The Valencian Community (Official in Valencian Comunitat Valenciana; Spanish; Castilian: Comunidad Valenciana) is an Autonomous Community located in central to south-eastern Spain. It is divided in three provinces, from South to North: Alicante, Valencia and Castellón.
The current version of the Valencian Statute of Autonomy declares the Region of Valencia a nationality. The official languages are Spanish and Valencian (as Catalan is known in this territory). The capital of the autonomous community is the city of Valencia.
See main article: Names of the Valencian Community.
The official name of the autonomous community, Comunitat Valenciana, has seen a variety of renditions in English, including "Valencian Community", "Land of Valencia", "Region of Valencia" or, most commonly, simply "Valencia". The Spanish name, Comunidad Valenciana, was co-official under the first Statute of Autonomy of 1982. At the present moment, the Valencian Government translates the name as "Region of Valencia" and, sometimes, "Land of Valencia", as the Department of Tourism states in publications edited both in Spanish and English.   .
Although "Comunitat Valenciana", out of official consideration, is the most widely used name and the one that has become officially enshrined, there were two competing names at the time of the forging of the Valencian Statute of Autonomy. On the one hand País Valencià (Valencian) or País Valenciano (Spanish), was first reported in the 18th century, but its usage only became noticeable from the 1960s onwards, with a left-wing or Valencian nationalist subtext which began with the Spanish Transition to democracy in the late 1970s and early 1980s . It can be translated as "Valencian Country", , "Region of Valencia" . An example of this use is the so-called Consell pre-autonòmic del País Valencià, the forerunner of the modern Generalitat Valenciana in 1978, and it is also referred to in the preamble of the Statutes of Autonomy. This term is also referred to in the preamble to the Statutes of Autonomy. .
In order to solve the gap between the two competing names –the traditional Regne de València and the contemporary País Valencià– a compromise neologism, Comunitat Valenciana, was created ("Comunitat" or "community" such as in Autonomous Community, which is the official name of the Spanish regions constituted as political autonomous entities).
The inland part of the territory is mountainous, with the highest peaks in the Valencia and Castellón provinces which form part of the Iberian Range. The mountains in the Alicante province are in turn a part of the Subbetic range. The Region of Valencia administers the tiny Columbretes islands and the coastal Tabarca islet.
The most emblematic mountain is the Penyagolosa, in the Alcalatén area. It is widely thought to be the highest peak with its 1,813 m., but actually the highest peak is the Calderón (1,839 m.) located in the Rincón de Ademuz, a Valencian exclave where there are three more peaks over 1,500 m. The most emblematic mountain in the southern part of the territory is the Aitana (1,558 m.).
The rather thin coastal strip is a very fertile plain mainly free of remarkable mountains except those around the Cabo de la Nao area and the Peñíscola area in the Castellón province. Typical of this coastal area are wetlands and marshlands such as L'Albufera close to Valencia, El Fondó in Elche, the Marjal near Pego or el Prat in Cabanes, also the former wetlands and salt evaporation ponds in the Santa Pola and Torrevieja area. All of them are key RAMSAR sites which make Valencia of high relevance for both migratory and resident seabirds and waterbirds.
There are important coastal dunes in the Saler area near the Albufera and in the Guardamar area, both of them were planted with thousands of trees during the 19th century in order to fix the dunes, thus forming now protected areas of remarkable ecologic value.
Valencia has a generally mild climate, heavily influenced by the neighbouring Mediterranean sea. Still, there are important differences between areas:
There are only two major rivers: the Segura in the Alicante province (whose source is in Andalusia) and the Júcar in the Valencia province (whose source is in Castile-La Mancha) both are subjected to very intense human regulation for cities, industries and -specially- agricultural consumption. The river Turia is the third largest and has its source in Aragón. Rivers in the area, such as the Vinalopó, are usually short, and have little current (due to agricultural usage, climatic reasons or both) and often completely dry during the summer.
The origins of present day Valencia date back to the former Kingdom of Valencia, which came into existence in the thirteenth century. James I of Aragon led Christian conquest and colonization of the existing Islamic taifas with Aragonese and Catalan people in 1208 and founded the Kingdom of Valencia as a third independent country within the Crown of Aragon in 1238.
