On the 26th of May 2009, the island was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO to promote stricter approaches to management and research among other things.
Fuerteventura has a unique, elongated shape in comparison to its fellow islands, with a length of 100 kilometres and a width of just 31 kilometres. Fuerteventura also has the longest beaches and coastal landscapes of all the islands in the Canaries.
As it is part of the province of Las Palmas, the island is home to members of the autonomous community of Spain. La Antigua, Betancuria, La Oliva, Tuineje, Puerto del Rosario and Pajara are the six municipalities that make up the island.
Whilst the first attempt at colonisation of the island occurred during the 11th century with the arrival of the Phoenicians, the first settlers are believed to have come from North Africa.
Fuerteventura has many caves and sub levels that have been excavated during the last few centuries to uncover some of the early methods of living on the island, including the discovery of old relics, pottery and tools. It was only until the 14th century that the island was inhabited as a result of Spanish and Portuguese expeditions, which lead to slave-owners taking over the island.
The island's population is just over 100,000 which has reduced significantly over the years due to the problematic economy and desert-like climate. Of the 103,167 inhabitants, 20,000 were born outside of Spain and the Canaries, whilst only 30,000 were born on the island itself.
Tourism is as strong as ever across the Canary Islands and many people still make Fuerteventura their preferred holiday destination every summer. In 1965, the first tourist hotel was built and the island subsequently became a major worldwide tourist destination despite an initial lack of tourist facilities.