things, are exported. In 1860 Rosario was declared an island metropolis. Together with the neighbouring island Lanzarote, Fuerteventura became part of the province of Las Palmas in 1927.

The first holidaymakers reached Fuerteventura in 1966, establishing a new wealth on the island.

Tourism becomes the most important economic sector and secures jobs for more than two thirds of the population. Especially the Germans discover the island for themselves. In 1994, 820,000 tourists visited Fuerteventura, 505,700 of which came from the Federal Republic. Tourism is being further developed. The balancing act between hotel tourism on the coast and gentle tourism in the hinterland has been successful. Especially in winter, the island is one of the most important holiday destinations in Spain.

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