Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a Spanish city and municipality that serves as the capital of the island of Gran Canaria, the province of Las Palmas, and the Canary Islands autonomous community (capital shared with Santa Cruz de Tenerife).

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is located in the northeast of Gran Canaria. It is a modern, cosmopolitan city, open to the sea, with an area of 100.55 km². Its main activity lies in the service and tourism sector, without forgetting the strategic and vital importance of the Port of La Luz, the largest in this area of the Atlantic and crucial for the traffic of goods and passengers.

  • Population

    According to the statistics of the Town Hall of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has a population of 378,797 inhabitants (182,267 men and 196,530 women), making it the most populated city in the Canary Islands and the ninth most populated city in Spain. According to data from the Canary Islands Institute of Statistics (ISTAC), the average age of the population in the municipality of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is 44.4 years.

    As far as the economic activity of the municipality is concerned, it is worth highlighting the tourist activity, which is also a differentiating factor of the Canary Islands economy concerning the rest of Spain. Already at the beginning of 2023, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has fully recovered its tourist strength shown in the pre-pandemic years. Data from the City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria show that in 2022 the capital surpassed the number of overnight stays and inbound travellers reached in 2019, achieving a new record, with 406,651 inbound travellers and 1,414,206 overnight stays.

    The situation of the labour market in the municipality, following the COVID-19 pandemic which had an abrupt impact on economic activity due to the absence of tourism, has experienced a positive evolution in the activity rate over the last few years, as has happened in the Canary Islands region in general. Small and micro-enterprises are the core of the business fabric in Las Palmas.

    According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), the average gross annual income per person in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is around €15,733. According to data from the Labour Force Survey compiled by the INE, employment registered on the island of Gran Canaria in the first quarter of 2023 reached a total of 399,400 employed people, which is 9.4% more than in 2019.

    If we go on to analyse the level of completed studies (source: Report on the educational reality of the Canary Islands 2020), we see that Gran Canaria has 12% of illiterate people or those with primary studies. On the other hand, with regard to the level of secondary education, the data show 33%, a lower percentage than in Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and La Gomera. Finally, 29% of the island's population has a higher education qualification, which is in line with the other results for the Canary Islands.

    Finally, it should be noted that, in 2021, the Canary Islands reached a percentage of 37.8% of people at risk of poverty and/or social exclusion (higher than the European average of 21.6%), and that Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, despite being one of the ten richest municipalities in the archipelago, continues to be characterised by a level of socio-economic inequality among its inhabitants.


The main environmental risk factors to which the municipality is exposed are: ultraviolet rays and polluting particles in the air. There are also other factors such as water quality and temperature.

  • What is ultraviolet radiation?

    UV indicates the intensity of the sun's rays on the earth's surface. According to the WHO, small amounts of ultraviolet rays are, in the right measure, necessary for human beings as they allow the production of vitamin D, one of the main substances that strengthen the skeletal system. However, excessive exposure is directly related to harmful health effects.

    According to the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, the first step in understanding how sun exposure can affect us is to know the difference between UVA and UVB radiation. While UVB radiation is responsible for the immediate harmful effects of sun exposure, such as redness and sunburn, UVA radiation penetrates deeper into the skin and is more damaging in the long term, as it contributes to the development of dark spots and wrinkles leading to premature ageing. Although both are associated with the risk of melanoma, which can later result in skin cancer, exposure to UVA radiation presents a greater risk.

    Furthermore, the WHO states that the chronic effects of UV radiation depend not only on the dose of radiation received, but also on the sensitivity of the individual, making him or her, in certain cases, particularly vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation.

    UV index

    The intensity of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation is expressed as a solar UV index or solar index. The solar index refers to the daily maximum, a value that will indicate the greater or lesser risk of the sun damaging the skin, depending on our location and the time of exposure. This UV index varies throughout the day, with the maximum at midday.

    The UV index values established by the WHO are classified as low, moderate, high, high, very high and extremely high exposure:

    Exposure category
    UV values

    Given its proximity to the Equator, the Canary Islands have the highest UV Index of the autonomous communities of Spain. Furthermore, as stated in the 2001 UV Index Guide for the population of the Canary Islands, there are environmental variables that also have an effect, such as cloudiness or suspended aerosols. For example, when there are conditions of suspended dust such as haze, the radiation is dispersed and therefore decreases.

