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La Palma is one of the Canary Islands, with an area of 706 km². Total population is about 85,000, of which 18,000 (2003 data) live in the capital, Santa Cruz de la Palma and about 20,000 (2004 data) in Los Llanos de Aridane.
La Palma's geography is a result of the volcanic building of the island. The highest peaks reach about 2.4 km above sea level, and the foundation of the island reaches more than 3 km below sea level. The northern part of La Palma is dominated by the Caldera de Taburiente, the largest erosion crater in the world, with a width of 9 km and a depth of 1.5 km. It is surrounded by the Cumbre Vieja, a ring of mountains ranging from 1.6 km to 2.4 km in height. Only the deep canyon Barranco de las Angustias leads into inner area of the caldera which is a national park. It can be reached only by hiking. The outer slopes are cut by numerous gorges which run from 2 km down to the sea. Today, only few of these carry water due to the water tunnels.
Through the southern part of La Palma leads the ridge Cumbre Nueva formed by numerous volcanic cones built of ashes, providing a rather bizarre landscape. The southern cape Punta de Fuencaliente, where the most recent volcanic activities took place, consists of lava and ashes.
La Palma is dominated by the colors blue, green and black. Blue is the surrounding ubiquitous sea. Green comes from the abundant plant life which is the most diverse in the Canary Islands. Black comes from the volcanic rocks that still fill the landscape, and from the numerous small beaches made of black sand.
The island has a small population of just under a hundred thousand. It has one major port (Santa Cruz de la Palma), a second small port (Tazacorte) and an international airport (SPC).
There is a regular ferry connection to Tenerife and freight-only ferries to the other islands, to Cadiz in mainland Spain and the African coast.
There are local direct flights to Tenerife, Gran Canaria and El Hierro. There are flights with Iberia and Binter to/from several airports in mainland Spain including Madrid and Barcelona, Paris, Madeira and Milan.
There are charter flights from Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and mainland Spain.
Ethnically the population is mostly Hispanic (actually a mix of Spanish, Berber and Portuguese), with a small number of European immigrants and very small number of African and Eastern European immigrants.
A hire car is the best option for discovering the remote wilderness regions. Reputable companies include CIcar, Autos Taburiente and OASIS La Palma.
There are no trains on La Palma.
Buses are the most common method of public transportation around the islands. Mile per mile they are expensive while compared to mainland Spain but you are not going to travel really far away. Costs are lower than in most Northern European countries. Do not expect the drivers to know more than a couple of sentences in English or German, though they will try to be helpful.
Taxis can be expensive, and inside a city they are not worth the money unless you are in a real hurry or can't balance yourself after a shopping day. It is unlikely that you would be cheated. From the airport to Puerto Naos costs roughly 35 Euros (May 2006).
If you want to travel between the islands a good option might be to take a ship if you are in any particular hurry, specially between close by islands. Most ferries are now quite modern and cheap. The most important companies are Fred Olsen, Transmediterránea and Armas.
If you are afraid of the sea or get sick just by staring at a ship a plane is what you need, and that usually means a turboprop ATR-72 by one of the local airlines like Binter or Islas Airways. They are perfectly safe and adequately fast as you are likely to spend more time at the airport than in the plane itself.
The airport on La Palma is called "Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canarias" (airport code SPC) -- not to be confused with other similarly named airports around the world.
Information provided by Wikipedia
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