Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities in Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognized as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville. Its capital is the city of Seville (Spanish: Sevilla).
Andalusia is in the south of the Iberian peninsula, immediately south of the autonomous communities of Extremadura and Castile–La Mancha; west of the autonomous community of Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea; east of Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean; and north of the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. The small British overseas territory of Gibraltar shares a three-quarter-mile land border with the Andalusian province of Cádiz at the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar.
The main mountain ranges of Andalusia are the Sierra Morena and the Baetic System, consisting of the Subbaetic and Penibaetic Mountains, separated by the Intrabaetic Basin. In the north, the Sierra Morena separates Andalusia from the plains of Extremadura and Castile–La Mancha on Spain's Meseta Central. To the south the geographic subregion of Upper Andalusia lies mostly within the Baetic System, while Lower Andalusia is in the Baetic Depression of the valley of the Guadalquivir.
The name "Andalusia" is derived from the Arabic word Al-Andalus (الأندلس). As well as Muslim and Romani influences, the region's history and culture have been influenced by the earlier Iberians, Carthaginians/Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Byzantines, all of whom preceded the Muslims, as well as the Castilian and other Christian North Iberian nationalities who regained and repopulated the area in the latter phases of the Reconquista. There was also a relatively large Sephardic Jewish presence.
Andalusia has been an economically poor region in comparison with the rest of Europe. However, the growth of the community especially in the sectors of industry and services was above average in Spain and higher than many communities in the eurozone. The region has, however, a rich culture and a strong cultural identity. Many cultural phenomena that are seen internationally as distinctively Spanish are largely or entirely Andalusian in origin. These include flamenco, bullfighting, and certain Moorish-influenced architectural styles.
Andalusia's interior is the hottest area of Europe, with cities like Córdoba and Seville averaging above 36 ° C (97 ° F) in summer high temperatures. Late evening temperatures can sometimes stay around 35 ° C (95 ° F) up close to midnight, with daytime highs of over 40 ° C (104 ° F) common.
The name Andalucía or Andalusia
Although its present form is certainly derived from the Arabic, the etymology of the name "Andalusia" is disputed and the extent of Iberian territory encompassed by the name has changed over the centuries.
In the form of Vandalusia, it was traditionally believed to be derived from the name of the Germanic tribe, the Vandals, that briefly colonized parts of Iberia from 409 to 429. This proposal is sometimes associated with the 19th-century historian Reinhart Dozy, but it predates him and he recognized some of its shortcomings. Although he accepted that Al-Andalus derived from Vandal, he believed that geographically it referred only to the harbor from which the Vandals departed Iberia for (North) Africa—the location of which harbour was unknown.
The Spanish toponym (place name) Andalucía (immediate source of the English Andalusia) was introduced into the Spanish languages in the 13th century under the form el Andalucía. The name was adopted to refer those territories still under the Moorish rule until then, and generally south of Castilla Nueva and Valencia, and corresponding with the former Roman province hitherto called Baetica in Latin sources. This was a Castilianization of Al-Andalusiya, the adjectival form of the Arabic language al-Andalus, the name given by the Arabs to all of the Iberian territories under Muslim rule from 711 to 1492. The etymology of al-Andalus is itself somewhat debated (see al-Andalus), but it entered the Arabic language even before such time as this area came under Muslim rule.
Like the Arabic term al-Andalus, in historical contexts the Spanish term Andalucía or the English term Andalusia do not necessarily refer to the exact territory designated by these terms today. Initially, the term referred exclusively to territories under Muslim control; later, it was applied to some of the last Iberian territories to be regained from the Muslims, though not always to exactly the same ones. In the Estoria de España (also known as the Primera Crónica General) of Alfonso X of Castile, written in the second half of the 13th century, the term Andalucía is used with three different meanings: As a literal translation of the Arabic al-Ándalus when Arabic texts are quoted. To designate the territories the Christians had regained by that time in the Guadalquivir valley and in the Kingdoms of Granada and Murcia. In a document from 1253, Alfonso X styled himself Rey de Castilla, León y de toda Andalucía ("King of Castile, León and all of Andalusia").
