Definition of Macaronesia
The word macaronesia comes from the Greek and is formed from two words: makáron is equivalent to happiness and nesoi means islands. Therefore, we are talking about an idea that refers to some islands associated with what one understands for happiness. In this case, it is not a specific archipelago but five, located in the Atlantic Ocean: Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Azores, Madeira and Wild Islands (in relation to the Canary Islands they are also popularly known as "lucky islands", a nickname that connects with the etymological origin of the term macaronesia).
A laboratory for research
These archipelagos have a number of shared characteristics:
1) they all have a volcanic origin, as they emerged from the depths of the sea after successive volcanic eruptions ,
2) mostly the islands are aligned on the same tectonic plate and, on the other hand, they are archipelagos where the same sea currents act and
3) fauna , flora and plant fossils have similar characteristics.
These similarities make scientists consider Macaronesia as a perfect laboratory to study biodiversity .
While historical references to Macaronesia date back to ancient times, these archipelagos were officially discovered between the fifteenth and fifteenth centuries by Portuguese and Spanish navigators
From the political point they belong to three nations: Cape Verde (former Portuguese colony ), Spain and Portugal. Tenerife is the largest island (2034 square kilometers) and Roque del Oeste is the smallest (0.01 square kilometers).
Some islands of the Macaronesian archipelago are not populated (for example, Alegranza, Deserta Grande, Montaña Clara or Lobos).
The islands that make up the Canary Islands constitute the largest archipelago in the Macaronesian region.
These archipelagoes of the Atlantic Ocean not only share the aforementioned characteristics, but also have something in common: they are top-level tourist destinations.
In Greek mythology and culture
In the stories of Greek mythology there is talk of islands located in the ocean where men lead a fully happy life and enjoy the goods of the Earth. They also end the souls of the heroes who have led a righteous life. Subsequently, the Greek author Plutarco referred to some paradise islands that were called Lucky Islands.
For most scholars, these references from the ancient world are related to some of the archipelagos that make up Macaronesia.
Fotolia Photos: Furian / Betelgejze / Bentor