The island was first settled it is believed by slaves of Berber descent from North Africa but the first European explorer to land here was the Genoese seafarer Lanzarotto Malocello in the 13th century. Seized by the Spanish adventurer Jean de Bethencourt in 1402 the island suffered numerous raids by Turkish, Moroccan and European slavers over the next two hundred years and by the end of the 16th century the number of inhabitants – who are known as Conejeros – was reduced to barely 300. In the early 18th century devastating volcanic eruptions covered a third of the island’s best farming land with layers of volcanic grit (called picón in local dialect) driving many to flee to neighbouring islands. However, it was quickly discovered that the fine black picón not only absorbs moisture from condensation and the infrequent rains but also kept the root systems of plants cool and moist despite the fierce sun and wind.
Size: Approximately 40 miles long by 12 miles wide Population: 140,000, of whom about 40 percent can trace their lineage Capital city: Arrecife, which has a beautiful local market every Sunday Local time: Lanzarote’s time zone is the same as the UK – both GMT and B Flight time from UK (estimated from South England airports): 4 hours. Currency: The local currency is the Euro €. Electricity: 230V AC, 50 Hz; European round two pin plugs are standard.
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