The volcanic island of Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands (off the northwest coast of Africa), was reputedly discovered by Genoese navigator Lancelotto Malcello in 1312, who named this island after himself. However, it wasn’t settled until the 15th century by the Castilians. Due in part to its distance from mainland Spain (1,000 km) and its relative proximity to Morocco and Western Sahara (125 km.), Lanzarote was subject to conquest by the Ottomans in 1585, and by pirate raids during the 17th century (including one by Walter Raleigh in 1616).
Due to heavy volcanic activity (resulting in the creation of as many as 32 volcanoes on the island during the early 1700s, the accompanying destruction of many local towns) as well as drought affecting Lanzarote in 1768, much of the local population would relocate to places like Cuba and other Spanish colonies in the Americas by the end of the 18th century. In 1812, Lanzarote and the rest of the Canary Islands officially became a province of Spain. During the 1920s, Lanzarote became part of the province of Las Palmas (Gran Canaria island).
Given Lanzarote’s limited agricultural output (with the volcanic soil proving useful for grape and wine production), the island launched its successful bid in tourism in 1966 with the opening of the passenger terminal of Lanzarote Airport, along with the opening of the Fariones Hotel at the town of Puerto del Carmen. With the current local population at around 130,000 residents, Lanzarote’s population easily doubles during the tourist season with vacationers from various European countries.