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The Canary Islands (Spanish: Canarias), a group of islands belonging to Spain and covering about 7,500 km², are located in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa. That is 1,100 km from mainland Spain, but the easternmost island, Lanzarote, is only 100 kilometres from Africa(Morocco). When the Romans landed on the island of Fuerteventura in ancient times, they found numerous packs of wild dogs, so they named the island "Insula Canaria" (Island of Dogs). In 1402, a Spanish ship landed on Gran Canaria and found the original Guanche population there, living as they did in the Stone Age. The Spaniards and Portuguese brought their native grape varieties with them until the end of the century and founded viticulture. At that time, sweet, alcohol-heavy wines were popular, made from the white varieties Moscatel and Malvasia. The wine was called "canary sack" and was exported in large quantities to England and northern Europe. By the time of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the island wine was already famous; in "What You Will", Sir Toby Belch asks for "a cup of canary".

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