To designate the territories the Christians had regained by that time in the Guadalquivir valley (the Kingdoms of Jaén, Córdoba and Seville) but not the Kingdom of Granada. This was the most common significance in the Late Middle Ages and Early modern period.
From an administrative point of view, Granada remained separate for many years even after the completion of the Reconquista due, above all, to its emblematic character as the last territory regained, and as the seat of the important Real Chancillería de Granada, a court of last resort. Still, the reconquest and repopulation of Granada was accomplished largely by people from the four existing Christian kingdoms of Andalusia, and Granada came to be considered a fourth kingdom of Andalusia. The often-used expression "Four Kingdoms of Andalusia" dates back in Spanish at least to the mid-18th century.
The Andalusian coat of arms shows the figure of Hercules and two lions between the two pillars of Hercules that tradition situates on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar. An inscription below, superimposed on an image of the flag of Andalusia reads Andalucía por sí, para España y la Humanidad ("Andalusia by herself, for Spain and Humanity"). Over the two columns is a semicircular arch in the colors of the flag of Andalusia, with the Latin words Dominator Hercules Fundator superimposed.
The official flag of Andalusia consists of three equal horizontal stripes, colored green, white, and green respectively; the Andalusian coat of arms is superimposed on the central stripe. Its design was overseen by Blas Infante and approved in the Assembly of Ronda (a 1918 gathering of Andalusian nationalists at Ronda). The green symbolizes hope and union, and the white symbolizes peace and dialogue. Blas Infante considered these to have been the colors most used in regional symbols throughout the region's history. According to him, the green came in particular from the standard of the Umayyad Caliphate and represented the call for a gathering of the populace. The white symbolized pardon in the Almohad dynasty, interpreted in European heraldry as parliament or peace. Other writers have justified the colors differently, with some Andalusian nationalists referring to them as the Arbonaida, meaning white-and-green in Mozarabic, a Romance language that was spoken in the region in Muslim times.
The anthem of Andalusia was composed by José del Castillo Díaz (director of the Municipal Band of Seville, commonly known as Maestro Castillo) with lyrics by Blas Infante. The music was inspired by Santo Dios, a popular religious song sung at harvest time by peasants and day laborers in the provinces of Málaga, Seville, and Huelva. Blas Infante brought the song to Maestro Castillo's attention; Maestro Castillo adapted and harmonized the traditional melody. The lyrics appeal to the Andalusians to mobilize and demand tierra y libertad ("land and liberty") by way of agrarian reform and a statute of autonomy within Spain.
The Parliament of Andalusia voted unanimously in 1983 that the preamble to the Statute of Autonomy recognize Blas Infante as the Father of the Andalusian Nation (Padre de la Patria Andaluza), which was reaffirmed in the reformed Statute of Autonomy submitted to popular referendum 18 February 2007. The preamble of the present 2007 Statute of Autonomy says that Article 2 of the present Spanish Constitution of 1978 recognizes Andalusia as a nationality. Later, in its articulation, it speaks of Andalusia as a "historic nationality" (Spanish: nacionalidad histórica). It also cites the 1919 Andalusianist Manifesto of Córdoba describing Andalusia as a "national reality" (realidad nacional), but does not endorse that formulation. Article 1 of the earlier 1981 Statute of Autonomy defined it simply as a "nationality" (nacionalidad).
The national holiday, the Día de Andalucía, is celebrated on 28 February, commemorating the 1980 autonomy referendum. In spite of this, nationalist groups celebrate the holiday on 4 December, commemorating the 1977 demonstrations to demand autonomy. The honorific title of Hijo Predilecto de Andalucía ("Favorite Son of Andalucia") is granted by the Junta of Andalusia to those whose exceptional merits benefited Andalusia, for work or achievements in natural, social, or political science. It is the highest distinction given by the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.
