Region of Murcia
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Region of Murcia
Region of Murcia

Región de Murcia
Región de Murcia (in Spanish)
Map of the Region of Murcia
Location of the Region of Murcia within Spain
Coordinates: 38°00?N 1°50?W / 38.000°N 1.833°W / 38.000; -1.833
CountrySpain
CapitalMurcia
Government
 o PresidentFernando López Miras (PP)
Area
(2.2% of Spain; Ranked 9th)
 o Total11,313 km2 (4,368 sq mi)
Population
 o Pop. rank
10th
 o Percent
3.0% of Spain
Demonym(s)English: Murcian
Spanish: murciano (m), murciana (f)
Ethnic groups
ISO 3166 code
ES-MC (region) ES-MU (province)
Official languagesSpanish
ParliamentRegional Assembly of Murcia
Congress seats10 (of 350)
Senate seats6 (of 265)
HDI (2017)0.869[2]
very high · 12th
WebsiteComunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia

The Region of Murcia (, also ;[3][4][5]Spanish: Región de Murcia [re'xjon de 'muja]), is an autonomous community of Spain located in the southeast of the state, bordered by Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha and the Valencian Community, on the Mediterranean coast.

The autonomous community consists of a single province, unlike most autonomous communities, which have several provinces within the same territory. Because of this, the autonomous community and the province are operated as one unit of government. The city of Murcia is the capital of the region and seat of government organs, except for the parliament, the Regional Assembly of Murcia, which is located in Cartagena. The autonomous community and province is subdivided into municipalities.[6]

The Region of Murcia is bordered by Andalusia (the provinces of Almería and Granada), Castile-La Mancha (the province of Albacete, which was historically connected to Murcia until 1980), the Valencian Community (province of Alicante), and the Mediterranean Sea. The community covers 11,313 km² in area and has a population of 1.4 million.[7] About one-third of its population lives in the capital. The highest peak of the region is Los Obispos Peak, in the Massif of Revolcadores, with 2,014 m. altitude.[8]

Of its extensive heritage, it is worth mentioning the 72 cave rock art ensembles belonging to the rock art of the Rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin declared World Heritage Site,[9] as well as the Council of Wise Men of the plain of Murcia, declared Intangible world cultural heritage,[10] in the same way as the Drums of Moratalla and Mula are Intangible world cultural heritage.[11] in the region of Murcia is the town of Caravaca de la Cruz, place of reference for the worship of the Catholic Church by having the privilege of celebrating the Jubilee Year in perpetuity every seven years around the Vera Cruz de Caravaca.[12]

The region is one of the largest producers of fruits, vegetables, and flowers of Europe, with important vineyards in the municipalities of Jumilla, Bullas and Yecla, which produce wines with Denominación de origen. It also has an important tourist sector, concentrated on a coast with many virgin spaces (many of them threatened) and that has the saltwater lagoon of the Mar Menor. Its industry stands out for the petrochemical and energy sector (centred on Cartagena) and the food industry. Murcia is mainly a warm region which has made it very suitable for agriculture. However the precipitation level is low and water supply is a hot subject today since, in addition to the traditional water demand for crops, there is now also a demand of water for the booming tourist developments. Water is supplied by the Segura River and, since the 1970s, by the Tajo transvasement, a major civil engineering project which, under some environmental and sustainability restraints, brings water from the Tajo into the Segura.

The Region of Murcia is a historical region of southeastern Spain, heiress of the ancient Kingdom of Murcia, which has traditionally included as biprovincial region the provinces of Albacete and Murcia.[13] during the Transition, Albacete moved to the new Castile-La Mancha, forming the uniprovincial autonomy of the Region of Murcia.

