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A Complete Guide to Visiting the Canary Islands in Spain

  • Post last modified:October 25, 2023
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Have you ever heard of the Canary Islands in Spain? This 7 island archipelago is one of the most underrated areas on the planet.


While most islands are known for their beaches, these ones are just so much more. Want to hike to the top of a volcano? How about get lost in a foggy jungle? Looking for adventure? What about having a weekend of beach and partying? Well, the Canary Islands in Spain have it all.


We spent a full two months exploring all 7 of the main islands, as well as 2 smaller ones. Each island has its own charm, and is worth a visit, which is why we're going to help you choose which of the Canary Islands is best to visit for you! Let's jump right in to everything you need to know about visiting the Canary Islands in Spain.

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Where are the Canary Islands in Spain?

Spain has two sets of main islands- the Balaeric islands, and the Canary Islands. While the Balaeric Islands are located right off the coast of mainland Spain, the Canary Islands are actually a bit further.


The archipelago of the Canary Islands in Spain is actually located off the north western coast of Africa. This is great because they are still part of Spain, but experience much better weather than the mainland.

where are the Canary Islands in Spain

Even though they are part of Spain, the Canary Islands are located off the coast of Africa.


How to Get to the Canary Islands in Spain

Despite their odd location, the Canary Islands in Spain are actually quite accessible. You can reach them by flight, ferry, and cruise ship.


Flying to the Canary Islands in Spain

Many cities throughout Spain, as well as all over Europe have direct flights to the majority of the islands. The two cheapest and easiest islands to get to are Tenerife and Gran Canaria, but there are also plenty of other countries with direct flights to the islands of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and La Palma.

flying to the Canary Islands

Flying into or out of Tenerife gives you the most stunning views.

Flight Tip: With Skyscanner you can put from "your city" to "Spain", and then compare the flights for different islands. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates the different islands!

Search for a flight to the Canary Islands:

Taking a Ferry to the Canary Islands in Spain

Another way to visit the Canary Islands is by ferry. Although it is much more common to take ferries within the Canary Islands, there are ferries that go from the mainland to a few of the different islands.


Ferries go from Huelva to both Gran Canaria and Tenerife a few times a week, and take about 32-34 hours. Tickets for foot passengers start at 121 euros and for cars start at 345 euros.


We personally think that flying is much easier when it comes to visiting the Canary Islands in Spain. However, if you aren't a fan of flying, then this mini cruise may be for you.

Ferries getting around the Canary Islands in Spain
Armas Navierras
ferry for getting around the Canary Islands in Spain

All of the islands are connected by ferry.


Cruising to the Canary Islands in Spain

Due to their location, it is actually very common for cruise ships to stop in the Canary Islands.


Many will stop there on Transatlantic Crossings, usually going from Miami to Europe or vice versa. These happen usually in the spring when ships are relocating from the Caribbean to Europe for the summer, or in the fall when ships are heading back to the Caribbean for the winter.


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Cruise ships usually stop for just a day in a few different islands, the most popular ones being Tenerife and Gran Canaria, but also sometimes Lanzarote and La Palma. There are also local European cruise lines that stop in the Canary Islands on a more regular basis.

cruising to the Canary Islands in Spain

A lot of cruise ships stop in the Canary Islands during Transatlantic crossings.


Entry Requirements for the Canary Islands in Spain

When visiting the Canary Islands, the restrictions to enter are the same as mainland Spain. Here are a few things to keep in mind. 


Visa Requirements for the Canary Islands in Spain

There are many citizenships that can enter Spain visa-free. Travelers from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland can enter with zero restrictions, while those that don't need a Schengen visa can visit for up to 90 days in a 180 day period.


The 90/180 Rule

It's important to note that the 90 days are valid for all countries in the Schengen area, For example, if you spend 20 days in Italy (also part of the EU), you will then only be able to spend 70 days total in Spain within that 180 day period.


We use the Schengen visa calculator, which is helpful for those planning on traveling in and out of the EU for a long period of time.


Schengen Visas

For those that are planning on staying longer, or those that are from a country that don't get visa-free access, they will need to in fact apply for a Schengen Visa. Check out the list of countries that need to get a Schengen Visa so that you can know if you'll have to get one or not.


Covid Entry Requirements for the Canary Islands in Spain

When we visited the Canary Islands in Spain in February, Covid tests were still obligatory. The good news is, that now all restrictions have been lifted! There are no extra requirements to enter Spain due to Covid, and masks are no longer necessary unless in a medical facility or on public transportation.

