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Tenerife, a Spanishmarker island, is the largest of the seven Canary Islandsmarker in the Atlantic Oceanmarker off the coast of Africa. Tenerife has an area of 2034.38 square kilometers, and 886,033 inhabitants. It is the most populated island of the Canary Islands and Spain. About five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, which is also one of the busiest Spain resorts and the first of Canary Islands. Tenerife also has one of the world's largest carnivals, and the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife now aspires to become a World Heritage Site. The island hosts in its capital the architectural symbol of the Canary Islands, the modern Auditorio de Tenerife which is also one of the main buildings of Spanish architecture.

Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker is the capital of the island and the seat of the island council (cabildo insular). The city is capital of the autonomous community of Canary Islandsmarker (shared with Las Palmasmarker), sharing governmental institutions such as Presidency and ministries. Between 1833 and 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands, until in 1927 the current arrangement was introduced by decree.

The island is home to the University of San Fernando de La Laguna, which was founded in 1792. The University of La Laguna is the oldest university in the Canaries. San Cristóbal de La Laguna (World Heritage Site) is the second city of the island and the third one of the archipelago. The city of La Laguna was also capital of the Canary Islands until Santa Cruz replaced it in 1833.

Tenerife also has the highest elevation of Spain, a World Heritage Site that is the third largest volcano in the world from its base, El Teidemarker.


The first inhabitants on the island, the guanches, referred to the island as Achinet or Chenet, although based whatever bibliography is consulted, the names can acquire different orthographic variations. According to Pliny the Younger, King Juba II sent an expedition to the Canary Islandsmarker and Madeiramarker and gave the Canary Islands its name because he found particularly ferocious dogs (canaria) on the island. Juba II and Ancient Romans referred to Tenerife as Nivaria, derived from the Latin words nivis or nieve, meaning snow, in clear reference to the snow-covered peak of the Teidemarker volcano. On the other hand, maps dating to the 14th and 15th century, from authors like Bontier and Le Verrier refer to the island as Isla del Infierno, literally meaning Island of Hell, a reference to the volcanic activity and eruptions of Mt Teide. Finally, Teide is also responsible for the name of the island widely used today, named by the benehaorits (natives of La Palma) derived from the words Tene (mountain) and ife (white). Later, after colonisation, the hispanisation of the name resulted in the adding of a letter "r" uniting both words to obtain the name Tenerife as a result.


The formal demonym used to refer to the people of Tenerife is tinerfeño/a", also used colloquially is the term "Chicharrero/a". However, in modern society, this is generally only given to inhabitants of the capital, Santa Cruz. The term "chicharrero" was once a derogatory term used by the people of the former capital of La Laguna, in reference to the poor inhabitants and fishermen of Santa Cruz. It was used in reference to the fishermen who would survive by catching poor quality mackerel and citizens who ate potatoes of a low quality. However, as Santa Cruz grew in commerce and status, replacing La Laguna as capital of Tenerife in the 19th century during the reign of Fernando VII, the inhabitants of Santa Cruz ironically began using the insult to honour the new status of the city at La Laguna's expense.


The oldest mountain ranges in Tenerife rose from the Atlantic Oceanmarker 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 different islands made up of the mountain ranges of Anaga, Tenomarker 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 km long at some points.


The earliest known human settlement in the islands date to around 200 BC, by people known as the Guanche. They were characteristically tall, powerfully built Scandinavian-looking people with blue eyes and long, fair hair. They had little technology, even by Stone Age comparison and dressed in animal hides and lived in caves on the island. According to legend, many islands in the chain, among them Tenerife, were believed to be the uppermost peaks of Atlantis, which catastrophically sank under the ocean leaving only the highest mountains above sea level.

Territorial organization before the conquest (The Guanches)

About one hundred years before the conquest, the title of mencey was given to the monarch or king of the Guanches of Tenerife, who governed a menceyato or kingdom. This role was later referred to as a "captainship" by the conquerors. Tinerfe el Grande, son of the mencey Sunta governed the island from Adeje in the south. However, upon his death, his nine children rebelled and argued bitterly about how to divide the island. Two independent achimenceyatos were created on the island, and the island was divided into 9 menceyatos, with the menceyes within them forming what would be similar to municipalities today. The menceyatos and their menceyes (ordered by the descendants of Tinerfe who ruled them) were the following:

Territorial map of Tenerife before the conquest.

There was also the achimenceyato of Punta del Hidalgo, governed by Aguahuco, a "poor noble" who was an illegitimate son of Tinerfe and Zebenzui.

Spanish conquest

Tenerife at the time of its conquest by Spain was composed of nine distinct menceyatos, as the small kingdoms of the Guanches were known.

In December of 1493, Alonso Fernández de Lugo obtained from the king the confirmation of the right to lead a conquest of the island of Tenerife. In April of 1494, and coming from Gran Canariamarker, the conqueror landed on the coast of present day Santa Cruz de Tenerife and disembarked with troops which amounted to 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 Ferdinand and Isabella.

It is notable that the menceyes of Tenerife adopted differing responses to the conquest. They divided themselves into the side of peace ( ) and the side of war ( ), with the first including the menceyatos of Anaga, Güímar, Abona and Adeje, and the second group with the Tegueste, Tacoronte, Taoro, Icoden and Daute. The opposing group tenaciously fought the conquerors delaying the conquest of the island for two years. Though the Spanish forces under the Adelantado ("military governor") de Lugo, suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Guanches in the First Battle of Acentejo in 1494, the Guanches, eventually overcome by superior technology and surrendered to the Crown of Castile on December 25, 1494.

As in the rest of the islands, many of the natives were enslaved, especially those belonging to the group of war, while a good part of the native population succumbed to imported diseases such as influenza and probably smallpox, infectious diseases to which the primitive society, due to its isolation, lacked resistance. After the conquest, and especially in the following century, there was a mass movement of colonization and repopulation with the arrival of immigrants from the diverse territories of the growing Spanish Empire (Portugalmarker, Flanders, Italymarker, Germanymarker).

Tenerife's forests were gradually reduced by population growth and the need to clear land for agriculture for local consumption and for export. This was the case with the introduction of sugar cane at the beginning of the 16th century while in the following centuries, the island's economy centred on the use of other crops such as wine grapes and plantains.

Slavery and plantations

As on the other islands of the same group, much of the native population of Tenerife was enslaved or succumbed to diseases at the same time as immigrants from various places in Europe associated with the Spanish Empire (Portugalmarker, Flanders, Italymarker, Germanymarker) settled on the island. Native pine forests on the island were cleared to make way for the cultivation of sugarcane in the 1520s; in succeeding centuries, the island’s economy was centered around the cultivation of other commodities such as wine and cochineal for making dyes, as well as bananas.

Emigration to the Americas

Tenerife, as is with the other islands, has maintained a close relationship with Latin America. From the start of the colonization of the New World, many expeditions stopped at the island on their way to the Americas, and added to their crews with many tinerfeños who formed an integral part of the conquest expeditions or simply left in search of better prospects. It is also important to note the exchange in plant and animal species that made those voyages.

After a century and a half of relative growth, based on the grape growing sector, there was an extended emigration of families especially to Venezuelamarker and Cubamarker. Also by these times there was a new interest on the part of the Crown of populating those empty zones in the Americas to pre-empt the occupation by foreign forces as it had happened with the Englishmarker in Jamaicamarker or the Frenchmarker in the Guianasmarker or western Hispaniolamarker, so Canary islanders including many tinerfeños left for the New World. The cultivation of new crops of the Americas, such as cocoa in Venezuela and tobacco in Cuba, contributed to the population exodus from towns such as Buenavista del Norte, Vilaflor or El Sauzal in the late 1600s. Witness to the emigration history of the island is the foundation in the outskirts of Santo Domingomarker of the village of San Carlos de Tenerife in 1684. This village founded by tinerfeños was created with the strategic purpose of protecting the town from the French established in the western side of Hispaniola.Between 1720 and 1730 the Crown moved 176 families, including many tinerfeños to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. In 1726, about 25 island families migrated to the Americas to collaborate on the foundation of Montevideomarker. Four years later, in 1730, another group left which would found the following year the city of San Antoniomarker in Texasmarker. Later, between 1777 and 1783, the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife sent a new group to ultimately help in the foundation of St. Bernard Parish, Louisianamarker, and also some groups went to Floridamarker.

