Tenerife is the largest and most populous of the seven main islands of the Canary Archipelago. The island is 83 kilometers long and a maximum of 53 kilometers wide. Tenerife's area measures 2.034 square kilometers. Like the other Canary Islands, Tenerife is topographically part of Africa. The island and mainland Africa are about 300 kilometers apart as the crow flies.
Tenerife, the volcanic island
Tenerife emerged from the sea about 12 million years ago after volcanic activity. Spain's highest mountain, the 3.718 meter high volcano Pico del Teide, is on Tenerife. It is located in a 12 by 17 kilometer caldera.
Tenerife - Pico del Teide
Tenerife has a wholesome climate. Mild temperatures and humidity promote the island's vegetation. The sea air, saturated with water vapor, rising on the slopes of the Teide massif ensures cloud formation and sufficient rainfall. The result: the land is green and fertile. The vegetation is diverse; individual plant species, such as the red adder head, are only native to Tenerife.
Clouds in front of the Pico del Teide
Red adder head in Parque Nacioal del Teide
Probably the first people lived on the island in the 10th century BC. Tenerife was permanently settled between the 5th century BC and the 1st century AD. The Guanches, the native inhabitants of the island, had no nautical knowledge; they were cut off from the outside world. This situation changed in the 14th century when Spanish navigators discovered and mapped the Canary Islands. Tenerife was initially avoided because of the active Teide volcano. The island was not settled until the middle of the 15th century. Since 1982 the Canary Islands have had the status of a Spanish autonomous region with extensive self-government.
Santa Cruz - Tenerife's capital of the island
In the northeast of the island is the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The full name of the city has been since 1803 "Muy Leal, Noble e Invicta Villa, Puerto y Plaza de Santa Cruz de Santiago". Translated it means: “Very faithful, noble and undefeated city, port and place of the Holy Cross of Saint Jacob”. In 2020 (estimated) more than 209.000 inhabitants lived in the loyal, noble and undefeated city. In total, over a million people live on Tenerife. In the west of Santa Cruz lies the second largest city of Tenerife, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, at an altitude of more than 550 meters. The city has a university and it is the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Tenerife.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
San Cristóbal de La Laguna
The Canary Archipelago has two capitals. They are Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Both cities alternate as the seat of government every 4 years.
Tenerife has no natural resources; the island is partly shaped by agriculture. Main products are: potatoes, bananas, tomatoes and wine. Since the Canary Islands developed into a holiday region, Tenerife's economy and infrastructure have been dependent on tourism. The island has two airports, good transport routes and an efficient cruise port in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Tenerife - agricultural land near Tacaronte
Tenerife - destination of the cruise ships
Cruise ships visit most of the Canary Islands, especially in the European winter. According to the port authority, more than 2019 ferry and cruise passengers were handled in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 639.000. The terminals of the ferries and cruise ships are within walking distance of Plaza España and Plaza de la Candelaria. The two adjacent squares are starting points for city tours.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Terminals in front of the cityscape
We recommend first-time visitors to the island to spend the day in Santa Cruz or in neighboring San Cristóbal de La Laguna. It's not a wasted day! For those guests who want to see more of the island, Tenerife offers beautiful, varied landscapes, beaches and much more. We report on worthwhile individual goals under Tenerife - attractions.
Update June 2021