The Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, are located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are one of Spain's 17 autonomous communities and are among the outermost region of the European Union proper.
The islands include (from largest to smallest) Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste.
The archipelago's beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especially Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and Teide National Park and Mount Teide in Tenerife, make it a major tourist destination with over 12 million visitors per year. Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote are the most frequented.
The islands have a subtropical climate, with long warm summers and moderately warm winters. Due to their location above the temperature inversion layer, the high mountains of these islands are ideal for astronomical observation. For this reason, two professional observatories, Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, have been built on the islands.