Andalusia (Andalucía in Spanish) is situated in the south of Spain: it practically accounts for the whole southern coastline. In Spain, it is bordered by Extremadura and Castile-La Mancha due north and Murcia in the east: westwards of Andalucia is Portugal.
Directly south, Andalusia meets both the Atlantic Ocean (el Océano Atlántico) and the Mediterranean Sea (el Mar Mediterráneo) as its coastline stretches around 800 km from the southeast to the south-west.
Andalusia is the second largest region (after Castile-Leon) covering approximately 87,000 km² (roughly 17% of Spain’s total) and with 7.5 million people, Andalusia has the largest population of all Spain’s Autonomous Communities.
Aside from the coast, Andalusia’s landscape is dominated by the Guadalquivir River (the second longest river in Spain at a length of 660 km), which flows between the Sierra Morena in the north and the Bética mountain range in the south. The centre of the region is largely taken up by the temperate Guadalquivir valley.
Roughly 20% of the region is protected, as Andalusia has:
- 23 Natural Parks (Parques Naturales)
- 30 Nature Reserves (Reservas Naturales)
- and 31 so called Natural Sites (Parajes Naturales).
The most notable area of them all is the Doñana National Park (el Parque Nacional de Doñana), located at the Guadalquivir River’s Atlantic estuary. Doñana is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is famous for its lagoons, marshlands, scrub woodland and fixed and mobile dunes. It is also the breeding ground for five species of threatened birds, home to one of the largest colonies of heron in the Mediterranean area and a key migration point for water fowl (in excess of 0.5 million every year).
Andalucia has 8 provinces:
- Sevilla (Seville in English)
- Málaga (Malaga in English)
The capital city of each region has the same name as the province in which it is situated, with Seville also doubling as the capital city of Andalusia.
Andalusia is famous for the sun (el sol). Its summers are dry and very hot: temperatures regularly reach 40°C and there are on average 3,000 hours of sunshine each year. Andalusian winters are generally mild with some rain, although the mountainous areas can be quite cold. Of course the higher mountain ranges, such as the Sierra Morena, have a covering of snow year round.
History of Andalusia
The most profound impact on the history of Andalusia, and consequently Andalusia’s culture, was the Moorish occupation between the 8th and 15th Centuries. There is no better place to experience the Moorish influence in Spain, as Andalusia has some of the finest examples of Moorish architecture. The most noteworthy buildings are found at Granada (the Alhambra), Seville (the Giralda), Córdoba (the Mezquita) and Málaga (the Alcazaba).
The principal industry of the region is tourism. Aside from the hot climate and historical sites, Andalusia’s southern coast houses many sandy beaches: the beaches stretch from the Costa de la Luz on the Atlantic side in the west through the Costa del Sol and onto the Costa de Almería in the Mediterranean east.