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Lanzarote is the most north-easterly of the seven large Canary Islands. It is part of the Spanish province of Las Palmas and is located around 140 km to the west of the African coast.
Over the centuries Lanzarote has had many different names: Tite-roy-gatra (the name given to it by its original inhabitants because of the reddish colour of the mountains) or Purpuraria, a Roman name based on the large deposits of the raw material orseille (reddish dye). The island was given its final name when it was rediscovered by the Genoese Lancelotto Maloccelo in the 14th century.
The 'Majos', the island's original inhabitants, lived from the animals they herded, the fish they caught and the mussels they cultivated, but there was little agriculture.
Because of its age and erosion by the winds Lanzarote is less mountainous than the other Canary Islands. At 670 m Las Peñas del Chache is the highest hill on the island.
Over the centuries the landscape has been shaped by a number of volcanic eruptions. The eruption of Timanfaya in 1730 buried around a quarter of the surface of the island, including 11 villages, leaving behind a petrified volcanic landscape known as 'Malpaises'.