The biological importance of Lanzarote is evidenced by the fact that in 1987 it was declared one of the six universal models of sustainable development by the World Tourism Organization and in 1994 was declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO. The most easterly of the seven major Canary Islands it is situated in the Atlantic Ocean only some 100 km from the coast of Africa and 1,000 km from the Iberian Peninsula.
Lanzarote is probably named after a Genoese navigator called Lancelotto Malocello, who arrived on the island during the second half of the XIV century opening the way to successive expeditions of French, British and Spanish sailors and merchants. Previously the area was known as the Fortunate Islands. Lanzarote was the first of the Canary islands to be conquered by the Spanish, but as they gradually took hold of the other islands Lanzarote lost its influence. Protected by too small a garrison, its inhabitants were decimated, for centuries by the relentless attacks of pirates who were slave-hunters. Natural disasters can be added to the repeated attacks of the pirates, in so far as a long series of volcanic eruptions shook the island. The last two (in 1730-1736 and 1824) turned the richest part of the island into a sea of lava. The ancestors of today's inhabitants regained it by dint of hard work. Fishing and agriculture once formed the basis of the island’s economy but have since been overtaken by the tourism industry.
Potato stews and watercress soups are traditional Lanzarote dishes, though fish is probably the most common staple. Whether fresh or salted, it is usually accompanied by one of the large selection of 'Mojo' sauces, which come in a range of strengths and flavours, from the extremely hot and spicy to the medium and very mild varieties.
Salted fish (usually sea bream, stone bass and wreckfish - these species have no English equivalents) is the basis for a traditional fish stew recipe known as 'Sancocho'. Potatoes, cooked in a number of different ways, traditionally accompany the main course. Perhaps the most popular are the aptly named 'wrinkled potatoes' 'Papas arrugadas', which are boiled in extremely salty water and eaten with hot 'Mojo' sauce. As for meat, pork is a revered medium for traditional meat dishes. Roast leg of pork, prepared to a special recipe, is one of the most commonly encountered delicacies on the island.
The national park of Timanfaya is a volcanic field certainly worth seeing. Here, visitors can appreciate a great variety of geological phenomena and plant species. La Cueva de los Verdes, in the northern part of Lanzarote, to the south-east of the volcano Monte de la Corona, forms part of a spectacular system of underground grottoes (the jameos). It is not only one of the most interesting volcanic formations on the island, but also one of the longest volcanic galleries in the world (6 km long). For those interested in culture, the César Manrique Foundation is the island’s cultural centre par excellence and has won international recognition to prove it. Not only does it house some of the works of the famous artist himself but it also exhibits works of prestigious artists such as Picasso, Miró, Chillida and Klee. Santa Bárbara Castle, now the Museum of Emigration, sits on the Guanapay mountain, to the east of Teguise. It was built in the 16th century as a watchtower for the coastlines on both sides of the island.