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Valencia, Province

VALENCIA, PROVINCE, the name of a maritime province of eastern Spain, and of the kingdom in which this province was formerly included. The province is bounded on the N. by Teruel and Castellon de la Plana, E. by the Mediterranean, S. by Alicante and W. by Albacete and Cuenca. Pop. (1900) 806,556; area, 4150 sq. m. Along the coast the surface is for the most part low and level, the fertile vegas, or cultivated plains, of Valencia, Jativa and Gandia in many places rising very little above sea-level. To the west of these is a series of tablelands with a mean elevation of about 1000 ft., which in turn rise into the mountains that form the eastern boundary of the tableland of New Castile, and attain within the province a maximum elevation of nearly 4000 ft. The coast is skirted by considerable stretches of sand-dune, and by a series of these the lagoon called the Albufera (q.v.) de Valencia is separated from the Mediterranean. The principal rivers are the Guadalaviar or Turia and the Jucar (q.v.). The Guadalaviar enters the province in the extreme north-west, flows south-east, and falls into the sea below the city of Valencia; it receives numerous tributaries of little importance, and it dispenses fertility by numerous aqueducts, mostly of Moorish origin, throughout the lower part of its course. Both the Jucar and its right-hand tributary the Albaida supply water for an extensive system of irrigation canals.

In the lowlands, especially towards the coast, very little rain falls; but heavy rain and melting snow among the highlands in which the principal rivers rise occasionally cause sudden and disastrous floods. The vegas have an exceptionally fine, almost sub-tropical climate. In their low-lying portions rice is the favourite crop; elsewhere wheat, maize and all kinds of fruit are abundantly grown; the mulberry is cultivated for silk; and wine and oil are produced. Esparto grass is grown in the less fertile areas. The tablelands produce, according to their elevation and exposure, figs, almonds, olives or vines. The pastures of the higher grounds sustain numerous sheep and goats; but cattle and horses are relatively few. The hillsides are somewhat bare of timber. The mineral resources of the province are little developed. The fishing industry on the coast is considerable, and there are manufactures of silk, carpets and tapestry, woollen, hemp and linen fabrics, glass, pottery and leather; there are also iron foundries, distilleries, cooperages and oil refineries. These industries are important, although the silk manufactures declined after three decades of prosperity (from 1850 to 1880). The coast railway from Barcelona traverses the province, passing through the city of Valencia on the way south to Alicante and Murcia. From Jativa another important line diverges westward to Albacete, and there are branch lines from Valencia to Liria and to Utiel, from Silla to Cullera, from Carcagente to Gandia, and thence to D6nia and Alcoy in the province of Alicante. Valencia, the capital and principal seaport, and the towns of Alcira, Requena, Sueca, J&tiva, Carcagfinte, Cullera, Utiel, Ontcniente and Gandia, are described in separate articles. Other towns of more than 7000 inhabitants are Algemcsi, Catarroja, Liria, Sagunto, Tabernas de Valldigna and Torrente.

When the ancient kingdom of Valencia was incorporated into Aragon in 1238, it included the provinces of Castellon de la Plana (q.v.) and Alicante (q.v.). It was bounded inland on the N. by Catalonia, W. by Aragon and New Castile, and S. by Murcia. This region has an area of 8830 sq. m. ; its present population is about 1,600,000. For its history see VALENCIA (city). The inhabitants are of very mixed race, owing to the successive occupation of the country by Iberians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors. Their dialect resembles Catalan but is softer, and contains a larger percentage of Arabic words. On the physique of the people, as on their customs and the architecture of their houses, Moorish rule left a durable imprint. The elaborate irrigation-works and the system of intensive agriculture which have rendered the kuertas or gardens of Valencia celebrated were initiated by the Moors; the fame of the Elche date-groves, the Alicante vineyards and the Valencia orange plantations, was also originally due to them. With the decline of the caliphate of Cordova early in the 11th century, Valencia became an independent kingdom, which passed successively into the power of the Almoravides and Almohades. When James I. of Aragon captured the city of Valencia in 1238, he found so large a number of Mozarabic Christians who had adopted the Arabic language and many of the customs of their rulers, that it was found necessary to translate the Bible into Arabic for their use. In 1609, 200,000 Moriscoes, or Moors who outwardly professed Christianity, were banished from the country. In 1833 Valencia was divided into the three provinces already named.

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

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