Andalucia, is one of the seventeen autonomous communities that as together compromise the country of Spain. As the second largest community in Spain it covers the entire southern sector of the country. Well known for its touristic appeal and booming ex-pat community, it has been imortalised in celluloide and audio countless times.This image often leads to the impression that Andalucía is Spain. Though an irritating assumption for the rest of the Spaniards it is true that Andalucía holds an impressive wealth of culture and history.

History

The Beginnings

Even though evidence of Neanderthal settlements from aroubd 50.000 years ago has recently come to light, the origins of the Andalucian people as we know it now can be said to have to have started (for lack of better word) in about 8000 b.C. This was the point in time when we can first draw evidence of an influx of tribal people from the North of Africa. These people soon established farming settlements throughout the southern delta. Current historical data refers to these tribes as Iberians, the forefathers of the Hispanic race.

The Phoenicians later would root their trading centres up and down the coast, and in 1100 b.C. founded the peninsulas first seaport in Cádiz. Cádiz exploded in size, it is thought to be for this the oldest city in Europe. This new boom of trade and foreign traffic changed the outlook of the Iberians and gave way to their first technological revolution, all ready for the next horde of barbarians.

The next wave of barbarians in this case were the Celts who in around 800 b.C. had crossed the continent and reached the tip of Europe. Within in a hundred years the kingdom of the Tartessians was well and truly flourishing, in another hundred years the Greeks had established trading ports along the Mediterranean coastline and by 500 b.C. Carthage had taken the peninsula.

The Romans and the History of Spain

In 206 b.C. The Roman Empire was struggling to fight off the kingdom of Carthage; and in a successful backlash they invaded the Hispanic peninsula and crushed the resistance of the local Iberians. They had soon paved Andalucía with a maze of interconnecting roads, they sailed galleys up the Guadalquivir, as far as Córdoba, and they provided a rich market for olive oil and wine, which was exported to Rome, the entire colony became an example and haven for the Roman people. The two major changes brought by the Romans were:

Religion
Previously a pagan society, under the Romans the new founded Christianity began to flourish and soon was spreading through out the enitre civiliation.

Language
Maybe the closest modern tongue to ancient Latin, the Castillian language as we know it know began to aquire its own shape and intricacies.

The Dark Ages in Andalucía and the Moors

After the collapse of the Empire, Andalucía was devastated by successive waves of barbarian tribes coming from northern Europe, with the eventual predomination of the Visigoths. These warlike people reigned chaotically over the peninsula for almost two centuries, leaving Spain open to the invasion of the Moors - Islamic warriors from Arabia and North Africa - in the year 711, and who called the region al-Andalus because they associated it with the Vandals, one of the barbarian tribes who had, several centuries earlier, swept across the Strait of Gibraltar into North Africa.

The Moors made the region their home for eight centuries and permanently marked it with their cultural legacy, signs of which are still visible in monuments such as the Mosque of Córdoba and the Alhambra Palace in Granada. It was not until the 13th century that the Christian Reconquest reached Andalucía, seizing the cities of Córdoba] and Sevilla.

By the end of the 15th century, the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel of Castille and Fernando of Aragon, had taken the last stronghold of the Moors, Granada and the Alhambra Palace.

The History of Spain under Christian rule

The Puerto de Palos (literally Port of Sticks) in Huelva was the sailing point of the three galleons that led Christopher Coloumbus and his men towards the "discovery of America" meanwhile Sevilla the Upper Guadalquivir having silted up, making it impossible to sail as far inland as Córdoba,had become the main port of Andalucia's vast trading industry and later of the gold from the New World during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Much of the wealth from America was spent on the wars waged by Spain's Hapsburg monarchy against the Lutheran countries in northern Europe and the Ottoman Turks in the Mediterranean, and as the flow of riches decreased, Spain and Andalucía sank into economic decline. The region suffered the ravages of the Spanish War of Succession in the early 18th century and, one hundred years later, the Napoleonic invasion and the Battle of Trafalgar, touching off the War of Independence.

Andalucia's economy suffered the direct effect of the independence movement in South America during the rest of the 19th century.

Andalucía in the 20th century

The devastating loss of Spain's last colonies, Cuba and the Philippines, led to political instability and further economic decline, culminating in the deposition of the monarchy and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, in 1936, when the Republic was overthrown by General Franco and his Nationalist movement.

Although Spain did not openly take sides in World War I, Franco lent his support to the Axis, as a result of which Spain suffered the disastrous effects of an international blockade after the war. It was not until Franco died, in 1975, that democracy was restored, under the symbolic monarchy of King Juan Carlos. The Spanish government was decentralised and Andalucía became an Autonomous Region in 1982, with its own regional administration, the Junta de Andalucía (Assembly of Andalucía ).

