Sunday 1/16/22

The difference between Palma, La Palma and Las Palmas

The eruption of the volcano on La Palma has attracted the attention of the media around the world, but some reports failed to correctly locate the place, or simply gave the wrong name.
11 November 2021, Spain, La Palma: Lava flows out of the volcano Cumbre Vieja, during its eruption in La Palma on the Canary Islands. Photo: Kike Rincón/EUROPA PRESS/dpa.
Lava flows out of the volcano Cumbre Vieja, during its eruption in La Palma on the Canary Islands. Photo: Kike Rincón/dpa.

No, there are no volcanos near Palma, the capital of Mallorca. And La Palma has nothing to do with Las Palmas, although both are in the Canary Islands.

The eruption of the new volcano in La Palma has attracted the attention of the media around the world. The point is that some reports, even in Spain, fail to correctly locate the place where the island is or they just give the wrong name.

During the past weeks, there has been news such as “the mayor of Palma visited the neighbourhood of Son Dameto to know what they need after volcano’s eruption” (the visit took place; the reason is just wrong) or “lava crosses a road in Mallorca”.

Even a TV programme reported that La Palma was in Murcia (South-eastern Spain). The confusion is not only produced abroad, but also in Spain.

La Palma is one of the islands located at the western area of the Canaries and the place where the new volcano erupted in Cumbre Vieja. As the rest of the archipelago, its origin is volcanic and it has been the most active area in the last 100 years.

During the last century, several eruptions were registered. In 1971, Teneguía (south of La Palma) started its activity and the lava flowed to the sea destroying everything on its way. Older people still remember it. Before that, San Juan’s volcano also poured lava in 1949 only a few kilometres from the starting point of the current volcano. But the most recent eruption in the Canary Islands was in El Hierro, also on the westernmost area, but it only affected the marine life as it happened at the bottom of the sea.

The province of Las Palmas

As mentioned above, La Palma is not related with Las Palmas, even when the names are almost identical.

Canary-islands-mapImage: HansenBCN Miguillen (Wikimedia Commons) /The Nomad Today.

There are two provinces in the autonomous community of the Canary Islands: Tenerife (the western islands) and Las Palmas, which is the province made up of several islands that is located in the eastern part of the archipelago. The island of La Palma does not belong to the province of Las Palmas, but is on the opposite (western) side and is part of the province of Tenerife. In addition to this, there is no island called Las Palmas.

There is still something else to clarify regarding Las Palmas. The name of its capital is called Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which can’t be used referring to the province or the island where it is located (Gran Canaria).

There is also Palma, but in Mallorca

And finally, Palma (without article) is the capital of Mallorca and the Balearic Islands, the other remarkable archipelago found in Spain, in this case located in the Mediterranean Sea. It is also known as Palma de Mallorca, even when it’s not the official name of the city anymore.

The name of the city has been changed during the last years adding and removing ‘de Mallorca’. The movement started with a proposal of the leftist parties, which didn’t please the right-wing parties. This is the reason why the name has been modified every time when a new local government has been formed until now.

It is also a common mistake to call Palma de Mallorca to the whole island, which can be named only as Mallorca.

*Pablo Morilla is a journalist, author of the blog Michan en Finlandia