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Corunna, Spain

CORUNNA, SPAIN (Span. La Coruña; Fr. La Corogne; Eng. formerly often The Groyne), the capital of the province described above; in 43° 22' N., and 8° 22' W.; on the bay of Corunna, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. Pop. (1900) 43,971. The principal railways of north-western Spain converge on Corunna, and afford direct communication with Madrid and Oporto. Corunna consists of an upper and a lower town, built respectively on the eastern side of a small peninsula, and on the isthmus connecting the peninsula with the mainland. The upper town is the more ancient, and is still surrounded by walls and bastions, and defended by a citadel; but it has been gradually outgrown by the lower, which, though at first a mere fishing village, as its name of Pescaderia implies, is now comparatively well built, and has many broad and handsome streets. There is little remarkable in the public buildings, although the churches of Santiago and the Colegiata date respectively from the 12th and 13th centuries, and there are several convents, two hospitals, a palace for the captain-general of Galicia, a theatre, a school of navigation, an arsenal and barracks. The harbour is on the east. Though difficult to approach in stormy weather, it is completely sheltered, and accommodates vessels drawing 22 ft. It is defended by several forts, of which the most important are San Diego, on the east, and San Antonio, on the west. These fortifications are of little practical value on the landward side, as they are commanded by a hill which overlooks the town. The so-called Tower of Hercules, on the north, has been increased by modern additions to a height of nearly 400 ft., and is surmounted by a fine revolving light. Many foreign steamers call here, for emigrants or mails, on their way to South America. Upwards of 1200 merchant ships, mostly British, entered the port in 1905. The exports are chiefly agricultural produce, wine and fish; the imports are coal, colonial products, and manufactured goods. Chief among the industrial establishments is a state tobacco factory; the sardine and herring fisheries also employ a large number of the inhabitants.

Corunna, possibly at first a Phoenician settlement, is usually identified with the ancient Ardobrica, a seaport mentioned by the 1st-century historian, Pomponius Mela, as in the country of the Artabri, from whom the name of Portus Artabrorum was given to the bay on which the city is situated. In the middle ages, and probably at an earlier period, it was called Caronium; and this name is much more probably the origin of the present designation than the Latin Columna which is sometimes put forward. The harbour has always been of considerable importance, but it is only in comparatively modern times that it has made a figure in history. In 1588 it gave shelter to the Invincible Armada; in 1598 the town was captured and burned by the British under Drake and Norris. In 1747, and again in 1805, the bay was the scene of a naval victory of the British over the French; and on the 16th of January 1809 a battle took place in the neighbourhood, which is celebrated in British military annals (see Peninsular War). The French under Marshal Soult attempted to prevent the embarcation of the English under Sir John Moore, but were successfully repulsed in spite of their superior numbers. Moore was mortally wounded and died shortly afterwards. He was hastily buried in the ramparts near the sea; a monument in the Jardin de San Carlos raised by the British government commemorates his death. The town joined the revolutionary movement of 1820, but in 1823 it was forced to capitulate by French troops. In 1836 it was captured by the Carlists. Corunna suffered heavily when Spain was deprived of Cuba and Puerto Rico by the Spanish-American War of 1898, for it had hitherto had a thriving trade with these colonies.

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

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