Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a municipality that belongs to the island of Tenerife, the biggest of the 8 Canary Islands located in Spain. It has a surface area of 150.56 km², and the municipality of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of the island of Tenerife and shares with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria the capital status of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands.

The municipal territory is divided into five districts and five beaches that border its long coast of 53 kilometres. On the inside, it combines an urban area with the National Park of Anaga, a natural surface that, even though it makes up 82% of the territory, is the less populated district. This makes it a region with a significant presence of nature and biodiversity accompanied by a comfortable weather that suffers minimum temperature variations during the year thanks to trade winds that help the temperature to be around 21º on average, according to official data of the city council of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

  • Population

    According to the numbers shown in the Population Statistics of 2023 given by the City Council of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and based on the annual revision of the Municipal Register of Inhabitants of January 1st of 2023, Santa Cruz de Tenerife has a total population of 209,478 inhabitants, of whom, 52% are women. Thus, it holds 23% of the island's population which grows significantly every year.

    When considering the municipality's economic activities, it's crucial to emphasize that tourism stands as the primary source of income, playing a distinctive and pivotal role in the broader Canarian economy compared to the rest of Spain. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the second most visited place on the island after the area of the Teide and this makes up for 2.3 million registered tourists in the last year (2022), which translates to an estimated 100 million euros annually in direct expenses. In 2023, from January to July, the number of tourists increased by 33.8% compared to the same period in 2022.

    The labour market's condition in the municipality, which was significantly impacted by the absence of tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has witnessed a positive evolution during recent years. Small and micro-enterprises are the centre of the business sector of Santa Cruz de Tenerife with 6932 enterprises registered in 2022. Through the Canarian Institute of Statistics (ISTAC), it is possible to see that the average gross income per person is around €15,000. Additionally, 3 in 10 contracts that are made belong to commercial and restaurant business sectors. However, it is worth highlighting that 6 out of 10 people aged 45 or more are unemployed and, of the total of unemployed people in the municipality, half of them have primary education or less. The latest numbers of unemployment are at 20.42% (July 2023) in relation to a national average of 11.6% (July 2023) and a European average of 5.9% according to Eurostat (June 2023).

    In the Canary Islands 37.8% of the population was at risk of poverty and/or social exclusion in 2022 and, even though Santa Cruz de Tenerife is one of the ten richest municipalities of the islands, it is evident that there exists a high inequality level. According to the report of the Tax Agency about PIT (personal income tax) in Spain, Santa Cruz de Tenerife has one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country (San Matías). Examining the data from the National Institute for Statistics (INE), the Gini coefficient (an indicator used to measure the level of inequality) marked 37.4 for Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 2018, compared to 33.2 in Spain.


The main environmental risk factors that the municipality is exposed to, are ultraviolet rays and polluting particles in the air. Moreover, other risk factors can be found in other abiotic factors such as water and its quality and temperature.

  • What is ultraviolet radiation?

    UV radiation indicates the intensity of the sun on the Earth's surface. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), small doses of UV radiation are necessary for human beings since they allow us to produce vitamin D, one of the main substances that strengthen our bones. However, excessive exposure is directly related to harmful effects on our health.

    According to the Spanish Academy of Dermatology (AEDV), knowing the difference between UVA and UVB rays is vital. UVB causes immediate harm like burns, while UVA leads to long-term issues like premature aging and a higher risk of skin cancer.

    In addition, the WHO confirms that the chronic effects of UV radiation not only depend on the doses of radiation but also on the individual sensibility, making it determinant in some cases, especially in those who are vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation.

    UV index

    The intensity of UV radiation is measured as the solar UV index or solar index. The solar index is related to a daily maximum, a value that will indicate the higher or lower risk of harm from the sun, depending on our location and the moment in time during which we are exposed. This UV index varies throughout the day being at its peak at midday.

