The island was known to the Romans as Planaria, due to its flatness. What the Europeans came to dub Fuerteventura (Strong Adventure) was in fact divided into two tribal kingdoms separated by a low, 6km-long wall: Jandia, on the southern peninsula, as far north as La Pared; and Maxorata, which occupied the rest of the island.
In 1405, the French conqueror
Jean de Béthencourt took the island
and gave his name to the former capital, Betancuria, on the west
coast (Puerto Rosario took over the mantle as island capital in 1835).
The name of the island itself is believed to have come from Bethencourt's exclamation "Quelle forte aventure!" ("What a grand adventure").
However the name Fuerteventura simply means "strong fortune" when translated literally from Spanish to English. Tourism arrived in the mid-1960s with the building of the present airport at El Mattoral and the first tourist hotels.