Canary Islands


Canary Islands

Trading Parties

Wine was the main export of the Canaries until the grape blight of 1853; its place was taken by cochineal until aniline dyes came into general use. Today the leading exports are bananas, sugarcane, tomatoes, potatoes, and tobacco, which are grown where irrigation is possible. There is fishing on the open seas, and the Canaries, with their subtropical climate and fine beaches, have become a major tourist center. An oil refinery and other large-scale industries are located at Santa Cruz de Tenerife.


The economy is based on tourism and tropical agriculture (banana, tobacco) for exportation to Europe and the Americas. They receive about 10 million tourists per year. Ecologists are concerned that the resources, especially in the drier islands, are being overexploited.

Agriculture: grain, vegetables, olives, wine grapes, sugar beets, citrus; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish.

Labour force: 19.33 million; agriculture 5.3%, manufacturing, mining, and construction 30.1%, services 64.6% (2004 est.).

Industries: textiles and apparel (including footwear), food and beverages, metals and metal manufactures, chemicals, shipbuilding, automobiles, machine tools, tourism, clay and refractory products, footwear, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment.

Natural resources: coal, lignite, iron ore, uranium, mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land.

Exports: $172.5 billion (f.o.b., 2004 est.): machinery, motor vehicles; foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, medicines, other consumer goods.

Imports: $222 billion (f.o.b., 2004 est.): machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, semifinished goods; foodstuffs, consumer goods; measuring and medical control instruments.

Major trading partners: France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, UK, U.S., Netherlands (2003).