    The values of the UV index established by WHO are classified as low, moderate, high, very high, and extreme exposure:

    Exposure category
    UV values

    Given the proximity of the Canary Islands to the Equator, they have a higher UV index than the other Spanish regions. Moreover, since it has been confirmed by the “guide of UV index for the population of the Canary Islands” from 2001, there are environmental variables that also have an impact such as cloudiness or sprays. For example, when inhalable dust occurs such as ‘calima’ (Saharan dust - a mixture of sand and dust from the Sahara) radiation is scattered and, therefore, reduced.

    In the database collected in 2022 by the State Meteorological Agency, the daily maximum UV index in the municipality of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is Moderate during winter months and Very High during the rest of the year, there are some cases it has gotten to an Extreme during summer months.

    Health Risk Factors

    UV rays can trigger the development of non-communicable diseases, in particular skin cancer and melanoma. Numerous investigations made by organizations such as the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EAVD) and the WHO highlight the relationship between UV rays’ exposure and the risk of suffering from these diseases.

    According to WHO, ultraviolet radiation causes 1.5 million cases of skin cancer every year and it has been rising in various European countries in recent years. In Spain, almost 300 people are diagnosed monthly with cutaneous melanoma. The European Commission has had a relevant role in actively promoting campaigns for solar security that encourage the use of sunscreens with an appropriate sun protection factor (SPF), the use of protective clothes and looking for shade during peak hours and emphasizing the importance of periodic cutaneous revisions. By knowing the implications of UV rays’ exposure and adopting preventive strategies, people can protect their skin and reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases in Europe.

    There are various categories to classify skin types in relation to their reaction to ultraviolet radiation. One of the most prevalent classifications was made by Dr. Fitzpatrick from Harvard Medical School in 1975. This classification - commonly called the Fitzpatrick scale - is based on different physical characteristics like sun sensibility, skin tone, hair, and eye colour. The system entails a scale of six different skin types (or phototypes), each of those can be linked to specific ethnic groups.

    Skin types
    Skin types
    Skin types
    White skin, alabasters with lots of freckles and blond.
    Always gets burnt easily and the burns can be intense. Never gets a tan.
    White skin, blue eyes.
    Always gets burnt easily, and the burn can be intense. Can get slightly tan.
    White skin with a slightly brown tone. Caucasian.
    Can get burnt, the burn would be moderate. Can get gradually tan.
    Brown skin is more or less intense. Mediterranean.
    Can get burnt but it would be minimal. Always gets tan.
    Intense brown skin. Asians, People of colour with a less intense skin colour, Middle East and South America.
    Rarely gets burnt. Gets easily tan.
    Intense black skin.
    Never gets burnt. Gets tan more easily.

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  • In this section, we present information about additional environmental factors such as air quality, beach water, water for consumption, and the temperatures of the cities we live in. This information is also relevant because of its impact on our well-being.

    First, water quality is essential to prevent the spread of diseases through water and guarantee safe hydration for people. Exposure to polluted water can lead to some health problems from gastroenteritis to other complex diseases transmitted by vectors. Furthermore, in coastal areas knowing the beach water quality is crucial to protect swimmers from pollutants and microbiological danger.

    Additionally, temperature directly influences our comfort and health since prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures can lead to heat stroke, hypothermia, or worsen existing medical conditions. Moreover, seasonal changes can affect our mental health and our immunological system. To sum up, having access to precise and updated information about these environmental factors allows people to make informed decisions to maintain and improve their health, avoiding unnecessary risks and promoting healthier habits.

    Water for bathing

    In the municipality of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, there are five beaches and approximately five areas for bathing.


    According to the Spanish National Report of Water Quality from 2022, 97.4% of water for bathing in the Spanish territory surpassed the “sufficient” quality minimum and 88.2% surpassed the ‘excellent’ index. To evaluate water quality in bathing areas, there is regular analysis of the key indicators related to the presence of faecal pollution throughout the season. These indicators are E. coli and intestinal Enterococcus. The results of this analysis are used to determine the annual classification of each bathing area. All five beaches that belong to the municipality of Santa Cruz de Tenerife are classified by this report as “Excellent”.

    The Canarian Government, at times, has to face public health problems stemming from the pollution of the archipelago’s marine ecosystems. The main threats are the leaks of organic and inorganic chemical products, this comes mainly from bad management of residues and insufficient filtering of the water.

    Following the updated census in 2021 by the Office for Ecological Transition, Santa Cruz de Tenerife had 13 unauthorised leaks. This pollution of water can have a significant impact on the health through the consumption of polluted food, exposure to toxins, and chemical substances, and appearance of fungus or bacteria. The main consequences of bathing in polluted water are led to acute gastroenteritis, nausea, respiratory or neurological infections, and even skin, eyes, and ear irritations.

    Additionally, certain types of seaweed, often called micro-algae, may also force the closure of beaches and recreational areas. In response to the presence of these micro-algae, the Canarian Government has developed a map where people can find up-to-date information about beach conditions and bathing recommendations.

    Water for consumption

    Water availability in the Canary Islands varies, and in some places, it can be scarce. This is why the biggest percentage of water from the tap in Canarian homes is desalinated (a process in which salt and other substances present in marine water are separated to turn it into adequate water for human consumption). In the municipality of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 70% of the demand of the municipality is covered by their own resources, these being, galleries, wells, and water that comes from the desalination plant of the municipality. It is considered that the water for consumption has good quality when it is healthy and clean, this is when it does not present substances or microorganisms that could be harmful to our health.

    In the Canarian archipelago, tap water is drinkable and fit for consumption, however, because of its taste, there is a generalised tendency to use bottled water to cook and hydrate.

    The Canarian Government has health guidelines that limit the use of water for consumption when there is unfulfillment of any of the criteria of water quality. This happens when the water surpasses the parametric values of any substance such as fluoride, nitrate, chloride, sodium, boron, and turbidity. Here you can find updated information about which municipalities have been affected by limitations in water consumption.

    Drinking Water Restrictions

    The enterprise EMMASA oversees the analysis and control of water quality that serves for human consumption in the municipality of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Furthermore, if you write down the name of a street, you can get an updated date on the water quality of your home.

    Water quality


    The temperature in Santa Cruz de Tenerife depends on various factors, and one of them is the proximity to the sea, trade winds, and the characteristic topography of the municipality. These conditions added to the sun being present practically all year round ensure that significant temperature variations do not exist. The temperatures are around 21º and 25º and the register does not show many differences between either season nor between day and night, which makes the yearly average around 21ºC. Marine breeze and trade winds are responsible for lowering the thermic sensation of the most extreme temperatures. However, in 2023 it has been registering drastic changes in the temperatures, even registering historic minimum and maximum in some places. This is primarily due to global warming, which, according to WHO, has become a worldwide health threat in the 21st century.

    In accordance with the seasonal analysis made by Aemet in the municipality of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, during the summer of 2023 it has been registering an average temperature of 30º, with a minimum temperature of 20º and it has occasionally got to 40ºC.

    One of the significant outcomes of high temperatures is their potential to worsen pre-existing health conditions, particularly impacting vascular and respiratory issues.

    How are these pathologies affected by temperature?


    If you don’t have respiratory problems, you should take into consideration that heat can raise the need for oxygen of your cells. However, if you already suffer from respiratory diseases, such as pulmonary problems, it can be a challenge. Heat can make you breathe faster and sweat a lot, which means dehydration since you will lose liquids. This can cause discomfort, but also it can thicken the mucus in your airways, and this would make it more difficult for you to breathe normally.

    In case of suffering from cardiac problems, heat and dehydration may be concerning. Dehydration can make your blood thicker and viscous, which raises the risk of forming blood clots. This also increases the possibility of suffering a brain haemorrhage or a heart attack. Moreover, an additional effort that your heart should make to pump blood during heat conditions, especially if you have arterial problems, can explain why during a heat wave it is common to experience chest pain or, even, a heart attack.

    Finally, during the summer months, it is important to consider that the risk of diseases transmitted by water and food can also rise. This means that we should be cautious with what we eat and drink to avoid stomach infections, such as gastroenteritis or food poisoning.

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