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Local Adjustments for the Canary Islands in Spain

Whenever you travel somewhere new, there are things that you may forget about. These could be different from where you are coming from. Here are a few of the local adjustments to keep in mind while traveling to the Canary Islands in Spain.


What Language Is Spoken in the Canary Islands?

The official language in the Canary Islands is Spanish. However, the Spanish in the Canary Islands is a little different than the Spanish spoken on the mainland. They speak much faster, and can be a bit more difficult to understand, They actually share more in common language-wise with the Caribbean than they do with Spain.


Do People Speak English in the Canary Islands?

Many of the islands have a big influx of German and English tourists. Because of this, you'll find that the more touristy areas have a lot of signs and menus in multiple languages, as well as many English and German speakers.


What Currency is Used in the Canary Islands?

The currency used in The Canary Islands is the same as the rest of Spain, which is the euro. Most places takes credit card, so you won't need to carry too much cash on you, unless you are taking public transportation.


Outlets in the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands use the same plugs as the rest of Europe, which are plug types C, E, & F. The standard voltage in The Canary Islands is 220V and the standard frequency is 50Hz.


Can You Drink the Water in the Canary Islands?

When you go to restaurants in the Canary Islands you will never receive tap water. Many say that you can't drink it, or they simply won't offer it. However, we drank plenty of tap water throughout the Canary Islands in Spain, and it is perfectly safe to consume.


Tipping in the Canary Islands

The tipping culture in Spain is pretty much inexistent. If you are traveling around the Canary Islands it is not common to tip, unless it is a very nice restaurant, or has excellent service. If this is the case people will usually leave one or two euros.


However, when you visit some more touristy areas like the south of Gran Canaria or Tenerife, it is much more common for people to leave 10% or for there to be a service charge on top of your bill.


What is the Nicest Canary Island to Visit ? Comparing Each of the Different Canary Islands in Spain

We'll be honest- there is not a single part of the Canary Islands in Spain that we did not enjoy! Each island has its own beautiful landscapes and overall atmosphere to it. We're going to share a bit about each island, so you can choose which of the Canary Islands is best to visit for you.


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Tenerife

Tenerife is the biggest and most popular of all of the Canary Islands in Spain. It is the most well connected to the rest of the islands, as well as with other cities throughout Spain and the rest of Europe.


In the north of Tenerife there is a national park full of greenery. In the south, there are a ton of touristic parties happening, and the capital is in the middle, which is Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Tenerife is home to the famous Teide Volcano, which is so grand, that it can actually be seen from a few other islands in the area!


driving in Tenerife
Playa Las Teresitas, what to do in Tenerife
above the clouds in Tenerife, Canary Islands in Spain

Tenerife is famous for its enormous volcano, El Teide.

The island of Tenerife is great to visit for all types of travelers from families to young party goers. It is home to the famous Carnaval in February, and has a great mix of landscapes from black sand beaches to green mountains.

Are you wondering what to do in Tenerife? This Canary Island is one of the most popular, and the major hub to get around the rest of the Canary Islands in Spain.Whether you're looking for the best beaches in Tenerife, to the hidden photo spots, we've got you covered! We've

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Book a place to stay in Tenerife:

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Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is another one of the islands that kind of has a bit of everything, and in our opinion, is the most well rounded.


The island of Gran Canaria has mountains, forests, beaches, caves, natural pools, and even sand dunes that will make you feel like you are in the middle of a desert! The north is where the capital is, and is perfect for young backpackers or those working and traveling.


Caves of Valeron, Gran Canaria, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
sand dunes of Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
Gran Canaria, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain

Gran Canaria has a wide variety of landscapes.

The south is full of more families and partiers of all ages. There is truly something for everyone in Gran Canaria, and a wide variety of activities for all types of travelers.

Want to know the best things to do on the island of Gran Canaria? How about the best way to get around, or what the weather's like? Well we're here to help.We spent 10 full days in Gran Canaria, and got to see a ton of what this beautiful island

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Book a place to stay in Gran Canaria:

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La Palma

The island of La Palma had a huge volcanic eruption in 2021, and it definitely suffered from lack of tourism. However, now the island is back, and there are plenty of great reasons to visit.


La Palma is located in the north west of the archipelago. Because of this it isn't quite as visited as Tenerife or Gran Canaria, but it does attract a lot of German travelers.


