Tenerife Facts


Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, is a place of remarkable diversity and beauty, renowned for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. Located off the northwest coast of Africa, it’s a destination that attracts millions of visitors each year.

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Geographical Wonders

Tenerife’s geographical landscape is a spectacular showcase of natural diversity, dominated by the imposing Mount Teide. Rising to 3,718 meters (12,198 feet), it is Spain’s tallest peak and the world’s third-largest volcano. This majestic mountain is a part of the Teide National Park, which has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting millions of visitors with its stunning vistas and unique geological formations. The park covers an area of 18,990 hectares and offers a range of environments, from lunar-like landscapes of volcanic rock to lush forests filled with endemic species. The cable car ride up Mount Teide provides an opportunity to see these breathtaking views from a different perspective, revealing the island’s dramatic changes in terrain and vegetation.

Beyond Mount Teide, Tenerife’s geography offers diverse landscapes enchanting nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. The island features a coastline dotted with beautiful beaches, ranging from golden sands in the south to striking black volcanic sand beaches in the north. This contrast results from the island’s volcanic origin, adding a unique appeal to its seaside locations. Inland, the terrain shifts dramatically to lush forests and ancient laurel woods, particularly in the Anaga and Teno rural parks. These forests are remnants of the Tertiary period, making them a window into the past and a haven for various endemic plants and animals. Moreover, the island’s varied topography creates an array of microclimates, making each visit to a different part of the island a unique experience. Hiking trails crisscross the island, offering pathways through breathtaking landscapes, from rugged cliffs and deep gorges to verdant valleys and terraced vineyards, showcasing the island’s extraordinary ecological diversity.


Tenerife’s subtropical climate is one of its most alluring features, offering an ‘eternal spring’ ambiance that captivates tourists and locals alike. The island experiences mild temperatures throughout the year, with average winter temperatures hovering around 17 °C (63 °F) and summer temperatures averaging 24 °C (75 °F). This consistent, pleasant climate is attributed to the Trade Winds and the cold Canary Current, which help moderate temperatures and ensure the island is neither hot in the summer nor cold in the winter. Furthermore, the mountain range that runs through the island’s center creates distinct weather patterns on either side, contributing to Tenerife’s diverse microclimates and rich biodiversity.

The geographical division of Tenerife plays a significant role in its climatic variation. The south of the island, encompassing popular tourist destinations like Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos, is renowned for its sunnier, drier conditions. This area is shielded from the prevailing winds by Mount Teide, resulting in fewer clouds and lower rainfall, making it an ideal location for beach holidays and outdoor activities. In contrast, the north, including areas like Puerto de la Cruz and the capital city Santa Cruz de Tenerife, presents a starkly different climate. This part of the island receives more rainfall, which nurtures lush, verdant landscapes and vibrant greenery. The north’s more temperate climate supports a variety of plant life, from banana plantations to vineyards, contributing to the island’s agricultural richness. This climatic diversity enhances the island’s natural beauty and provides visitors with various experiences – from sunbathing on golden beaches to exploring misty forests and historic towns.

Cultural Heritage

Tenerife’s cultural heritage is a vibrant mosaic, reflecting a history of diverse influences and a fusion of traditions. The island’s original inhabitants, the Guanche people, have left an indelible mark on its cultural landscape. This indigenous group, believed to have been of Berber origin from North Africa, developed a unique way of life and customs, many of which have been intricately woven into the modern fabric of Tenerife. The Spanish conquest in the 15th century introduced new cultural elements, including language, religion, and architectural styles, which combined with the Guanche heritage to create a distinctive Canarian culture. The subsequent waves of migration from Europe, Latin America, and Africa have further enriched this cultural tapestry, making Tenerife a cosmopolitan hub with a unique identity.

The cultural pinnacle of Tenerife is undoubtedly the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a festival that rivals the famous Rio de Janeiro Carnival in its scale and vivacity. This annual event transforms the island’s capital into a whirlwind of color, music, and dance, drawing participants and spectators from across the globe. The Carnival is a spectacular display of elaborate costumes, vibrant parades, and lively rhythms, showcasing the island’s love for celebration and its talent in arts and performance. The festivity has deep historical roots and is believed to have started during the early period of European settlement, evolving over centuries to become the world-renowned event it is today. Beyond the Carnival, Tenerife’s cultural life is rich with other festivals, traditional crafts, folk music, and dances like the “baile del mago” and “isa,” reflecting the island’s historical journey and diverse influences. The island’s architecture, from the ancient Guanche pyramids and colonial-era churches to modernist buildings, further narrates the story of a place shaped by a confluence of cultures. This blend of ancient traditions and contemporary influences makes Tenerife a stunning destination for its natural beauty and a fascinating locale for cultural exploration and discovery.


