Andalusia is an
autonomous community of Spain, considered as a historical
nationality. It is the most populous (8,285,692
inhabitants in 2009) 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
(Spanish: Sevilla). The region is divided into eight
provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén,
Granada and Almería.
Andalusia is in the south of the Iberian peninsula, immediately 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.
Andalusia has three major geographic subregions. In the north, the mountainous Sierra Morena separates Andalusia from the plains of Extremadura and Castile-La Mancha on Spain's Meseta Central. South of that, one can distinguish Upper Andalusia—generally the Baetic Cordillera—from Lower Andalusia—the Baetic Depression of the valley of the Guadalquivir.
The name Andalusia traces back to the Arabic language Al-Andalus and Andalusia was the center of power in medieval Muslim-dominated Iberia. Besides Muslim or "Moorish" influences, the region's history and culture have been influenced by the earlier Iberians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Roman Empire, Vandals, Visigoths—all of whom preceded the Muslims—and, of course, the Castilian and other Christian North Iberian nationalities who conquered the area in the latter phases of the Reconquista.
Since the Industrial Revolution, Andalusia has been an economically poor region in comparison with the rest of Spain and the European Union at large. Agriculture and the service sectors predominate in the economy. The region has, however, a rich culture and a strong cultural identity. Many cultural phenomena that are seen internationally as distinctively Spanish—for example, flamenco, bullfighting, and certain Moorish-influenced architectural styles—are largely or entirely Andalusian in origin.