is probably one of the best
known regions of Spain as this dry,
mountainous region embraces the
Costa del Sol.
The region covers 17.3% of Spanish
territory, 87,268 km² in total, making
it the largest single region, with an
area greater than countries such as
Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland
and Austria. The landscape is as
diverse as its culture. From the warm
Guadalquivir valley to the low
mountain areas and volcanic landscapes
such as the Tabernas Desert.
Andalucia is one of the warmest regions in Europe and has a temperate, Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. More than 18% of the region is protected land with a vast network of parks and reserves. The 22 National Parks range from mountainous regions to coastal areas and the best known are the Doñana National Park, the Grazalema, the Sierra de las Nieves and the Sierra Bermeja.
Other sites of interest include El Torcal, near Antequera with its unique lunar landscape. When it comes to the ever-popular coastline such as the Costa del Sol (Coast of the sun) in Malaga or the Costa de la Luz of Cadiz and Huelva, the beaches have recently seen a massive injection of money and have developed into major holiday destinations for tourists worldwide.
It was in the 1950's that Andalucia began to develop, firstly with the Costa del Sol. In the 60's the whole region underwent massive changes in its economy as it took hold of the new tourist industry.
Nowadays, Andalucia is one of the principal European holiday destinations. This tourist boom has helped Andalucia to move into a new era, with a new, modern infrastructure. The region now has more than 24,000km of motorways and highways and some of the best international airports in the world. The coast also offers ports of worldwide importance such as those in Malaga and Algeciras
The rail links have also improved beyond any expectation and it is now possible to travel between Seville and Madrid in just 150 minutes.
Tourism in Andalucia, especially along the Costa del Sol is now reaching new heights. Residential tourism (income generated from foreign residents) is now higher than that of traditional tourism. The region has over 400,000 foreign residents and is the most popular region for second home buyers in Spain. This mainly consists of 38% German and 36% British buyers. Estimates on population say that the province of Malaga will double by the year 2010. The Spanish National Bank says that investment in Andalucia rose by 25.5% in just one quarter of 2001 and that property prices rose by 16.2% over the same period.
Despite the modernisation of Andalucia, within just a couple of minutes from the cities or the coast, it is still possible to step into a true Spanish village and sample a taste of real Spain.
Along the Costa del Sol, some of the country's best examples are easily accessible such as the white villages of Casares, Manilva, Monda and Mijas or the cliff-hanging wonder of Ronda. All a far cry from the high-life resorts of Marbella and Puerto Banus or the package holiday resorts of Torremolinos or Fuengirola. Wherever you find yourself in Andalucia, you will be certain of one thing and that is a warm, friendly welcome. The people of Andalucia welcome visitors with open arms. They are a very peaceful people; easy going and generally very happy with life.