Tourism is the cornerstone of Tenerife’s economy, attracting millions of visitors each year drawn to its unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and pleasant year-round climate. The island’s diverse landscapes, from the stunning beaches to the dramatic Mount Teide, and its vibrant festivals, particularly the renowned Carnival, fuel a robust tourism industry. This sector generates significant revenue and many employment opportunities, from hospitality and leisure services to travel and tour operations. In recent years, Tenerife has also made strides in diversifying its tourist offerings, including eco-tourism, adventure sports, and cultural tourism, which further bolsters its economic standing.

In addition to tourism, Tenerife is increasingly recognized for its contributions to fields like astronomy, a sector buoyed by the island’s exceptional geographical conditions. The presence of the Teide Observatory, one of the world’s leading solar observatories, leverages the clear, unpolluted skies and high altitude conditions ideal for celestial observations. This observatory plays a crucial role in international astronomical research and contributes to the local economy through educational tourism and research collaborations. Moreover, agriculture remains a vital component of Tenerife’s economic landscape, with banana cultivation being particularly significant. The island’s favorable climate and fertile soils support the growth of high-quality bananas, which are a major export product, alongside other agricultural products like wine, potatoes, and tropical fruits. While overshadowed by the tourism industry, this agricultural sector still forms an essential part of the island’s economic framework, providing employment and supporting rural communities. Combining these diverse economic activities – tourism, astronomy, and agriculture – creates a dynamic and resilient economy for Tenerife, enabling it to navigate global economic challenges while preserving its unique environmental and cultural assets.


The gastronomy of Tenerife is a captivating fusion that mirrors the island’s rich cultural tapestry. Rooted in traditional Spanish culinary practices, African and Latin American influences have distinctly shaped the cuisine, leading to a unique and flavorful dining experience. Among the most iconic dishes is “papas arrugadas” – small, wrinkly potatoes cooked in salt water and typically served with “mojo” sauces. These sauces, another staple of the local cuisine, come in two main varieties: “mojo rojo,” a red sauce with a slightly spicy kick, typically made with red peppers, garlic, and various spices, and “mojo verde,” a green sauce based on green peppers or coriander. These simple yet delicious potatoes reflect the island’s agricultural heritage and are a must-try for visitors.

Given its island status, seafood is pivotal in Tenerife’s culinary scene. The surrounding Atlantic waters provide a bounty of fresh seafood, including fish like dorada (sea bream), cherne (wreckfish), and vieja (parrotfish), which are often grilled or baked to perfection, allowing their natural flavors to shine. Tenerife’s coastal towns are renowned for their seafood restaurants, where one can enjoy these dishes with stunning ocean views. Another significant component of Tenerife’s gastronomy is “gofio,” a versatile flour made from roasted grains, typically wheat or corn. This ancient food, inherited from the Guanches, is used in various dishes, from soups and stews to desserts. Gofio embodies the history and resourcefulness of the island’s inhabitants, making it a symbol of Tenerife’s culinary identity. The island’s cuisine also boasts an array of cheeses, wines, and tropical fruits, further enriching its gastronomic offerings. Tenerife’s wines, in particular, have gained recognition for their quality and unique characteristics shaped by the region’s volcanic soils. This rich and diverse culinary landscape makes Tenerife a destination for sun and scenery and a haven for food enthusiasts.

Wildlife and Natural Reserves

Tenerife’s exceptional biodiversity and unique ecosystems make it a sanctuary for various wildlife on land and in the surrounding seas. The island’s varied climates and terrain, ranging from the arid volcanic landscapes of Mount Teide to the lush laurisilva forests in the Anaga and Teno mountains, create ideal habitats for a multitude of species. Among the most notable are the endemic species, which are found nowhere else in the world. The Teide violet, a delicate flower, clings to the high-altitude, rocky crags of Mount Teide, defying the harsh volcanic environment. Another emblematic species is the Tenerife blue chaffinch, known for its striking blue plumage, predominantly in the island’s pine forests.

The waters surrounding Tenerife are just as rich in biodiversity. The region is renowned as one of the best places in the world for whale and dolphin watching, with resident populations of pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins and occasional sightings of other species, such as the elusive beaked whales. The warm, nutrient-rich currents of the Atlantic Ocean create an ideal environment for these majestic marine mammals. The island has taken steps to ensure sustainable wildlife tourism, with boat tours adhering to strict regulations to protect these creatures.

