GUANCHES, GUANCHIS or Guanchos (native Guanchinet; Guan = person, Chinet = Teneriffe, - " ` man of Teneriffe," corrupted, according to Nunez de la Pena, by Spaniards into Guanchos), the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands.
Strictly the Guanches were the primitive inhabitants of Teneriffe, where they seem to have preserved racial purity to the time of the Spanish conquest, but the name came to be applied to the indigenous populations of all the islands.
The Guanches, now extinct as a distinct people, appear, from the study of skulls and bones discovered, to have resembled the Cro-Magnon race of the Quaternary age, and no real doubt is now entertained that they were an offshoot of the great race of Berbers which from the dawn of history has occupied northern Africa from Egypt to the Atlantic. Pliny the Elder, deriving his knowledge from the accounts of Juba, king of Mauretania, states that when visited by the Carthaginians under Hanno the archipelago was found by them to be uninhabited, but that they saw ruins of great buildings.
This would suggest that the Guanches were not the first inhabitants, and from the absence of any trace of Mahommedanism among the peoples found in the archipelago by the Spaniards it would seem that this extreme westerly migration of Berbers took place between the time of which Pliny wrote and the conquest of northern Africa by the Arabs.
Many of the Guanches fell in resisting the Spaniards, many were sold as slaves, and many conformed to the Roman Catholic faith and married Spaniards.
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