Tenerife History

The History of Tenerife

The first recorded settlers in Tenerife were an ancient tribe known as the Guanches. The name of the island is said to have originated from the language of these people, "Tene" meaning mountain and "ife" meaning white, a reference to the iconic snow capped mountains that sprawl across the island

In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Spanish conquistadores invaded Tenerife and the Guanches were forced to surrender in a famous battle which ended on Christmas Day of 1495. The natives were taken as slaves by the Spanish, used primarily on new plantations producing sugarcane for export. Wine, bananas and fabric dyes were also exported from here for Spanish profit. Eventually the entire Gaunches population was eliminated as a combined result of poor working conditions and disease.

At the end of the eighteenth century, British forces attacked Tenerife and Horatio Nelson notoriously lost his right arm during battle. The Spanish succeeded in maintaining control of the island and the British soon departed.

Tenerife was greatly affected by the Spanish Civil War in the early-to-mid nineteenth century. Following the war, the area became rife with poverty and many locals were forced to immigrate to other areas, including Cuba and Latin America. In 1977 more than 500 people travelling to Tenerife were killed in an aircraft disaster, a death toll that has only ever been surpassed by the September 11th attacks in the US.

In recent years, Tenerife has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, with a steadily growing economy and strong agricultural exports.

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