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About Tenerife

Known to the Romans as Nivaria (from the Latin nix, nivis, "snow"), a reference to the snows atop the volcano known as El Teide, Tenerife bears a name that is also a reference to this volcano, and was used for the island by the Guanches of the neighboring island of La Palma, “Tene” signifying “mountain” and “ife” white (the “r” was added by the Spanish). To the natives of Tenerife, the island was known as Chenech, Chinech or Achinech. As the legend goes, many islands, among them Tenerife, were the uppermost peaks of Atlantis, a continent that sank under the ocean in a catastrophic event which left only the highest mountains above sea level.

It is also believed that nearly 3 million years ago the island known today as Tenerife was three separate islands with three mountain ranges: the Anaga, Teno and Valle San Lorenzo. Then, as the consequence of a remarkable volcanic process, they melted together forming the island of Tenerife.

Tenerife at the time of its conquest was composed of nine distinct menceyatos, as the small kingdoms of the Guanches were known. Though the Spanish forces under the Adelantado ("military governor") Alonso Fernández 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 diseases to which they were not immune, surrendered to the Crown of Castile on December 25, 1495.


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 (Portugal, Flanders, Italy, Germany) 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.

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

The island was attacked in 1797 by the British. On July 25, Horatio Nelson attacked Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital town of Tenerife and headquarters of the Captain General. After a fierce engagement, the British were repelled; Nelson lost his right arm as he tried to disembark at the shore. On September 5, another attempted landing in the region of Puerto Santiago was fended off by the inhabitants of the Valley of Santiago, who hurled stones at the British from the heights of the cliffs of Los Gigantes.

Less hostile visitors arrived at the island in succeeding centuries. The naturalist Alexander von Humboldt ascended the peak of Mount Teide and remarked on the beauty of the island. Tourists began visiting Tenerife in large numbers in the 1890s, especially the northern towns of Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

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 Cuba and Latin America.

Teide (pronounced "Tay-deh") or Pico del Teide, is an active though dormant volcano which last erupted in 1909 from the El Chinyero vent on the Santiago northwestern rift. The volcano and its surrounds comprise the Parque Nacional del Teide. The park has an area of 18900 ha and was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on June 29th, 2007.

At 3,718 metres (12,198 ft) above sea level, and approximately 7,500 metres (25,000 ft) above the adjacent sea bed, Teide is the highest mountain in Spain and the highest mountain in any Atlantic island[1]. (Note: The actual summit stands 3 metres (10 ft) higher than the triangulation station, and associated bench mark, which has an altitude of 3,715 m (12,188 ft) ). The island of Tenerife itself is the third largest volcano on Earth by volume, making Tenerife the third largest volcanic island on Earth. Teide is also the third highest volcano on a volcanic ocean island[2]. It is also unstable and possibly in a more advanced stage of deformation and failure than the much publicised Cumbre Vieja [3] [4]. Prior to the 1495 Spanish colonization of Tenerife, the native Guanches referred to the volcano as Echeyde . Echeyde, in the Guanches legends, meant some sort of powerful figure leaving the volcano that could turn into hell. The Guanches believed that Echeyde held up the sky.

Teide is currently dormant, having last erupted in 1909 from the subsidiary vent of Chinyero, on the western slope. Significant eruptions occurred in 1704, 1705 and 1706, which destroyed the town and principal port of Garachico, plus several smaller villages. Another notable eruption occurred in 1798.

About 150,000 years ago, a much larger explosive eruption occurred, probably of Volcanic Explosivity Index 7.This eruption created Las Cañadas, a large caldera, at just over 2,000 m altitude. The caldera is 15 km across east-west and 10 km north-south. At Guajara, on the south side of the structure, the internal walls rise as almost sheer cliffs from 2,100 m to 2,715 m. The 3,718 m summit of Teide itself, and its sister stratovolcano, Pico Viejo (3,134 m), are both situated in the northern half of the caldera, and derive from eruptions subsequent to this prehistoric explosion.

Further eruptions are considered likely in the future, including a risk of highly dangerous pyroclastic flows similar to those on Mount Pelée and Mount Vesuvius. From 2003, there has been an increase in seismic activity at the volcano, which may be indicative of magma rising into the edifice.

Teide is unstable with a distinctive bulge on its northern flank. The bulge is believed to be constructed over the headwall scarp of the infilled Icod Valle, a massive landslide valley formed by edifice failure in a similar manner to that of the Guimar and Orotava Valle's. The summit of the volcano has a number of small active fumaroles emitting hot sulfur dioxide and other gases.

Courtesy of Wikipedia