Although it belongs to one of Spain's 17 autonomous communities, Tenerife celebrates a history and culture quite unlike that of its mainland counterparts. Classical authors have placed Paradise, the Elysian Fields and the Garden of Hesperides here. Legend has it that the Canary Islands are the visible remains of the sunken continent Atlantis. One of the first reliable reports of the islands comes from Pliny who, in the 1st century, spoke of an expedition sent by Juba, King of Mauritania, which brought back giant dogs as a souvenir of the adventure. This is the origin of the name of the islands: Canary Islands, from the Latin “canis”. Magnificent examples of these fierce-looking native hunting dogs, now known as the Presa Canario, are still bred on the island.

Historical evidence confirms the existence of a race of natives, known as the Guanches, who inhabited the island up until Spanish invasion and conquest in the 15th century. This indigenous civilisation, believed to be of North African Berber origin, was a primitive society whose technology had yet to advance past stone-age levels. Nonetheless the Guanches, while living in caves and utilizing simple stone tools, developed their own religion, art, language and social structures. The remnants and influence of Guanche culture can still be seen extensively across the island in the form of town names, artefacts, cave paintings and rock engravings as well as in the Canarian people’s strong sense of heritage and connection to the race.
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