Land of Sun, Sea, Mountains, Fiestas and Gastronomic Delights
Andalucia, one of 17 regions of Spain, is situated at the point where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean and Europe gives way to Africa. It stretches 550 kilometres from west to east and varies between 90 and 250 kilometres from north to south. The 87,000 square kilometres, about the same size as Portugal, comprises 17% of Spain. It has 460 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline (the Costa del Sol, Costa Tropical and Costa de Almeria) and 240 kilometres of Atlantic (the Costa de la Luz). The two meet at the strait of Gibraltar, where the town of Tarifa, just 15 kilometres from Africa, is continental Europe’s most southerly point. 50% of the landscape is mountainous with 30% at over 600 metres.
Andalucia, probably the best known and loved region of Spain,is divided into eight provinces shown on the larger map, each named after their capital city. Seville is the overall capital and seat of the regional government. Each province is further sub-divided into departments (comarcas) as shown on the smaller map.
Andalucia is the region, rich in folklore, where the typical characteristics of Spain and its people are more pronounced. It is the region of toreros and bullfighting, white beaches and sun-bleached villages, flamenco dancing and fiestas – the very essence of this sunny Iberian country. Some of the most beautiful cities in Spain, such as Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga lie here between the Costa del Sol and the breathtaking national parks.
This is a warm and flourishing land where the River Guadalquivir, one of the longest in the country, runs and golden eagles, pink flamingoes, lynx and deer breed. The wildlife here is among the most varied in Europe due to the wild, differing terrain which has allowed the survival of several species that have died out in other countries. The region has around 5,000 different species of plants, of which 150 are unique to the area. This abundance is largely due to the last Ice Age being relatively temperate at this southerly latitude, allowing plants which were killed off further north to survive here.
Within this diverse land, a 40 minute drive from the beaches takes you to the skiing resort in the Sierra Nevada with its peaks reaching 3,400 metres. More than 18% of Andalucia is protected land in the form of national Parks and Reserves, including spectacular mountains and coastline.
Andalucia is also known as Spain’s lake district. Nestling between mountains and plains, inland Andalucia has more than 300 natural lakes and 11 reservoirs. Lake Vinuela is the closest to the coast and only 40 kilometres from Malaga airport. The lakes and reservoirs have sandy beaches and clear water where bathing is allowed. The beauty of these areas is only just being discovered by foreigners, many of whom now choose to holiday or buy property here rather than on the coast.
Since the 1960s Andalucia´s infrastructure has continued to be modernised. There are more than 25,000 kilometres of motorways, some of the best international airports in the world, major ports at Malaga and Algeciras and an ever-improving railway. Despite modernisation, within minutes of the coast or cities, there is a wealth of traditional Spanish villages where you can discover the real Spain.