In addition to the fauna, Tenerife’s flora is equally diverse. The island hosts a variety of plant species, ranging from cacti and succulents in arid areas to the ancient laurel trees in the misty forests of the north. This vegetation contributes to the island’s scenic beauty and is crucial in supporting the local ecosystems. To protect this rich natural heritage, Tenerife has established several natural reserves and parks, where conservation efforts are focused on preserving these habitats and educating visitors about the importance of biodiversity. These natural spaces offer trails and viewpoints, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the island’s natural wonders while fostering a deeper appreciation and understanding of the importance of environmental conservation.

Star Gazing

Tenerife’s exceptional conditions for stargazing make it a premier destination for astronomy enthusiasts from around the globe. The island’s high altitude, coupled with the clarity and stability of its skies, largely free from light pollution, creates an almost unparalleled environment for observing celestial phenomena. These attributes are enhanced by the island’s stringent light pollution laws, designed to protect the night sky for professional astronomers and amateur stargazers. As a result, Tenerife has been awarded the title of a “Starlight Tourist Destination,” recognizing its commitment to maintaining ideal stargazing conditions.

Central to Tenerife’s reputation in the field of astronomy is the Teide Observatory, situated at about 2,400 meters above sea level. This observatory is one of the world’s leading solar observatories, equipped with various telescopes and instruments dedicated to studying the sun and other celestial bodies. It is pivotal in significant astronomical research and discoveries, particularly in solar physics. The observatory attracts scientists and researchers from around the world. It offers guided tours to the public, providing a rare opportunity to learn about astronomy and observe the night sky through professional-grade telescopes. These tours are both educational and inspiring, allowing visitors to gaze at distant galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters, offering a glimpse into the vastness and beauty of the universe.

Furthermore, Tenerife hosts several astronomical events and star parties throughout the year, where experts and enthusiasts gather to share their knowledge and experience the night sky’s wonders together. These events often include workshops, lectures, and night-time observations, making them a fantastic opportunity for learning and engagement for people of all ages and levels of interest in astronomy. The island’s unique geographic and atmospheric conditions, combined with its dedication to preserving the night sky, make Tenerife a holiday destination and a gateway to the cosmos, inviting everyone to explore the mysteries and marvels of the universe.

Architecture and Historical Sites

Tenerife’s rich history is vividly reflected in its diverse architectural heritage, from ancient to modern designs. The island’s architectural landscape begins with the mysterious Guanche pyramids in Güímar. Though less known than their Egyptian or Mesoamerican counterparts, these step pyramids offer a glimpse into the pre-Hispanic era of the Canary Islands. The exact purpose of these pyramids is still debated among historians, but they are thought to have had astronomical significance for the Guanches, the indigenous inhabitants of the Canary Islands.

The influence of Spanish colonization is evident in the plethora of colonial-era churches, mansions, and public buildings that dot the island. This is particularly notable in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved historical center. This town, founded in the late 15th century, was the first non-fortified Spanish colonial town, and its layout was used as a blueprint for many colonial towns in the Americas. Its streets and buildings, including the magnificent Cathedral of La Laguna, showcase the Mudéjar influence, a blend of Gothic and Moorish styles unique to Spain and its territories. The architecture of La Laguna has been remarkably preserved, offering a window into the life and times of the colonial era.

Beyond La Laguna, Tenerife is scattered with historical sites that tell the island’s story through the centuries. The Basilica of Candelaria, for example, combines elements of the Canary Islands’ traditional architecture with Baroque influences and is an important religious site, housing the statue of the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron saint of the Canary Islands. Additionally, the island’s forts, like Castillo San Juan Bautista in Santa Cruz, remind visitors of Tenerife’s strategic importance and turbulent history involving pirates and naval battles. These architectural treasures, combined with the island’s natural beauty, make Tenerife a fascinating destination for those interested in history and architecture, offering a journey through time from the ancient Guanches to the modern day.

Festivals and Events

Tenerife’s calendar is replete with festivals and events highlighting its vibrant and diverse cultural tapestry, drawing visitors into a world of tradition, color, and celebration. Beyond the world-famous Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the island celebrates many other festivals with unique flavor and charm. Notable among these is the “Fiestas de la Cruz,” celebrated in May, particularly in the town of Los Realejos, where an impressive fireworks display marks the occasion. The festival has religious roots and is a spectacle of light and sound, showcasing the island’s pyrotechnic skills.

Religious celebrations are significant in Tenerife’s cultural life, with the “Romeria” being a prime example. These traditional pilgrimages, held in various towns throughout the year, are lively affairs where locals dress in traditional Canarian costumes, pull decorated carts, and share food and wine. One of the most significant Romerias is held in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron saint of the Canary Islands, every August. Music also plays a vital role in Tenerife’s cultural scene, with events like the Tenerife International Music Festival and the Canary Islands Music Festival attracting classical music enthusiasts. These festivals feature performances by renowned orchestras and soloists, further establishing Tenerife as a destination for high-quality cultural experiences.