Poris de Candelaria, La Palma Island
Santa Cruz de la Palma, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
La Palma, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain

La Palma has natural pools, colorful towns, and a village built into a cave!

Some of our favorite things about La Palma are the steamy volcano, lush green parks, salt flats in the south, and one of the most beautiful views above the clouds. La Palma also has a super cute capital city, and a fishing village built into a cave!

Have you ever heard of La Palma? You may be thinking of La Palma de Mallorca, but this is actually the island of La Palma. One of the Canary Islands, it is locally known as "La Isla Bonita", meaning "the pretty island". Last year in 2021, the island of La Palma

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Book a place to stay in La Palma:

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Lanzarote

Lanzarote is truly unlike any of the other Canary Islands. This island has over 100 volcanos, and even a volcanic winery!


This windy island is great for surfers, and also has a variety of other cool landscapes like caves and natural pools. Lanzarote is home to a famous artist called Cesar Manrique, and you can enjoy various venues throughout the island like a cactus garden, museum, house, and cavern.


Timanfaya National Park, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
Volcano in Lanzarote, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
Montaña Colorada, things to see in Lanzarote, Canary Islands in Spain

Lanzarote has over 100 volcanos!

Lanzarote is located in the far north east of the archipelago, but is also very close to the islands of Fuerteventura and La Graciosa, giving you an endless amount of things to do.

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Don't be fooled by the small size of

June 6, 2022

Each one of the Canary Islands has special

Book a place to stay in Lanzarote:

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Fuerteventura

Looking for the best beaches in the Canary Islands (and in Spain)? Well, Fuerteventura is largely plain, with very little greenery. However, it is home to stunning Caribbean-like beaches, and one of our favorite natural pools.


While many other islands have a lot of Germans, Fuerteventura is home to a big influx of Italians on the island. Head to popcorn beach in the north, the window caves along the western coast, or the beautiful beaches in the south.


beaches in Fuerteventura, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
Popcorn Beach
Sotavento, beaches in Fuerteventura, best places to visit in the Canary Islands

Fuerteventura has the best beaches in the Canary Islands.

Fuerteventura is between Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, and is also super close to Isla de Lobos, which is the perfect day trip to check out.

Welcome to another stunning area of Spain- Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. Not only are the beaches of Fuerteventura some of the best in Europe, but they have so much more to offer.Fuerteventura will make you feel like you've stepped on another planet with its lack of greenery and unique

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Book a place to stay in Fuerteventura:

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La Gomera

If you like hiking and lush greenery then La Gomera is the place for you. This tiny round island is super underrated, and only really popular with Germans and hippies, who have fallen in love with its beauty.


The entire center of the island is a national park, and will make you feel like you've teleported to another country. La Gomera is full of hidden gems like epic viewpoints, black sand beaches, and a private restaurant built into a cave.


Visiting the Canary Islands in Spain
renting a van in La Gomera, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
driving around the island of La Gomera

The island of La Gomera has the best views of El Teide in Tenerife.

We rented a van here and truly fell in love with this beautiful island. Situated just west of Tenerife, it has the best views of El Teide Volcano, and is a great getaway from the larger and more popular island that more tourists flock to.

Have you ever heard of the island of La Gomera? It's one of the smallest of the Canary Islands, but is super underrated!Image an island where you can have the chance to stroll through fairytale forests, lounge on a black sand beach, or eat in a cave restaurant all within

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Book a place to stay in La Gomera:

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El Hierro

This is the smallest of the principal Canary Islands, and the least visited. However, we absolutely fell in love with El Hierro.


It is super easy to get around, and can actually be hiked across in just 10 hours! El Hierro has gorgeous views, epic waves, and the world's smallest hotel. There is zero nightlife, but it is a great getaway to experience some of the best hidden gems that the Canary Islands has to offer.


La Maceta, pools in El Hierro
El Hierro, best places to visit in the Canary Islands
Mirador la Llania, El Hierro, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain

El Hierro is a tiny but underrated island.

El Hierro can only be reached by coming from the islands of Tenerife or Gran Canaria. If you want a quiet getaway, then this is definitely the right island for you.

Are you wondering which of the Canary Islands is best? Have you ever heard of El Hierro? Chances are that if you are traveling to the Canary Islands, this isn't the first one on your list. However, we're here to tell you why it should be!Why Visit El Hierro?Despite its

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Book a place to stay in El Hierro:

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La Graciosa

Now that you know all about the main islands to visit, here are two other islands that you can visit as day or weekend trips from the other islands.