    Based on the data collected during the year 2022 by the State Meteorological Agency, the maximum daily UV index in the municipality of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is Moderate in the winter months and Very High the rest of the year, reaching the Extreme index during the summer months.

    Health Risk Factors

    UV rays from the sun have a significant influence on the development of non-communicable diseases, in particular skin cancer and melanoma. Numerous investigations by organisations such as the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EAVD) and the WHO underline the correlation between UV exposure and the risk of these diseases.

    According to the WHO, ultraviolet radiation causes more than 1.5 million cases of skin cancer each year and has been on the rise in several European countries in recent years. In Spain, almost 300 people are diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma every month.

    The European Commission has played an important role in actively promoting sun safety campaigns that encourage the use of sunscreens with an appropriate sun protection factor (SPF), the wearing of protective clothing and seeking shade during peak hours, as well as emphasising the importance of regular skin checks. In this way, the EADV aims to promote early detection and timely treatment to mitigate the impact of UV rays on the health of Europeans. By understanding the implications of UV exposure and adopting preventive strategies, individuals can safeguard their skin and reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases.

    There are several categories for classifying skin types in relation to their reaction to ultraviolet radiation. One of the most prevalent classifications was proposed by Dr. Fitzpatrick of Harvard Medical School in 1975. This classification - commonly referred to as the Fitzpatrick Scale - is based on various physical characteristics, such as sensitivity to the sun and skin, hair and eye tone. The system consists of a scale of six different skin tones (or phototypes), each of which can be linked to specific ethnic groups.

    Skin types
    Skin types
    Skin types
    White skin, alabasters with lots of freckles and blond.
    Always gets burnt easily and the burns can be intense. Never gets a tan.
    White skin, blue eyes.
    Always gets burnt easily, and the burn can be intense. Can get slightly tan.
    White skin with a slightly brown tone. Caucasian.
    Can get burnt, the burn would be moderate. Can get gradually tan.
    Brown skin is more or less intense. Mediterranean.
    Can get burnt but it would be minimal. Always gets tan.
    Intense brown skin. Asians, People of colour with a less intense skin colour, Middle East and South America.
    Rarely gets burnt. Gets easily tan.
    Intense black skin.
    Never gets burnt. Gets tan more easily.

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  • This section presents information on various environmental factors, such as the quality of water on beaches, drinking water and the temperature of the city in which we live. This information is also relevant because of its impact on our daily health and well-being.

    Firstly, water quality is essential to prevent waterborne diseases and to ensure safe hydration of people. Exposure to contaminated water can lead to a range of health problems, from gastroenteritis to more complex vector-borne diseases. In addition, in coastal areas, knowledge of water quality at beaches is crucial to protect bathers from contaminants and microbiological hazards.

    Also, ambient temperature directly influences our comfort and health as prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures can lead to heat stroke, hypothermia, or aggravate pre-existing medical conditions. In addition, seasonal fluctuations can affect mental health and the immune system.

    In short, having access to accurate and up-to-date information on these environmental factors allows people to make informed choices to maintain and improve their health, avoiding unnecessary risks and promoting healthier lifestyles.

    Bathing waters

    In the municipality of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, there are five areas for bathing: the urban beach of Las Canteras, El Confital, La Laja, Alcaravaneras, within the waters of Puerto de La Luz, and San Cristóbal.

    aguas de baño

    According to the National Bathing Water Quality Report for the year 2022, 97.4% of bathing waters in Spain exceeded the minimum "sufficient" quality and 88.2% reached the "excellent" index. To assess water quality in bathing areas, regular analyses of two key indicators related to the presence of faecal contamination are carried out throughout the season. These indicators are E. coli and intestinal Enterococci. The results of these analyses are used to determine the annual rating of each bathing area. The five beaches belonging to the municipality of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria were classified, according to this report, as "excellent".

