|Area||2,034.38 km2 (785.48 sq mi)|
|Coastline||342 km (212.5 mi)|
|Highest elevation||3,718 m (12,198 ft)|
|Autonomous Community||Canary Islands|
|Province||Santa Cruz de Tenerife|
|Capital and largest||Santa Cruz de Tenerife (pop. 204,856)|
|President of the cabildo insular||Carlos Enrique Alonso Rodríguez|
|Pop. density||444.71 /km2 (1,151.79 /sq mi)|
|Languages||Spanish, specifically Canarian Spanish|
|Ethnic groups||Spanish, other minority groups|
|Time zone||WET (UTC±00:00)|
|• Summer (DST)||WEST (UTC+01:00)|
Tenerife is the largest and most populated island of
the seven Canary Islands It is also the most populated island
of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 square kilometres
(785 sq mi) and 904,713 inhabitants, 43 percent of the total
population of the Canary Islands. Tenerife is the largest and most populous
island of Macaronesia.
Approximately five million
tourists visit Tenerife each year, the most visited island of the archipelago. It
is one of the most important tourist destinations in Spain, hosting one of the
world’s largest carnivals, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Tenerife is served by two
airports, Tenerife-North Airport and Tenerife-South Airport. Tenerife
is the economic capital of the Canary Islands
The capital of the
island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is also the seat of the island council.
The city is capital of the autonomous community of Canary
Islands (shared with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), sharing
governmental institutions such as presidency and ministries. Between the 1833
territorial division of Spain and 1927, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the
sole capital of the Canary Islands. In 1927 the Crown ordered that the capital
of the Canary Islands be shared, as it remains at present. Santa Cruz contains
the modern Auditorio de Tenerife, the architectural symbol of the Canary
The island is home to
the University of La Laguna; founded in 1792 in San Cristóbal de La
Laguna, it is the oldest university in the Canaries. The city of La Laguna is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the second city most populated on the
island and the third in the archipelago. It was capital of the Canary Islands
before Santa Cruz replaced it in 1833.
Teide National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in the center of the island. In it, the Mount Teide rises as the highest elevation of Spain, the highest of the islands of the Atlantic Ocean, and the third-largest volcano in the world from its base. Also on the island, the Macizo de Anaga has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2015. It has the largest number of endemic species in Europe.
The island’s indigenous people, the Guanche Berbers, referred to the island as Achinet or Chenet in their language. According to Pliny the Younger, Berber king Juba II sent an expedition to the Canary Islands and Madeira; he named the Canary Islands for the particularly ferocious dogs (canaria) on the island. Juba II and Ancient Romans referred to the island of Tenerife as Nivaria, derived from the Latin word nix, meaning snow, referring to the snow-covered peak of the Teide volcano. Later maps dating to the 14th and 15th century, by mapmakers such as Bontier and Le Verrier, refer to the island as Isla del Infierno, literally meaning “Island of Hell,” referring to the volcanic activity and eruptions of Mount Teide.
The Benahoaritas (natives
of La Palma) are said to have named the island, deriving it from the
words teni (“mountain”) and ife (“white”).
After colonisation, the Hispanisation of the name resulted in adding the letter
“r” to unite both words, producing Tenerife.
The earliest known human
settlement in the islands date to around 200 BCE, by Berbers known as
the Guanches However, the Cave of the Guanches in the
municipality of Icod de los Vinos in the north of Tenerife, has
provided the oldest chronologies of the Canary Islands, with dates around the
sixth century BCE.
Regarding the technological
level, the Guanches can be framed among the peoples of the Stone Age,
although this terminology is rejected due to the ambiguity that it presents.
The Guanche culture is characterized by an advanced cultural development,
possibly related to the Berber cultural features imported from North Africa and
a poor technological development, determined by the scarcity of raw materials,
especially minerals that allow the extraction of metals. The main activity was
grazing, although the population were also engaged in agriculture, as well as
fishing and the collection of shellfish from the shore or using fishing craft.