La Graciosa as a whole is a protected park, and can be visited for a day trip, or for a few days from the island of Lanzarote.


beaches in La Graciosa, best places to visit in the Canary Islands
beaches of La Graciosa, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
Playa la Cocina, things to do in La Graciosa

La Graciosa is a protected area with beautiful beaches.

This island has great hiking trails, beautiful beaches, and a cute port town that will make you feel like you've teleported to Greece.

Are you looking for the perfect day trip or weekend getaway from Lanzarote? Well, look no further than the island of La Graciosa. This small slice of paradise is a protected area, and is full of untouched natural beauty.We visited here on a day trip from Lanzarote, and thought that

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Want to prebook your ticket to visit La Graciosa? Here is a link you can use:

Ferry from Lanzarote to La Graciosa

Look for a place to stay in La Graciosa:

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Isla de Lobos

This tiny island is a national park, and can only be visited on a few hour boat trip from Fuerteventura


The protected area has stunning turquoise waters, contrasting the dry rocky landscapes across it. You can climb to the top of the hill for beautiful views, or simply enjoy swimming in the natural pools created by the surrounding sea.


Isla de los lobos, best places to visit in the Canary Islands
trails of Isla de Lobos, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
beach Isla de lobos

Isla de Lobos is full of natural beauty.

We loved visiting here on a day trip, and we wrote a full article about what to expect while visiting here.

Wondering one of the best things to do in Fuerteventura? One of our favorite activities that we did was take a trip to the nearby island. We loved Isla de Lobos, Fuerteventura, and we know that you will too.In this article we're going to share with you everything you need

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Moving Around the Canary Islands in Spain

Moving around the Canary Islands is truly a pleasant and easy experience, no matter which way you decide to do it. Here are the different options for traveling around the Canary Islands in Spain.


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Traveling the Canary Islands by Ferry

The Canary Islands are all connected by ferries, running by the two companies of Fred Olsen and Armas Navierras. 


Tenerife is the main hub, connecting to the islands of La Palma, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, and El Hierro. Fuerteventura has ferries running to Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, and La Palma has service between La Gomera and El Hierro.


Ferries are actually the same (if not more expensive) than flights. However, they are a good way to go if you have a lot of luggage, are traveling by car, or aren't a fan of flying.


ferry in the Canary Islands

You can easily sail from island to island via ferry.

Traveling the Canary Islands in Spain by Flight

Some of the best flights we have ever taken were in the Canary Islands in Spain. Flights are super short, have great views, and are very affordable.


What Airlines Fly Between the Canary Islands?

There are two main companies that do inter-island flights, which are Binter and Canary Fly.

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Both airlines are super budget friendly, and include checked and hand luggage! Even overnight luggage only goes for about 1 euro a kilo, which is extremely affordable.


Airports are small and quick, making it feel like you're essentially hopping on a bus. Not only that, but the views on flights (especially to and from Tenerife) are just stunning!

fliying in the Canary Islands in Spain

There are amazing views flying over the Canary Islands in Spain.

Do You Need a Car in the Canary Islands?

Hands down the best way to explore any of the Canary Islands in Spain is by car. We rented a car in each island that we went to, and the process was seamless and affordable. While you can definitely get around by buses and taxis, it'll end up being more expensive and time consuming to get around that way if you want to do a lot of things while visiting.


You can also rent a car on one island and take it on the ferry to other islands, but we found it to be more expensive that way.


Here's what we use:


Local Food & Drink in the Canary Islands in Spain- What is Typical Canarian Food?

The cuisine in the Canary Islands has a lot of influence from Spain, but also has its own island specialties. Not only that, but each island has some of their own dishes! Here are some of our favorite dishes to try throughout the Canary Islands in Spain


