The tiny island of La Graciosa has officially become the eighth Canary Island, to the delight of its 721 residents who have been campaigning for years for this outcome. Following a campaign by the Popular Party and the local residents’ group, the Council of Citizenship, the island will retain its administrative links with Lanzarote, but it will now be classified as a district, or a smaller local entity with its own legal personality.
There are 13 islands in the Canaries archipelago, and up to now, only Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, El Hierro, Fuerteventura and La Gomera have been officially recognised. At 29 square kilometres in size, La Graciosa welcomes about 25,000 tourists annually, and its beaches, including Playa de las Conchas, Playa de la Cocina and Playa de El Salado, have been described as the best in Spain.
The residents are delighted with the new status as they gathered more than 4000 signatures on a petition to get official recognition as the eighth Canary island. However, some people fear that the new classification could lead to too many visitors making the trip to the island, which is situated just north of Lanzarote, across the El Río strait. There is no airport and no tarmac roads on the island, which has two towns, La Caleta del Sebo and Casas de Pedro Barba, so most people get around by bike.
There are trails leading to the most special corners of the tiny island, and these paths must be followed without detour in order to avoid eroding or deteriorating the landscape. ‘This is an act of justice and an historic day for La Graciosa,’ said Joel Delgado, of the Popular Party.