Tenerife is based in the geographic centre of the Canary Islands, with a surface of 2,034 Km2, and distance of only 25 km
to the island of La Gomera and 50km to Gran Canaria.
The island has a triangular form and is crowned by the Teide volcano (3.718m), which at the same time is the highest mountain
The island is of volcanic origin, but had its last activities almost 100 years ago, in 1,909, when the Chinyero volcano
erupted, which today is a natural reserve.
The volcanic complex of the Teide and the Old Pico arose about a million years ago, inside a previously arisen boiler also known as Gorges of the Teide. Different natural landscapes are found as the altitude rises. In fact 43 % of the island is protected ground and very typical ecosystems such as: The Malpaís, you can find in the lower zones of the south, with recent volcanic ground, little precipitations and an average temperature of over 20 degrees Celsius. The vegetation of the Laurisilva is situated in an altitude of over 800 m, in the slopes of the northern part of the island and consists of leafy forest and even has its own species of plants, it gives the Anaga and Teno Mountain its own special character. The Kingdom of the Canarian Pine tree starts on altitude of above thousand meters. This tree is the widest tree in Spain and is, due the amount of resin accumulated in its interior almost fire resistant.
Tenerife is rich in endemic species, in its variety of insects, reptiles and birds, being the blue chaffinch the symbol of the island. You can also find a lot of fish and the Canarian waters certainly offer great possibilities for fishing. But the real stars are definitely the bottle nose dolphins and pilot whales that are situated in the channel in between Tenerife and La Gomera. They are both of photographic and scientific interest.
The temperature is generally very pleasant and that's why Tenerife is also called the island of the eternal spring. The average temperature is 18º C in the winter and around 25º C in the summer.
The trade winds contribute to the humidity, forming the typical "cloud banks" you can find on an altitude of over 1000 m where we find the phenomenon of the continuous horizontal rain.
Tenerife has its different climates depending on the direction you are going to. The further north you go, the cloudier, rainier and greener it gets. In the southern part of the island the sun is reining and the here we have a hot climate and the sun is shining almost every day.
The island has a total of 400 km of steep coastline and some incredible black as well as white sand beaches; most of them are very well accessible.
Altogether this is an incredible island for young and old, without any drastic seasonal changes and great possibilities of enjoying nature, sports and all sorts of activities.
Tenerife is the island of the volcanoes and of the myth of being the fortunate island. Many of the classic and even modern authors assumed that the Paradise or even Atlantis formed part of this island.
Plinio was the first to write about the Canary Islands, when he was sent on an expedition by King Juba II of Mauritania in the first century. As a memory of the Islands he took some enormous dogs (bardino) with him, and it was those dogs (latin can or canis) that gave the archipelagos name.
The History of the Canary Islands has always been full of myths due to its geographical position. Europeans did not know anything about the islands until the beginning of the 15th century.
The first one to write about the islands was Plinio in the first century, who was sent by the King of Mauritania. He then brought back home some dogs, which gave the archipelagos name.
You can still find those native race of island dogs on the islands. They are of an impressive aspect and nowadays called bardinos.
The first historical narrations about Tenerife were always talking about Nivaria, the navigators of the old days were vividly impressed by this huge mountain covered in snow. They could already spot it from miles away and observed the in snow covered top of the mountain emerging above the clouds
Until the islands got conquered by the Spanish in the 15th century,
they were inhabited by a population that possibly had their roots in Northern Africa. When they were "discovered" the Spaniards could find some hints of a slightly superior culture compared to their relatives in Northern Africa. They were advanced in everything that concerned religion and arts. The Guanches of Tenerife dressed in skins but completely ignored the art of navigation. Nevertheless, they buried carefully their deads, mummifying them, with very effective techniques, in some cases, and also had a special taste for ornaments.
They worked the mud, and the tips of their lances finished in a sharpened natural volcanic stone
Many old authors - and still some modern ones - thought that the Canary Islands would be the visible elevated rests of a sunken continent; Atlantis. They also thought that the Guanches were the descendants of the Atlantes. According to their thesis the sons and grandsons of the Atlantes all of a sudden became islanders and some even think, that the incapacity of navigation, the lack of communication between the islands, in addition to the enormous stature of the Guanches is proof enough, that they were direct descendents from the Atlantes.
Before the arrival of the Spanish, the island was divided into nine tribal kingdoms, the names of which are still in use in modern Tenerife, Abona, Adeje, Anaga, Daute, Icod, Guimar, Tacoronte, Taoro and Tegueste.
By the time Spanish forces began their conquest of the Canaries in 1402, Tenerife had already established a reputation as an important commercial trading centre due to it's inter-continental location. The Canaries were also popular hunting ground for slave-traders. The island's population in the C15th, prior to conquest, was estimated at around 30,000, with the larger proportion living in the north due it's more favourable conditions for agriculture and cattle breeding. Strangely, the islanders had no knowledge of boats or ocean travel, nor had they any familiarity with metal-working (there are no natural metal resources on the island). Stone was the main tool they had to work with and in this sense the island had remained in the Stone Age.
The islands fell one by one to the Spanish, the last one being Tenerife itself which was finally subdued, after heavy Spanish losses, in July 1496 by Alonso Fernandez de Lugo, who founded the town of La Laguna (The Lagoon - there was one but it has long since dried up) as his capital. La Laguna is therefore the oldest town in the Canaries and remained the capital until 1723. It was built inland, partly due to the favourable agricultural conditions and partly to be further away from the attentions of marauding pirates.
An anecdote: the first man to travel to the Moon, in modern Literature, did it from the peak of the Teide. He was the Sevillian Domingo González, hero in Francis Goldwin's: "A man in the moon" written in the year 1600
Throughout the years, the Canary Islands got closer and closer with America sending more and more ships towards the new continent. The canaries participated actively, as settlers, founding cities such as San Antonio in Texas or Montevideo in Uruguay. Foreign trade and the agricultural wealth of the archipelago such as the world famous Malvasía wines were appreciated all around the world and made the islands well known.
Thus began a new chapter in Tenerife's history. Under the guidance of the newly installed Spanish leaders, the islands
quickly adapted to and benefited from the higher civilisation they were becoming steeped in, and asserted themselves
as the major commercial trading link between Europe, Africa and the 'new world' of America. This in turn attracted the
unwelcome attentions of everyone from pirates, hoping for a piece of the new-found wealth, to whole nations such as Britain,
who just wanted everything including the land itself! As mentioned at the beginning, the most famous victory of the islanders
over a warring nation was the defeat of Nelson at Santa Cruz in 1797.
Due to the geographical situation the Canary Islands, have always maintained special economic and administrative rights
compared to the rest of the national territory. Since 1872 their ports were tax free and they were allowed to build their
own Island Governments (Cabildo) since 1912. In 1982 the Canary Islands became an independent region in the state of Spain and could form their own parliament. In 1986
both, Spain and the Canary Islands joined the EC.