Tenerife was the last island
of Canaries to be conquered and the one that took the longest time to submit to
the Castilian troops. Although the traditional dates of conquest of Tenerife are
established between 1494 (landing of Alonso Fernández de Lugo) and 1496
(conquest of the island), it must be taken into account that the attempts to
annex the island of Tenerife to the Crown of Castile date back at
least to 1464. For this reason, from the first attempt to conquer the
island in 1464, until it was finally conquered in 1496, 32 years passed.
In 1464, Diego Garcia de
Herrera, Lord of the Canary Islands, took symbolic possession of the island in
the Barranco del Bufadero (Ravine of the Bufadero), signing
a peace treaty with the Guanche chiefs (menceyes) which allowed
the mencey Anaga to build a fortified tower on Guanche land,
where the Guanches and the Spanish held periodic treaty talks until the
Guanches demolished it around 1472.
In 1492 the governor of Gran
Canaria Francisco Maldonado organized a raid that ended in disaster for the
Spaniards when they were defeated by Anaga’s warriors. In December 1493, the
Catholic monarchs, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon,
granted Alonso Fernández de Lugo the right to conquer Tenerife.
Coming from Gran Canaria in April 1494, the conqueror landed on the
coast of present-day Santa Cruz de Tenerife in May, and disembarked with about
2,000 men on foot and 200 on horseback. After taking the fort, the army
prepared to move inland, later capturing the native kings of Tenerife and
presenting them to Isabella and Ferdinand.
The menceyes of Tenerife had differing responses to the conquest. They divided into the side of peace (Spanish: bando de paz) and the side of war (Spanish: bando de guerra). The first included the menceyatos of Anaga, Güímar, Abona and Adeje. The second group consisted of the people of Tegueste, Tacoronte, Taoro, Icoden and Daute. Those opposed to the conquest fought the invaders tenaciously, resisting their rule for two years. Castillian forces under the Adelantado (“military governor”) de Lugo suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Guanches in the First Battle of Acentejo on 31 May 1494, but defeated them at the Second Battle of Acentejo on 25 December 1494. The Guanches were eventually overcome by superior technology and the arms of the invaders, and surrendered to the Crown of Castile in 1496.
Many of the natives died from
new infectious diseases, such as influenza and
probably smallpox, to which they lacked resistance or
acquired immunity. The new colonists intermarried with the local native
population. For a century after the conquest, many new colonists settled on the
island, including immigrants from the diverse territories of the
growing Spanish Empire, such as Flanders, Italy,
As the population grew, it
cleared Tenerife’s pine forests for fuel and to make fields for agriculture for
crops both for local consumption and for export. Sugar cane was
introduced in the 1520s as a commodity crop on major plantations; it was a
labor-intensive crop in all phases of cultivation and processing. In the
following centuries, planters cultivated wine grapes, cochineal for
making dyes, and plantains for use and export.
Between 1833 and 1927, Santa
Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands. In 1927 the government
ordered that the capital be shared with Las Palmas, as it remains at
present. This change in status has encouraged development in Las Palmas.
Tourists began visiting
Tenerife from Spain, the United Kingdom, and northern Europe in large numbers
in the 1890s. They especially were attracted to the destinations of the
northern towns of Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Independent
shipping business, such as the Yeoward Brothers Shipping Line, helped boost the
tourist industry during this time, adding to ships that carried
passengers. The naturalist Alexander von Humboldt ascended the
peak of Mount Teide and remarked on the beauty of the island.
Before his rise to
power, Francisco Franco was posted to Tenerife in March 1936 by a
Republican government wary of his influence and political leanings. However,
Franco received information and in Gran Canaria agreed to collaborate in the
military coup that would result in the Spanish Civil War; the Canaries
fell to the Nationalists in July 1936. In the 1950s, the misery of the post-war
years caused thousands of the island’s inhabitants to emigrate
to Cuba and other parts of Latin America.
The oldest mountain ranges in
Tenerife rose from the Atlantic Ocean by volcanic eruption which gave birth to
the island around twelve million years ago. The island as it is today was
formed three million years ago by the fusion of three islands made up of the
mountain ranges of Anaga, Teno and Valle de San Lorenzo, due
to volcanic activity from Teide. The volcano is visible from most parts of
the island today, and the crater is 17 kilometres (11 miles) long at some
points. Tenerife is the largest island of the Canary Islands and
the Macaronesia region.