The Sevillian historian Antonio Domínguez Ortiz wrote that:…one must seek the essence of Andalusia in its geographic reality on the one hand, and on the other in the awareness of its inhabitants. From the geographic point of view, the whole of the southern lands is too vast and varied to be embraced as a single unit. In reality there are not two, but three Andalusias: the Sierra Morena, the Valley [of the Guadalquivir and the [Cordillera] Penibética…
Andalusia has a surface area of 87,597 square kilometres (33,821 sq mi), 17.3 percent of the territory of Spain. Andalusia alone is comparable in extent and in the variety of its terrain to any of several of the smaller European countries. To the east is the Mediterranean Sea; to the west the Atlantic Ocean; to the north the Sierra Morena constitutes the border with the Meseta Central; to the south, the self-governing British overseas territory of Gibraltar and the Strait of Gibraltar separate it from Africa.
Andalusia sits at a latitude between 36° and 38° 44' N, in the warm-temperate region. In general, it experiences a Mediterranean climate, with dry summers influenced by the Azores High, but subject to occasional torrential rains and extremely hot temperatures. In the winter, the tropical anticyclones move south, allowing cold polar fronts to penetrate the region. Still, within Andalusia there is considerable climatic variety. From the extensive coastal plains one may pass to the valley of the Guadalquivir, barely above sea level, then to the highest altitudes in the Iberian peninsula in the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. In a mere 50 km (31 mi) one can pass from the subtropical coast of the province of Granada to the snowy peaks of Mulhacén. Andalusia also includes both the dry Tabernas Desert in the province of Almería and the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in the province of Cádiz, which experiences Spain's greatest rainfall.
Annual rainfall in the Sierra de Grazalema has been measured as high as 4,346 millimetres (171.1 in) in 1963, the highest ever recorded for any location in Iberia. Andalusia is also home to the driest place in continental Europe, the Cabo de Gata, with only 117 millimetres (4.6 in) of rain per year.
In general, as one goes from west to east, away from the Atlantic, there is less precipitation. "Wet Andalusia" includes most of the highest points in the region, above all the Sierra de Grazalema but also the Serranía de Ronda in western Málaga. The valley of the Guadalquivir has moderate rainfall. The Tabernas Desert in Almería, Europe's only true desert, has less than 75 days with any measurable precipitation, and some particular places in the desert have as few as 50 such days. Much of "dry Andalusia" has more than 300 "sunny" days a year.
The average temperature in Andalusia throughout the year is over 16 °C (61 °F). Averages in the cities range from 15.1 °C (59.2 °F) in Baeza to 18.5 °C (65.3 °F) in Málaga. Much of the Guadalquivir valley and the Mediterranean coast has an average of about 18 °C (64 °F). The coldest month is January when Granada at the foot of the Sierra Nevada experiences an average temperature of 6.4 °C (43.5 °F). The hottest are July and August, with an average temperature of 28.5 °C (83.3 °F) for Andalusia as a whole. Córdoba is the hottest provincial capital, followed by Seville.
The Guadalquivir valley has experienced the highest temperatures recorded in Europe, with a maximum of 46.6 °C (115.9 °F) recorded at Córdoba and Seville. The mountains of Granada and Jaén have the coldest temperatures in southern Iberia, but do not reach continental extremes (and, indeed are surpassed by some mountains in northern Spain). In the cold snap of January 2005, Santiago de la Espada (Jaén) experienced a temperature of −21 °C (−6 °F) and the ski resort at Sierra Nevada National Park—the southernmost ski resort in Europe—dropped to −18 °C (−0 °F). Sierra Nevada Natural Park has Iberia's lowest average annual temperature, (3.9 °C or 39.0 °F at Pradollano) and its peaks remain snowy practically year-round.
Andalusia is traditionally divided into two historical subregions: Upper Andalusia or Eastern Andalusia, consisting of the provinces of Almería, Granada, Jaén, and Málaga, and Lower Andalusia or Western Andalusia, consisting of the provinces of Cádiz, Córdoba, Huelva and Seville.
