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Tenerife, a Spanish island, is the largest of the seven Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. Tenerife has an area of 2034.38 square kilometers, and 886,033 inhabitants, which make it the most populated island of the Canary Islands and Spain.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of the island and the head of the island government (cabildo insular). It is the second largest city in the Canary Islands after Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and is capital of the autonomous community of the Canary Islands alongside that city, sharing governmental institutions such as Presidency, Parliament and ministries.
The island is home to La Laguna University, which was founded in 1792. La Laguna (World Heritage Site) is the second city of the island and the third one of the archipelago. El Teide is also a World Heritage Site.
The oldest mountain ranges in Tenerife rose from the Atlantic Ocean by volcanic eruption which gave birth to the island around twelve million years ago. The island as it is today was formed three million years ago by the fusion of three different islands, with the mountain ranges of Anaga, Teno and Valle de San Lorenzo.Volcanic activity from Teide was responsible for this movement and the islands became one, Tenerife. The volcano is visible from most parts of the island today, and the crater is 17 km long at some points. The earliest known settlement in the islands date to around 200 BC, by a tribe known as the Guanche. They were characteristically tall, powerfully built Scandinavian-looking people with blue eyes and long, fair hair. They were an uncivilised people, even by Stone Age comparison and dressed in animal hides and lived in caves on the island. According to legend, many islands in the chain, among them Tenerife, were believed to be the uppermost peaks of Atlantis, which catastrophically sank under the ocean leaving only the highest mountains above sea level.
Tenerife is a rugged and volcanic island sculpted by successive eruptions throughout its history (the most recent was at Chinyero in 1909).
The island is located between the 28º and 29º N parallel and the 16º and 17º meridian. It is situated slightly to the north of the Tropic of Cancer, occupying a central position between the other Canary Islands of Gran Canaria, La Gomera and La Palma. The island is located a little more than 300 km (186 mi) from the African continent, and approximately 1,000 km (621 mi) from the Iberian Peninsula. Tenerife is the largest island of the Canary Islands archipelago, with a surface area of 2,034.38 km2 (785 sq mi)and the longest coastline amounting to 342 km (213 mi).
In addition, the highest point, Mount Teide, with an elevation of 3,718 m (12,198 ft) above sea level is the highest point in all of Spain.
Tenerife is known internationally as the “Island of Eternal Spring” (Isla de la Eterna Primavera).The island, being on a latitude of the Sahara Desert, enjoys a warm, all year round climate with an average of 22° – 24°C in the winter and 26° – 28°C in the summer and sunshine all year round. On Tenerife, there are no periods annually even during the winter months of cold, but neither are there periods during the summer of unbearable heat as there are in some of the Greek islands of the Mediterranean. The moderate climate of Tenerife is controlled to a great extent by the tradewinds, whose humidity, principally, is condensed over the north and northeast of the island, creating cloud banks that range between 600 and 1,800 meters in height. The cold sea currents of the Canary Islands, also have a cooling effect on the coasts and its beaches and the topography of the landscape plays a role in climatic differences on the island with its many valleys.
Tourism is the most prominent industry in the Canaries, and it is one of the major tourist destinations in the World.
In 2005, 9,276,963 tourists (excluding those from other parts of Spain) came to the Canary Islands. Tenerife had 3,442,787 arrivals that year, excluding the numbers for Spanish tourists which make up an additional 30% of total arrivals. According to last year’s Canarian Statistics Centre’s (ISTAC) Report on Tourism the greatest number of tourists from any one country come from the United Kingdom, with more than 1,600,000 tourists in 2005. In second place comes Germany followed by Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Italy, France, Austria, Ireland and Switzerland.
Tourism is more prevalent in the south of the island, which is hotter and drier and has many well developed resorts such as Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos. More recently coastal development has spread northwards from Playa de las Americas and now encompasses the former small enclave of La Caleta. After the Moratoria act passed by the Canarian Parliament in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, no more hotels should be built on the island unless they are classified as 5 star-quality and comprise different services such as Golf Courses or Congress facilities. This act was passed with the goal of improving the standard of tourism service and promoting environmentally conscious development.
The area known as Costa Adeje (Las Américas-Los Cristianos) has many world-class facilities and leisure opportunities besides sea and sand, such as quality shopping centres, golf courses, restaurants, waterparks, animal parks, and a theatre suitable for musicals or a Congress Hall.
In the more lush and green north of the island the main development for tourism has been in the town of Puerto de la Cruz. The town itself has kept some of its old-harbour town charm mixed with northern European influences. Still, the tourist boom in the 60’s changed the outlook of the town, making it cosy and cosmopolitan at the same time, and a favourite for the more mature traveller (notably the German and Spanish tourist).
As indicated in the previous paragraphs, the economy of Tenerife, like the other Canary Isles, is based on tourism. In the 19th and most of the 20th century large numbers of foreign tourists came, especially british, showing interest in the agriculta of the islands.
Much later, with the world wars, this sector weakened, but the start of the second half of the century brought new forms of tourism. At first emphasis was on Puerto de la Cruz, for the kindness of the climate, and for all the attractions that the Valle de la Orotava concentrated, but following the attraction of the sun and beaches, around 1980 was born the tourist boom of south Tenerife, where emphasis was on cities like Arona or Adeje, shifting to tourist centres like Los Cristianos o Playa de Las Americas, that today house 65% of the hotels that were on the island. Tenerife receives more than 5,000,000 tourists every year, of the canary islands Tenerife is the most popular.
The Torres de Santa Cruz, are at 120 m (394 ft) high ,the tallest sky-scrapers in the archipelago, and residentially are the tallest towers in Spain