La Palma Introduction, Facts and Figures
The coordinates of La Palma are 28°40′ N 17°52′ W.
Surface and Landscape
La Palma is the fifth greatest (or the third smallest) of the seven main Canary Islands in terms of surface area. Only La Gomera and El Hierro are smaller, while Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote are bigger.
The surface area of La Palma is 706 km². The island is almost 46 km at its longest (approximately north-south) and 28 km at its widest point (east-west).
Like the other islands La Palma has volcanic origin. Not only that: Today it is the most volcanically active of the Canary Islands. There have been at least seven notable eruptions since the 15th century with the last one occurring as recently as 1971 (the eruption of Volcan Teneguia).
Caldera de Taburiente and Mountains
Volcanic origin is evident when you look at La Palma from the air. Its surface area is dominated by the large Caldera de Taburiente, a crater with perimeter of about 10 km, surrounded by mountains ranging from 1,600 to 2,400 m. Caldera de Taburiente was declared National Park in 1954.
The whole surface of La Palma is extremely broken and some parts are not well accessible. There are numerous gorges and cliffs. The highest point on La Palma is Roque de los Muchachos with 2,423 m above sea level. Near the peak there is the well known astronomical observatory (Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos) reportedly providing the second best observing conditions in the northern hemisphere (after Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii).
Total population of La Palma is 86,528 (as of 2008). From the administrative point of view, La Palma belongs to the Tenerife province (the capital of this province is Santa Cruz de Tenerife).
There are 14 municipalities on La Palma. The largest city on La Palma is Los Llanos de Aridane with population of about 20,000. However, the capital and the main port is the second largest city, Santa Cruz de La Palma, located in the eastern part of the island.