The origins of the history of the Canary Islands are intertwined with myths and legends and several different theories exist. In any case we must go back to classical times in order to find the first historical references to Gran Canaria. Research into the Island's earliest population relates it with North Africa and the Berber cultural heritage. It would seem that the island was colonised at around 500 B.C. Most of the many peoples and cultures that arrived in the archipelago during the pre-Hispanic period settled in Gran Canaria.
The conquest of the Island, which took place during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs in the last third of the fifteenth century, was fiercely resisted by the natives of the Island. The definitive annexation of Gran Canaria by the Crown of Castile was the work of Pedro de Vera, who, in 1483, completed the conquest that was started earlier by Juan Rejón. The conquest took place in two phases: firstly, the landing and subsequent construction of Real de Las Palmas at the mouth of the Guiniguada river; and, secondly, Vera's military campaign, which ended with the subjugation of the aboriginal people of Gáldar, as well as the campaign for the pacification of the southern slopes of the island.
From this time onwards the Crown of Castile began to infiltrate the Island of Gran Canaria in political, social and economic terms. The capital of Gran Canaria became the administrative centre and epicentre of the planning of the archipelago (the Bishopric of the Canaries, the Court of the Holy Inquisition, the Royal Court of the Canaries...). During the 17th century, some cracks started appearing in the splendour of Gran Canaria, which was caused by a lull in the exportation of agricultural products to America and also to the rest of Europe.
Not until the mid-nineteenth century was the free port system established in the Canary Islands. This was a special economic regime designed to favour trading relations. This new regime, based on tax exemptions and facilities for free trade acted as a major trading attraction and the number of British ships and shipping companies calling in at the Island soon multiplied.