Emigration to the Americas (mainly Cuba and Venezuela) continued during the 19th and early 20th century due to economic problems and isolation. In the last few decades, with newer island protectionist economic laws and the resurgence of the tourism industry, the migration flows have reversed, and today Tenerife receives an influx of people, including the return of many descendants of the islanders, some of whom had left five centuries earlier.

British invasion

Admiral Nelson wounded at Tenerife
Throughout its history, Tenerife has been attacked by many pirates of various nationalities (French, English, Dutch, and Barbarians) and at various times has been subject to attacks and wars with Spain.

The First Fleet, led by British Captain Arthur Phillip, stopped at Tenerife on 3 June 1787 for fresh water, vegetables, and meat. It would then continue on to Botany Baymarker, where it would create the first European settlement in Australia on 26 January 1788. Amongst the most notable, however, is the British invasion of Tenerife in 1797.

On 25 July 1797, Admiral Horatio Nelson launched an attack at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the island. After a ferocious fight which led to many casualties, a defence was organised by General Antonio Gutiérrez de Otero y Santayana to repel the invaders. Nelson lost his right arm from cannon fire, widely believed in legend to have been the cannon Tiger ( ) as he was trying to disembark on the Paso Alto coast.

On 5 September 1797, another attempt was made in the Puerto Santiago region and was repelled by the inhabitants of Santiago del Teidemarker, who threw rocks at the British from the heights of the Cliffs of the Giants ( ).

Plantain packing in Tenerife

The island was also attacked by others, mostly Englishmen, including Robert Blake, Walter Raleigh, John Hawkins, Woodes Rogers.

Modern history

Between 1833 and 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands, until in 1927 a decree ordered that the capital of the Canary Islands is shared whith the Las Palmas, it remains as at present.

Tourists began visiting Tenerife in large numbers in the 1890s, especially the northern towns of Puerto de la Cruzmarker and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The naturalist Alexander von Humboldt ascended the peak of Mount Teidemarker 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 and its population was subject to the mass executions of opponents to the new regime. In the 1950s, the misery of the post-war years caused thousands of the island’s inhabitants to emigrate to Cubamarker and other parts of Latin America.

Tenerife was the site of the worst accident in commercial aviation. Known as Tenerife disastermarker, the airliner collision took place on 27 March 1977 at Los Rodeosmarker airport in the north of the island and involved two Boeing 747s.


Teide from the north, 2006
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 the Chinyero volcano, in the municipality of Santiago del Teidemarker, erupted.

The island is located between 28º and 29º N and the 16º and 17º meridian. It is situated north of the Tropic of Cancermarker, occupying a central position between the other Canary Islands of Gran Canariamarker, La Gomeramarker and La Palmamarker. The island is about from the African coast, and approximately from the Iberian Peninsulamarker. Tenerife is the largest island of the Canary Islands archipelago, with a surface area of and the longest coastline amounting to .

In addition, the highest point, Mount Teidemarker, with an elevation of above sea level is the highest point in all of Spain. It comprises about 200 small barren islets or large rocks including Roques de Anaga, Roque de Garachico, and Fasniamarker adding a further to the total area.

Origins and geological formation

Tenerife 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.

After long-term accumulation of these fragments, the birth of the island occurred at the end of the Miocene Epoch. The zones on Tenerife known as Macizo de Teno, Macizo de Anaga and Macizo de Adeje were formed 7,000,000 years ago; these formations are called the Ancient Basaltic Series or Series I. These zones were actually three separate islands lying in what is now the extreme west, east, and south of Tenerife.
Teide during the nightfall

A second volcanic cycle began 3,000,000 years ago called the Post-Miocene Formations or Latest Series II, III, IV. This was a much more intense volcanic cycle, which united the Macizo de Teno, Macizo de Anaga and Macizo de Adeje into one island. This new structure, called the Pre-Cañadas Structure (Edificio pre-Cañadas), would be the foundation for what is called the Cañadas Structure I. The Cañadas Structure I experienced various collapses and emitted explosive material that produced the area known as Bandas del sur (in the present-day south-southeast of Tenerife).

Subsequently, upon the ruins of Cañadas Structure I emerged Cañadas Structure IIwhich was 2,500 meters above sea level, and also emerged with intense explosive activity.

About 1,000,000 years ago, the Dorsal Range (Cordillera Dorsal) emerged by means of fissural volcanic activity occurring amidst the remains of the older Ancient Basaltic Series (Series I). This Dorsal Range emerged as the highest and the longest volcanic structure in the Canary Islands; it was 1,600 meters high and 25 kilometers long.

About 800,000 years ago, two gravitational landslides occurred, giving rise to the present day valleys of La Orotava and Güímar. Finally, around 200,000 years ago, eruptions started that raised the Pico Viejo-Teide area in the centre of the island, over the Las Cañadas caldera.

Orography and landscape

The uneven and steep orography of the island and its variety of climates has resulted in a diversity of landscapes and geographical and geological formations, from the Parque Nacional del Teidemarker with its extensive pine forests, juxtaposed against the volcanic landscape at the summit of Teide and Malpaís de Güímar, to the Acantilados de Los Gigantes (Cliffs of the Giants) with its vertical precipices. Semidesert areas exist in the south with drought-resistant plants. Other areas range from those protected and enclosed in mountains such as Montaña Roja and Montaña Pelada, the valleys and forests with subtropical vegetation and climate, to those with deep gorges and precipices such as at Anaga and Teno.

panorama view of Las Cañadas del Teide

Central heights

The principal structures in Tenerife, make the central highlands, with the Teide-Pico Viejo complex and the Las Cañadas areas as most prominent. It comprises a semi-caldera of about in area, originated by several geological processes explained under the Origin and formation section. The area is partially occupied by the Teide-Pico Viejo strato-volcano and completed by the materials emitted in the different eruptions that took place. A known formation called Los Azulejos, composed by green-tinted rocks were created by hydrothermal processes.

South of La Caldera is Guajara Mountain, which has an elevation of 2718 meters, rising above Las Cañadas del Teide. At the bottom, is an endorheic basin flanked with very fine sedimentary material which has been deposited from its volcanic processes, and is known as Llano de Ucanca.

The peak of Teide, at 3718 meters above sea level and more than 7,000 metres above the ocean floor, is the highest point of the island, Spanish territory and in the Atlantic Ocean. The volcano is the third largest on the planet, and its central location, substantial size, looming silhouette in the distance and its snowy landscape give it a unique personality. The original settlers considered Teide a god and Teide was a place of worship.

In 1954, the Teide and the whole area around it was declared a national park, with further expansion later on. In addition, in June 2007 it was recognised by UNESCOmarker as a World Heritage sites. To the west lies the volcano Pico Viejo (Old Peak). On one side of it, is the volcano Chahorra o Narices del Teide, where the last eruption occurred in the vicinity of Mount Teide in 1798.

The Teide is one of the 16 Decade Volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas.


The uneven contours of the Anaga massif
The Anaga massif (Macizo de Anaga), at the northeastern end of the island, has an irregular and rugged topographical profile where, despite its generally modest elevations, the Cruz de Taborno reaches a height of 1,024 meters. Due to the age of its material (5.7 million years), its deep erosive processes, and the dense network of dikes piercing the massif, its surface exposes numerous outcroppings of both phonolitic and trachytic origin. A large number of steep-walled gorges are present, penetrating deeply into the terrain. Vertical cuts dominate the Anagan coast, with infrequent beaches of rocks or black sand between them; the few that exist generally coincide with the mouths of gorges.