    However, according to the Canarian Government, there is a public health problem arising from the pollution of marine ecosystems affecting Canarian bathing waters. The main threats are due to the discharge of organic and inorganic chemicals, largely caused by poor waste management and poor water purification. According to the census updated in 2021 by the Regional Ministry of Ecological Transition, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has 13 unauthorised discharges and 6 in the process of authorisation. This water pollution can have a significant impact on people's health through the consumption of contaminated food, exposure to toxins, chemical substances and massive appearance of fungi or bacteria. The main consequences of bathing in contaminated water are acute gastroenteritis, nausea, respiratory and neurological infections, and even skin, ear, and eye irritations.

    In addition, blooms of toxic algae, popularly known as microalgae, can force the closure of beaches and recreational areas, which can have an impact on the psychological and physical well-being of people who depend on these spaces for their health and quality of life. Given the presence of these bacteria, the Canary Islands Government provides citizens with a map where they can access updated information on the state of the beaches and their bathing recommendations.

    Drinking water

    Water in the Canary Islands is a scarce natural resource. That is why most of the water obtained from the tap in Canarian homes is desalinated water (a process by which the salts and other substances present in seawater are separated to convert it into water suitable for human consumption).

    In the Canary Islands, more than 80% of the available water resources come from the subsoil. Water intended for consumption is considered to be of good quality when it is safe and clean, i.e. when it does not contain substances or micro-organisms that could be harmful to health.

    In the Canary Archipelago, tap water is considered drinkable and suitable for consumption, however, due to its particular taste, there is a widespread tendency to use bottled water for cooking and hydration.

    The Canary Islands Government has health regulations that restrict the use of drinking water when there is non-compliance with any of the water quality criteria. This occurs when parametric values for some substances such as fluoride, nitrate, chloride sodium, boron and turbidity are exceeded. Here you can find up-to-date information on which municipalities have been affected by drinking water restrictions:

    Drinking Water Restrictions

    The company EMALSA is responsible for analysing and monitoring the quality of the water supplied for human consumption in the municipality of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. On its website, EMALSA provides generally updated data on the hardness of the water and other elements in the different neighbourhoods of the municipality.

    Water quality



    The temperature in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria depends on several factors, among which are the proximity to the sea and the trade winds. These factors, together with the constant presence of the sun throughout practically the whole year, ensure that there is not a wide annual temperature range. Temperatures oscillate between 21ºC and 25ºC and there are no major differences between the seasons, nor between day and night, which means that the annual average is around 21ºC. The sea breeze and the trade winds are the main factors that soften the thermal sensation of the most extreme temperatures. However, the year 2023 will see drastic changes in temperatures reaching record lows and highs in some places. This is mainly due to global warming, which, according to the WHO, has become the greatest global health threat of the 21st century.

    According to the seasonal analysis carried out by the Aemet, in the municipality of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria this summer 2023 an average temperature of 30ºC has been recorded, reaching 40ºC on some occasions.

    One of the main consequences of high temperatures on health is that it can aggravate previous pathologies, mainly vascular and respiratory.

    How do high temperatures affect these pathologies?

    If you have respiratory problems, you should be aware that heat can increase the need for oxygen in your cells. However, if you already suffer from respiratory diseases, such as lung problems, this can be a challenge. The heat can make you breathe faster and sweat excessively, which in turn can dehydrate you as you lose fluids. Not only can this cause discomfort, but it can also cause the mucus in your airways to thicken, making it even more difficult to breathe properly.

    The Spanish Heart Foundation warns that if you have heart problems, heat and dehydration can be even more worrying. It also says that dehydration can cause the blood to become thicker and more viscous, which increases the risk of blood clots forming. This, in turn, increases the chance of a stroke or heart attack. In addition, the extra effort the heart must make to pump blood in hot conditions, especially if you have arterial problems, may explain why during heat waves it is more common to experience chest pain or even a heart attack.

    Finally, in the summer months, it is important to keep in mind that the risk of water-borne and food-borne diseases also increases. This means that you should be careful about what you eat and drink to avoid stomach infections, such as gastroenteritis, or food poisoning.

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