Industrial seaport and capital of Málaga province in Andalusia, southern Spain, situated at the mouth of the River Guadalmedina on the Mediterranean coast; population (2001 est) 534,200. Industries include sugar refining, textiles, distilling, brewing, and olive-oil pressing. Almonds, olives, dried fruits, Málaga wine, and iron ore are exported. Crude oil is unloaded from tankers offshore into a pipeline that transports it to the town of Puertollano. Tourism has been particularly important to the local economy since the 1960s; Málaga's Pablo Picasso international airport is the gateway to the popular Costa del Sol coastline.
History Málaga was founded in the 12th century BC by the Phoenicians, who built a fortress where the city now stands. The Phoenician period lasted until around 550 BC, when Málaga was conquered by the Carthaginians; the Romans colonized the area in 218 BC. The city was occupied by the Moors in AD 711, and became capital of the Moorish kingdom of Málaga from the 13th century, until it was captured in 1487 by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand II and Isabella I. The city's strategic position on the Straits of Gibraltar made it an important trading post for Africa and the Americas, especially during the industrialization of the 19th century. It became home to a large number of immigrant communities, including Italians, Berbers, Syrians, Jews, and Germans.
Features The city has a large cathedral (1528–1782), which has elements of Gothic, baroque, and neoclassical architecture. Although it was originally intended that the cathedral have two towers, funding only provided for one, giving rise to the local nickname of La Manquita (‘the one-armed’). It contains 40 wooden statues of the saints carved by the celebrated 17th-century sculptor Pedro de Mena. There is also a 15th-century Gothic church and the ruins of a Moorish alcazar (fortified palace).
The artist Pablo Picasso was born here in 1881, and the Museo Picasso Málaga, celebrating his life and work, opened in 2003.