  • Seafood: The seafood in the Canary Islands is super fresh. Take advantage of the fresh catches that the local fisherman bring in.
  • Lapas: This is a small shellfish that we've only seen in the Canary Islands. It is round, and a bit more tough and rubbery than mussels and clams.
  • Cazuela de Mariscos: This is one of our favorite dishes in the Canary Islands! It is seafood cooked in garlic, usually including shrimp, mussels, and other shellfish.
  • Gambas al Ajillo: shrimp cooked in garlic- a staple in both mainland and the Canary Islands.
  • Mojo: This sauce is served normally with bread on the table before your meal. There are two types of this garlic based sauce- one is green (made with cilantro or avocado) or red (made with red chile peppers).
  • Papas Arrugadas: These small round potatoes are served as an appetizer or side dish, and come with mojo sauce.
  • Gofio: This is a popular pulverized cereal that you can find across the Canary Islands. It can be used as a topping, or as the base for some soups and stews.
  • Queso Asado: We can't get enough of this tasty white cheese that is grilled, and usually topped with some sort of honey, jam, or mojo.
  • Local Cheese: Each island has its own local cheese particular to that island. Whatever island you visit, this is a must.
  • Quesadilla: This is a product that is particular just of El Hierro. It is a sweet cake, and the round design is also a symbol across the island. 
  • Almogrote: This is a cheese spread made with peppers, and is found only on the island of La Gomera.
seafood, what to eat in La Graciosa
seafood in Lanzarote

Fresh seafood is one of the highlights of the Canary Island cuisine.


Are the Canary Islands in Spain Safe?

The Canary Islands are very safe, and have low levels of crime, especially in the smaller islands. There is no danger in walking around at night, or traveling solo. Unlike big cities in Spain like Madrid and Barcelona, you won't need to worry about pickpocketing or any other criminal acts.

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Other Things to Know About Visiting the Canary Islands in Spain

Now you know almost everything you need to know for traveling around the Canary Islands in Spain. But don't go anywhere! Here are a few other things to know while visiting.


When Should I Visit the Canary Islands in Spain?

The Canary Islands are the perfect winter getaway, as they are much warmer than the mainland of Spain (and Europe is general).


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Truthfully, the Canary Islands are amazing to visit year round, as they are decently warm in the winter, and never get too hot in the summer. If you'd like to experience some of the amazing natural pools then the summer is the best time, and if you love large waves and a mix of hot and cooler climates, then the winter is a great time to visit.


February is our favorite month because there are amazing carnival celebrations in Tenerife and Gran Canaria. You really can't go wrong for a time to visit the Canary Islands though, it really just depends on your travel intentions.

El Cofete, Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands have beach days year round.

Weather & Packing for a Trip to the Canary Islands in Spain

Depending on where you are going, you can experience hot sunny days any time of the year. Certain areas experience more rain such as the north of Gran Canaria, and the national park of La Gomera. Meanwhile, you can even see snow at El Teide, or the top of La Palma!


When traveling to the Canary Islands in Spain, the most important thing is to really be prepared for all types of weather. A swimsuit, good pair of sneakers, and light jacket are our top 3 suggestions for packing, as well as a strong sunscreen and reusable water bottle.


natural pools, weather in the Canary Islands in Spain
Los Tilos, La Palma Island
weather in the Canary Islands in Spain

There are a variety of different climates and landscapes throughout the Canary Islands in Spain.

Depending on the type of trip you'd like to have, and which island you choose, will greatly impact how you should pack for your trip though. We suggest reading our full guides to each island before traveling so that you can know how to properly pack for your trip.


Here is our general packing list for the Canary Islands in Spain:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Towel 
  • Bathing Suits 
  • Light Jacket for places of higher elevation
  • Flip flops (our favorites are Havaianas)
  • Power bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Zippered bag or backpack (here are our top picks for backpacks for travelers)
  • Sneakers (there are some amazing hikes)
  • Nicer beachy clothing to go out in (some clubs have dress codes)
  • Action Camera (for all water activities) we use the Insta 360 X3 because it's small & waterproof
  • Drone (Some of our favorite drone shots ever were in the Canary Islands! We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and high quality)
  • Waterproof phone pouch (we use the Cafago Waterproof Phone Pouch)
  • Travel Adapter (we use Tessan travel adapters as they are affordable and reliable)
  • Water Bottle (we use Cafago Water Bottles because they hold the temperature well)


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Now you know everything there is to know about visiting the Canary Islands in Spain! So which one do you think you'd like to visit? Let us know down in the comments!


If you still can't decide and want to learn more, make sure to check out each full guide we have for the individual islands! We spent one week in each, and explored them pretty fully.


Want to travel and need help getting your trip organized? Leave the work to us! Now with Scratch Your Mapa Scratch Your Mapa Travel Planning you can save tons of time (and money!) by leaving the long hours of research in our hands.


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