Canary Islands at a Glance
Living in the Canary Islands
Healthcare in the Canary Islands
Like the rest of Spain, the Canary Islands have an excellent healthcare system. There are high quality hospitals on all of the islands, with efficient accident and emergency sections. Nowhere in the Canary Islands should be too far from a hospital. In case of medical emergencies, ambulances can be called using the number 112 and are fast to respond and arrive at the scene. In addition to hospitals, the Canary Islands also have a number of accessible walk-in medical centers and every district has at least one duty pharmacy open at all times. Expats from Europe do not need to purchase medical insurance for the Canary Islands; as a resident of Spain and EU citizen, European expats are entitled to free state healthcare. Foreigners from outside Europe should find out whether there is a free healthcare arrangement between their country and Spain — if not, they should find a good worldwide or Spanish health insurance policy.
Transportation in the Canary Islands
Driving is widely considered to be the best mode of transportation for getting around the Canary Islands. Driving is simple and straightforward throughout the islands. Traffic is not too heavy, and the roads are in good condition and easy to navigate. Driving takes place on the right in the Canary Islands, drivers must give way to buses and taxis, and the maximum speed limit is 115 kph (75 mph); these traffic laws are strictly adhered to, there are several police on the roads as well as speed guns in operation. Expats should take extra care to have either their passport or international driving license to hand at all times; if, at a police traffic stop, you do not produce one of these documents, there is an instant fine of 400 EUR. The windy, high altitude roads on the mountainous islands, such as Tenerife and Gran Canaria, can be dangerous to drive on and extra precautions should be taken in these regions. Transportation between the islands is fast and easy, thanks to the large amount of regular ferries and planes that depart on a daily basis.
Safety and Security
Like the rest of Spain, the Canary Islands are relatively trouble-free and the serious crime rate is low. The main issue across the islands is petty street crime, such as pickpockets in crowded areas and thieves using distraction techniques. People in the Canary Islands are most susceptible to theft, especially of purses and passports, at airports. There is an especially high rate of passport and luggage theft at Lanzarote Airport. In city centers across the isles, thieves target foreigners by impersonating police officers and asking to see their wallets for confirmation of identity. Expats should take note of the fact that the real Spanish police force will never use this method. The police in the Canary Islands are usually fast to respond when called, and many officers are fluent English speakers. In case of an emergency, the number for the police is 112.