Teno massif - Cliffs of the Giants area

The Teno massif (Macizo de Teno) is located on the northwestern edge of the island. Like Anaga, it includes an area of outcroppings and deep gorges formed by erosion. However, the materials here are older (about 7.4 million years old). Mount Gala represents its highest elevation at 1342 meters. The most unusual landscape of this massif is found on its southern coast, where the Acantilados de Los Gigantes ("Cliffs of the Giants") present vertical walls reaching heights of 500 meters in some places.

The Adeje massif (Macizo de Adeje) is situated on the southern tip of the island. Its main landmark is the Roque del Conde ("Count's Rock"), with an elevation of 1001 meters. This massif is not as impressive as the others due to its diminished initial structure, since in addition to with the site's greater geologic age it has experienced severe erosion of its material, thereby losing its original appearance and extent.


The Dorsal mountain range or Dorsal of Pedro Gil covers the area from the start at Mount La Esperanza, at a height of about , to the center of the island, near the Caldera de Las Cañadas, with Izaña, as its highest point at (MSLP). These mountains have been created due to basaltic fisural volcanism through one of the axis that gave birth to the vulcanism of this area.

The Abeque dorsal was formed by a chain of volcanoes that join the Teno with the central insular peak of Teide-Pico Viejo starting from another of the three axis of Tenerife's geological structures. On this dorsal we find the historic volcano of Chinyero whose last eruption happened in 1909.

The South dorsal or Dorsal of Adeje is part of the last of the structural axis. The remains of this massive rock show the primordial land, also showing the alignment of small volcanic cones and rocks around this are in Tenerife's South.

Valleys and Ravines

Panorama of the La Orotava Valley with Teide in the background
Valleys are another of the island's features. The most important are Valle de La Orotava and Valle de Güímar, both formed by the mass sliding of great quantities of material towards the sea, creating a depression of the land.Other valleys tend to be between hills formed by deposits of sediments from nearby slopes, or simply wide ravines which in their evolution have become typical valleys.

Tenerife has a large number of ravines, which are a characteristic element of the landscape, caused by erosion from surface runoff over a long period. Notable ravines include Ruiz, Fasnia and Güímar, Infierno, and Erques, all of which have been designated protected natural areas by Canarian institutions..


The coasts of Tenerife are typically rugged and steep, particularly on the north of the island. However, the island has 67.14 kilometers of beaches, such as the one at El Médanomarker, surpassed only in this respect by the island of Fuerteventuramarker. On the northern coast are frequent pebble beaches with black sand, while on the south and south-west coast of the island, the beaches has sand typically much finer and clearer with lighter tones.


Tenerife is known internationally as the "Island of Eternal Spring" (Isla de la Eterna Primavera).The island, being on a latitude of the Sahara Desert, enjoys a warm climate year-round with an average of 20° - 22°C in the winter and 26° - 28°C in the summer and high sunshine totals. The moderate climate of Tenerife is controlled to a great extent by the tradewinds, whose humidity, principally, is condensed over the north and northeast of the island, creating cloud banks that range between 600 and 1,800 meters in height. The cold sea currents of the Canary Islands, also have a cooling effect on the coasts and its beaches and the topography of the landscape plays a role in climatic differences on the island with its many valleys.

The average temperatures, however, can fluctuate between 17-18°C and 24-25°C in the winter season. Evidently there are climatic contrasts which do occur on the island, particularly during the winter months when it is possible to enjoy the warm sunshine on the coast and experience snow within just miles, 3000 metres above sea level on Teide.There is also a contrast in climate between different parts of the island at a lower altitude, even in proximity, notably between the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker and San Cristóbal de La Laguna. Santa Cruz generally experiences a warm climate throughout the year with temperatures noticeably greater than at the bordering La Laguna, where frequently it is colder with a greater chance of rainfall.

The north and the south of Tenerife similarly have different climatic characteristics. The windward side of the island receives 73% of all precipitation on the island, and the relative humidity of the air is superior and the insolation inferior. The pluviometric maximums are registered on the windward side at an average altitude of between 1.000-1.200 ms, almost exclusively in the La Orotava mountain range. However, although climatic differences in rainfall and sunshine on the island exist, overall annual precipitation is very low with some of the summer months often not receiving any days of rainfall. In June and July in particular it is rare to receive any. The wettest season is during the winter, but in December, for instance, an average of five days of rainfall can be expected, and even this is partly attributed to snowfall on Teide.


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. Also with condensation in forested areas and frost deposition on the summit of the island, water infiltrates into the subsoil.

Given the irregularity of precipitation and geological conditions on the island, dam construction has been avoided, so most of the water (90%) comes from well 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 CO2, causing rapid death..

Pollution 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 cleanest places in the country with an air pollution index that is 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 the island of Tenerife like at 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.

Flora and Fauna

The island of Tenerife has a remarkable ecological diversity in spite of its small surface area, which is a consequence of the special environmental conditions on the island, where its distinct orography modifies the general climatic conditions at a local level, producing a significant variety of microclimates. This vast existence of natural microclimates and, therefore, habitats, means that a rich and diverse flora (1400 species of plants) exists on the island, with well over a hundred entirely endemic to Tenerife. Endemic species include Vipers bugloss, Teide white broom, Teide violet etc. The fauna of the island has many endemic invertebrates and unique reptile, bird and mammal species. The fauna of Tenerife includes some 400 species of fish, 56 birds, 5 reptiles, 2 amphibians, 13 land mammals and several thousand invertebrates, along with several species of marine turtles, whales and dolphins. Before the arrival of the aborigines, Tenerife and the Canaries were inhabited by prehistoric animals endemic, most extinct eg, giant lizards (Lacerta goliath and Lacerta maxima), or the giant rat (Canariomys bravoi).

The vegetation of Tenerife can be divided into 6 major zones that are directly related to altitude and the direction in which they face.

Lower Xerophylic Zone: 0 - 700m. Xerophylic shrubs that are well adapted to long dry spells, intense sun-shine and strong winds. Many endemic species. Spurges, cactus spurge, wax plants, etc.

Thermophile forest: 200 – 600 m. Transition zone. Moderate temperatures and rainfall. Area deteriorated by human activity. Many endemic species: Juniper, dragon trees, palm trees, etc.

Laurel Forest: 500 – 1000 m. Dense forest of large trees, descendants of the Tertiary Age flora, situated in a zone of frequent rainfall and mists. A wide variety of species with abundant undergrowth of bushes herbaceous plants and ferns. Laurels, holly, ebony, mahogany, etc.

Wax Myrtle: 1000 – 1500 m. A dryer vegetation, poorer in species. It replaces the degraded laurel forest. Of great forestry importance. Wax myrtles, tree heath, holly, etc.

Pine Forest: 800 – 2000 m. Open pine forest, with thin and unvaried undergrowth. Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis), broom, rock rose, etc.

High mountain: over 2000 m. Dry climate, intense solar radiation and extreme temperatures. Flora well adapted to the conditions.

Protected natural areas

Map showing the classification of protected areas in Tenerife

Nearly half of the island territory (48.6%), is under protection from the Red Canaria de Espacios Naturales Protegidos (Canary Islands Network for Naturally Protected Areas). Of the 146 protected sites under control of network in the Canary Islands archipelago, a total of 43 are located in Tenerife, the most protected island in the group. The network has criteria which places areas under its observation under eight different categories of protection, all of them are represented in Tenerife. Aside from Parque Nacional del Teidemarker, it counts the Parque Natural de Canarias (Crown Forest), two rural parks (Anaga and Teno), four integral natural reserves, six special natural reserves, a total of fourteen natural monuments, nine protected landscapes and up to six sites of scientific interest.


