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Tenerife History

image : (c) istock/thinkstock

The Guanches were the first known settlers of the island, and they date back to 200 B.C. in records, though they may have migrated as early as 1000 B.C. Since evidence of their rituals and civilisations are still seen in present society, although it’s likely their ethnicity died out, their presence is still felt in Tenerife today.

It is said that Tinerfe el Grande who was son of Mencey (a kingly title) Sunta governed the island from Adeje in the south. When he died his nine children squabbled over the division of the island. The island was later divided into two independent kingdoms and nine sub-kingdoms, similar to municipalities.

Later, Spanish conquests and Catholic Monarchs invaded, and Alonso Fernandez de Lugo conquered the island. He captured the native king and presented him to Isabella and Ferdinand. Following these events, the kings of Tenerife either adopted attitudes of war or peace. Warriors fought against the conquest, with some impressive victories, which only delayed the inevitable. By 1494 the Crown of Castile was victorious. The natives were enslaved, particularly the warriors, while many others died from diseases like influenza and smallpox. Immigrants mixed in with natives from the emerging Spanish empire.

Forests decreased because of the need for agriculture and export trade. Sugar cane was big in the 16th century, while other economies include wine grapes and plantains. Latin America started collaborating with the island, as many settles coming from Spain stopped by the island before heading off to the Americas. Eventually, “Tinerfenos” became part of conquest expeditions, or left the island on their own, in hopes of populating empty parts of the America, according to the will of the Crown. This continued to happen as far as the 20th century.

However, with the boom of tourism as well as protectionist laws for the local economy, the migration has stalled. True to history, however, Tenerife still receives a large influx of visitors even today. Actually, many islander descendents are now returning home to a land their ancestors once inhabited.

The 1833 territorial division of Spain was another landmark year in Tenerife’s development and all of the Canary Islands. By 1927, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands. As time passed and economy was centred on the use of other crops such as wine, grapes and plantains, there was more clearing of the forests and land and today such sites are much more appreciated and protected.

The most notable conflict in later times was the British Invasion of Tenerife in 1797 when Admiral Horatio Nelson launched an attack on Santa Cruz de Tenerife. After the death of many, a defence was organised by General Antonio Gutierrez de Otero y Santayana to repel and stop the invaders. In September of 1797, another attempt was made in the Puerto Santiago region and was repelled by the people of Santiago del Teide.

Modern History

Before his rise to power, Francisco Franco was posted to Tenerife in March of 1936 by a Republican government, wary of his influence on politics. Franco received information and in Gran Canaria, agreed to collaborate in the military group 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 many of the inhabitants to emigrate to Cuba and parts of Latin America.

Tenerife has had a tough time adjusting to modern civilisation, and seemed to suffer tragedy after tragedy for quite a while. This is one reason why its recent success is so celebrated and inspiring.

The oldest mountain ranges in Tenerife rose from the Atlantic Ocean by a volcanic eruption, which fused three islands together creatingwhat we know as Tenerife. The worst of the eruptions happened 1704 as the Arafo, Fasnia and Siete Fuentes volcanoes all erupted simultaneously and then the worst in 1756 at Trevejo. This volcano produced great amounts of lava and buried the city and port of Garachio.

The “Tenerife Airport Disaster” made headlines as an airliner collision took place on March 27, 1977, at Los Rodeos airport in the north of the island. It involved two Boeing 747 airplanes that collided.

However, this island has overcome tragedy and war and has recovered beautifully with a thriving tourism industry, as well as an embrace of its Spanish culture and interaction with Central America. The land and views all around Tenerife are still stunningly beautiful. Tenerife holds about 43 percent of the population of the Canary Islands. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of the island and the seat of the island council. The city is capital of the autonomous community of Canary Islands (shared with Las Palmas). With such a rich history and architecture, lush gardens, exotic animals, and vacation beaches all year round, a trip to Tenerife will certainly provide priceless memories.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.