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TOURIST INFORMATIONHISTORY16 OCTOBER 2019

HISTORY

When the Kingdom of Castile began the conquest of the Canary Islands in the 15th century, Tenerife and the other islands were inhabited by the Guanches, name first given only to the population of Tenerife, but later extended to the inhabitants of the other islands, who followed a Palaeolithic lifestyle.

Probably of Berber origin, the Guanches lived in natural caves and were dedicated to agriculture and livestock farming. It is assumed that they did not have sailing skills, what fostered the isolated development of each of the islands.

When the Castilian conquerors arrived to Tenerife, the island was divided in nine small kingdoms or “menceyatos”, each of them reigned by a “mencey”. During the conquest, the Guanches of Tenerife put up resistance against subjection, but the Castilian greater military power finally led to its addition to Castile in 1496 after the victory over Bencomo, king of Taoro, nowadays known as Valle de La Oratava. After the conquest, many surviving “guanches” became slaves and were transferred to the Iberian Peninsula. The other “guanches” integrated the customs and religion of their conquerors.

The conquest of the islands officially began in 1402 with the incursions of Jean de Bethencourt and Gadifier de la Salle on behalf of Henry III of Castile. Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and El Hierro were lands easily annexed to Castile. Fernán Peraza did the same with La Gomera. Tenerife was the last island to be conquered after a bloody fight. However, the Castilian troops commanded by the Governor Alonso Fernández de Lugo were also soundly defeated in La Matanza in 1494. One year later, Fernández de Lugo came back with a new army, turning the tables on the battlefield.

This island has been linked to America since it was essential in the route to the New World. For this reason, the people of the Canary Islands actively participated, as colonists, in the uprising of cities and nations. Cities such as Montevideo, Sao Paulo and San Antonio in Texas were founded by Canary families.

Already in 1797, the British Admiral Horatio Nelson tried to take Santa Cruz de Tenerife, although he was defeated by the General Gutiérrez and lost his arms in the battle. The letters and gifts exchanged between commanders of the combatant troops before the leaving of Nelson attest the welcoming and friendly character of the islanders even during the war.

Much later, in 1982, Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz de Tenerife became tourist interest destinations.

A hundred years later, Canary Islands became an Autonomous Community of Spain in 1982 being integrated in the European Economic Community and in the European Union afterwards.

VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS

As a volcanic island, Tenerife has experienced several eruptions, although there is only historical evidence of the four of them. The first eruption was in 1704 when the volcanoes Siete Fuentes, Fasnia and Arafo began erupting successively. However, it was in 1706 when the most important eruption took place, as the volcano Trevejo stewed out large amounts of molten lava for forty days, burying the city and port of Garachico, the most significant one in Tenerife at that time. 

In 1798, the volcano Chamorra in Cañadas del Teide began erupting. The last eruption so far took place in 1909 in the volcano Chinyero in Santiago del Teide and lasted ten days.

Still, however incredible it might seem, there is no evidence of any fatality resulted during these eruptions.

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