History of Tenerife

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A brief summary of the History of Tenerife Island, archipelago of the Canary

Conquest of Tenerife

The history of Tenerife starts in the enscient time. The Island was already known to the Romans as Nivaria (from the Latin nix, nivis, “Snow”). The name was due to the snow covering the peak of El Teide volcano.

Nelson's injury
Nelson’s injury

The native people Guances had divided the island into nine kingdomsIt. It was the last island of the Canary archipelago to be completely conquered by the Spaniards. Initially the Spaniards commanded by Alonso Fernández de Lugo, were heavily defeated by the natives. It happened in the First Battle of Acentejo in 1494; but at the end the Spaniards won the war in December 25, 1495. So the Guanches surrendered overwhelmed by the advance technology and diseases, to which they had no immunity, .

As on the other islands, while on the island flocked immigrants coming by the Spanish Empire, much of the native population of Tenerife was enslaved or succumbed to new diseases brought by the Spaniards. In the years around 1520 the pine forests were cleared to make way for the cultivation of sugar cane. In later centuries, the island’s economy could also rely on the cultivation of other products such as cochineal and banana trees.

On July 25, 1797 Horatio Nelson attacked Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the island’s capital and headquarters of the Captain General. After a fierce battle, the British were repelled. Nelson lost his right arm and tried to land on the beach. On September 5, another attempt to land in Puerto Santiago region was rejected by the inhabitants of the Valley of Santiago, who hurled stones at the British from the cliffs of Los Gigantes.

Nelson's attack - History of Tenerife
Nelson’s attack

The History of Tenerife shows that over time the island was visited by many well-known personalities. Alexander Von Humboldt ascended the peak of the Teide and wrote about the beauty of the island. After Tourists began visiting Tenerife, the number became important in the 1890s. Their interest where directed in the northern town of Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Francisco Franco, before his rise to power, was sent to Tenerife by the Republican government, worried about its influence and its political tendencies. On the Island Franco organized the coup that would result in the Spanish Civil War. The Canaries fell to the Nationalists in July 1936. So the population was subject to the mass executions of opponents to the new regime. In the 1950s, the misery of war caused heavy emigration of its inhabitants to Cuba and Latin America, in particular to Venezuela.