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Almeria

ALMERIA (province) - a maritime province of southern Spain, formed in 1833, and comprehending the eastern territories of the ancient kingdom of Granada. Pop. (1900) 359,013; area, 3360 sq. m. Almeria is bounded on the N. by Granada and Murcia, E. and S. by Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea, and W. by Granada. It is traversed by mountain ridges, with peaks of 6000 to 8000 ft. in altitude; and it is seamed with valleys or great fertility. The chief sierras, or ranges, are those of Maria, in the north; Estancias and Oria, north of the Almanzora river; Filabres, in the middle of the province; Cabrera and Gata, along the south-east coast; Alhamilla, east of the city of Almeria; Gador in the south-west; and, in the west, some outlying ridges of the Sierra Nevada. Three small rivers, the Adra, or Rio Grande de Adra, in the west, the Almeria in the centre, and the Almanzora in the north and east, flow down from the mountains to the sea. On the south coast is the Gulf of Almeria, 25 m. wide at its entrance, and terminating, on the cast, in the Cabo de Gata, the southernmost point of eastern Spain. The climate is mild, except among the higher mountains. The valleys near the sea are well adapted for agriculture; oranges, lemons, almonds and other fruit trees thrive; silk is produced in the west; and the vine is extensively cultivated, less for the production of wine than to meet the foreign demand for white Almeria grapes. Although the cost of transport is very heavy, the exportation of grapes is a flourishing industry, and more than 2,000,000 barrels are annually sent abroad. The cattle of the central districts are celebrated for size and qualityt Almeria is rich in minerals, especially iron and lead; silver, copper, mercury, zinc and sulphur are also obtained. At the beginning of the 20th century the mines at work numbered more than two hundred, and proved very attractive to foreign as well as native capitalists. Garnets are found in the Sierra de Gata and in the Sierra Nevada fine marble is quarried. The development of mining was facilitated by the extension of the railway system between 1895 and 1905. The main line from Madrid toalmeria convoys much ore from Granada and Jaen to the sea; while the railway from Baza to Lorca skirts the Almanzora valley and transports the mineral products of eastern Almeria by a branch line from Huercal-Overa to the Murcian port of Aguilas. Light railways and aerial cables among the mountains supplement these lines. The chief imports compase coal, timber, especially oak staves, and various manufactured goods. The exports are minerals, esparto, oil, grain, grapes and farm produce generally. The principal seaports are Almeria, the capital, pop.(1900) 47,326, Adra (11,188), and Garrucha (4661), which, with Berja (13,224), Cuevas de Vera (20,562), Huercal-Overa (15,763) and Nijar (12,497), are described in separate articles. Other towns, important as mining or agricultural centres, are Albox (10,049), Dalias (7136), Lubrin (6593), Sorbas (7306), Tabernas (7629), Velez Blanco (6825), Velez Rubio (10,109) and Vera (8446). Education is backward and the standard of comfort low. A constant annual loss of 2000 or 3000 emigrants to Algeria and elsewhere prevents any rapid increase of population, despite the high birth-rate and low mortality.

ALMERIA (city) the capital of the province of Almeria, and one of the principal seaports on the Mediterranean coast of southern Spain; in 36 deg. 5' N. and 2 deg. 32' W., on the river Almeria, at its outflow into the Gulf of Almeria, and at the terminus of a railway from Madrid. Pop. (1900) 47,326. The city occupies part of a rich alluvial valley enclosed by hills. It is an episcopal see, and possesses a Gothic cathedral, dating from 1524, and constructed with massive embattled walls and belfry so as to resemble a fortress. A dismantled castle, the Castillo de San Cristobal, overlooks the city, which contains four Moorish towers rising conspicuously above its modern streets. Two long piers shelter the harbour, and vessels drawing 25 ft. can lie against the quays. About 1400 ships, of nearly 1,000,000 tons, enter the port every year, bringing fuel and timber, and taking cargoes of iron, lead, esparto and fruit. White grapes are exported in very large quantities.

Under its ancient name of Urci, Almeria was one of the chief Spanish harbours after the final conquest of Spain by the Romans in 19 B.C. It reached the summit of its prosperity in the middle ages, as the foremost seaport of the Moorish kingdom of Granada. At this time its population numbered 150,000; its cruisers preyed upon the fleets of the neighbouring Christian states; and its merchant ships traded with countries as distant as Egypt and Syria. Almeria was captured in 1147 by King Alphonso VII. of Castile and his Genoese troops. but speedily retaken and held by the Moors until 1489, when it was finally secured by the Spaniards.

See D. F. Margall, Almeria, (Barcelona, 1886).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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