Toponymy and denomination

The toponym Murcia has a controversial origin. According to Francisco Cascales, this toponym could refer to the Roman goddess Venus Murcia, related to the myrtles on the banks of the Segura River; hypothesis that has been discussed in this regard. Historical studies conclude that, like the above-mentioned divinity, Murcia is a place name of Latin origin that derives very probably from Myrtea or Murtea ("place of myrtles" or "place where grow the myrtles") and that Mursiya (first name already documented in the Islamic period to the city of Murcia) was the adaptation of the Arabic from the Latin term pre-existing.[14] According to Bienvenido Mascaray, the name would come from the Iberian language in the form m-ur-zia, meaning "the water that empowers or moistens".[15] as Bienvenido Mascaray, the name would come from the Iberian language in the form m-ur-zia, meaning "the water that soaks or moistens"[16]

Map of the Kingdom of Murcia in 1795

The use of this term to define the present region also has its origin in the Taifa of Murcia (Arab kingdom) that existed at different times of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries,[17] a political entity that served as the basis for the conquest (which took place in this area between 1243 and 1266) to also emerge the Christian kingdom of Murcia, territorial jurisdiction that came to have its own institutions and that existed until 1833.[18]

After the provincial administrative reform of that year there began to exist a first Region of Murcia formed by the provinces of Albacete and Murcia. In the first decentralizer attempt in the history of Spain during the First Republic, this region was one of the 17 member states that contemplated the Spanish Draft Constitution of 1873,[19] proclaiming during that year the so-called Cantón Murciano as an attempt of regional canton in the context of the Cantonal rebellion.[20]

In 1978, the Regional Council of Murcia was created as a pre-autonomous body until 1982, when the Statute of Autonomy of the Region of Murcia was approved, where the province of Murcia exclusively granted autonomy under the official name of Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia in the framework of the political process experienced during the Spanish transition.

Symbols

Map of the Kingdom of Murcia in La Geographia Blaviana by Joan Blaeu (1659). In the upper left quadrant appears the coat of arms of the kingdom, which was included in the flag and coat of arms of the Region of Murcia.

The flag of the Region of Murcia is rectangular and contains four battlement castles in gold, at the upper left corner, distributed two in two (symbolizing the border character of the ancient Kingdom of Murcia and the four borders that it had at some point in its history), and seven royal crowns at the lower right angle (these being the escutcheon of the historical coat of arms of the Kingdom of Murcia), arranged in four rows, with one, three, two and one elements, respectively; all on a crimson background or Cartagena.[21]

Its origin dates back to the Spanish transition, when the president of the Regional Council of Murcia, Antonio Pérez Crespo, commissioned a commission in 1978 to study the future flag of the Region of Murcia. Commission formed by historians Juan Torres Fontes and José María Jover and senators Ricardo de la Cierva and Antonio López Pina. The project was approved on 26 March 1979 and was first hoisted on 5 May 1979 on a balcony of the Regional Council building, the former Provincial Council of Murcia (now the Ministry of Finance).[22]

The same committee established that the coat of arms of the Region of Murcia had the same symbols and distribution as the flag, with the royal crown. Flag and shield were collected in Article 4 of the Statute of Autonomy of the Region of Murcia, approved by organic law in 1982.

The Day of the Region of Murcia is celebrated on 9 June, commemorating the promulgation of the Statute of Autonomy.

Physical environment

Location

Satellite view of the Region of Murcia.

The Region of Murcia is an autonomous community of Spain located in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. With 11,313 km2, it is the ninth region of Spain by area and represents 2.9% of the national extension. The Community extends over the greater part of the hydrographic basin of the Segura River, thus counting with a defined geographical unit, except for the comarcas of the Sierra de Segura and the Campos de Hellín which were in the province of Albacete, Los Vélez in Almería and La Vega Baja in the province of Alicante, all belonging to the same basin.[23]

Its geographical position is 38º 45'at the northern end, 37º 23' at the southern end, 0º 41' at the eastern end and 2º 21' at the western end.

Relief

The Massif of Revolcadores is the highest point of the Region of Murcia, its peak is the Los Obispos Peak with 2014 m altitude.

The region of Murcia is located at the eastern end of the Baetic System, being affected climatologically by an orography that isolates it from the Atlantic influence. These mountain ranges are divided in turn from North to South in:[24]

  • the Cordillera Prebética: the northernmost, where the Sierra del Carche stands out among others.[25]
  • the Cordillera Subbética: it consists of numerous dipping faults superimposed on each other or on the materials of the Prebaetic. The Massif of Revolcadores, the highest in the region with 2,015 meters, belongs to this system.
  • and the Cordillera Penibética: with three lithological complexes distinct from North to South (Nevado-Filabride, Alpujárride and Maláguide). They are very fractured, although there is a predominance of dipping faults and inverse faults between these complexes. Sierra Espuña is one of the fundamental penibaetic mountains.

