ALICANTE (region), a province of south-eastern Spain; bounded on the N. by Valencia, W. by Albacete and Murcia, S. by Murcia, and S.E. and E. by the Mediterranean Sea. Pop. (1900) 470,149; area, 2096 sq. m. Alicante was formed in 1833 of districts taken from the ancient provinces of Valencia and Murcia, Valencia contributing by far the larger portion. The surface of the province is extremely diversified. In the north and west there are extensive mountain ranges of calcareous formation, intersected by deep ravines; while farther south the land is more level, and there are many fertile valleys. On the Mediterranean coast, unhealthy salt marshes alternate with rich plains of pleasant and productive huertas or gardens, such as those of Alicante and Denia. Apart from Segura, which flows from the highlands of Albacete through Murcia and Orihuela to the sea, there is no considerable river, but a few rivulets flow east into the Mediterranean. The climate is temperate, and the rainfall very slight. Despite the want of rivers and of rain, agriculture is in a flourishing condition. Many tracts, originally rocky and sterile, have been irrigated and converted into vineyards and plantations. Cereals are grown, but the inhabitants prefer to raise such articles of produce as are in demand for export, and consequently part of the grain supply has to be imported. Esparto grass, rice, olives, the sugar-cane, and tropical fruits and vegetables are largely produced. Great attention is given to the rearing of bees and silk-worms; and the wine of the province is held in high repute throughout Spain, while some inferior kinds are sent to France to be mixed with claret. There are iron and lignite mines, but the output is small. Mineral springs are found at various places. The manufactures consist of fine cloths, silk, cotton, woollen and linen fabrics, girdles and lace, paper, hats, leather, earthenware and soap. There are numerous oil mills and brandy distilleries. Many of the inhabitants are engaged in the carrying trade, while the fisheries on the coast are also actively prosecuted, tunny and anchovies being caught in great numbers. Barilla is obtained from the sea-weed on the shores, and some of the saline marshes, notably those near Torrevieja, yield large supplies of salt. The principal towns, which are separately described, include Alicante, the capital (pop. 1900, 50,142), Crevillente (10,726), Denia (12,431), Elche (27,308), Novelda (11,388), Orihuela (28,530), and Villena (14,099). Other towns, of less importance, are Aspe (7927), Cocentaina (7093), Monovar (10,601), Pinoso (7946), and Villajoyosa (8902).
ALICANTE (City), the capital of the Spanish province described above, and one of the principal seaports of the country. Pop. (1900) 50,142. It is situated in 38 deg. 21' N. and 0 deg. 26' W., on the Bay of Alicante, an inlet of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the termini of railways from Madrid and Murcia. From its harbour, the town presents a striking picture. Along the shore extends the Paseo de los Martires, a double avenue of palms; behind this, the white flat-roofed houses rise in the form of a crescent towards the low hills which surround the city, and terminate, on the right, in a bare rock, 400 ft. high, surmounted by an ancient citadel. Its dry and equable climate renders Alicante a popular health-resort. The city is an episcopal see, and contains a modern cathedral.
The bay affords good anchorage, but only small vessels can come up to the two moles. The harbour is fortified, and there is a small lighthouse on the eastern mole; important engineering works, subsidized by the state, were undertaken in 1902 to provide better accomodation. In the same year 1737 vessels of 939,789 tons entered the port. The trade of Alicante consists chiefly in the manufacture of cotton, linen and woollen goods, cigars and confectionery; the importation of coal, iron, machinery, manures, timber, oak staves and fish; and the exportation of lead, fruit, farm produce and red wines, which are sent to France for blending with better vintages. Fine marble is procured in the island of Plana near the coast.
Alicante was the Roman Lucentum; but, despite its antiquity, it has few Roman or Moorish remains. In 718, it was occupied by the Moors, who were only expelled in 1304, and made an unsuccessful attempt to recapture the city in 1331. Alicante was besieged by the French in 1709, and by the Federalists of Cartagena in 1873. For an account of the events which led up to these two sieges, see Spain.,
For further details of the local history, see J. Pastor de la Roca, Historia general de la ciudad y castillo de Alicante, etc. (Alicante, 1854); and the Ensayo biografico bibliografico de escritores de Alicante y de su provincia, by M. R. Garcia and A. Montero y Perez (Alicante, 1890).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)