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The Canary Islands are beautiful, warm, and welcoming. They’re also massively important in the history of the Americas, especially South America and the Caribbean. We can see this in one of the most common grapes in the Americas, Listán Prieto. In Chile, the grape is so ubiquitous it is simply called “País,” or the country grape. In Argentina, the grape goes by Criolla Chica, and in the US and Mexico, Mission/Misíon.

The story of the connection between the Canary Islands and South America goes back centuries. The islands were a hub that connected Europe, Africa, and both North and South America. People looking to relocate to any of these places would flock to the Canary Islands, and leave from there. For thousands upon thousands of people, over the course of hundreds of years, it was the last stop before the long journey across the Atlantic.

Island locals themselves left in droves in two major waves. The first came during the later half of the 19th century on the heels of an economic downturn caused by stiff competition to their major industry, sugar cane, from the Caribbean. In the 20th century, the Spanish Civil War led to a huge outflux of people from all over Spain. This continued under the authoritarian rule of Francisco Franco. Cuba, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Cuba all opened their arms to these refugees. Cuba in particular welcomed many thousands of Canarios, and to this day a strong connection remains between Cuba and the Canary Islands.

Today, however, the trend has reversed. Spain has been extremely intent on welcoming back the “children of the Civil War,” regardless of whether they were born in Spain. If you visit the islands, you will meet people from all over the world, and a great deal from South America. That mixed with a modern, dynamic economy, an unmistakable love of life, incredible natural beauty, fantastic wine, and the best version of Carnival outside of Brazil, and the Canary Islands are in the midst of an incredible revival.

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