For geographic reasons, Andalusia was always the preferred
destination of very different civilisations. In
the first millennium BC the Kingdom of Tartessos
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Diputación Provincial, several municipalities form together
a "comarca" (district).
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
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