The canary islands are some of the most beautiful landmasses of the natural world. Yet their name is still a mystery. While many believe that the islands were named after the beautiful canary birds, that is not correct. In fact, the canary birds were named after the islands! Now that we have solved the mystery of where the birds got their names, what about the islands themselves? Read on to find out more.
The name of the Canary Islands dates back thousands of years with the first record of the name coming from the 1st century. One account of the islands suggested they were covered in large roaming dogs. When Roman sailors later visited the island they said one island, in particular, was almost impossible to visit because it was overrun with dogs. Since that day the set of islands has been known as the Canary Islands (Canis in Latin means dog).
The theory has come under some suspicion as when the Spanish later conquered the island and there were no dogs to be found. How could an island once overrun with canines now have none? Some argue that as the dogs were breeding without restriction they overpopulated the island and ended up starving to death. Others say that there never were any dogs on the island and the name is actually linked to an indigenous herb on the island called dog’s grape. Others still say that it was the natives of the island that actually worshipped dogs.
While the origins of the name are still under some doubt it is clear that the locals residing there today have embraced the dog folklore. Today the state flag of the Canary Islands has two dogs on either side of the crest, in honor of a legend as old as the first century when it is said that two large dogs from the Canary Islands were gifted to the King of Mauritania who was the first to discover the islands.