Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands;[1] it is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 km² (785.47 mi²) and 898,680 inhabitants, 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands. About five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, the most of any Canary Islands. Tenerife hosts one of the world's largest carnivals and the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is attempting to become a World Heritage Site. Tenerife is serviced by two airports, Tenerife North Airport and Tenerife South Airport, and is the tourism and economic centre of the archipelago.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of the island and the seat of the island council (cabildo insular). The city is capital of the autonomous community of Canary Islands (shared with Las Palmas), sharing governmental institutions such as Presidency and ministries. Between the 1833 territorial division of Spain and 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands, until in 1927 a decree ordered that the capital of the Canary Islands be shared, as it remains as at present.
The island is home to the University of La Laguna, which was founded in 1792 and is the oldest university in the Canaries. San Cristóbal de La Laguna (a World Heritage Site) is the second city of the island and the third one of the archipelago. The city of La Laguna was also capital of the Canary Islands until Santa Cruz replaced it in 1833.
Tenerife also has the highest elevation of Spain, a World Heritage Site that is the third largest volcano in the world from its base, El Teide. The island's capital contains the architectural symbol of the Canary Islands, the modern Auditorio de Tenerife.
The earliest known human settlement in the islands date to around 200 BC, by people known as the Guanches.
In December 1493, the King of Spain granted Alonso Fernández de Lugo the right to conquer the island of Tenerife. In April 1494, coming from Gran Canaria, the conqueror landed on the coast of present day Santa Cruz de Tenerife and disembarked with about 2,000 men on foot and 200 on horseback. After taking the fort, the army prepared to move inland, later capturing the native kings of Tenerife and presenting them to Ferdinand and Isabella.
The menceyes of Tenerife adopted differing responses to the conquest. They divided themselves into the side of peace (Spanish: bando de paz) and the side of war (Spanish: bando de guerra), with the first including the menceyatos of Anaga, Güímar, Abona and Adeje, and the second group with the Tegueste, Tacoronte, Taoro, Icoden and Daute. The opposing group tenaciously fought the conquerors delaying the conquest of the island for two years. Spanish forces under the Adelantado ("military governor") de Lugo suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Guanches in the First Battle of Acentejo in 1494, but the Guanches were eventually overcome by superior technology and surrendered to the Crown of Castile on 25 December 1494.
As in the rest of the islands, many of the natives were enslaved, especially those belonging to the side of war, while a good part of the native population succumbed to diseases such as influenza and probably smallpox, to which they lacked resistance. After the conquest, and especially in the following century, there was a mass movement of colonization and repopulation with the arrival of immigrants from the diverse territories of the growing Spanish Empire (Portugal, Flanders, Italy, Germany).
Tenerife's forests were gradually reduced by population growth and the need to clear land for agriculture for local consumption and for export. This was the case with the introduction of sugar cane at the beginning of the 16th century while in the following centuries, the island's economy centred on the use of other crops such as wine grapes and plantains
As on the other islands of the same group, much of the native population of Tenerife was enslaved or succumbed to diseases at the same time as immigrants from various places in Europe associated with the Spanish Empire (Portugal, Flanders, Italy, Germany) settled on the island. Native pine forests on the island were cleared to make way for the cultivation of sugarcane in the 1520s; in succeeding centuries, the island's economy was centered around the cultivation of other commodities such as wine and cochineal for making dyes, as well as bananas.
The most notable conflict was the British invasion of Tenerife in 1797. On 25 July 1797, Admiral Horatio Nelson launched an attack at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, now the capital of the island. After a ferocious fight which led to many casualties, a defence was organised by General Antonio Gutiérrez de Otero y Santayana to repel the invaders. Nelson lost his right arm from cannon fire, widely believed in legend to have been the cannon Tiger (Spanish: Tigre) as he was trying to disembark on the Paso Alto coast.
On 5 September 1797, another attempt was made in the Puerto Santiago region and was repelled by the inhabitants of Santiago del Teide, who threw rocks at the British from the heights of the Cliffs of the Giants (Spanish: Acantilados de Los Gigantes).
The island was also attacked by Robert Blake, Walter Raleigh, John Hawkins, Woodes Rogers.
Between 1833 and 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands, until in 1927 a decree ordered that the capital of the Canary Islands is shared with the Las Palmas, as it remains at present.
Tourists began visiting Tenerife in large numbers in the 1890s, especially the northern towns of Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The naturalist Alexander von Humboldt ascended the peak of Mount Teide and remarked on the beauty of the island.
Before his rise to power, Francisco Franco was posted to Tenerife in March 1936 by a Republican government wary of his influence and political leanings. However, Franco received information and in Gran Canaria agreed to collaborate in the military coup that would result in the Spanish Civil War; the Canaries fell to the Nationalists in July 1936. In the 1950s, the misery of the post-war years caused thousands of the island's inhabitants to emigrate to Cuba and other parts of Latin America.

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