In 1707, in the context the War of the Spanish Succession, and by means of the Nueva Planta decrees, king Philip V of Spain subordinated the Kingdom of Valencia, and the rest of the counties belonging to the former Crown of Aragon and which had retained some autonomy, to the structure of the Kingdom of Castile and its laws and customs. As a result of this, the institutions and laws created by the Furs of Valencia were abolished and the usage of the Valencian language in official instances and education was forbidden. Consequently, with the House of Bourbon, a new Kingdom of Spain was formed implementing a more centralized government than the former Habsburg Spain.
The first attempt to gain self-government for the Region of Valencia in modern-day Spain was during the 2nd Spanish Republic, in 1936, but the Civil War broke out and the autonomist project was suspended. In 1977, after Franco's dictatorship, Valencia started to be partially autonomous with the creation of the Consell Pre-autonòmic del País Valencià (Pre-autonomous Council of the Valencian Country), and in 1982 the self-government was finally extended into a Statute of Autonomy creating several self-government institutions under the Generalitat Valenciana.
The Valencian Statutes of Autonomy make clear that Valencia is intended to be the modern conception of self-government of the Valencian Country from the first autonomist movements (autogovern) during Second Spanish Republic, but also joining it to the traditional conception of Valencian identity, as being successor to the historical Kingdom of Valencia (furs). In fact, after a bipartisan reform of the Valencian statute of autonomy in 2006, it records the foral civil law, using the traditional conception of a kingdom, and, on the other hand, it also recognizes Valencia as a nationality, in accordance with the modern conception.
The Valencian population traditionally concentrated in localities with fertile cultivation and growing lowlands by the most important rivers (Júcar, Turia, Segura, Vinalopó), also in harbor cities important to the agricultural trade.
The most important population centers used to be, during the Roman times, Sagunt or Dénia; later on in history, Valencia, Alicante, Xàtiva, Orihuela, Elche, Gandia, or Vila-real and, more recently recently, Alzira and Castellón de la Plana.
The population density which is higher in the central and southern regions and minor in the northern and inner ones, is derived from the traditional distribution of people which originatedin the orographic characteristics of the Valencian territory and the possibility to obtain irrigated land agriculture. Demographics were also affected by (being perhaps the exception to the mentioned distribution) the great industrial activity and the commerce of agriculturally derived products during the XXth century of noncoastal cities like Alcoi, Elda, Ontinyent, Petrer, Villena, and Vall de Uixó.
In the last years, concentration in the great capitals and its metropolitan areas has augmented considerably (e.g. Torrent, Mislata, Paterna, Burjasot, San Vicente del Raspeig, etc.) especially in all the coastal cities and towns. Thus, traditionally small populations such as Benidorm or Torrevieja have undergone a considerable population increase (still more remarkable during summertime) due to the seasonal migration of tourists.
Therefore, Valencia's population is nowadays clearly urban and coastal, also influenced by seasonal tourism.
|Nuclei with more than 50,000 habs.|
|Source: Institut Valencià d'Estadística, 2005.|
Valencia conforms an elongated territory, with a rather steep and irregular orography that has made communications and the exploitation of the soil historically difficult, despite the soil being particularly fertile in the coastal plain. This coastal axis has facilitated connections with Europe, either by sea through the Mediterranean, or by land through Catalonia.
The natural resources of the Valencian territory are small with regard to minerals other than the important marble quarrying industry in the Alicante province.
As for hydrological resources (see Geography above) there is a demand of water superior to the supply, making this imbalance especially serious in the Alicante province. In years when drought is particularly severe, the problem is mitigated if necessary, with occasional nocturnal restrictions during Summer and water-bearing subterraneans exploitation. This remains a source of harsh controversy over hydrological resources with neighbouring regions such as Castile-La Mancha and Catalonia.
Due to the secondary and tertiary sectors boom by the times of the Spanish miracle during the 1960s, the agricultural sector has seen its relative importance reduced over time (not so the absolute figures), but it remains to be credited -under the form of citrus cultivation for the export market- for the first economic boom by the late 19th century after centuries of slow development, if not decay. Castellón and Valencia provinces still have thousands of hectares of citrus producing groves and it continues to be a major source of income on the countryside. In the Alicante province, citrus is also present but agriculture is more diversified with a higher presence of vegetables, especially in the Vega Baja del Segura area.
