Typical flowered façade in Andalusia (Córdoba)./©ICEX
The Autonomous Community of Andalusia, located in southern Spain, occupies a land area of 87,596.97 sq. kilometers / 33,821 sq. miles and has a population of 8,449,985 inhabitants (2012). It is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville. The capital city is Seville.
Andalusia is largest agricultural producer in Spain. It leads national production of table olives and olive oil. Greenhouse cultivation predominates in Almería, producing noteworthy amounts of vegetables. Huelva and Granada are leaders in fruit production, cultivating strawberries and tropical fruit respectively.
Pigs are bred primarily in the mountains of Cádiz, Córdoba, Huelva, Málaga and Seville, where large herds of Ibérico pigs are raised.
Fishing is a chief industry in Cádiz, Huelva and Málaga, where fishermen specialise in catching tuna, prawns and sardines. The Andalusian fishing fleet consists of over 1,672 vessels and the captures reach 47,473 tons per year (2011).
Wine production is centered in the regions around Jerez (the area with the oldest and longest wine exporting tradition in Spain), Montilla-Moriles, Málaga and Huelva.
Read more: Wines from Spain
Andalusia was visited by 7,586,671 foreign tourists in 2012.
The foremost historical attractions in Andalusia, declared World Heritage sites by the UNESCO, are: the Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín in Granada; the Mosque and Historic Centre of Córdoba; the Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville, and the Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Seville houses an outstanding collection of Spanish Baroque painting.
Doñana Natural Park, which covers 54,252 ha / 134,059 acres, is the largest bird sanctuary in Europe, and home to unique species such as the Iberian lynx. The park was declared, by the UNESCO, a World Heritage site in 1994. There are some UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in this region: Cabo de Gata-Níjar, Doñana, Dehesas de Sierra Morena, Grazalema, Marismas del Odiel, Sierra de las Nieves, Sierra Nevada and Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas. There are many other nature reserves in Andalusia, such as Sierra de Hornachuelos and Sierra Nevada, site of the highest peak in continental Spain, the Mulhacén (3,482 metres / 11,423 ft).
In 2013, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) awarded 78 blue flags to beaches and 18 blue flags to marinas in Andalusia.
More info: Turismo de Andalucía.
Andalusia is the cradle of flamenco, an art which takes form in music, song, dance, or the combination of all of these. Flamenco festivals are held all over Andalusia at different times of year, but perhaps the best known is the one held in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz), which brings together well-known artists and other, newer names.
Two Andalusian cities hold annual film festivals. Málaga is home to the Spanish Cinema Festival which premières a large number of films and welcomes some of Spain's most relevant actors and directors. And Huelva holds the Latin American Cinema Festival, displaying the best of Spanish and Latin American films.
Andalusia is the birthplace of great artists, including: Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), painter; Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870), poet; Antonio Machado (1875-1939), poet; Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958), writer and winner of the 1956 Nobel Prize for Literature; Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973), painter; Federico García Lorca (1898-1936), poet and playwright; Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), composer; Vicente Aleixandre (1898-1984), poet and winner of the 1977 Nobel Prize for Literature; and Rafael Alberti (1902-1999), poet.
Fiestas and Food Festivals
Holy Week in Seville; Feria de Abril, Seville; El Rocío Pilgrimage, in June, Ayamonte (Huelva); and the Jerez Horse Fair (Feria del Caballo), held in May in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz).
Many gastronomic fiestas celebrating traditional products and dishes take place throughout the year all over the region.
Andalusian gastronomy has deep roots within the Arabic cuisine of Al-Andalus (711-1492). Its refinement, unknown in Europe, transformed a wide range of customs. It was the andalusíes themselves who invented the dining room and the current order in which we eat dishes during a meal.
Gazpacho (a cold soup made of tomato, bread, onions, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, oil, vinegar and salt) is the typical Andalusian dish par excellence.
Tapas (small cold or hot dishes served in bars as aperitifs) attain their maximum expression in Andalusia, where they are always served along with a glass of wine or beer.