On May 10th, I plan to participate in the Transvulcania Ultramarathon, a 53-mile foot race that occurs on La Palma in the Canary Islands. The Canaries are an archipelago of 13 islands and islets located 60 miles off the coast of North Africa near the borders of Morocco and Western Sahara.
The islands have been part of Spain since the 15th century when they were conquered by the Kingdom of Castille. Contrary to a popular misconception, the islands were not named for the bird, rather the bird was named for the islands. According to Wikipedia, the name Canary “likely derives from the Latin name Canariae Insulae meaning ‘Island of the Dogs.’” That trusty source offers three possible explanations for this nomenclature: