A Brief historical summary.
Nowadays, the most accepted theory about the origin of the ancient inhabitants of the island is that they were the descendants from the Berber villages in the northeast of Africa.
La Gomera, known from ancient times and mentioned in texts from the first century A.C., dates back to the beginning of modern history with the Castilian Conquest since the end of the fourteenth century and during the fifteenth century.
When the conquest began, the aborigines divided the island in 4 cantons or kingdoms. The territory where Vallehermoso is located today is placed in the cantons of Agana and Orone. These were tribal villages that practiced the extensive livestock, the gathering and use of forest and coastal resources. From that period, the inhabitants from La Gomera still preserve customs such as the extraction of “guarapo” or sap from the palm tree as well as the “silbo gomero” which has been declared cultural heritage by the UNESCO.
The conquestof the island dates back to the year 1405. The first contacts of the colonizers in Vallehermoso are quoted in the year 1414, in the western area of the modern municipality but there is not a first steady and relative period of peace until 1445.
During the sixteenth century the first important economic activity in the modern Vallehermoso appears, that is the crop of the sugar cane. For that reason there are four large “ingenios” (exploitations) in the northeast side of the island.
This activity that lasted until the eighteenth century was the reason for the settlement of the population and a later important growing. Thereof, Vallehermoso became the economic engine of the island. The northeastern basin suffered from great social and environmental changes due to the agricultural and livestock activity, great surfaces of forest in the midlands were cut down.
Vallehermoso is established as a parish in 1678 and in the eighteenth century this was the area with the larger number of population in the island thanks to a relatively strong economy that results from the exportation of products. Important buildings appeared in the modern centre of the municipality. Rather high houses and with an architecture that, nowadays, is considered traditional and stately. Buildings made of stone with roofs covered with tiles as well as a great use of the wood in structures and façades.
At the end of the seventeenth century the resident population was about 2000 inhabitants and in the year 1850 there were more than 2800. An important landmark in the history of the Municipality was the acquisition of the territories that belonged to the parish of Chipude by mid of the nineteenth century. Since then Vallehermoso has become the only municipality in the Canary Islands that shelters three slopes or basins in one island, the North, the West and the South as it occupies the land from the coast to the summit in the three basins. Thereof, the amounts and varieties of crops are multiplied.
However, the nineteenth century would be characterized b y the economic highs and lows of the agricultural production. The sugar cane had disappeared for the vine crop. The production of wines and spirits for the exportation and insular commerce did not provide the expected economic performance and despite the appearance of other supplementary crops such as the tomato, cochineal or the orchilla (collected and sold for the production of dye). The twentieth century will start in the Municipality highlighted by an important economic recession.
Around 1910 a new economic dominates Vallehermoso and the Canary Islands in general, that is the banana and the tomato crops. The basin from the north is grown with new productions of bananas and the first syndicate member institution of farmers (El Porvenir) begins to work. Besides, on the western basin, especially in Alojera, the crop of the tomato is more usual and relatively successful in terms of economy.
Another remarkable fact that would greatly determine the economies of the northern area of the island was the building of the “Pescantes”, little docks with a crane/walkway that would allow the trade and transport with the rest of the Canary Islands, Spain and some harbors from occidental Europe with ships of a greater storage.
Despite these facts, important political and economical problems took place in the Municipality in the decades 1920 and 1930. In 1927 the area of Valle Gran Rey separates from Vallehermoso and the former becomes part of the Town Hall of Arure. The ownership of the land belonged to some rich people whereas the population was about 7000 inhabitants in these years. These phenomena were the cause for the emigration of many inhabitants from Vallehermoso to Cuba and Venezuela.
In the following decades the history of Vallehermoso turns into a turbulent period. In the first place the civil war starts and though the Second Spanish Republic had been a relatively good period as regards the social welfare state, important episodes of fight for the power against the Franco’s military uprising took place in the Municipality. These events are mentioned in the History of the Canary Islands as “el Fogueo”. It is necessary to highlight from this period that Vallehermoso was one of the last insular territories to be governed by the “Frente Popular”
The Spanish post-war period was a very adverse one in the economy of the inhabitants from La Gomera. The crop lands remained in the hands of a few landowners associated to Franco’s government. The agricultural societies broke up and at the same time in the fifties, San Sebastián, the capital of the island, had taken the control of the business with other islands and the “Pescante” from Vallehermoso, main place for the municipal business, had been destroyed by a heavy storm.
That is the reason why in the middle of the twentieth century and nearly until the beginning of the democracy, the emigration of inhabitants from La Gomera to Venezuela was constant and meant the end of the agricultural economy of the municipality. Vallehermoso and nearly the entire island also suffered the rural exodus towards the South of Tenerife from the eighties, together with the spread of the massive tourism in the Canary Islands.
From the nineties, La Gomera has developed and settled its population little by little. It has added new economic activities, especially the touristic one, which is considered the main resource of the insular economic development in the last decade.