Tenerife - Spain's Idyllic Holiday Destination
As the largest of the seven Canary Islands of Spain, Tenerife is home to more than 900,000 people and attracts around five million tourists each year. A great number of those tourists visit Tenerife to join in the celebrations of the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife held in February each year. The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is considered to be the world's second largest and most popular event of its kind, with the Rio de Janeiro carnival of Brazil being in the number one spot.
The capital city of the island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is a melting pot of cultural diversity with large immigrant communities from Western Europe, Africa and Latin America. Among the city's most notable landmarks is the Auditorio de Tenerife, Torres de Santa Cruz and Plaza de España. The volcanic Mount Teide on Tenerife is the highest point in Spain and the third highest volcano in the world when measured from its base on the ocean floor. The volcano is considered to be active, with its last eruption taking place in 1909. Together with the Teide National Park, the volcano is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Statistics reveal that the park is one of the most visited in the world. The mineral rich volcanic soil supports a diverse range of flora, creating habitats for a large number of reptiles, birds, and invertebrate species. Interestingly, the similarity of environmental conditions in parts of the park with that of the planet Mars has provided scientists with the opportunity to test instruments that will be used in research projects on that distant planet.
The earliest known human settlement on the Canary Islands by a primitive tribe known as the Gaunches dates back to approximately 200 BC. Tenerife was occupied by the Spanish under the leadership of Alonso Fernández de Lugo in April 1494. As with conquests in many undeveloped parts of the world, native residents were either subjugated or annihilated – often by diseases they had no natural immunity against. Tenerife's history includes slavery in its sugar plantations, invasion by pirates, and occupation by the British under Admiral Horatio Nelson.
It was in the late 1800s that travelers began to visit the island as a holiday destination, and with today's ease of travel, tourism has brought a level of prosperity to Tenerife – a dream holiday destination with abundant natural beauty, fascinating culture and warm hospitality.