The high insulation rate and overall stable weather which during the Summer may pose a threat to water supplies either for agricultural or human consumption, conversely allow tourism to be the main economic industry with a very high density of residential housing along the coast occupied by locals, people from inland Spain and from other EU countries (mostly from Britain, Germany, Belgium and Norway) which seasonally boost population (and hydrological demands) in the summertime.
In 2002, the Region of Valencia generated 10.5% of the Spanish GDP. In human resources, the rate of unemployment was located around 10.5%, being greater among women, and the rate of activity reached 56.8% in 2002. The typical Valencian business is a small and medium company, mainly family-owned and operated, although there are some multinationals.
In addition to tourism, the Valencian economy is characterized by a marked exporting dimension, being the second exporting Spanish autonomous community, constituting 12% of the national total. The major exports are agricultural products, ceramic tiles, marble products and cars (Ford has an assembly line in Almussafes) among others, which make the port of Valencia the busiest in Spain.
In 2004, Valencia's GDP was 93.9% of the European Union average even though this figure may be affected positively by the important presence of foreign residents either from other regions of Europe or economic immigrants which are not properly represented in the official statistics. Growth rates after 2004 have been significant in overall Spain and additional progress from present figures is going on as of 2007.
See main article: Education in Spain. State Education in Spain is free and compulsory from six to sixteen years of age. The current education system is called LOGSE (Ley de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo).
Children from three to five years old in Spain have the option of attending the infantil (popularly known as prescolar) or Pre-school stage, which is non-compulsory and free for all students. It is regarded as an integral part of the education system with infantil classes in almost every primary school. There are some separate nursery schools.
Spanish students aged six to sixteen undergo primary (Colegio) and secondary school (Instituto) education, which are compulsory and free of charge. Successful students are awarded a Secondary Education Certificate, which is necessary for entering further (optional) education as is Bachillerato for their University or Formacion Professional (vocational studies).Once students have finished their Bachillerato, they can take their University Entrance Exam (Pruebas de Acceso a la Universidad, popularly called Selectividad) which differs greatly from region to region.
The secondary stage of education is normally referred to by their initials, eg. ESO or Educación Secundaria Obligatoria for secondary education.
The Region of Valencia is home to a number of prestigious universities like the University of Valencia, founded in 1499. At the request of James I of Aragon, Pope Innocent IV in 1246, authorized by a papal bull the establishment of estudis generals in Valencia. The University Statutes were passed by the municipal magistrates of Valencia on April 30, 1499; this is considered to be the 'founding' of the University. In 1501, Pope Alexander VI signed the bill of approval and one year later Ferdinand II of Aragon proclaimed the Royal Mandatory Concession. Only very meagre accounts have been preserved of the practical workings of the university. From the time of its foundation the courses included Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, philosophy, mathematics, and physics, theology, Canon law, and medicine.
Valencian and Spanish are the official languages of Valencia. Spanish is the official language of the Spanish state, while Valencian is the language considered by the Statute of Autonomy as llengua pròpia ("own language" or "language proper" to the territory). Valencian is traditionally spoken in the coastal areas rather than inland, where Spanish tends to be the traditional language, also in those areas incorporated into the provinces of Alicante and Valencia at their creation in 1833 and which did not form part of the historical Kingdom of Valencia. The 1984 Law on the "Use and Teaching of Valencian" defines certain municipalities as "predominantly Spanish-speaking", and allows them some few optional exceptions as to official use of Valencian, even though the right to use and to receive education in Valencian is guaranteed by the Statute of Autonomy (Art. 6.2) anywhere in Valencia.
|+Knowledge of Valencian in|
the Valencian Community
|colspan=2||Source: Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (2004). Enquesta sobre la situació del valencià.|
Even in areas which formed part of the old Kingdom of Valencia, the knowledge and use of Valencian has diminished by immigration from other parts of Spain and the world, also by the lasting effects of the suppression of regional languages since the 18th century (Nueva Planta decrees), and, in recent times, under the Franco dictatorship (1936 - 75). The knowledge of Valencian in those areas defined as "predominantly Valencian-speaking" by the Generalitat Valenciana (83% can understand, 58% can speak) is scarcely any higher than in Valencia as a whole (see table).