Tenerife is known
internationally for its warm and pleasant climate, as the “Island of
Eternal Spring” (Isla de la Eterna Primavera). The island, which lies
at the same latitude as central Florida, enjoys a warm tropical climate
with an average of 18–24 °C (64–75 °F) in the winter and
24–28 °C (75–82 °F) in the summer. It has a high annual total of days
of sunshine, and low precipitation in all but the mountain areas. The moderate
climate of Tenerife is controlled to a great extent by the tradewinds,
whose humidity is condensed principally over the north and northeast
of the island, creating cloud banks that range between 600 and 1,800 metres
(2,000 and 5,900 feet) in height. The cold sea currents of the Canary Islands
also have a cooling effect on the coasts and its beaches, while the topography
of the landscape plays a role in climatic differences on the island with its
many valleys. The moderating effect of the marine air makes extreme heat a rare
occurrence and frost an impossibility at sea level. The lowest recorded
temperature in downtown Santa Cruz is 8.1 °C (46.6 °F), the coldest
month on record still had a relatively mild average temperature of 15.8 °C
(60.4 °F). Summer temperatures are highest in August, with an average
high of 29 °C (84 °F) in Santa Cruz, similar to those of places as
far north as Barcelona and Majorca, because of the greater
maritime influence. At a higher elevation in La Laguna, the climate transitions
to a Mediterranean climate with higher precipitation amounts and
lower temperatures year round. The climate of Santa Cruz is very typical of the
Canaries, albeit only slightly warmer than the climate of Las Palmas.
|Climate data for Santa Cruz de Tenerife|
|Record high °C (°F)||28.4
|Average high °C (°F)||21.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||18.2
|Average low °C (°F)||15.4
|Record low °C (°F)||9.4
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||31.5
|Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)||8.0||7.2||6.9||5.5||2.9||0.9||0.2||0.8||2.7||6.1||8.8||9.4||59.4|
|Average relative humidity (%)||64||65||62||61||61||61||58||60||64||66||65||66||63|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||178||186||221||237||282||306||337||319||253||222||178||168||2,887|
|Source #1: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología|
|Source #2: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (1981–2010), Extremes (1921 – present)|
|Climate data for Tenerife South Airport|
|Record high °C (°F)||29.3
|Average high °C (°F)||21.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||18.4
|Average low °C (°F)||15.2
|Record low °C (°F)||9.0
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||16.6
|Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)||1.8||2.2||1.9||1.1||0.3||0.0||0.0||0.2||0.6||1.6||1.9||3.5||15.1|
|Average relative humidity (%)||62||64||63||65||66||68||65||67||68||67||64||66||65|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||193||195||226||219||246||259||295||277||213||214||193||195||2,725|
|Source #1: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología|
|Source #2: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (1981–2010), Extremes (1921 – present)|
The volcanic ground of
Tenerife, which is of a porous and permeable character, is generally
the reason why the soil is able to maximise the absorption of water on an
island of low rainfall, with condensation in forested areas and frost
deposition on the summit of the island also contributory causes.
Given the irregularity of
precipitation and geological conditions on the island, dam construction has
been avoided, so most of the water (90 percent) comes from wells and
from water galleries (Horizontal tunnels bored into the volcano) of which there
are thousands on the island, important systems that serve to extract its
hydrological resources. These tunnels are very hazardous, with pockets of
volcanic gas or carbon dioxide, causing rapid death.
and air quality
The Canary Islands have low
levels of air pollution thanks to the lack of factories and industry and the
tradewinds which naturally move away contaminated air from the islands.
According to official data offered by the Health and Industry Ministry in
Spain, Tenerife is one of the cleanest places in the country with an air
pollution index below the national average. Despite this, there are still
agents which affect pollution levels in the island, the main polluting
agents being the refinery at Santa Cruz, the thermal
power plants at Las Caletillas and Granadilla, and road
traffic, increased by the high level of tourism in the island. In addition on
the island of Tenerife like on La Palma light pollution must be also
controlled, to help the astrophysical observatories located in the
island’s summits. Water is generally of a very high quality, and all the
beaches of the island of Tenerife have been catalogued by the Ministry of
Health and Consumption as waters suitable for bathing.
