The Sunday Six: Europe’s Furthest Frontiers
1: The Canary Islands
The Canaries? They’re in Spain, right? Well, technically, yes. These volcanic outcrops, laden with palm trees and beaches, sit off the coast of West Africa, far closer to the Sahara than to Madrid. Which means, for anyone thinking about flights to Canaries, it’s wise to check your map first.
Tropical flowers, white sand beaches and jewel-like forests set amid circles of flawless reef feels a long way from the Champs-Elysees. As, indeed, they are. But French Polynesia is still a part of France. Meaning that you can snorkel the waters of Tahiti and Bora-Bora while safely within the EU.
3: The Falkland Islands
Wow! We Brits sure pick ‘em when it comes to hanging on to colonies. In fact, we’ve already fought one war over these chilly islets, with several thousand sheep, penguin and seals for every head of population. The Argentinians call them Las Malvinas. But for its inhabitants, this stop off en route to Antarctica is a veritable little Britain.
Famous for fortified wine and, err, very little else, the archipelago of Madeira sits stranded in the Atlantic, a memorial to the Portuguese sailors who pioneered the European push into Asia and the Americas. Sat atop a huge, undersea volcano, this cruise-ship mecca is richer than any province of Portugal proper.
There’s not a canal to be seen on this sunny, tropical island in the heart of the Caribbean. But flying into Queen Beatrix Airport, it will become clear that Aruba remains a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. While most Arubans speak Creole alongside English, Dutch is still taught in schools.
The world’s largest island, misleadingly named Greenland, rests off the shores of Arctic Canada, and belongs to the continent of North America. Its nationality? Still Danish. (The Danes refused to sell the island to the USA after World War II.) As of 2009, however, Greenlandic is the official language of a country heading closer to independence.