Autonomous community of southern Spain, including the provinces of Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga, and Seville; area 87,268 sq km/33,694 sq mi; population (2001 est) 7,404,000. The Guadalquivir River flows through Andalusia, which is bounded on the north by the Sierra Morena mountain range. Spain's largest and most populous region, it is fertile, and produces cereals, sugarcane, oranges and other fruits, olives, and wine (especially sherry); cattle, bulls (for the bullring), and fine horses are bred here, and copper is mined at Río Tinto. Seville, an inland port, is the administrative capital and the largest industrial centre; Málaga, Cádiz, and Algeciras are the chief ports and also important industrial centres. The Costa del Sol on the south coast has many tourist resorts, including Marbella and Torremolinos; the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the southeast is a winter ski destination.
History The Phoenicians settled in the region in the 11th century BC, founding several coastal colonies. Greeks and Carthaginians arrived in the 6th century BC, but were expelled by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, and Roman rule was subsequently ended by the Visigoths in the 5th century AD. In 711, the Moors crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and established there the heart of their western emirate. Andalusia remained under Muslim rule until 1492, when it fell to the Catholic kings. The Moorish period is known as Andalusia's golden age, an era in which agriculture, trade, mining, and industries (including pottery and textiles) were fostered. The region enjoyed great prosperity and the cities of Córdoba, Seville, and Granada became celebrated centres of the arts, culture, and science, and were embellished by the greatest Moorish monuments in the country.
Andalusia was a stronghold of anarchism during the Spanish republic (established in 1931), but fell to the Nationalists during the Spanish civil war (1936–39). The region saw recurrent demonstrations against General Francisco Franco's government. It became an autonomous region in 1981, electing its first parliament the following year. Andalusia's people remain strongly influenced by their Moorish past, as witnessed by their language, character, and customs. Their traditions of bull fights, flamenco dance and music, and Moorish architecture provide visitors with a strong, palpable image of Spain.
Once Spain's poorest region, Andalusia's 805 km/500 mi coastline – 70% of which is sandy beach – has made it one of Europe's most popular holiday destinations. The Mediterranean resorts of the Costa del Sol and the Costa de Almería, and the Atlantic resorts of the Costa de la Luz are particularly popular. The largest international airport in the region is the Pablo Picasso airport outside Málaga. Despite increasing tourism and the fast growth of the region's service industries, poverty remains widespread, and Andalusian farm labourers are among the poorest in Europe. Many unemployed Andalusians have migrated to Spain's more industrialized regions.
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