It is believed that the Guanches, the aboriginal people of Tenerife, originally arrived on the island from Africa sometime within the first or second century B.C.
These early inhabitants lived in caves that proved to be great accommodation by keeping them cool in summer and warm in winter. They were believed to be tall, have white skin, fair hair and blue eyes.
No one really knows exactly how the Guanches came to arrive on Tenerife because there is no evidence to suggest how they managed to cross the ocean from Africa. One theory is that they were marooned by pirates or banished and abandoned by their own people. It is also entirely possible that they travelled over by reed craft.
The social structure of the Guanches was fairly advanced, with a chief who had a group of advisors also considered to be leaders. Eventually they were found by the Spaniards who discovered that these were actually a very advanced people, so much so that they even had pottery. Their diet consisted mostly of goat, pork, fruit, butter and milk and they wore tunics made from leather and rushes.
The Guanches no longer exist as an ethnic group even though many Canarians are very proud of this ancestry still running in their blood. Traces of Guanche culture can still be seen in certain words in use today or in some traditions and teaching children about the early inhabitants of Tenerife is considered to be very important in schools.
To fast forward to the 21st century, the people of today’s Tenerife are warm, friendly and relaxed. They have been used to different nationalities visiting their island for a very long time and there is a good ethnic mix of people living here.
Each islander has his own identity within the Canary Islands, according to the name of the island they live on. On Tenerife the locals are known as Tinerfeños.