For other uses see Andalusia (disambiguation).
Andalusia (Spanish; Castilian: Andalucía) is a country in the Kingdom of Spain. It is the most populous and the second largest, in terms of land area, of the seventeen autonomous communities of the Kingdom of Spain. Its capital and largest city is Seville. The region is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and Almería.
Andalusia is located 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, the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Spain from Morocco, and the Atlantic Ocean. 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.
With the fall of the Phoenician cities, Carthage became the dominant sea power of the western Mediterranean and the most important trading partner for the Semitic towns along the Andalusian coast. Between the first and second Carthaginian wars, Carthage extended its control beyond Andalusia to include all of Iberia except the Basquelands. Andalusia was the major staging ground for the war with Rome led by the Barkid Hannibal. The Romans defeated the Carthaginians and conquered Andalusia, the region being renamed Baetica.
The Vandals moved briefly through the region during the 5th century AD before settling in North Africa, after which the region fell into the hands of the Kingdom of the Visigoths who had to face the Byzantine interests in the region.
See also: Al-Andalus. The Umayyad Caliphate conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711-718 marked the collapse of Visigothic rule. Tariq bin Zeyad, known in Spanish history and legend as Tariq el Tuerto (Tariq the one-eyed), was an African Muslim and Umayyad general who led the conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711 under the orders of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I. According to the historian Ibn Khaldoun, Tariq Ibn Ziyad was from a Berber tribe of Algeria. Tariq ibn Ziyad is considered to be one of the most important military commanders in Iberian history. He was initially the deputy of Musa ibn Nusair in North Africa, and was sent by his superior to launch the first thrust of a conquest of the kingom of Hispania (comprising modern Spain and Portugal). Some claim that he was invited to intervene by the heirs of the Visigothic King, Wittiza, in the Visigothic civil war.
On April 29, 711, the armies of Tariq landed at Gibraltar (the name Gibraltar is derived from the Arabic name Jabal Tariq, which means mountain of Tariq, or the more obvious Gibr al Tariq, meaning rock of Tariq).
Andalusian culture was deeply influenced by over half a millennium of Muslim rule during the Middle Ages. Córdoba became the largest and richest city in Western Europe and one of the largest in the world. The Moors established universities in Andalusia, and cultivated scholarship, bringing together the greatest achievements of all of the civilizations they had encountered. During that period Moorish and Jewish scholars played a major part in reviving and contributing to Western astronomy, medicine, philosophy, and mathematics.
Under the Muslims, the name "Al-Andalus" was applied to a much larger area than the present Spanish region, and at some periods it referred to nearly the entire Iberian peninsula; it survived, however, as the name of the area where Muslim rule and culture persisted the longest.
Other important Andalusian cities are:
Andalusia is traditionally an agricultural area, but the service sector (particularly tourism, retail sales, and transportation) now predominates. The construction sector, now growing very quickly, also makes an important contribution to the region’s economic fabric. The industrial sector is less developed than in other regions in Spain. As of early 2008, the regional economy is experiencing sustained growth.
According to the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Estadística, the GDP per capita of Andalusia (€17,401, 2006) is still the second lowest in Spain. At the same time, the economic growth rate for the 2000-2006 period was 3.72%, one of the highest in the country.
The Autonomous Community of Andalusia is administrated through the "Junta de Andalucía" and is one of the four historic regions of Spain. It has a local parliament and president.
The south of Spain is somewhat legendary for its attraction to overseas visitors – especially tourists from Northern Europe. While inland areas such as Jaén, Córdoba and the hill villages and towns remain in part untouched by the throngs of tourists, the coastal areas of Andalusia are heavy with visitors for much of the year.
See main article: List of Andalusians.