Valencian is regulated by the Valencian Academy of the Language (Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua, or AVL), created in 1998. The law that instituted the Academy, originally declared that Valencian was part of the linguistic system that the other Hispanic territories of the former Crown of Aragon—namely Catalonia and the Balearic Islands—recognize as their "own language" or "language proper" to their territories. However, in a subsequent official statement, in 2005, the AVL stated that the language spoken in Valencia is the same language that is spoken in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, and that the different varieties constituted a "single language" which refers to the term "linguistic system" used in the previous law. The Institute of Catalan Studies (Institut d'Estudis Catalans, IEC), also considers Catalan and Valencian to be the same language. Even though phonetic differences are quite noticeable, written standard Valencian differs only slightly from written standard Central Catalan . There is also a Valencian Sign Language which has been granted a special protection from the Statute of Autonomy for those Valencian deaf persons.
Aside from the purely philologic criteria, the traditional and usual term to name the language in Valencia is "Valencian". The widespread usage of this term by citizenry and all major parties does not necessarily deny nor endorse its Catalan linguistic filiation. Both Catalan and Valencian have slightly different standards, something which has produced some confusion as to whether they are both regarded as the same language or not. Thus, some Spanish government documents contain different versions for Catalonia and Valencia, then, in the 2005 referendum to approve the proposed European constitution the Spanish government at first distributed identical translations of the Constitutional Treaty in standard Catalan, the same for Catalonia and Valencia. This provoked a vocal reaction of the Valencian regional government demanding the translation to be in standard Valencian, once it was approved, then, in turn, the Catalan government, as a means to endorse philologic identity between Catalan and Valencian, assumed the Valencian standard and did not use the standard Catalan one in the leaflets used in Catalonia
In this regard, the main Valencian conservative party, the ruling Popular Party, mostly does not address the question about the filiation of Catalan and Valencian, while, effectively, endorsing the Valencian standard which is most consistent with Catalan; in spite of this, it may be quite vocal in reacting and defending "Valencian translations" in occasions like the one of the European referendum. Furthermore, the PP it includes a right-wing group sympathetic or absorbed from the Blaverism movement, which opposes considering these two as a single language.
In the process whereby democracy was restored in Spain between 1975 - 1978, the nationalist and regionalist parties pressed to grant home rule to certain territories in Spain. The constitution of 1978 opened a legal way for autonomous communities to be formed from provinces with common historical and cultural links. In recognition of the Region of Valencia as a historical nationality of Spain, and in accordance to the second article of the Spanish constitution which grants autonomy to the "nationalities and regions" that comprise the Spanish nation, Valencia was granted self-government and constituted itself as an autonomous community in 1982, with the promulgation of its first Statute of Autonomy, the basic organic law, later approved by the General Courts of Spain.
All autonomous communities were organized politically within a parliamentary system; that is, the executive branch of government. The "President" is dependent on the direct support of the legislative power, whose members elect him by majority.
A new Statute of Autonomy was promulgated in 2006. The government of Valencia (officially referred to only as Comunitat Valenciana, both in Spanish and Valencian) is represented by the Generalitat Valenciana (statutorily referred to simply as La Generalitat) constituted by three institutions:
The Generalitat can also be integrated by the institutions that the Valencian Courts create. The Courts have approved the creation of the Síndic de Greuges (the Ombudsman), the Sindicatura de Comptes (Public Audit Office), the Valencian Council of Culture, the Valencian Academy of the Language, the Juridic and Consultative Council and the Social and Economic Committee.
The official Valencian anthem is the Hymn of the Regional Exhibition of 1909, in whose composition the old hymn of the City of Valencia of the XVI century is included. The emblem of the Valencian Generalitat includes the seal of King Peter IV of Aragon, representative of the historical Kingdom of Valencia, whose shield is inclined towards the right, or, four bars Gules.
