Tenerife (f/; Spanish: [teneˈɾife]) is the largest and most populated island of the seven Canary Islands. It is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 square kilometres (785 sq mi) and 904,713 inhabitants, 43 percent of the total population of the Canary Islands. Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of Macaronesia.
Approximately five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, making it the most visited island of the archipelago. It is one of the most important tourist destinations in Spain, hosting one of the world's largest carnivals, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
The island is home to the University of La Laguna; founded in 1792 in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, it is the oldest university in the Canaries. The city of La Laguna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the second most populated city on the island and the third in the archipelago. It was capital of the Canary Islands before Santa Cruz replaced it in 1833.
The island's indigenous people, the GuancheBerbers, referred to the island as Achinet or Chenet in their language (variant spellings are found in the literature). According to Pliny the Younger, Berber king Juba II sent an expedition to the Canary Islands and Madeira; he named the Canary Islands for the particularly ferocious dogs (canaria) on the island. Juba II and Ancient Romans referred to the island of Tenerife as Nivaria, derived from the Latin word nix (nsg.; gsg.nivis, npl.nives), meaning snow, referring to the snow-covered peak of the Teide volcano. Later maps dating to the 14th and 15th century, by mapmakers such as Bontier and Le Verrier, refer to the island as Isla del Infierno, literally meaning "Island of Hell", referring to the volcanic activity and eruptions of Mount Teide.
The Benahoaritas (natives of La Palma) are said to have named the island, deriving it from the words teni ("mountain") and ife ("white"). After colonisation, the Hispanisation of the name resulted in adding the letter "r" to unite both words, producing Tenerife.
However, throughout history there have been other explanations to reveal the origin of the name of the island. For example, the 18th-century historians Juan Núñez de la Peña and
Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas, among others, state that the island was likely named by natives for the legendary Guanche king, Tinerfe, nicknamed "the Great". He ruled the entire island in the days before the conquest of the Canary Islands by Castile.