Fortunate Isles or Isles of the Blest is a term that has been applied to many islands over the ages but has been consistently described as being ‘in the west’. It is most commonly believed that the term was originally used to describe the Canary Islands, which in turn are considered by many to be remnants of Atlantis.
Marinus of Tyre, writing around 120 AD wrote of the Fortunate Isles as the western boundary of the known world and he was followed by Claudius Ptolemy (90-168 AD) who used the Fortunate Islands as the prime meridian for his Geographia(a) . However, although there is a general acceptance that the Canaries should be considered the Fortunate Isles, Ptolemy’s prime meridian runs more closely to the Cape Verde Islands!
Macaronesia which is derived from the Greek meaning ‘islands of the fortunate’ is a modern geographical term used to collectively describe the islands of Madeira, Azores, Canaries, Cape Verde and the Savage Islands. The term ‘Fortunate Isles’ is also applied to the Scilly Isles off the coast of Cornwall.