Since then, Spain, as an active member of the European Union, has experienced a dramatic improvement in the standard of living. The poverty of the Andalucian countryside has been largely eliminated and its people have regained their pride in the local culture, which flourishes alongside the benefits of improved roads, modern health care and high-tech infrastructures. The romantic image of Andalucía, in spite of progress, is still very much a thing of the present.

Provinces

Andalucía is made up of eight provinces, similar to the American and English counties. Each one has its own capital and political borders.
The provinces are as follows

Almería, capital Almería (city)
Lays on the Southeast point of the Iberian Peninsula. Borders with Murcía and Granada and its coastline is bathed by the Mediterranean Sea.

Cádiz, capital Cádiz (city)
Covers the south-western side of the Andalucían cape.
In the province of Cádiz has the rock of Gibraltar, the English colony of Gibraltar and the only point of entrance to the Mediterranean ? The Strait of Gibraltar.
Borders with Sevilla and Málaga inland and the bodies of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Córdoba capital Córdoba (city)
Is one of the northern provinces of Andalucía, and has no coast.
It borders with Sevilla on the Southwest, Jaén on the east and Granada on the south.
The northern frontier is shared with both Extremadura and Castilla La Mancha.

Granada capital Granada (city)
Granada, famous for the Alhambra, covers the vertical length of Andalucía affording it both a Mediterranean coastline and a northern border with Murcía and Castilla La Mancha.

Huelva capital Huelva (city)
Sitting in the west most part of Andalucía it has an Atlantic coast. It is a neighbour to Sevilla and Extremadura as well as to Portugal.

Jaén capital Jaén (city)
This province is famous for it vast Olive groves and to be truthful not much else.
It is a northern province and therefore is next to Castilla La Mancha and Murcía on the north and Northeast. Granada, Córdoba and Málaga lay on its east, west and south accordingly.

Málaga capital Málaga (city)
Marbella and the Costa del Sol are both in Málaga, the more blatantly touristic area of Spain it has a southern long coastline on the Mediterranean and borders with four other Andalucían provinces; Granada (east), Córdoba (Northeast), Sevilla (Northwest) and Cádiz (Southeast).

Sevilla capital Sevilla (city)
The biggest and most central province, has for a long time been considered the culture and economical hub of the community.
It shares borders with Córdoba on the Northeast, Málaga on the Southeast, Cádiz on the south , Huelva on the west and Extremadura on the Northwest.
It has no coastline.

Famous People and Places

People

Federico García Lorca - born in Granada, 1898 - 1936
Juan Ramon Jimenez - born in Mouger, Huelva, 1881-1958
Pablo Picasso - born in Málaga, 1881 ? 1973
Rafael Albertí - born in Puerto de Santa Maria, Cádiz, 1881-1958
Antonio Banderas - born in Málaga, 1961 - present
Paco De Lucía - born in Algeciras, 1947 - present

"Adoptive" Andalusians:

Washington Irvine - lived in Granada for many years including the Alhambra (whilst it was still in a state of disrepair) in the 1820?s
Sean Connery - has lived in Marbella almost exclusively for the last 20 years.

Places

Puerto de Palos - This port in Huelva was the departure place for Christopher Columbus on his first historic voyage to the Indies.
La Alhambra - The famous Moorish palace in Granada is on of the largest and most sumptuous historical buildings in the country.
Gibraltar - This one the last English colonies is a sensitive issue for both English and Spanish alike. It also has an large number of indigenous monkeys, these are now a protected species.
Pillars of Hercules - Purely mythological. It is said that when Hercules passed in-between Cádiz and Ceuta (North Africa) the two where neighbouring cities at war. To resolve the dispute he pushed the two far apart. In doing so he opened the Mediterranean and created the Strait of Gibraltar.
Mosque of Cordoba - the intricate and perfectly preserved mosque was the biggest in the western world at the time and is still the biggest Muslim temple outside of the Middle East.
Marbella - The international tourist destination, home of a thousand hotels, ten thousand nightclubs and a lot of English.

Geography

Main rivers include

Main Mountain ranges include:

Flag and community symbols

The Andalucían flag is composed of three horizontal sections. The topmost one and the bottom section are dark green. The middle section is white .
The green symbolises hope and the white symbolises peace.

The community holiday is celebrated on the 28th of February.

Their community song is as follows:

La bandera blanca y verde, 
vuelve tras siglos de guerra.
A decir Paz y Esperanza,
bajo el sol de nuestra tierra.
¡Andaluces, levantáos!
¡Pedid tierra y libertad!
Sea por Andalucía  libre,
España y la Humanidad.
Los andaluces queremos
volver a ser lo que fuimos.
Hombres de luz que a los hombres,
Alma de hombres les dimos.
¡Andaluces, levantáos!
¡Pedid tierra y libertad!
Sea por Andalucía  libre,
España y la Humanidad. 

