Economy of Lanzarote

Economy of Lanzarote

Today, talking about the economy and tourism in Lanzarote is doing the same thing, the economy of the island is sustained almost exclusively by the income provided by tourism and the services that this activity provides around it.

Both, tourism and services, generate around 80% of economic activity and employment, which are basically concentrated in the tourist centers developed on the coast of Tías (Puerto del Carmen), Teguise (Costa Teguise) and Yaiza (Playa Blanca), and in the capital of the island, Arrecife. But if we go back a little to the past, the reality was very different: the lack of raw materials and the aridity of the land caused long periods of poverty. before tourism, agriculture, fishing, and ranching were the main sources of income.

Designation of Origin Lanzarote

Until recently, the dominant economic activity in the vast majority of the municipalities of Lanzarote was agriculture and, to a lesser extent, fishing. However, tourism is currently the main source of resources.

The arrival of Tourism in the 1960s supposed a rapid transformation of the Island, with the extension of electrification, the installation of No desalination plants that ensure the water supply, etc.

Tourist centers were created in Puerto del Carmen and later in Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca, and recently Puerto Calero and simultaneously the Lanzarote artist César Manrique begins the design and construction of the Cabildo's network of Art, Culture and Tourism Centers, an example of the integration of human intervention in the island's landscape, and representative of an awareness of respect and care of the Nature of Lanzarote.

Lanzarote begins to grow, and the tourist sector attracts significant immigration from the rest of the State and the world. This multicultural population enjoys the development of infrastructures, care services and numerous cultural activities.

The development experienced by the island occurs in harmony with Nature, which makes the Island an example of sustainable development recognized by the UNESCO in 1993 with the declaration n of Biosphere Reserve. Lanzarote is also a pioneer in the Canary Islands in proposing new formulas for tourism development and planning, aimed at residents and visitors continuing to enjoy a territory of enormous beauty and uniqueness.

Agriculture in Lanzarote

Since the maximum altitude of the island only reaches 670 m in Peñas del Chache, its entire surface is below the inversion level of the trade wind. This physical fact hinders the orographic rains that are so important in the other western Canary Islands, since there is no mountainous obstacle that can stop the "sea of clouds". On the other hand, Lanzarote is, together with Fuerteventura, the closest island to the African continent. As a consequence, the average annual rainfall is very low and rainfall is irregular, not exceeding 47 days of rain per year.

On the other hand, much of the island is covered by recent volcanic materials, with eruptions dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The result is that an important portion of the insular surface is covered with badlands and lapillis (volcanic ash). Also notable for their extension are the jables or calcareous sands of marine origin formed by the remains of shells and molluscs brought by the wind.

Faced with these adverse conditions, the insular ingenuity has been able to develop an entire culture of agriculture without water in tremendously adverse conditions, but which has resulted in one of the most spectacular adaptation systems known.

As a result of this unique agricultural culture in Lanzarote, there are two own forms of cultivation due to the nature of the Agricultural soil refers to: jables, artificial enrenados and natural enrenados.

In conclusion, agriculture in Lanzarote is exceptional due to the adverse environmental conditions. The existence of an important agriculture is due to the ingenuity of man who has resolved the disadvantages of that situation. Cultivation in sandboxes and jables allow to achieve yields per hectare similar to those obtained in irrigated land. This type of agriculture has meant a brake on the erosion of an arid environment, where the scarce existing resources have been optimized to develop quality agriculture and creator of landscape.

  • El Jable

    El Jable

    The manifest aridity of Lanzarote is wiped away with the use of jables, since these sands of organic origin conserve and condense humidity.

  • Artificial Sanding

    Artificial Sanding

    The sandboxes are built on soils covered with lapilli (volcanic ash). Their purpose is to conserve subsoil moisture.

  • Natural Sanded

    Natural Sanded

    The crops that can host these sandboxes they must have a deep root system that allows them to go through the layer of lapilli.

Fishing in Lanzarote

Un punto fundamental en las últimas décadas ha sido la rápida decadencia del sector pesquero que, a principios de los años 70, era fundamental en la economía de la isla, pasando hoy a un plano muy secundario. 

La ocupación de la antigua colonia española del Sáhara Occidental por parte de Marruecos, en 1975, supuso la pérdida del caladero tradicional en el que faenaba la potente flota pesquera de la isla. Fue la flota de sardinales la que tuvo mayor importancia en la isla llegando a proporcionar casi mil puestos de trabajo en tierra, con cuatro fábricas de conserva y tres de harina de pescado.

En la actualidad, la isla cuenta con una pequeña flota artesanal que se dedica principalmente a la captura de la sama, la corvina, el cherne y el chopo. A esta, hay que añadirle la flota de bajura, con barcos adaptados a la captura de especies locales como la vieja, el jurel y la salema. En la época de las migraciones reviste una especial importancia la pesca del atún.

Esta capturas nutren a los restaurantes de los pueblos costeros, donde podemos disfrutar de pescado fresco en cualquier época del año.

Cattle farming in Lanzarote

Despite the aridity resulting from a long dry season and the fact that a large part of the island's surface is dry. Covered by lava that does not allow the growth of vegetation, Lanzarote has historically maintained an outstanding cabin in close relationship with the crops.

You can still see in the countryside of the island, around the rural houses, the well-known pajeros (stacks of cereal straw, legumes and, above all, sticks that the peasant concentrated in a certain place, giving it the shape of a frustum of a cone, with the upper part covered with earth). This type of storage made it possible to maintain an acceptable cabin between the stable and the stubble, especially for the more frugal species such as goats.

However, the crisis in peasant activity manifests itself with greater virulence in livestock because it requires greater dependence. If we analyze the evolution of the cattle herd in the last twenty years we can verify a drastic and progressive reduction of the cattle and sheep , relating this decrease to the crisis of cereal and legume crops, basic elements of the traditional model.

On the other hand, with cattle goats a surprising fact occurs. From 14,300 head in 1972, it fell progressively to 3,000 in 1988. However, we are currently experiencing a great recovery, with the current herd standing at around 15,000 head. This ascent will to be attributed to two important factors that have influenced the development of livestock on the island. In the first place, the appearance of a series of promotional campaigns, encouraging the farmer to recover the image and quality of the excellent rabbit cheese. Secondly, the implementation of business and union association initiatives that have been a guarantee for the continuity of livestock activity, whose production is currently around half a million kilos a year.

The current market for these cheese is distributed between 60% of internal consumption on the island and the rest is absorbed by the archipelago market, more specifically by the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.


Construction and all its derivatives are also part of the industry of the island, fruit, albeit from that generated by tourism itself.

The electrical energy is obtained from the thermal generation system, with the exception of some solar installations, private wind wheels and two electric parks. licos, one with five mills in Montaña Mina and another with several dozen in the municipality of Haría.

Water has always been one of the main problems of the people of Lanzarote. Due to the scarcity of water and the vertiginous increase in the population of Lanzarote, the island is supplied with it thanks to the water treatment plants, in which seawater is desalinated by means of thermal energy.