Municipalities and local entities
Beyond the level of provinces, Andalusia is further divided into 771 municipalities (municipios). The municipalities of Andalusia are regulated by Title III of the Statute of Autonomy, Articles 91–95, which establishes the municipality as the basic territorial entity of Andalusia, each of which has legal personhood and autonomy in many aspects of its internal affairs. At the municipal level, representation, government and administration is performed by the ayuntamiento (municipal government), which has competency for urban planning, community social services, supply and treatment of water, collection and treatment of waste, and promotion of tourism, culture, and sports, among other matters established by law.
Among the more important Andalusian cities besides the provincial capitals are:
• El Ejido, Níjar and Roquetas de Mar (Almería)
• La Línea de la Concepción, Algeciras, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, San Fernando, Chiclana de la Frontera, Puerto Real, Arcos de la Frontera, Jerez and El Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz)
• Almuñécar, Guadix, Loja and Motril (Granada)
• Linares, Andújar, Úbeda and Baeza (Jaén)
• Marbella, Mijas, Vélez-Málaga, Fuengirola, Torremolinos, Estepona, Benalmádena, Antequera, Rincón de la Victoria and Ronda (Málaga)
• Utrera, Dos Hermanas, Alcalá de Guadaíra, Osuna, Mairena del Aljarafe, Ecija and Lebrija (Seville)
In conformity with the intent to devolve control as locally as possible, in many cases, separate nuclei of population within municipal borders each administer their own interests. These are variously known as pedanías ("hamlets"), villas ("villages"), aldeas (also usually rendered as "villages"), or other similar names.
Comarcas and mancomunidades
Within the various autonomous communities of Spain, comarcas are comparable to shires (or, in some countries, counties) in the English-speaking world. Unlike in some of Spain's other autonomous communities, under the original 1981 Statute of Autonomy, the comarcas of Andalusia had no formal recognition, but, in practice, they still had informal recognition as geographic, cultural, historical, or in some cases administrative entities. The 2007 Statute of Autonomy echoes this practice, and mentions comarcas in Article 97 of Title III, which defines the significance of comarcas and establishes a basis for formal recognition in future legislation.
The current statutory entity that most closely resembles a comarca is the mancomunidad, a freely chosen, bottom-up association of municipalities intended as an instrument of socioeconomic development and coordination between municipal governments in specific areas.
La Cocina Andaluza
La alimentación del Mediterráneo está de moda. Productos básicos como las hortalizas, frutas, pescados y el aceite de oliva virgen se han convertido en un aliciente importante en la cocina andaluza. Basa sus platos en las materias primas de su región, pudiendo degustar platos de pescado en las provincias costeras y platos de carne en las de interior. La enorme variedad de frutas estará presente en todos ellos, quizás la única diferencia sea el toque personal que cada pueblo otorga a sus platos típicos.
La gastronomía andaluza tiene profundas huellas de la cocina árabe de al-Ándalus. Su refinamiento transformó muchas costumbres. Los potajes de legumbres y verduras y los guisos de caza, junto a las formas de preparar el pescado configuran la esencia de esta cocina.
En Andalucía existen muchos productos con Denominación de Origen: vinos, aceites, jamones, frutas, etc. Todos estos productos andaluces están controlados por el Consejo Regulador, lo cual es una garantía de calidad indiscutible para el comprador. Los productos con Denominación Específica también son dignos de mención. Jamón La Denominación de Origen del Jamón de Huelva asegura que éste procede del cerdo alimentado según las normas reglamentarias y pertenece exclusivamente a explotaciones y ganaderías inscritas y controladas por el Consejo Regulador.
Los jamones y paletas con Denominación de Origen de Huelva proceden de cerdos de raza ibérica puros o procedentes de cruces de raza ibérica con la “Duroc-Jersey” y que poseen, como mínimo, un 75% de sangre ibérica. Su forma exterior es alargada, estilizada, perfilada mediante el tradicional corte serrano en “V” y con un peso no inferior a los 4,5 Kg.