Life from an outsider's perspective…

Is Gran Canaria really all that “Great”?

Jealousy EnvidiaI was recently asked about “cycling on the big island”, and I shot off a reply about the best routes in Tenerife. Anyway, it turns out the person was referring to Gran Canaria. Oh dear. This was more or less my reply:

Sorry I was a little confused there about which island you meant. 😆

Here, at least when I think of “Gran Canaria”, I think of the complete name somewhat like when you say “windscreen wipers” or “babysitter”. You tend not to think of them as separate words anymore. Your brain just processes the entire concept all as one thing.

Tenerife is actually the biggest island with 2,034 km² surface area according to wikipedia. Gran Canaria has 1,560 km². Like I care, because I am Australian, and Australia has 7,617,930 km²). The highest point of Tenerife, Mt Teide at 3718m, is also much higher than the highest point on Gran Canaria (only 1950 metres hehehe). I think this is where part of the resentment comes from…

The thing is, if you read the local Spanish paper El Día, both sides continually debate the use of the term “Gran” in Gran Canaria. They reproduce historic maps of varying antiquity with and without the “Gran” in front. Then the other side counter-attacks by reproducing a quote from a hitherto unpublished source. You see, in Spanish, Gran doesn’t just mean ‘big’, it means ‘great’. So the TV show “big brother” is actually wrongly translated as “gran hermano”. Anyway.

Gran Canaria Mapa Antiguo Historico Great Canary MapI can sort of see where they are coming from. I mean look at the map to the left right here – ironically the “gran” pretext is written in small caps! And on some maps it is missing altogether.

But seriously, you would have thought that the locals have better things to debate about… I’ve come to the conclusion that some Canariones have an inferiority complex.

And it’s funny how the English and Spanish versions of Gran Canaria differ in wikipedia. No mention of the debate at all. 😐

Glad I could help you out with the links. Back when I started Tenerife-Training in 2005, there wasn’t much info online at all w.r.t. cycling in the Canaries.

Anyway, seeya round mate!

2 Responses to “Is Gran Canaria really all that “Great”?”

  1. Hi. I´m sorry about my english. I´m from Canary Islands, and i have to say that there isn´t any debate by the term “Gran”. It´s only an article of a magazine, an opinion.

    Gran Canaria is “Gran” because it was the island where the “fight”, the conquist from the Spanish, took more time than the other islands. Then, the native people and the island was called Gran. And this is the first and the only official name of the island.

    sincere greetings!!

  2. Actually that’s not true – Tenerife was the last to be conquered in 1496. The tale goes that the Guanches originally defeated the conquistadores and the leaders had to leave disguised as locals and return with more men! I’m from Gran Canaria and don’t notice any inferiority complex. :)

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