Law and Order

Building of the Presidency of the Canaries Autonomous Government in Santa Cruz
Tenerife island's government resides with the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife located at the Plaza de España at the island's capital city. The political Canary organization does not have a provincial government body but instead each island has its own government at their own Cabildo. Since its creation in March 1913 it has a series of capabilities and duties, stated in the Canary Autonomy Statutes ( ) and regulated by Law 14/1990, of 26 July 1990, of the Régimen Jurídico de las Administraciones Públicas de Canarias.

The Cabildo is composed of the following administrative offices; Presidency, Legislative Body, Government Council, Informative Commissions, Spokeman's office.


The island, itself a Spanish province named Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker, is divided administratively into 31 municipalities.

Only three municipalities are landlocked: Tegueste, El Tanque and Vilaflor. Vilaflor is the municipality with the highest altitude in the Canaries (its capital is 1,400 meters high).

The largest municipality with an area of is La Orotava, which covers much of the Teide National Park. The smallest town on the island and of the archipelago is Puerto de la Cruzmarker, with an area smaller than 9 km2.

It is also common to find internal division, in that some cities make up a metropolitan area within a municipality, notably the cities of Santa Cruz and La Laguna.

Below is an alphabetical list of all the municipalities on the island:

Map of Municipalities in the island of Tenerife

Flags and Heraldry

Flag of Tenerife.
Escudo del Cabildo Insular de Tenerife.

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 the 9th of May 1989 and published on the 22nd of May in the government report of the Canary Islands and made official.

The coat-of-arms of Tenerife was granted by royal decree on March 23, 1510 by Ferdinand the Catholic at Madridmarker 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. The official symbols from nature associated with Tenerife are the bird Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea) and the Canary Islands Dragon Tree tree.


Locals at the Semana Santa (Easter) in Los Realejos

According to INE data of 1 January 2007, Tenerife has the largest population of the seven Canary Islands and Spain with 865,070 registered inhabitants, of whom about 25% (220,902) live in the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker, and nearly 50% (424,200) in the metropolitan area of Santa Cruz – La Laguna. Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker and the city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna are physically and urban together, so that together have a population of over 382,331 inhabitants.

After the city of Santa Cruz the major towns and municipalituies are San Cristóbal de La Laguna (144,347),Arona (72,328), La Orotava (40,644), Adeje (38,245), Los Realejos (37,224), Granadilla de Abonamarker (36,224), and Puerto de la Cruzmarker (31,131). All other municipalities have fewer than 30,000 inhabitants, the smallest municipality being Vilaflor with a population of 1,900. In addition to the registered population, there are numerous non-registered residents, primarily tourists.

Demographic evolution of Tenerife
Recently Tenerife has experienced population growth significantly higher than the national average. In 1990, there were 663,306 registered inhabitants, which increased to 709,365 in 2000, an increase of 46,059 or an annual growth of 0.69%. However, between 2000 and 2007, the population rose by 155,705 to 865,070, an annual increase of 3.14%.

These results reflect the general trend in Spain, where since 2000, immigration has reversed the general slow down in population growth, following the collapse in the birth rate from 1976. However, since 2001 the overall growth rate in Spain has around 1.7% per year, compared with 3.14% on Tenerife, one of the largest increases in the country.


Even though Tenerife's economy is highly specialized in the service sector, which makes 78% of its total production capacity, the importance of the rest of the economic sectors is key to its production development. In this sense, the primary sector, which only represents 1.98% of the total product, groups activities that are important to the sustainable development of the island's economy. The energy sector which contributes 2.85% has a primary role in the development of renewable energy sources. The industrial sector which shares in 5.80% is a growing activity in the island, vis-a-vis the new possibilities created by technological advances. Finally, the construction sector with 11.29% of the total production has a strategic priority, because it is a sector with relative stability which permits multiple possibilities of development and employment opportunities.


Puerto de la Cruz, in the North, during winter, featuring background snowy mountains
Sea of clouds through the road to Teide

Tourism is the most prominent industry in the Canaries, and it is one of the major tourist destinations in the World.

In 2005, 9,276,963 tourists (excluding those from other parts of Spain) came to the Canary Islands. Tenerife had 3,442,787 arrivals that year, excluding the numbers for Spanish tourists which make up an additional 30% of total arrivals. According to last year's Canarian Statistics Centre's (ISTAC) Report on Tourism the greatest number of tourists from any one country come from the United Kingdommarker, with more than 1,600,000 tourists in 2005. In second place comes Germanymarker followed by Belgiummarker, The Netherlandsmarker, Swedenmarker, Finlandmarker, Denmarkmarker, Norwaymarker, Italymarker, Francemarker, Austriamarker, Irelandmarker and Switzerlandmarker.

Tourism is more prevalent in the south of the island, which is hotter and drier and has many well developed resorts such as Playa de las Americasmarker and Los Cristianosmarker. More recently coastal development has spread northwards from Playa de las Americas and now encompasses the former small enclave of La Caleta. After the Moratoria act passed by the Canarian Parliament in Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker, no more hotels should be built on the island unless they are classified as 5 star-quality and comprise different services such as Golf Courses or Congress facilities. This act was passed with the goal of improving the standard of tourism service and promoting environmentally conscious development.

The area known as Costa Adeje (Las Américas-Los Cristianos) has many world-class facilities and leisure opportunities besides sea and sand, such as quality shopping centres, golf courses, restaurants, waterparks, animal parks, and a theatre suitable for musicals or a Congress Hall.

In the more lush and green north of the island the main development for tourism has been in the town of Puerto de la Cruzmarker. The town itself has kept some of its old-harbour town charm mixed with northern European influences. Still, the tourist boom in the 60's changed the outlook of the town, making it cosy and cosmopolitan at the same time, and a favourite for the more mature traveller (notably the German and Spanish tourist).

As indicated in the previous paragraphs, the economy of Tenerife, like the other Canary Isles, is based on tourism. In the 19th and most of the 20th century large numbers of foreign tourists came, especially British, showing interest in the agriculta of the islands.

Much later, with the world wars, this sector weakened, but the start of the second half of the century brought new forms of tourism. At first emphasis was on Puerto de la Cruz, for the kindness of the climate, and for all the attractions that the Valle de la Orotava concentrated, but following the attraction of the sun and beaches, around 1980 was born the tourist boom of south Tenerife, where emphasis was on cities like Arona or Adeje, shifting to tourist centres like Los Cristianos o Playa de Las Americas, that today house 65% of the hotels that were on the island. Tenerife receives more than 5,000,000 tourists every year, of the canary islands Tenerife is the most popular. However, this data also reflects the large quality of resources that tourism consumes (space, energy, water etc.)

The Torres de Santa Cruz, are at high ,the tallest sky-scrapers in the archipelago, and residentially are the tallest towers in Spain.

Agriculture and fishing

The Botanic Gardens in Puerto de la Cruz.

Since tourism dominates the Tenerifian economy, the service sector is the largest, but industry and commerce contribute 40% of the non tourist economy. The primary sector has lost its traditional importance in the island, to the industrial and service sectors. Agriculture contributes less than 10% of the island’s GDP, but its contribution is vital, as it also generates indirect benefits, by maintaining the rural appearance, and supporting Tenerefian cultural values.

Agriculture is centred on the northern slopes, and is also determined by the altitude as well as orientation: in the coastal zone, tomatoes and bananas are cultivated, usually in plastic enclosures, these high yield products are for export to mainland Spain and the rest of Europe; in the drier intermediate zone, potatoes, tobacco and maize are grown, whilst in the South, onions are important.
View of fields around Anaga

Bananas are a particularly important crop, as Tenerife grows more bananas than the other Canary Islands, with a current annual production of about 150,000 tons, down from the peak production of 200,000 tons in 1986. More of 90% of the total is destined for the international market, and banana growing occupies about 4200 hectares. In order of importance; after the banana, come tomatoes, grapes, potatoes and flowers. Fishing is also a major contributor to the Tenerifian economy, as the Canaries are Spain’s second most important fishing grounds.

