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A language
of whistles

Silbo Gomero is a unique form of communication through whistling used for thousands of years in La Gomera. It reproduces Castilian Spanish –the language of its inhabitants– in a series of different whistles, and has been passed down for centuries from fathers to sons as simply another tool for working in the countryside. Today, and since the government made it a school subject in 1999, it is the only whistled language in the world. It is calculated that around 22,000 people can speak it correctly. This is why when you're walking in the mountains of La Gomera, listen closely –you may still be able to hear the whistles of two people having a conversation.
This is how Silbo sounds


Silbo was created by the earliest inhabitants of the Canary Islands, the Guanches, in order to communicate across gorges and precipices without the need to go there physically. It originally reproduced the language of the aborigines –Canarian Berber–, and was used not only in La Gomera, but also in El Hierro, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. But it was not adapted to Spanish until the 16th century, after the conquest of the Canary Islands by the Castilian Crown. From that moment on, Silbo Gomero was passed down from generation to generation to the present day, becoming a symbol of Canarian culture.


In recognition of the cultural value of Silbo Gomero and a reward for all the efforts made to keep it alive, in 2009 the UNESCO declared it a part of our Intangible World Heritage, highlighting its considerable usefulness as a system of communication adapted to the island's environment and the significant technical complexity with which it has evolved.
Where Siblo is spoken
La Gomera
Silbo Gomero is established as a compulsory subject in schools
Number of people who speak it correctly
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Silbo Gomero is today one of the Canary Islands' greatest cultural manifestations. So if you want to hear for yourself what this unique language sounds like and you aren't lucky enough to hear it as you walk around its mountains, you can take part in some of the traditional festivities on the island, which often feature exhibitions as part of the entertainment.
See events on La Gomera>