The official flag, also known as Senyera Coronada or Crowned Senyera is the same as Valencia's City flag, which, in turn, is a historical derivation of the Senyera, the heraldic symbol of the Crown of Aragon, also used today with few variations in all the former Kingdoms and Counties which were a part of this crown. There are also a number of Valencian private and civil entities such as trade unions, cultural associations, or political parties which simply use the Senyera as Valencian flag.
Other symbols are used at different levels by the Valencian society, like the heraldic animals of rat-penat (a bat) and drac alat (a winged dragon which was the emblem of James I), or the music of the Muixeranga, among others.
The Valencian Community has a quite extended rail system which connects the principal cities with the rest of the Country such as the Euromed towards Catalonia and Alaris towards Madrid, both run by the Spanish national rail company RENFE
The Valencian Community is expected to benefit in 2009 from fully dedicated lines for high speed trains when -what is called- "AVE's Eastern Corridor" will connect the city of Madrid with the Mediterranean Arc. This line will connect Madrid with Valencia, Alicante, Murcia and Almería.
Cercanías-Rodalies Valencia is the commuter rail service that serves all three provinces of Valencia and its metropolitan areas. It is operated by Cercanías Renfe, the commuter rail division of RENFE. Another company, Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana operates a line between Alicante, Benidorm, and Denia. It also operates the city tram and metro system of Valencia (Valencia Metro) and Alicante (Alicante Tram).
See main article: List of seaports of the Valencian Community.
See main article: Valencian cuisine.
The Valencian gastronomy is of great variety, although their more international dishes are rice based, like the worldwide known Valencian paella. The rice is a basic ingredient in many of the typical dishes, like the "arròs (rice) a banda", the "arròs a la pedra", "arròs negre", "arròs amb costra", "arròs caldós", among many.
The Valencian Mediterranean climate favors the cultivation of citrus fruits and vegetables, with the cultivation of the orange being perhaps of highest importance as one of the typical fruits of Valencian agriculture.
The horchata, whose traditional nucleus of elaboration is Alboraya, is a typical drink, accompanied with "fartons". Also traditional is the production of coffee liquor (typical of Alcoy), and mistela (in Marina Baixa and la Hoya de Buñol).
The great majority of desserts have their origin in Arabic times and play an important part in the local festive activities. Some, nowadays are internationally famous. Xixona is the place of traditional manufacture of turrón (a soft nougat) dessert consumed during Christmasin Spain and the rest of the Hispanic world. In Xàtiva, the "Arnadí", a dessert elaborated with pumpkin is made. In Orihuela and its region the "almojábenas", and in Alcoy the "peladillas" (sugared almonds) are produced.
Football is the most widely known sport. There are teams in every town or village, two of which are currently playing in La Liga, Spain's premier league: Valencia CF and Villarreal CF. There are many big teams elsewhere, such as Levante UD, CD Alcoyano, CD Castellón, Elche CF or Hércules CF.
Professional Basketball is represented by one team, Valencia BC in the top league, the ACB. Also, Ros Casares Valencia is a female basketball team, which is the current champion of the Spanish Women's League and finalist of the Euroleague Women.
The autochthonous Valencian sport is the Valencian pilota, which features a professional Valencian Pilota Squad for international matches with related ball games all around the world. This sport has many variants, that may be played at the streets or at special courtfields like the trinquet.It may also be played by teams or on individual challenges. An amazing trait of this sport is that spectators may sit very close or even in the middle of the court. Even while the match is ongoing bookmakers take bets for reds or blues, since these are the colours players must wear, red being the colour of the strongest team or player. The Valencian pilota can be traced to the XV century, but it was abandoned during modern times, this decadence is being fought back with TV broadcasts, new built colleges have courtfields and a new professional players firm, ValNet.
Petanca and its variant Calitx are traditional sports as well, especially in towns or among elders.
Regarding female professional sports, Valencian Handball rules the Spanish Honor division league with more than half of the teams, such as Astroc Sagunt, Orsan Elda Prestigio and Cementos La Union Ribaroja.
Traditionally the land is divided into comarques, and in 1833 was, along with the rest of Spain, divided into provinces according to a decree from minister Javier de Burgos. There are 32 comarques, and three provinces: Castellón/Castelló, Valencia/València, and Alicante/Alacant (names in Spanish/Valencian).