Industry and commerce

Commerce in Tenerife plays a significant role in the economy which is enhanced by tourism, representing almost 20% of the GDP, with the commercial center Santa Cruz de Tenerife generating most of the earnings. Although there are a diversity of industrial estates that exist on the island, the most important industrial activity is petroleum, representing 10% of the island's GDP, again largely due to the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife with its refinery. It provides petroliferous products not only to the Canaries archipelago but is also an active in the markets of the Iberian Peninsulamarker, Africa and South America.


There are a lot on the island of monuments, especially of time after the conquest of which we can highlight is the Cathedral of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the Church of the Conception of La Laguna and the Church of the Conception of capital. On the island is the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria (Patron of Canary Islands). The island also has several archaeological sites of guanche time (prior to the conquest), which generally are cave paintings that are scattered throughout the island, but most are found south of the like; Cambados The Archaeological Area and the archaeological site of El Barranco del Rey both in Arona. We could also highlight the Cave Achbinico (first shrine Christian of the Canary Islands, Guanche vintage-Spanish). In addition there are some buildings called Güímar Pyramidsmarker, whose origin is uncertain.

As existing monuments include the Auditorio de Tenerife, one of the most modern Spain, which was Find the entry port of the capital. Another prominent monuments are the Torres de Santa Cruz, skyscraper 120 meters high (the highest residential buildings in Spain and skyscrapers in Canary highest).

Culture and the Arts


José Viera y Clavijo.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Antonio de Viana, a native of La Laguna, composed the epic poem Antigüedades de las Islas Afortunadas (Antiquities of the Fortunate Isles), a work of value to anthropologists, since it sheds light on Canarian life of the time. The Enlightenment reached Tenerife, and literary and artistic figures of this era include José Viera y Clavijo, Tomás de Iriarte y Oropesa, Ángel Guimerá y Jorge, Mercedes Pinto and Domingo Pérez Minik, amongst others.


During the course of the 16th century, several painters flourished in La Laguna, as well as in other places on the island, including Garachico, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruzmarker. Cristóbal Hernández de Quintana and Gaspar de Quevedo, considered the best Canarian painters of the 17th century, were natives of La Orotava, and their art can be found in churches on Tenerife.

The work of Luis de la Cruz y Ríos can be found in the church of Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia, in Puerto de la Cruz. Born in 1775, he became court painter to Ferdinand VII of Spain and was also a miniaturist, and achieved a favorable position in the royal court. He was known there by the nickname of “El Canario.”

The landscape painter Valentín Sanz (b. 1849) was a native of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes de Santa Cruz displays many of his works. This museum also contains the works of Juan Rodríguez Botas (1880-1917), considered the first Canarian impressionist.

Frescoes by the expressionist Mariano de Cossío can be found in the church of Santo Domingo, in La Laguna. The watercolorist Francisco Bonnín Guerín (b. 1874) was a native of Santa Cruz, and founded a school to encourage the arts. Óscar Domínguez was born in La Laguna in 1906 and is famed for his versatility. He belonged to the surrealist school, and invented the technique known as decalcomania.


The arrival from Seville of Martín de Andújar Cantos, an architect and sculptor brought new sculpting techniques of the Seville school, which were passed down to his students, including Blas García Ravelo, a native of Garachico. He had been trained by the master sculptor Juan Martínez Montañés.

Other notable sculptors from the 17th and 18th centuries include Sebastián Fernández Méndez, Lázaro González de Ocampo, José Rodríguez de la Oliva, and most importantly, Fernando Estévez, a native of La Orotava and a student of Luján Pérez. Estévez contributed an extensive collection of religious images and woodcarvings, found in numerous churches of Tenerife, such as the Principal Parish of Saint James the Great (Parroquia Matriz del Apóstol Santiago), in Los Realejos; in the Cathedral of La Laguna; the Iglesia de la Concepción in La Laguna; the basilica of Candelariamarker, and various churches in La Orotava.


Canarian Timple.
An important musician from Tenerife is Teobaldo Power y Lugo Viña, a native of Santa Cruz and a pianist and composer, and author of the Cantos Canarios. The Hymn of the Canary Islands takes its melody from the Arrorró, or Lullaby, from Power y Lugo Viña's Cantos Canarios.

Folkloric music has also flourished on the island, and, as in the rest of the islands, is characterized by the use of the Canarian Timple, the guitar, bandurria, laúd, and various percussion instruments. Local folkloric groups such as Los Sabandeños work to save Tenerife's musical forms in the face of increasing cultural pressure from the mainland.

Tenerife is the home to the types of songs called the isa, folía, tajaraste, and malagueña, which are a cross of ancient Guanche songs and those of Andalusiamarker and Latin America.


Architecture in Santa Cruz
Tenerife is characterized by an architecture whose best representatives are the local manor houses and also the most humble and common dwellings. This style, while influenced by those of Andalusia and Portugal, nevertheless had a very particular and native character.

Of the manor houses, the best examples can be found in La Orotava and in La Laguna, characterized by their balconies and by the existence of interior patios and the widespread use of the wood known as pino tea (“pitch pine”). These houses are characterized by simple façades and wooden lattices with little ornamentation. There are sash windows and it is customary for the chairs inside the house to rest back-to-back to the windows. The interior patios function like real gardens that serve to give extra light to the rooms, which are connected via the patio by galleries frequently crowned by wood and stone.

Gadgets like stills, water pumps, benches and counters, are elements that frequently form part of these patios.

Traditional houses generally have two storeys, with rough walls of variegated colours. Sometimes the continuity of these walls is interrupted by the presence of stone blocks that are used for ornamental purposes.

The government buildings and religious structures were built according to the changing styles of each century. The urban nuclei of La Orotava and La Laguna have been declared national historical-artistic monuments.

In recent years, various governments have spearheaded the concept of developing architectural projects, sometimes ostentatious ones, designed by renowned architects–for example, the remodeling of the Plaza de España in Santa Cruz de Tenerife by the Swissmarker architects Herzog & de Meuron. Other examples include the Playa de Las Teresitas project by the Frenchman Dominique Perrault; the center known as Magma Arte & Congresos; the Torres de Santa Cruz; and the Auditorio de Tenerife ("Auditorium of Tenerife"). The latter, by the Spaniard Santiago Calatrava, lies to the east of the Parque Marítimo (“Maritime Park”), in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and is characterized by its sail-like structure, which evokes a boat, and has become a symbol for the island.


Traditional costume
Distinctive representatives of craftsmanship on the island are Tenerife Lace (calado canario), which is drawn work embroidery, and the intricate doilies known as rosetas, or rosette embroidery, particularly from Vilaflor . The lace, often made for table linen, is produced by the intricate and slow embroidering of a stretched piece of cloth, which is rigidly attached to a wooden frame and is finished with illustrations or patterns using threads that are crossed over and wound around the fijadores, or pins stuck in a small support made of cloth. These decorated, small pieces are afterwards joined, to produce distinct designs and pieces of cloth.
Güímar Ra II

Another Tenerife-based industry is cabinetwork (ebanistería). The north of the island produced various master craftsman who created distinctive balconies, celosias, doors, and windows, as well as furniture consisting of pieces made in fine wood. Basketmaking (cestería) using palm-leaves was also an important industry. Other materials are chestnut tree branches stripped of their leaves and banana tree fibre (known locally as la badana).

Pottery has a long history harking back to the production of ceramics by the Guanches. The Guanches were unfamiliar with the potter’s wheel, and used hand-worked clay, which gave their pottery a distinctive look. Pottery was used to produce domestic objects such as pots and grills, or ornamental pieces such as bead collars or the objects known as pintaderas, which were pieces of pottery used to decorate other vessels.

