The first recorded name for the island, given by Italian-Majorcan cartographer Angelino Dulcert, was Insula de Lanzarotus Marocelus, after the Genoese navigator Lancelotto Malocello, from which the modern name is derived. The island's name in the native language was Tyterogaka or Tytheroygaka, which may mean "one that is all ochre" (referring to the island's predominant colour).
Lanzarote is located 11 kilometres (7 miles) north-east of Fuerteventura and just over 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) from Graciosa. The dimensions of the island are 60 kilometres (37 miles) from north to south and 25 kilometres (16 miles) from west to east. Lanzarote has 213 kilometres (132 miles) of coastline, of which 10 kilometres (6 miles) are sand, 16.5 kilometres (10 miles) are beach, and the remainder is rocky. Its landscape includes the mountain ranges of Famara (671 metres or 2,201 feet) in the north and Ajaches (608 metres or 1,995 feet) to the south. South of the Famara massif is the El Jable desert, which separates Famara and Montañas del Fuego. The highest peak is Peñas del Chache, rising to 670 metres (2,200 feet) above sea level. The "Tunnel of Atlantis", the largest underwater volcanic tunnel in the world, is part of the Cueva de los Verdes lava tube.
Often called the "Island of Eternal Spring", Lanzarote has a subtropical-desert climate according to the Köppen climatic classification. The small amount of precipitation is mainly concentrated in the winter. Rainfall during summer is a rare phenomenon and several summers are completely dry without any precipitation. On average the island receives approximately 16 days of precipitation between December and February. Sometimes, the hot sirocco wind prevails, causing dry and dusty conditions across the island. Average precipitation in June and August is less than 0.5 millimetres (0.020 inches). It closely borders on a tropical climate, with winter means of 18 °C (64 °F) and summer means of 25 °C (77 °F).
Lanzarote is the northernmost and easternmost island of the Canary Islands and has a volcanic origin. It was born through fiery eruptions and has solidified lava streams as well as extravagant rock formations. The island emerged about 15 million years ago as product of the Canary hotspot. The island, along with others, emerged after the breakup of the African and the American continental plates. The greatest recorded eruptions occurred between 1730 and 1736 in the area now designated Timanfaya National Park.
As of 2010, 139,000 people live on Lanzarote, an increase of 9.4% from 2006 (127,000). The seat of the island government (Cabildo Insular) is in the capital, Arrecife, which has a population of 59,000. The majority of the inhabitants (73.9%) are Spanish with a sizeable number of residents from other European nations, mainly Britons (4.0%), Germans (2.6%), and Irish people (2.5%). Other populous groups include Chinese people, Colombians, Ecuadorians, Indians, and Moroccans, which constitute a large proportion of the remaining 15.6% of the population.