is one of Spain's Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...
, located in the Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...
off the coast of Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...
. In area, it is the second-smallest of the seven main islands of this group.
La Gomera is part of the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife also Province of Santa Cruz is a province of Spain, consisting of the western part of the autonomous community of the Canary Islands. It consists of about half of the Atlantic archipelago, including the islands of Tenerife, La Gomera, El Hierro, and La Palma, and...
. It is divided into six municipalities
Alajeró is a municipality on the island of La Gomera in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It is located on the south coast, SW of the capital San Sebastián de la Gomera...
- San Sebastián de la Gomera
- Valle Gran Rey
The municipality of Vallehermoso is located on the southwestern and northwestern coasts of La Gomera in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife of the Canary Islands...
The island government (cabildo insular
) is located in the capital, San Sebastián.
The island is of volcanic
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...
origin and roughly circular; it is about 22 km (13.7 mi) in diameter and rises to 1487 m (nearly 5000 feet) at the island's highest peak, Garajonay. Its shape is rather like an orange that has been cut in half and then split into segments, which has left deep ravines or barrancos
between them. These barrancos
, in turn, are covered by the laurisilva
Laurisilva or laurissilva is a subtropical forest, found in areas with high humidity and relatively stable and mild temperatures. They are characterised by evergreen, glossy-leaved tree species that look alike with leaves of lauroide type...
- or laurel rain forest.
The upper reaches of this densely wooded region are almost permanently shrouded in clouds and mist, and as a result are covered in lush and diverse vegetation: they form the protected environment of Spain's Garajonay National Park
Garajonay National Park is located in the center and north of the island of La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands . It was declared a national park in 1981 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986...
, which was declared a UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...
in 1986. The slopes are criss-crossed by paths that present varying levels of difficulty to visitors, and stunning views to seasoned hikers.
The central mountains catch the moisture from the trade wind
The trade winds are the prevailing pattern of easterly surface winds found in the tropics, within the lower portion of the Earth's atmosphere, in the lower section of the troposphere near the Earth's equator...
clouds and yield a dense jungle climate in the cooler air, which contrasts with the warmer, sun-baked cliffs near sea level.
Between these extremes one finds a fascinating gamut of microclimates; for centuries, the inhabitants of La Gomera have farmed the lower levels by channelling runoff water to irrigate their vineyards, orchards and banana groves.
In 2003, some 19,580 people lived on La Gomera.
The local wine is distinctive, and is often accompanied with a tapa
(snack) of local cheese, roasted pork or goat meat. Other culinary specialities include almogrote
Almogrote is a soft paste made from hard cheese, peppers, olive oil, garlic, and other ingredients, which is typically eaten spread on toast. It is native to La Gomera in the Canary Islands.-References:*...
, a cheese spread, and miel de palma, a syrup extracted from palm trees.
The inhabitants of La Gomera have a unique way of communicating across deep ravines by means of an amazing whistled speech called Silbo Gomero
. This whistled language
Whistled languages use whistling to emulate speech and facilitate communication. A whistled language is a system of whistled communication which allows fluent whistlers to transmit and comprehend a potentially unlimited number of messages over long distances...
is indigenous to the island, and its existence has been documented since Roman times. Invented by the original inhabitants of the island, the Guanches
Guanches is the name given to the aboriginal Berber inhabitants of the Canary Islands. It is believed that they migrated to the archipelago sometime between 1000 BCE and 100 BCE or perhaps earlier...
, Silbo Gomero
was adopted by the Spanish settlers in the 16th century and survived after the Guanches died out. When this unique means of communication was threatened with extinction at the dawn of the 21st century, the local government required all children to learn it in school.
In the mountains of La Gomera, its original inhabitants worshipped their god, whom they called Orahan; the summit and centre of the island served as their grand sanctuary. Indeed, many of the natives took refuge in this sacred territory in 1489, as they faced imminent defeat at the hands of the Spaniards, and it was here that the conquest of La Gomera was drawn to a close. Modern-day archaeologists have found several ceremonial stone constructions here, which appear to represent sacrificial altar stones, slate hollows or cavities. It was here that the Guanches built pyres upon which to make offerings of goats and sheep to their god. This same god, Orahan, was known on La Palma as Abora and on Tenerife and Gran Canaria as Arocan. The Guanches also interred their dead in caves, which still dot the landscape.
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...
made La Gomera his last port of call before crossing the Atlantic in 1492. He stopped here to replenish his crew's wine and water, intending to stay only four days. However, he became romantically involved with Beatriz de Bobadilla y Ossorio, the governor of La Gomera, and he ended up staying one month. When he finally sailed she gave him cuttings of sugarcane, which became the first to reach the New World. The house in San Sebastián in which he is reputed to have stayed is now a tourist attraction.
An autosome is a chromosome that is not a sex chromosome, or allosome; that is to say, there is an equal number of copies of the chromosome in males and females. For example, in humans, there are 22 pairs of autosomes. In addition to autosomes, there are sex chromosomes, to be specific: X and Y...
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 (50.1% of U6 and 10.83% of L
In human mitochondrial genetics, L is the mitochondrial DNA macro-haplogroup that is at the root of the human mtDNA phylogenetic tree. As such, it represents the most ancestral mitochondrial lineage of all currently living modern humans....
haplogroups), the largest average Northwest African contribution (42.50%) was found for the samples from La Gomera. According to Flores et al. (2003), genetic drift
Genetic drift or allelic drift is the change in the frequency of a gene variant in a population due to random sampling.The alleles in the offspring are a sample of those in the parents, and chance has a role in determining whether a given individual survives and reproduces...
could be responsible for the contrasting difference in Northwest African ancestry detected with maternal (51% of Northwest African lineages) and paternal markers (0.3–10% of Northwest African lineages) in La Gomera. Alternatively, it could reflect the dramatic way the island was conquered, producing the strongest sexual asymmetry in the archipelago.
Notable natives and residents
- Antonio José Ruiz de Padrón (1757–1823), Franciscan priest and politician.
- José Aguiar (1895–1975), painter.
- Manuel Mora Morales
Manuel Mora Morales , is a Canarian writer, filmmaker and editor. He completed his studies at the University of La Laguna on the island of Tenerife. He is the president of the Asociación de Editores de Canarias Manuel Mora Morales (born 1952 in San Sebastián de La Gomera on La Gomera, Canary...
(b. 1952), writer, filmmaker and editor.
- Pedro García Cabrera
Pedro García Cabrera was a Spanish writer and poet. A member of the Generation of '27, he is considered one of the greatest poets of the Canary Islands.-Early life:...
(1905–1981), writer and poet.
- Tim Hart
Tim Hart was an English folk singer and multi-instrumentalist, best known as a founding member of electric folk band, Steeleye Span.-Early years:...
(1948–2009), English folk musician.
- Oliver Weber
Oliver Weber is a German photographer. Currently he lives and works on the Canary Island of La Gomera. His specialty areas are reportage, portrait and what has come to be recognized as street photography. He has become more widely known through numerous features with reputable magazines and...
(born 1970), German photographer.