Traditional celebrations

Annual performance to honour "Our Lady of Candelaria" at Socorro Beach, Güímar

Carnival of Santa Cruz

Queen of the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Perhaps the most important festival of Tenerife, popular both on a national and international level, is the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which has been declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest (Fiesta de Interés Turístico Internacional). The carnival is celebrated in many locations in the north and south of the island, but is largest in scope in the city of Santa Cruz. Contests are celebrated, and the carnival includes bands of street musicians (murgas), groups of minstrels (rondallas de Tenerife), masquerades (comparsas), and various associations (agrupaciones). Once the Queen of the festival is elected, the first part of the carnival ends, and thereafter begins the actual street carnival, in which large numbers of people gather in the center of Santa Cruz, with the carnival lasting 10 days.

Pilgrimages (Romerías)

The most traditional and widespread religious festivals on the islands are the pilgrimages or romerías. These events, which incorporate Christian and non-Christian elements, are celebrated by various means: with wagons and floats, plowing teams and livestock, in honor of the patron saint of a particular place. The processions are accompanied by local dances, local dishes, folkloric activities, local arts and crafts, local sports, and the wearing of traditional dress of Tenerife (trajes de mago).

The origins of these events can be attributed to the parties and celebrations held by the richest classes of the island, who would gather to venerate their patron saints, to which they attributed good harvests, fertile lands, plentiful rainfall, the curing of sicknesses and ending of epidemics, etc. They would thus give homage to these saints by consuming and sharing the fruits of their harvest, which included the locally cultivated wines. These have developed into processions to mark festivals dedicated to Saint Mark in Tegueste, where the wagons are decorated with the fruits of the earth (seeds, cereals, flowers, etc.); to Saint Isidore the Laborer in Los Realejos; to Saint Isidore the Laborer and Maria Torribia (Saint Mary of the Head) in La Orotava; Saint Benedict in La Laguna; Saint Roch in Garachico; and Saint Augustine in Arafo.

Holiday of the Virgin of Candelaria

The Virgin of Candelaria is the patron of the Canary Islands feast is held two times a year, in February and August. The Pilgrimage-Offering to the Virgin of Candelaria is celebrated every August 14 in this event is a tradition that representations of all municipalities of the island and also of all the Canary archipelago come to make offerings to their patron. Another significant act of the feast of the Virgin of Candelaria is called "Walk to Candelaria" held on the night of 14 to 15 August in which the faithful make pilgrimage on foot from various parts of the island, even coming from other islands to arrive at Villa Mariana de Candelariamarker.

On February 2 we celebrate the feast of the Candelaria. Also on this day come to town many members of the Virgin.

Holiday of the Cristo de La Laguna

It is celebrated every September 14 in honor of a much venerated image of Christ in the Archipelago, the Cristo de La Laguna, is held in the city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna.

Corpus Christi

Soil Tapestry in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Square) in La Orotava.
The religious festival of Corpus Christi is particularly important, and is traditionally celebrated with floral carpets laid in the streets. Particularly noteworthy are the celebrations in La Orotava where a very large carpet, or tapestry, of different coloured volcanic soils, covers the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (town square). These soils are taken from the Parque Nacional del Teidemarker, and after the celebration, are returned, to preserve the National Park. The celebration of Corpus Christi in Orotava has been declared of Important Cultural Interest among the official Traditional Activities of the Island.


Among the numerous other celebrations that define Tenerifian culture, Easter remains the most important. This is celebrated across the island, but is particularly notable in the municipalities of La Laguna, La Orotava and Los Realejos, where elaborate processions take place on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day, or “Resurrection Sunday”.


As with the rest of Spain, Tenerife is largely Roman Catholic. However, the practice of other religions and denominations has increasingly expanded on the island due to tourism and immigration. An important Roman Catholic festival is the celebration of the feast day associated with the Virgin of Candelaria, patron saint of the Canary Islands, who represents the union of the Guanche and Spanish cultures. The Guanches became devoted to a Black Madonna that Christian missionaries from Lanzarote and Fuerteventura left on a beach near the present-day Villa Mariana de Candelaria, which gave rise to the legends and stories associated with the Virgin. These legends fueled the cult of the Virgin and the pilgrimages to Candelaria that have existed to this day on the island. Another cult to the Virgin Mary exists in the form of Our Lady of Remedies (la Virgen de Los Remedios), who is patron of the Roman Catholic diocese of Tenerife (Diócesis Nivariense).

Principal Roman Catholic places of worship on the island include:

  • The Basilica of Candelaria (in Candelariamarker): The place where the image of the Virgin of Candelaria can be found, this sanctuary is built in neoclassical style, and is visited daily by the parishioners, who visit the Villa Mariana out of devotion to the Virgin.
  • The Cathedral of La Laguna (in San Cristóbal de La Laguna): The seat of the Diocese of Tenerife (known as the Diócesis Nivariense, or Nivarian Diocese), the cathedral is a place of devotion for Our Lady of Remedies (la Virgen de Los Remedios). A combination of neo-Gothic and neoclassical architectural elements, it is now being restored and rebuilt.
  • Principal Parish of Saint James the Great (Parroquia Matriz del Apóstol Santiago): Situated in Villa de Los Realejos, this parish church was the first Christian church built on the island after its conquest by Castilian forces, and is dedicated to Saint James the Great, due to the fact that the conquest was completed on the saint’s feast day, that is, July 25, in the year 1496. It was, along with the Parish of the Conception of La Laguna, one of the first parishes of the island.
  • The Church of the Conception of La Laguna (Iglesia de la Concepción de La Laguna): One of the most ancient buildings on Tenerife, its construction was ordered by Alonso Fernández de Lugo. It has been declared a National Historic Monument. Around this church were established the dwellings and framework that formed the nucleus of the city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna.

Other important churches include the Church of the Conception in La Orotava (Iglesia de la Concepción); the churches of San Agustín and Santo Domingo in La Orotava; the church of Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia in Puerto de la Cruz; the church of San Marcos in Icod de los Vinos; the church of Santa Ana in Garachico; and the Church of the Conception (Iglesia de la Concepción) in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The first saint of Tenerife was Santo Hermano Pedro de San José Betancurt, born in the town of Vilaflor, Tenerife. His shrine is a cave in Granadilla de Abonamarker, near the coast, where he lived in his youth.


University of La Laguna
Formal education in Tenerife began with the religious orders. In 1530, the Dominican Order established a chair of philosophy at the convent of La Concepción de La Laguna. Still, until well into the 18th century Tenerife was largely without institutions of education.

Such institutions finally began to develop thanks to the work of the Real Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País ("Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country"), which established several schools in San Cristóbal de La Laguna. The first of these was an institute of secondary education established in 1846 to fill the gap left by the closure of the Universidad de San Fernando (see University of La Laguna). An 1850 annex to this building was the Escuela Normal Elemental, the archipelago's first teachers' college or normal school, which became the Escuela Normal Superior de Magisterio from 1866 onward. These were the only institutions of higher education until the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera created several institutions. A turning point came around the time of the rise of the Second Spanish Republic. From 1929 to 1933 the number of schools nearly doubled.

Shortly after this, though, the start of the Spanish Civil War and the following dictatorship of Francisco Franco constituted a considerable reversal. Education in the hands of religious orders had a certain importance on the island until the 1970 Ley General de Educación ("General Law of Education") shifted the balance from religiously-based education to public education. Public schools continued their advance during and after the post-Franco Spanish transition to democracy. Tenerife today has 301 centers of childhood education (preschools), 297 primary schools, 140 secondary schools and 86 post-secondary schools. There are also five universities or post-graduate schools, the University of La Laguna, the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (National University of Distance Learning), the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (Menéndez Pelayo International University), the Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio (University of Alfonso X the Wise) and the Universidad de Vic (Escuela Universitaria de Turismo de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, "University School of Tourism of Santa Cruz de Tenerife"). The largest of these is the University of La Laguna.

