Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean which is situated 150 km of the north west coast of Africa. The island is known for its varying climate zones and landscape. These range from golden beaches, while sand dunes rise to green hilly countryside with picturesque villages. One third of the island is under the protection of UNESCO. Most tourists prefer the south and warmer part of the island, whereas the north is much cooler. The east coast is flat with a lot of beaches and the west coast is rocky with cliffs. Las Palmas is the largest city on the Canary Islands with a population of 829.597 (2008).