“I’ll never leave Tenerife,” says Jose Ramon Gonzalez Duranza. Born and raised in the largest of the seven Canary Islands, Duranza can dissect the geological makeup of every “black” mountain, identify every species of indigenous plant life or tell the dark past of a still-standing convent.
He reads off historical facts like a real-life audio book guide but his is an encyclopedia-knowledge of the islands — particularly of his homeland, Tenerife. For more than 26 years, he has studied his native island and made it his life’s work to guide people around the Spanish Islands.
Much like the rest of the islands of the Canaries (Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro), Duranza’s native island of Tenerife is also the most populated with approximately 43 percent of the Island’s population.
About 900,000 people live on the island whose shape resembles an arrowhead.
First formed by a volcanic eruption more than three million years ago, Tenerife has endured a rocky history. Early inhabitants, the Guanches, settled on the island around 200 BC, but little is known of these early inhabitants’ roots.
Later, historic records capture the Spanish Conquest in 1494 and the colonization of Tenerife by Portugal, Italy and Germany within the next few centuries and the beginnings of their agricultural roots, including sugar cane in the 16th century, the production of wine and other exports.