Science and research

While Tenerife is not prominent in the history of scientific and academic research, it is the home of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Astrophysical Institute of the Canaries). There is also an Instituto de Bio-Orgánica Antonio González (Antonio González Bio-Organic Institute) at the University of La Laguna. Also at that university are the Instituto de Lingüística Andrés Bello (Andrés Bello Institute of Linguistics), the Centro de Estudios Medievales y Renacentistas (Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies), the Instituto Universitario de la Empresa (University Institute of Business), the Instituto de Derecho Regional (Regional Institute of Law), the Instituto Universitario de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales (University Institute of Political and Social Sciences) and the Instituto de Enfermedades Tropicales (Institute of Tropical Diseases). This last is one of the seven institutions of the Red de Investigación de Centros de Enfermedades Tropicales (RICET, "Network of Research of Centers of Tropical Diseases"), located in various parts of Spain.

Puerto de la Cruz has the Instituto de Estudos Hispánicos de Canarias (Institute of Hispanic Studies of the Canaries), attached to Madrid's Instituto de Cultura Hispánica. In La Laguna is the Canarian delegation of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC, Superior Council of Scientific Investigations), the Instituto Canario de Investigaciones Agrarias (Canarian Institute of Agrarian Investigation), the Instituto de Estudios Canarios (Canarian Institute of Studies) and the Centro Internacional para la Conservación del Patrimonio (the International Center of the Conservation of Patrimony).

Other research facilities in Tenerife are the Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias, the Instituto Vulcanológico de Canarias, the Asociación Industrial de Canarias, the Instituto Tecnológico de Energías Renovables (Technological Institute of Renewable Energy) and the Instituto Oceanográfico de Canarias in Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker.


The island boasts a variety of museums of different natures, under dominion of a variety of institutions. Perhaps the most developed are those belonging to the Organismo Autónomo de Museos y Centros, which include the following:
  • Museum of Nature and Man: located in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, this museum exhibits the natural riches of the Canary Islands and of the pre-Hispanic people who inhabited these. The complex is composed of three museums:
    • The Museum of Natural Sciences
    • The Architectural Museum of Tenerife
    • The Canarian Institute of Bioanthropology
  • Museum of the History of Tenerife: located in the city of La Laguna, the history of museum presents an overview of the institutional, social, economic and cultural development of the Island in from the 15th to 20th centuries.
  • The Museum of Science and the Cosmos, also located in La Laguna adjacent to the property of the Instituto de Astrofísica as a museum about the laws and principles of nature, from those of the cosmos to those of the human body.
  • The Museum of Anthropology of Tenerife, in La Laguna as well, more specifically in Valle de Guerra is a public institution for the investigation, conservation and spread of popular culture
  • The Centro de Documentación Canario-Americano (CEDOCAM, Center for Canarian-American Documentation, located in La Laguna has a mission of strengthening cultural relations and elements of common identity between the Canaries and the Americas, through such means as conservation, information and diffusion of their shared documentary patrimony.
  • The Centro de Fotografía Isla de Tenerife ("Island of Tenerife Photographic Center") located in Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker offers an annual program of expositions that allows contact with tendencies and works of various renowned and emergent photographers of the Canaries. In the future, this center will share a headquarters with the Instituto Óscar Domínguez de Arte y Cultura Contemporánea (Óscar Domínguez Institute of Art and Culture).
  • The Tenerife Espacio de las Artesmarker (TEA, "Tenerife Arts Space") also in Santa Cruz de Tenerife was founded to promote knowledge of the many contemporary tendencies in art and culture among the local population and visitors, by organizing cultural, scientific, educational and technical activities.

Independent of the Organismo Autónomo de Museos y Centros are:

  • The Municipal Museum of Fine Arts in the Tenerifan capital has a permanentexhibit of the paintings and sculptures of José de Ribera, Federico Madrazo, Joaquín Sorolla and such Canarian artists as Manolo Millares and Óscar Domínguez.
  • The Casa del Vino-La Baranda ("House of Wine-La Baranda"), a member of the Asociación de Museos del Vino de España (Association of Wine Museums of Spain, is located in the municipality of El Sauzal. Its facilities include a rustic, historic hacienda, a museum of the history of viticulture in Tenerife, a restaurant serving typical Tenerifan food, a wine store, an audiovisual hall, and a tasting room.
  • The Casa de la Miel ("House of Honey") is an annex to the Casa del Vino-La Baranda, and was established by the Cabildo Insular to support and develop the apicultural (bee-keeping) sector on Tenerife. The visitor's center of the Casa de la Miel offers exhibits about the history of this industry on the island and how apiculture is conducted, as well as information services and opportunities to taste Tenerifan denominación de origen honeys.
  • The Museum of Iberoamerican Artisanship is located in the old convent of San Benito Abad, in La Orotava. El centro se encuadra dentro del programa de divulgación que ejecuta el Center for Documentation of Artisanship in Spain and America, The Foundation is financed by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism; the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional (Spanish Agency of International Cooperation), the Comisión Nacional "Quinto Centeneario" ("Fifth Centenary" National Commission), the Consejería de Industria y Comercio del Gobierno de Canarias (Council of Industry and Commerce of the Government of the Canaries), and the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife. It has five galleries, specialized in popular musical instruments, textiles / new designs in artisanship, ceramics, fibers, and popular art.
  • The Archaeological Museum of Puerto de La Cruz in the city of the same name is located in a traditional casona (a type of house dating from the 18th–19th century), offers an archival collection comprising more than 2,600 specimens of items from the Guanche culture, and a document collection named after researcher Luis Diego Cuscoy.
  • The Regional Military Museum of the Canaries, is located in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, more spefically in the Fuerte de Almeyda district. Its galleries present all of the military history of the de Canaries, including the repelling of the attack by British Admiral Horatio Nelson, as well as other events and battles waged in the islands. Separate from the Regional Military Museum are files providing the Intermediate Military Archive of the Canaries and the Military Library of the Canaries.

Transport and communications

Santa Cruz de Tenerife
The island of Tenerife is served by Tenerife North - Los Rodeos Airportmarker (GCXO) and Reina Sofía Airportmarker (GCTS).

Los Rodeos Airport, the smaller of the two, is located near the metropolitan area Santa Cruz-La Laguna (423,000 inhabitants). It serves inter-insular flights as well as national and European flights, and for the last two years, a weekly service to Venezuelamarker. Reina Sofía Airport (south) is the busiest Airport in Tenerife, ranking 7th in Spain. It typically serves the mass of regular and vacation charter flights constantly arriving from most of Europe.

As it is an island, the only other way to arrive on Tenerife is by ferry, either to Santa Cruz de Tenerife or Los Cristianos, near Playa de Las Américas.

A network consisting of two fast, toll-free motorways (TF1 and TF5) encircles nearly the entire island, linking all the main towns and resorts with the metropolitan area. The exception is in the West, from Adeje to Icod de los Vinos, which is traversed by a smaller winding mountain road. However, plans are in progress to complete the motorway, which caused a heavy debate between the environmentalists and the local businessmen.

Away from the major motorways, there is a network of secondary and communal roads, varying from wide to steep, winding narrow roads, mainly unlit and often with drops on either side of the main carriageway surface.

Public transport on the island is provided by an extensive network of buses and run by TITSA, who operates a fleet of modern, air-conditioned buses. Plans for a light-rail network linking the capital with the South have been approved by both the Tenerife Council and the Canary Islands Government, for Grand Canary and Tenerife, though the discussion with the central Spanish Government hinges now on budget.

A rental car is sometimes the best option for discovering the remote wilderness regions. TITSA buses cover most of the island and they are fairly frequent.

The metropolitan Area formed by Santa Cruz and La Laguna is served by the Tranvía de Tenerife ( ) working in early 2007, after 3 years of intensive works.

