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TENERIFFE [Tenerife]

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Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 616 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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TENERIFFE [Tenerife], the largest of the Canary Islands; in the Atlantic Ocean, and belonging to Spain. Pop. (19oo) 138,008; area, 782 sq. m. Teneriffe lies a little west of the centre of the archipelago, between the islands of Grand Canary and Gomera. It is of irregular shape, 6o m. long, with an extreme breadth of 30 M. A chain of mountains traverses the island in the direction of its greatest length (east to west), and in the middle of the broadest part rises the celebrated peak, locally known as the Pico de Teyde (or Teide), which, with its supports and spurs, occupies nearly two-thirds of the whole island. It has a double top; the highest point, El Piton, is 12,200 ft. above the sea; the other, Chahorra, connected with the first by a short narrow ridge, has a height of 988o ft. They are both orifices in the same grand dome of trachyte. Neither reaches the line of perpetual snow. There is, however, a natural cavern, 11,050 ft. above the sea, where snow is preserved all the year. Snow remains for about four months on the upper part of the peak. For more than one-half of its circumference the base of the true peak rises from an elevated but comparatively level tract, calledby the Spaniards El Llano de la Retama (retama being the name of the Cytisus nubigenus which abounds there), and by the English the Pumice-Stone Plains. On the south-east, south and south-west there is a high curved ridge overlooking the Pumice-Stone Plains, and presenting a very steep face to the peak. Between the ridge and the sea the slope is more gradual, and there are intervening table-lands. Peaks rise from the ridge, one of which (Guajara) attains the height of 8900 ft. This ridge (the Llano) and the modern volcanic cone resemble in aspect a fortress with circular ramparts and a fosse. The ramparts are about 8 m. in diameter, and tower in some places more than 1500 ft. above the fosse. On the north-west comparatively late eruptions have filled up the fosse. The modern cone is a pile of lava, pumice and ashes, thrown up in an ancient crater which had become greatly enlarged either by a falling in of the upper part of the cone, or by a series of violent explosions. Both El Piton and Chahorra have craters on their summits, from which issue steam and a little sulphurous vapour. The crater on El Piton is partly surrounded by a wall of lava, which has been made white by the action of sulphurous vapours, and every crevice contains small crystals of sulphur. The thermometer rises considerably when thrust into the ground. The crater is about 300 ft. across, with a depth of 70 ft. The crater on Chahorra has a diameter of 4000 ft.; its depth is scarcely 150 ft. The view from the highest point, when no clouds intervene, is very extensive. All the islands of the archipelago are visible, and the horizon is 140 M. distant. Neither the coast of Africa nor the island of Madeira is within the range of vision. The ascent of the peak is usually made from Orotava, on the northern side of the island. After the cultivated grounds are left, the region of arborescent heaths is crossed. Above this is a belt covered with codeso (Adenocarpus frankenioides), and this extends to the region of retama, the first bushes of which are found at the pass which admits the traveller into the Llano de la Retama. The scenery here is in striking contrast with what it has previously been. Instead of a steep and rugged ascent among black basaltic rocks, the traveller enters upon gently sloping ground, covered to a considerable depth with white pumice gravel, amongst which spring bushes of retama. The tender shoots of this shrub serve the wild goats for food, and the flowers yield a rich honey. The entrance to the Llano at a sort of natural gateway (called Fortino) between two basaltic hills, is about 7000 ft. above the sea. Between two and three hours are consumed in crossing the Llano to. the base of the cone, the lower part of which (Monton de Trigo) is ascended to a point 9750 ft. above the sea, called Estancia de los Ingleses, where the mules are usually left, and travellers frequently pass the night. Then comes the Malpays, moo ft. in altitude, consisting of rough black lava streams broken up into blocks and stones. These cease at the Rambleta, the lip of an older crater over which the lava poured before the sugar-loaf cone of pumice and ashes was thrown up. The pumice is in such quantity that at a distance it has the appearance of snow coating the peak. From twenty to twenty-four hours are consumed in ascending the peak and returning to Orotava. To the north-west of the grand cone, some thousands of feet below Chahorra, there are many small cones of eruption, showing that the intensity of volcanic action was greatest on this side. East-ward from the ridge bounding the Pumice-Stone Plains extends a chain of mountains to the north-eastern extremity of the island. The highest peaks are Izana (7374 ft.), Perejil (6027), and Cuchillo (5467). There is no record of eruptions from either crater of the peak. In 1795 a great quantity of lava was poured out from three vents on the eastern side; and in the same year lava streams issued from a crater near Guimar, half-way between Santa Cruz and the peak. In the year 1706 a vent on the north-western side of the peak discharged a copious stream, which flowed down to the sea, and nearly filled up the harbour of Garachico. For three months in 1798 much lava and other volcanic matter were ejected from orifices to the west of Chahorra. Santa Cruz, the capital of Teneriffe and of the Canaries (pop. 1900, 38,419), and La Laguna (13,074), the former capital, are described in separate articles. A good road connects Santa Cruz and Orotava, a town on the north coast 25 M. W.N.W. It passes through Laguna and Matanza—a place deriving its name from the overthrow of the invading Spaniards by the Guanches in 1494. All travellers speak in terms of warm admiration of the scenery in this part of the island. Date-palms form a striking feature in the landscapes. The town of Orotava (pop. 9192) is 1040 ft. above the sea. The houses are solidly built, but it has a deserted aspect. A stream of water is con-ducted through every street. The famous dragon-tree, which so many travellers have described, no longer exists. Port Orotava, 3 M. N. of the town, is a clean place, with about 4500 inhabitants. The streets are broad and the houses well built. The roadstead, protected by a fort and some batteries, affords little or no shelter against wind. At Icod de los Vinos, a pretty town of 4000 inhabitants, farther to the west, in a fertile district, is a dragon-tree, the largest now existing in the island. The stem near the ground has a circumference of 38 ft. and its height is upwards of 6o ft. Near the town is an immense cavern, in which many Guanche bones were found. There are several other towns of less importance, principally in the north-west, not far from the coast. The highest inhabited place is Chasna, on a plain more than 4000 ft. above the sea, to the south of the peak. See also CANARY ISLANDS.
End of Article: TENERIFFE [Tenerife]
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