With the exception of El Hierro, La Gomera is the smallest of the Canary Islands. Its rugged terrain and sheer gorges make what at first sight appear to be short distances, much longer.
Communications between different parts of the island have always been an obstacle race and a sacrifice for the people of La Gomera. The forefathers of today's inhabitants, in their constant struggle to survive and adapt to their habitat, developed a peculiar system of communication: whistling.
The product of a population that had to overcome their impressive and magnificent geographical environment to communicate with each other, they invented and perfected that enables the inhabitants of the island to communicate with one or several people over long distances.
The experts date the origins of this peculiar form of communication to before the Spanish conquest, although the people of the island claim that the origins are pre-historic.
It is not a language in the strict sense of the word, as it is a mode of speech, which spells out syllables in whistles produced by the whistler placing his fingers in his mouth.
The arrival of the telephone and other means of communication in La Gomera society has endangered the survival of one of its historic signs of identity. With the disappearance of rural society, there are less and less people who use this form of transmitting information.
It is now only seen in exhibitions and demonstrations, but the cultural importance of La Gomera whistling has meant that it has been declared a compulsory subject in primary schools, which at least ensures the conservation of the feature that distinguishes these people from the rest of the Canary Island population.
This is a native tradition that the people themselves have insisted on being taught as a school subject, and a form of language that has been used in other parts of the world, such as the Pyrenees, Mexico and Turkey.