Teno, the westernmost point in the island


TF5 motorway approaching Santa Cruz

The main means of transportation in Tenerife is by highways. The most important of these are the Autopista del Sur and the Autopista del Norte (the North and South Motorways), which run from the metropolitan zone to the south and north, respectively. These two motorways are connected by means of the Autovía de Interconexión Norte-Sur in the outskirts of the metropolitan zone. Within the network of roads on the island of Tenerife there are other minor roads that used to include the highway from San Andres and Santa Cruz(Holy Cross in English).

Also planned is the construction of a bypass road north of the metropolitan area of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, La Laguna. This aims to provide dual cores to Guamasa y Acorán, by way of Los Baldíos, Centenero, Llano del Moro, El Sobradillo, El Tablero, and El Chorrillo, among other neighborhoods. The route will be approximately long and will cost an estimated 190 million euros(270 million in American dollars).


Los Rodeos Airport

The main means to reach Tenerife is by plane. There are two airports: Reina Sofiamarker, in the south, and Tenerife North Airportmarker, also called Los Rodeos, near Santa Cruz. Each has flights to the capitals of the other islands and to cities throughout Europe, as well as to Caracas, Dakar, and Miami. Taking both into account, Tenerife is the Canary island with the highest annual passenger count and the largest scope of operations. Due to tourism, cheap direct flights to and from major German, British, and Spanish mainland cities are common.

Tenerife North Airport was the site of the deadliest accident in aviation historymarker: in 1977 two Boeing 747s collided on a runway, killing 583 people.


Besides air transport, Tenerife has two principal maritime ports: the Port of Santa Cruz (Puerto de Santa Cruz), which serves the various capitals of the Canary Islands, especially those in the west; and the Port of Los Cristianosmarker (Puerto de Los Cristianos), which serves the various island capitals of the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The first port also has passenger services, which connect with the mainland port of Cádizmarker (and vice versa). There are plans to build a new port in the south of the island, in Granadilla de Abonamarker, and in another in the west, at Fonsalía.

Buses (Guaguas)

Tenerife has an extensive system of buses, which are called guaguas in the Canary Islands. The bus system is used both within the cities and also connects most of the towns and cities of the island. There are bus stations in all of the major towns, such as the Intercambiador de Transportes de Santa Cruz de Tenerife.


Tramway servicing between Santa Cruz and La Laguna
In 2007 Metropolitano de Tenerife founded Tranvía de Tenerife, a tramway that connects the cities of Santa Cruz and La Laguna with the suburb of Taco. There are 20 stops and it covers a distance of 12.5 km (7.67 miles) in 37 minutes. It calls at some points of interest including Tenerife's two major hospitals, the university complex of Guajara, and a number of museums and theatres. Concerning its power supply, it will support development of further wind farms to provide it with 100% clean energy.

Future expansions

This entity intends to introduce two railway systems that would serve the northern and southern sides of the island connecting these with the capital.



The main hospitals on the island are the Hospital Universitario de Canariasmarker and the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. Both are third-level hospitals, with specialist facilities that serve all of the Canary Islands. They are both affiliated with the education and research network of the Universidad de La Laguna. However, they belong to different bodies, since first one is under the directives of the Consorcio sanitario de Tenerife and the second is operated by the Servicio canario de salud (Canarian Health Service).

In addition, two new peripheral hospitals in the North and South areas of the island are being constructed, located in the municipalities of Icod de los Vinos and Arona respectively. These centers will function, according to their classification, as second level hospitals, with services of hospitalization, advanced diagnosis, ambulances and emergencies, and rehabilitation, etc. There are also a total of 39 centers of primary care and specialized clinics which complete the sanitary infrastructure of Tenerife.



Due to the geographic situation of Tenerife, the island enjoys an abundance of fish of various kinds. The species that are consumed the most are the Combtooth blennies (viejas), as well as sea bream (sama), red porgy (bocinegro), gold lined bream (salema), grouper (mero), and various and abundant types of Thunnus. The Atlantic mackerel (caballa), sardine (sardine), and Jack mackerels (chicharros) are also consumed frequently. Moray eels (morenas) are also eaten, usually fried. Most seafood is cooked simply, usually boiled, or prepared “a la espalda” (cut into two equally-shaped pieces along the spine) or “a la sal” (baked in salt). These dishes are usually accompanied by mojo (a local sauce) and wrinkly potatoes.


The typical festive meat dish of marinated porc tacos is a very popular dish prepared for town festivities in ventorrillos, bars and private homes. Rabbit in salmorejo, goat, and of course beef, pork and poultry are also regularly consumed.

Canarian wrinkly potatoes

Canarian wrinkly potatoes, with red mojo
The fish dishes along with the meats are often accompanied by wrinkly potatoes (papas arrugadas). This is a typical Canarian dish which simply refers to the way the cooked potatoes look. They are boiled in their skins, in water with lots of salt, and the water is allowed to evaporate, leaving a salty crust.


Mojo, a word probably of Portuguese origin, describes a typical Canarian sauce, served as an accompaniment to food. The sauces come in a variety of colours, flavours and textures, and are usually served cold, often in separate dishes, for the diner to choose how much to apply. Green mojo usually includes coriander, parsley, and garlic; whilst red mojo is piquant, and made from a mix of hot and sweet peppers. A wide variety of other ingredients are also used, including; almonds, cheese, saffron and fried bread. Mojos are served with most meat, and some fish, dishes, and are often used on potatoes, or bread is dipped into them.


One of the latest studies has revealed that Tenerife exports about 3,400 tons of cheese per year, representing about 50% of the output of the island, and about 25% of the entire Canary Islands.

After the conquest of the Canary Islands, one of the first commercial activities to be started was cheese production. The sale of cheese provided the inhabitants with an income and cheese was even used as a form of currency for exchange and sale, becoming a crucial product in agricultural areas of the island.

Cheese grew to become one of the most commonly produced and consumed products on the island and is regularly served as part of a starter course or as a snack. Farms at Arico, La Orotava and Tenomarker produced a variety of cheeses, including soft cheeses, cured, smoked and were mostly handmade. Today the main product is goats cheese, although certain amounts are made from sheeps or cows milk and according to the Registro General Sanitario de Alimentos, the general health registry, around 75 different cottage cheeses are produced. The cheeses of the Canaries have generally received good international reviews, noted for their sweetness which differentiates them from certain other European cheeses. In particular, Tenerifan cured goats cheese was awarded best cheese in the world final of the 2008 World Cheese Awards held in Dublinmarker, Irelandmarker.

Cheeses from Tenerife now have a quality mark promoted by the Fundación Tenerife Rural, to standardize their quality in an attempt to publicize the qualities of the cheese and improve its marketing.


Gofio escaldado.
Gofio is one of the more traditional elements of cooking on the island, It is made with cereal grains that are roasted and then ground. Increasingly used to make a gofio on the island is wheat although there are other types, and they are often made with chick peas. Relatively common is a mixed-type with wheat. It is served as main food to the guanches even before the Spanish conquest. In later times of scarcity or famine it was a staple of the popular Canarian diet. Today it is used as main dish (gofio escaldado) or accompaniment to different dishes, meats, fishes, soups, desserts. Even some famous cooks have made gofio ice cream receiving good comments from the critics.


Confectionery in Tenerife is represented and strongly influenced by La Palma, with confections like bienmesabe, leche asada, Príncipe Alberto, frangollo, huevos moles, quesillo, etc.


Viniculture in the archipelago, and especially in Tenerife dates back to the conquest, when the settlers brought a variety of vines to plant. In the 16th and 17th centuries, wine production played an important role in the economy, and many families were dedicated to the culture and business. Of special mention is malvasía canary, considered the best wine of Tenerife and at the time one of the most desired wines in the world, saw it shipped across to the major warehouses of Europe and America. Writers as William Shakespeare and Walter Scott make reference to the wine in some of their works. Tenerife has 5 main wine growing regions. These include Abona, Valle de Güímar, Valle de La Orotava, Tacoronte-Acentejo and Ycoden-Daute-Isora.


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