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Here is a sketch of Andalusia and its history from the Bronze age to the end of the 20th century. There is also information about geography and landscape, with some about population, politics, economics and traffic.  

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Andalusia today


History I

For geographic reasons, Andalusia was always the preferred destination of very different civilisations. In the first millennium BC the Kingdom of Tartessos there arose under the strong influence of Phoenician and Greek settlements. It was followed by the Carthaginians, before the Roman Empire ruled and developed for nearly seven hundred years this rich region called "Baetica". Scipio the Elder founded Italica. During the fourth century Spain became a Christian country. After the decline of Rome the south of the Iberian peninsula suffered a period of destruction caused by various barbarian tribes, mainly the warlike Vandals and the Visigoths, who ruled for more than two centuries.

History II

The year of the surrender of the last Arab rulers marked at the same time the beginning of another new epoch: in 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail from the western coast of Andalusia (Palos de la Frontera in the province of Huelva) for the New World. Andalusia became the center of Europe and Seville its capital. Today the fruits of this golden age can still be seen in the great buildings of the Gothic, the Renaissance and the early Baroque. 
But in the 17th century, very soon after the loss of the trading monopoly of Seville and Cádiz, there began a long period of political paralysis and economic crisis.

The conquer of the land by the Moors and the Berbers in 711 marked the beginning of a new era on the Iberian peninsula, one which shaped Andalusia until today. Particularly agriculture and architecture were influenced by the different Arab dynasties, such as the Omayyades, Almoravides, Almohades and Nasrides. The cohabitation of the Christian, Jewish and Arab culture has since become a legend. Córdoba as the capital of the powerful Caliphate and Granada as last Muslim stronghold were the most important cities during the eight hundred years the Arabs were in Spain.

Spanish War of Succession, Napoleonic invasion, battle of Trafalgar - the 18th and 19th century were turbulent times for Andalusia. Towards the end of the 19th century the Andalusian countryside suffered social conflicts - and even revolts of the poor. The 20th. century was firstly shaped by the conflict between monarchists and republicans. The ensuing civil war (1936-39) ended with the national government of General Franco, who maintained power until his death in 1975. With the return to the democracy under the popular monarch Juan Carlos II, Andalusia attained a new self-confidence and became an Autonomous Region in 1982.

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 Chronological table



Andalusia can be considered a bridge between Europe and Africa and connects the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean. The most southern part of Spain with its 87.300 square kilometres (54.250 square miles) is also the largest one of the spanish Autonomous Regions. 
Its geography - especially of the western provinces - is dominated by the fertile valley of the Guadalquivir river and his numerous tributaries. The depression of the valley separates the Sierra Morena mountains in the north from the Bética ranges in the southeast. Half of the andalusian surface is mountainous, one third on a level of more than 600 meter
altitud and even 46 peaks are higher than 1.000 meters. The highest mountains of the spanish peninsula are situated in the Sierra Nevada mountains: the Mulhacén (3.481 meters) an the Veleta (3.398).



The Andalusian landscape is varied. Besides the expanded valley of the Guadalquivir river and its tributaries we find large forests of deciduous and cork trees in the low mountain ranges, snow-covered alpine high mountains, over 500 miles of coastline, the volcanic landscape of the Coto de Gata and even a half desert close to Tabernas (Almería. The mouths of the Guadalquivir and the Odiel river, both flowing to the Atlantic Ocean, are fertile marshlands.
In the Sierra Morena and the Betica ranges mountains can be found numerous large artificial lakes, catchment basins for large amounts of precipitation, serving as reservoir for agriculture and for the water supply of the big cities.


Andalusia today

In the autonomous region of Andalusia and its eight provinces live today over 7 million people, 3 million of them in the large cities and regional towns. Seville, the largest province is also the one with the highest number of inhabitants. Then come Córdoba, Jaén and Granada , which are all more thinly settled. Particularly the province of Granada is characterized by its mass of small settlements. Málaga as the smallest of all Andalusian provinces is at the same time the most densely settled. Especially the coastline of the Costa del Sol and its beaches with its mild and privileged climate draw many Andalusians - and other Europeans as well.
The province of Cádiz is also densely settled, its population concentrated around the large sea ports Algeciras and Cádiz as well as around its biggest city: Jerez de la Frontera. On the other hand, the Huelva province, with its large, thinly populated nature areas (above all the Doñana National Park) has a low number of just 72 inhabitants per square mile.


Andalusien has today a well constructed system of traffic routes. The large cities are connected by motorways, summing up more than 25,000 km (15,700 miles) of all Andalusian roads. Apart from the high-speed train AVE, which connects Madrid with Córdoba, Seville and Málaga, the provincial capitals are connected by frequently operating regional rail links.
The international airports of Málaga and Seville are completed by the regional airports of Almería, Granada and Jerez de la Frontera.
Five sea ports are located along the coast, under them the important commercial port in Algeciras and furthermore we find many sport (marina) and yachting ports. Seville has its own inland port, which is also a destination for cruise ships.

Andalusia today

The political capital of Andalusia and seat of the government ("Junta") is Seville. Since 1982 the Socialist Party (PSOE) has been in power, first by absolute majority, then, during the nineties in coalition with the Andalusian regional party (PA).
Since the elections of March 2004 and again in March 2008 the Socialist Party is governing again with absolute majority. The eight provinces are administered by their own Diputación Provincial, several municipalities form together a "comarca" (district).
The Andalusian Coat of Arms shows the founder Hercules with two lions and between two columns. The words at his feet: "Andalucía por sí, para España y para la humanidad".
("Andalusia for itself, for Spain and for mankind").


Economically, agriculture still plays an important role in Andalusia. Mainly grain and vegetables, fruits, olives, wine and cotton are cultivated and also exported. Stock-breeding is practiced particularly in the lower mountain regions. Industries consist of the mining, the (petro)chemical industry, shipbuilding and the processing of olive oil, wine, sugar and fish. More than 50% of the active pupulation is employed in the service sector, counting also trade, transport and the tourism sectors. The income per head in Andalusia is still below the average of Spain. The rate of unemployment, formerly at very high rates, has clearly subsided within the last years.




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