Additionally, Tenerife’s commitment to the arts is evident in events such as the Tenerife Arts Festival and the Santa Cruz de Tenerife International Film Festival. These events celebrate creativity and innovation, showcasing a range of artistic expressions from local and international artists. The island’s enchanting landscapes also serve as a backdrop for outdoor concerts and events, adding to the allure of these gatherings. This rich blend of festivals and events, set against the backdrop of Tenerife’s natural beauty and pleasant climate, makes the island a dynamic and exciting destination. Visitors can immerse themselves in local traditions, enjoy world-class artistic performances, and experience the warm hospitality of Tenerife, making every visit a truly memorable journey.

Tenerife Facts

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, offers a wealth of interesting facts and statistics showcasing its unique geography, culture, and history. Let’s dive into some of these details:

1. Tenerife Location and Demographics

  • Geographic Location: Tenerife is positioned in the Atlantic Ocean, northeast of the African continent. It lies at a geographical coordinate of approximately 28.3°N latitude and 16.6°W longitude. View the location map of Tenerife here.
  • Proximity to Mainland Spain: The island is situated about 300 kilometers (186 miles) off the western coast of Morocco and over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from mainland Spain, making it one of Spain’s most remote territories.
  • Island Layout: Tenerife, with its area of 2,034 square kilometers, is characterized by a diverse topography that includes the central Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak, and a rugged coastline. The island’s layout includes a mix of beaches, cliffs, and forests, contributing to its varied landscapes and microclimates. View the topography map of Tenerife here.
  • Population and Cultural Diversity: As of 2014, Tenerife was home to nearly 905,000 people, accounting for 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands. This population concentration makes Tenerife a melting pot of cultures, reflecting its rich culinary, artistic, and social traditions.

2. Mount Teide

  • Elevation: Mount Teide stands at 3,718 meters (12,198 feet), making it the highest point in Spain and the third-highest volcano in the world measured from its base.
  • Geological Significance: It’s an active volcano, with its last eruption occurring in 1909. The volcano and its surroundings comprise Teide National Park, which is the most visited national park in Europe and one of the most visited in the world.

3. Climate

  • Temperature Range: Tenerife enjoys a year-round mild climate with average temperatures ranging from 17 °C (63 °F) in winter to 24 °C (75 °F) in summer.
  • Microclimates: The island’s diverse terrain creates 23 microclimates in total. The island’s northern part generally receives more rain, while the southern part is drier and sunnier.

4. Biodiversity

  • Unique Flora and Fauna: There are about 1400 species of plants in Tenerife, 200 of which are endemic to the island. The Tenerife blue chaffinch is a notable endemic bird species.
  • Marine Life: The waters around Tenerife are home to 21 species of whales and dolphins.

5. Demographics and Economy

  • Population: As of the latest data, Tenerife has a population of approximately 900,000 residents.
  • Economic Activities: While tourism is the leading economic activity, Tenerife also has significant agriculture, particularly banana plantations, and a growing astrophysics research sector.

6. Cultural Heritage

  • Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife: This event is second only to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival in terms of size and popularity. It was declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest in 1980.
  • Historical Sites: San Cristóbal de La Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an example of a non-fortified colonial town and is significant for its 15th-century layout.

7. Astronomy

  • Teide Observatory: It’s one of the world’s leading solar observatories. Tenerife’s high altitude and clear skies make it an ideal location for astronomical observation.
  • Astrophysical Research: The observatory has contributed to numerous discoveries, particularly in studying solar activity.

8. Gastronomy

  • Local Dishes: Tenerife’s cuisine includes unique dishes like “papas arrugadas” (wrinkly potatoes) with “mojo” sauces and a variety of fresh seafood.
  • Wine Production: The island has five distinct wine-producing areas and is known for its Malvasia wines.

9. Geological Diversity

  • Beaches: Tenerife boasts diverse beaches, from golden sandy beaches to black volcanic sand beaches.
  • Laurel Forests: The ancient laurel forests in the Anaga Mountains are a remnant of the subtropical forests that covered the Mediterranean basin millions of years ago.

These facts and statistics highlight Tenerife’s rich natural and cultural heritage, making it a unique and fascinating destination. The island’s blend of natural wonders, thriving biodiversity, cultural vibrancy, and historical significance offers a comprehensive and engaging experience for visitors and researchers alike.