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Pre-colonial times

King Juba, Augustus's Roman protégée, is credited with discovering the islands for the Western world, and he dispatched a contingent to re-open the dye production facility at Mogador in the early 1st century. That same naval force was subsequently sent on an exploration of the Canary Islands, using Mogador as their mission base.

When the Europeans began to explore the islands, they encountered several indigenous populations living at a Neolithic level of technology. Although the history of the settlement of the Canary Islands is still unclear, linguistic and genetic analyses seem to indicate that at least some of these inhabitants shared a common origin with the Berbers of northern Africa. The pre-colonial inhabitants came to be known collectively as the Guanches, although Guanches was originally the name for the indigenous inhabitants of Tenerife.

During the Middle Ages, the islands were visited by the Arabs for commercial purposes. Muslim navigator Ibn Farrukh, from Granada, is said to have landed in "Gando" (Gran Canaria) in February 999, visiting a king named Guanarigato. From the 14th century onward, numerous visits were made by sailors from Majorca, Portugal, and Genoa. Lancelotto Malocello settled on the island of Lanzarote in 1312. The Majorcans established a mission with a bishop in the islands that lasted from 1350 to 1400.

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