Translated (by me)

The white and green flag,
Returns after centuries of war
To proclaim peace and hope
Under the sun of our land
Andalusians rise!
Demand land and freedom!
Be it for Andalucía free
Spain and humanity
The Andalusians want
To be what we once where
Men of light that to men
Souls of men gave
Demand land and freedom!
Be it for Andalucía free
Spain and humanity


Sources
A bit of goggle searching with words such as Andalucía , Guadalquivir, Cadiz and most of the names of the people listed above.
The majority of information came from 15 years of school education in Almería, Andalucía .

We drove around base, got some gas, went out of the gate toward Puerto. We’re looking for a third friend. When we got to her, at her house, we said goodbye to her dog (cute dog), got in the car. The Spanish children were out banging sticks, had another dog with them, we drove off. Talking about what we were going to do in the car—going to an amusement park in Sevilla, Isla Magica—but we didn’t know how to get there. So we started toward Jerez, and as we left Puerto, we all thought: everything is beautiful here.

To Jerez from the highway, its town is sprawled, but simple, with houses of orange, yellow, cobbled and painted roofing shingles, pretty iron gates and the shops stores and houses all blend into each other, with spaces for living, people moving about, talking and sipping in cafes. The intersections in Spain are mostly roundabouts. There are very little of these in the States. They help the flow of traffic in a sort of dangerous way, but I have not seen an accident yet, only a number of close calls. The Spanish never seem to care. They are always happy, happy nearly dying, happy sitting around. They make great friends, but are less well in other sorts of relationships, but that’s ok, we’re taking a roundabout, finding another highway now, and the road opens up in a way to the American eye that can only be described as impossible.

The Spanish have erected a number of towering bull avatars on the hills, speckled about, graying out in the distance. The metal bulls were often seen close to Puerto, and as we moved away toward Sevilla their frequency disappears behind us. Then the road courses through a plateau, and I’m in the back seat, on the right side, and I’m looking out of the window, and far ahead upon a mountain created from hundreds of different colored hills rests a large and active village, and you can see a tower there, a castle, and there are some walls thinned around the village, and down from those hills are pastures and crops, rich summer farmland under a blue sky with straying clouds, the sun around the edge of it, and the hills continue to recede down an enormous valley between the village and I, falling down forever, the bottom pastures almost silver, flowers on every hill everywhere, animals grazing, our plateau cliffs down—the graceful prairies below it, the farmland continuing into the hills as naturally as flowers do. The wonderfulness is permanent, so undisturbed, so effortless and extreme, so very large—the hills and cliffs, the forever of the cliffs, the pastures, the tiny villages on hills with their castles in the distance—the view of them never ends; as we pass around a mountain, the land changes, it rises about, the land draws close, cows notice us, the road is open, no man is here.

The road moves us toward one of the villages on a hill, and we watch, joking and singing in the car.

How the village, just gray and strange in the distance, slowly grows until we move between two thick old buildings, and emerge into the center, our car taking a left on an avenue, then greeted on every side by motor bikes, vans, trucks with produce and simple machines, we're sort of lost but loving it, I watch a man lying on his brow into the entrance of a bar. It’s slightly afternoon: it’s siesta: people sleep in houses and flap rugs and there are the cafes going, kids batting a ball, then the village is over, it becomes something behind us as the road turns into a freeway again, a toll-booth. Then there’s another almost-accident. The Spanish must have just discovered how to drive.

This time the road presents us with closer farmland and pastures, and on the right window I see crops, which from the wrong angle seem of no order, but as we pass them directly in front we’re presented with their order of near-perfect rows—the rows stretch miles, and are circular, so that there is an optical illusion, a wheel of plant life that turns as we pass it, revealing its inner paths: olive trees.

We pass over a bridge and arrive into the rear of Sevilla. We find parking outside of Isla Magica, and beyond the wall of the lot we see a Log Floom. So we get to getting into the place, pay twenty Euro, and we’re in. Spanish people are everywhere. They’re simply people of course, yet they do smell more, and are much less shameful of their bodies or actions. I like that in them. In the lines of the rides they are always touching, making out, finding things to do, talk about, look at. They’re fine with each other and do not judge. It is a wiser way to live.

We ride the Log Floom, a very nice ride that you already know, then a few other water rides, then find a roller coaster (it goes upside-down) and ride that twice, then do a few more rides, go back to the Log Floom, a few more rides. After about five hours, the day is done, we’re tired, we get in the car, and we go back to Puerto.

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