Andalucia covers 17.3% of Spain , 87,268 km2 making it the largest region in Spain. It is made up of 8 provinces which are Almeria, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga, Seville. The coastal areas of these combined provinces are the famous “Costas”, Costa del Sol, Costa Tropical, Costa Almeria and Costa de la Luz. Andalucia has 7 million inhabitants.
There is a modern road system and the motorways, highways and roads of the region cover more than 24,000 kms. There is a high speed train which connects Seville with Madrid in only two and a half hours and other regional rail links connect all of the provincial capitals with several trains daily. There are several large and modern airports supporting the region which are Malaga, Almeria, Sevilla, Gibraltar, Jerez and Granada .
Andalucia is also known as “the bridge between two continents” or “the gateway to Europe”. It is the place where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean and the nearest meeting point of Europe and Africa . Fifty percent of Andalucia is mountainous with one-third above 600 metres and 46 peaks are higher than 1,000 metres. The Sierra Nevada range holds the highest mountains with some reaching over 3,400 metres.
Andalucia´s main river, the Guadalquivir , from the Arabic, meaning "Great River", together with its tributary, the Genil, form a valley which constitutes the fundamental geographical axis of Andalucia . From its beginnings in eastern Andalusia, in the Sierra de Cazorla, to its outlet into the sea in the west, next to the marshes of Doñana National Park , the Guadalquivir is a source of life all along its journey across Andalucian territory. As a result of this the land is very fertile so due to this and the climate an abundance of crops, fruits and flowers are grown which are not only used within Spain but exported throughout the world. Farming therefore is one of the most important industries of the region.
Andalusia has been fought over by numerous cultures since the earliest times of civilization each leaving their effect on the culture and architecture of the region. Monuments and relics of these can be found virtually everywhere throughout the region.
The Andalucian coastline stretches for over 900 kms and has many ports and marinas. The most important port is Algerciras linking the area with the rest of the shipping world. Fishing also is a major industry of the area.
Andalucian cuisine is divided into two main parts, food based on products from the sea and those based on Serrano mountain area ingredients. Many different ways of preparing fish are used, stews, game dishes, aged pork, vegetables etc form the basic essence of the cuisine. The best known Andalucian dish is gazpacho which is a tomato based cold soup also containing cucumber, pepper, garlic, oil and vinegar. Tapas (small snacks) are very popular. All the above are complimented with the excellent Andalucian wines which are known worldwide.
Bullfighting is an important tradition in Andalucia and bullfights are held in various bullrings throughout Andalucia. They coincide with local festivals and most towns have their own Fiestas where there is dancing and singing to Flamenco music.
The area caters for a wide range of sports. Andalucia has over 60 golf courses including the first desert golf course in Europe. In winter months skiing and snowboarding is very popular in the Sierra Nevada mountains. All other sports and recreational pastimes relating to mountains and countryside are catered for e.g. pony trekking, climbing, horse riding, walking, hang gliding, quad biking, polo, tennis etc and all the watersports and pastimes are available along the coast e.g. swimming, parasailing, scuba diving, fishing, wind surfing, snorkelling, jetskiing, sailing etc.
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