Andalusia (UK: /, US: /; Spanish: Andalucía [andaluˈθi.a]) is an autonomous community in southern Spain. It is the most populous, and the second largest autonomous community in the country. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a "historical nationality". The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville. Its capital is the city of Seville.
Andalusia is located in the south of the Iberian peninsula, in southwestern Europe, immediately south of the autonomous communities of Extremadura and Castilla-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 and the Strait of Gibraltar. Andalusia is the only European region with both Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines. 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.
The main mountain ranges of Andalusia are the Sierra Morena and the Baetic System, consisting of the Subbaetic and Penibaetic Mountains, separated by the Intrabaetic Basin. In the north, the Sierra Morena separates Andalusia from the plains of Extremadura and Castile–La Mancha on Spain's Meseta Central. To the south the geographic subregion of Upper Andalusia lies mostly within the Baetic System, while Lower Andalusia is in the Baetic Depression of the valley of the Guadalquivir.
The name "Andalusia" is derived from the Arabic word Al-Andalus (الأندلس). The toponym al-Andalus is first attested by inscriptions on coins minted in 716 by the new Muslim government of Iberia. These coins, called dinars, were inscribed in both Latin and Arabic. The etymology of the name "al-Andalus" has traditionally been derived from the name of the Vandals; however, a number of proposals since the 1980s have challenged this contention. Halm in 1989 derived the name from a Gothic term, *landahlauts,and in 2002, Bossong suggested its derivation from a pre-Roman substrate. The region's history and culture have been influenced by the native Iberians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Byzantines,Jews, Romani, Muslim Moors and the Castilian and other Christian North Iberian nationalities who reconquered and settled the area in the latter phases of the Reconquista.
Andalusia has been a historically agricultural region, compared to the rest of Spain and the rest of Europe. However, the growth of the community especially in the sectors of industry and services was above average in Spain and higher than many communities in the Eurozone. The region has a rich culture and a strong identity. Many cultural phenomena that are seen internationally as distinctively Spanish are largely or entirely Andalusian in origin. These include flamenco and, to a lesser extent, bullfighting and Hispano-Moorish architectural styles, both of which are also prevalent in some other regions of Spain.
Andalusia's hinterland is the hottest area of Europe, with cities like Córdoba and Seville averaging above 36 °C (97 °F) in summer high temperatures. Late evening temperatures can sometimes stay around 35 °C (95 °F) until close to midnight, with daytime highs of over 40 °C (104 °F) being common. Seville also has the highest average annual temperature in mainland Spain and mainland Europe (19.2 °C), closely followed by Almería (19.1 °C).
Its present form is derived from the Arabic name for Muslim Iberia, "Al-Andalus". However, the etymology of the name "Al-Andalus" is disputed, and the extent of Iberian territory encompassed by the name has changed over the centuries.
The Spanish place name Andalucía (immediate source of the English Andalusia) was introduced into the Spanish languages in the 13th century under the form el Andalucía. The name was adopted to refer to those territories still under Moorish rule, and generally south of Castilla Nueva and Valencia, and corresponding with the former Roman province hitherto called Baetica in Latin sources. This was a Castilianization of Al-Andalusiya, the adjectival form of the Arabic language al-Andalus, the name given by the Arabs to all of the Iberian territories under Muslim rule from 711 to 1492. The etymology of al-Andalus is itself somewhat debated (see al-Andalus), but in fact it entered the Arabic language before this area came under Muslim rule.
Like the Arabic term al-Andalus, in historical contexts the Spanish term Andalucía or the English term Andalusia do not necessarily refer to the exact territory designated by these terms today. Initially, the term referred exclusively to territories under Muslim control; later, it was applied to some of the last Iberian territories to be regained from the Muslims, though not always to exactly the same ones. In the Estoria de España (also known as the Primera Crónica General) of Alfonso X of Castile, written in the second half of the 13th century, the term Andalucía is used with three different meanings:
- As a literal translation of the Arabic al-Ándalus when Arabic texts are quoted.
- To designate the territories the Christians had regained by that time in the Guadalquivir valley and in the Kingdoms of Granada and Murcia. In a document from 1253, Alfonso X styled himself Rey de Castilla, León y de toda Andalucía ("King of Castile, León and all of Andalusia").
- To designate the territories the Christians had regained by that time in the Guadalquivir valley (the Kingdoms of Jaén, Córdoba and Seville) but not the Kingdom of Granada. This was the most common significance in the Late Middle Ages and Early modern period.
From an administrative point of view, Granada remained separate for many years even after the completion of the Reconquista due, above all, to its emblematic character as the last territory regained, and as the seat of the important Real Chancillería de Granada, a court of last resort. Still, the reconquest and repopulation of Granada was accomplished largely by people from the three preexisting Christian kingdoms of Andalusia, and Granada came to be considered a fourth kingdom of Andalusia. The often-used expression "Four Kingdoms of Andalusia" dates back in Spanish at least to the mid-18th century.