Tenerife is a rugged and
volcanic island sculpted by successive eruptions throughout its history. There
are four historically recorded volcanic eruptions, none of which has led to
casualties. The first occurred in 1704, when the Arafo, Fasnia and Siete Fuentes
volcanoes erupted simultaneously. Two years later, in 1706, the greatest
eruption occurred at Trevejo. This volcano produced great quantities
of lava which buried the city and port of Garachico. The last
eruption of the 18th century happened in 1798 at Cañadas de Teide,
in Chahorra. Finally, and most recently, in 1909 that formed
the Chinyero cinder cone, in the municipality of Santiago del
The island is located between
28° and 29° N and the 16° and 17° W meridian. It is situated north of
the Tropic of Cancer, occupying a central position between the other
Canary Islands of Gran Canaria, La Gomera and La Palma. The
island is about 300 km (186 mi) from the African coast, and
approximately 1,000 km (621 mi) from the Iberian Peninsula. Tenerife
is the largest island of the Canary Islands archipelago, with a surface area of
2,034.38 km2 (785 sq mi) and has the
longest coastline, amounting to 342 km (213 mi).
In addition, the highest point, Mount Teide, with an elevation of 3,718 m (12,198 ft) above sea level is the highest point in all of Spain, is also the third largest volcano in the world from its base in the bottom of the sea. For this reason, Tenerife is the 10th-highest island worldwide. It comprises about 200 small barren islets or large rocks including Roques de Anaga, Roque de Garachico, and Fasnia adding a further 213,835 m2 (2,301,701 sq ft) to the total area.
and geological formation
Tenerife is an island created
volcanically, building up from the ocean floor 20–50 million years ago.
According to the theory
of plate tectonics, the ascent of magma originating from the
Earth’s mantle is produced by the effects of tectonic activity from faults or
fractures that exist at the oceanic plate. These fractures lie along the
structural axes of the island itself, forming themselves from the Alpine orogeny during
the Tertiary Period due to the movements of the African plate.
Underwater fissural eruptions
originated from the pillow lava, which are produced by the rapid cooling
of the magma when it comes in contact with water, obtaining their peculiar
shape. This pillow-lava accumulated, constructing the base of the island
underneath the sea. As this accumulation approached the surface of the water,
gases erupted from the magma due to the reduction of the surrounding pressure.
The volcanic eruptions became more violent and had a more explosive character,
and resulted in the forming of peculiar geological fragments.
The coasts of Tenerife are
typically rugged and steep, particularly on the north of the island. However,
the island has 67.14 kilometres (41.72 miles) of beaches, such as the one
at El Médano, surpassed only in this respect by the island
of Fuerteventura. There are many black sand pebble beaches on the northern
coast, while on the south and south-west coast of the island, the beaches have
typically much finer and clearer sand with lighter tones.
Tenerife is an autonomous
territory of Spain. The island has a tiered-government system and a special
status within the European Union in which it holds lower tax rates compared to
other regions. Santa Cruz is the seat of half of the regional government departments
and parliament and it is there that the governor is elected by the Canarian
people. Afterwards, they are appointed by Madrid. There are fifteen members of
parliament who work together in passing legislation, organising budgets and
improving the economy.
The Flag of
Tenerife was originally adopted in 1845 by the navy at its base in the
Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Later, and at present, this flag represents all
the island of Tenerife. It was approved by the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife and
the Order of the Government of the Canary Islands on 9 May 1989 and published
on 22 May in the government report of the Canary Islands and made official.
The coat-of-arms of Tenerife was granted by royal decree on 23 March 1510 by Ferdinand the Catholic at Madrid in the name of Joan I, Queen of Castile. The coat-of-arms has a field of gold, with an image of Saint Michael (the island was conquered on the saint’s feast day) above a mountain depicted in brownish, natural colors. Flames erupt from the mountain, symbolizing El Teide. Below this mountain is depicted the island itself in vert on top of blue and silver waves. To the right there is a castle in gules, and to the left, a lion rampant in gules. The shield that the Cabildo Insular, or Island Government, uses is slightly different from that used by the city government of La Laguna, which utilizes a motto in the arms’ border and also includes some palm branches.
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