Approximately 27% of the Murcian territory corresponds to mountainous reliefs, 38% to intramountain depressions and corridor valleys, and the remaining 35% to plains and high plateaus.

Some of these valleys and plains are the coastal depression of the Campo de Cartagena-Mar Menor, a little further inland is the Valle del Guadalentín (also called the Murcian pre-coastal depression) that travels much of the Murcian geography in the direction of SW-NE,[26] The fertile plains of the Segura that are arranged since that river enters the region (being one of the most famous ones the so-called Valle de Ricote), and other inland valleys formed by tributaries of the Segura like the basin of Mula. Among the high plateaus are the Campo de San Juan and the Altiplano murciano.[26]

As an explanation for this complex relief, it is important to highlight the existence of important faults throughout the area, such as the Fault of Alhama de Murcia, the Fault of Bullas-Archena or the Cicatriz Nor-Bética, which, along with the intersection with other minor faults, generate numerous earth movements, such as the 2011 Lorca earthquake.

Climatology

The Region of Murcia enjoys a Mediterranean climate of semi-arid type, with mild winters (an average of 11 °C in December and January) and warm summers (where the daily maximum regularly exceeds 40 °C). The average annual temperature is 18 °C.

With little precipitation of about 300 to 350 mm per year, the region has between 120 and 150 days in the year where the sky is totally clear. April and October are the months with the most precipitation, there being frequent heavy downpours in a single day.

The distance to the sea and the relief causes a thermal difference between the coast and the interior, specially in winter, when the temperature rarely descends below 10 °C on the coast, while in the interior regions the minimum does not usually rise above 6 °C and the precipitation level is higher (up to 600 mm).

The city of Murcia holds the record temperature of the 20th century in Spain. It reached 46.1 °C (115 °F) on July 4, 1994. The winter of 2005 was the coldest in a long time, with snow even falling on the Murcian coast. [1]

Lands around Moratalla and river Alharabe.

Hydrography

Rivers

The hydrographic network of the region is made up of the Segura river and its affluents:

  • Mundo (which is born in Albacete), it is the one that contributes to the Segura with the greatest volume.
  • Alhárabe and its affluent, the Benamor.
  • Mula river.
  • Guadalentín, Sangonera or Reguerón (which is born upper before Lorca).

Due to the water supplying incapacity of the Segura river basin, contributions to this river basin are made, originated from the basin of the Tajo river, by means of the Tajo-Segura transvasement.

Seas

Satellite view of the Mar Menor

The greatest natural lake of Spain can be found in the region: the Mar Menor (Small Sea) lagoon. It is a salt water lagoon, adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. Its special ecological and natural characteristics make the Mar Menor a unique natural place and the largest saltwater lake in Europe. With a semicircular shape, it is separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a sand strip 22 km (14 mi) in length and between 100 and 1200 m wide, known as La Manga del Mar Menor (the Minor Sea's Sandbar). The lagoon has been designated by the United Nations as a Specially Protected Zone of Importance for the Mediterranean. Its coastal perimeter accounts for 73 km (45 mi) of coast in which beaches follow one another with crystal clear shallow water (the maximum depth does not exceed 7m). The lake has an area of 170 square kilometers.

Flora and Fauna

Flora

There are more than 30 trees species, more than 50 bush especies and more than 130 herbaceous plant species listed in Region of Murcia. Some species have been introduced in any era, but the individuals of these species are part of the landscapes like any other species.[27][28][29]

Tree species that can be found in Region of Murcia are Aleppo pines, Mediterranean buckthorns, tamarisk trees, field elms. There are some species that have been introduced like the Mediterranean cypress.

Some bush species that compose several landscapes in Region of Murcia are esparto grass, a species of the genus European fan palm, Salsola genistoides (close to the opposite-leaved saltworts), rosemary, lentisks, black hawthorns, Neptune grass, shaggy sparrow-wort and Retama sphareocarpa. There are species which have been introduced such as the tree tobacco and Opuntia maxima.

In regards to herbaceous plants, some species are slender sowthistles, false sowthistles, mallow bindweeds, wall barleys, fennels, Brachypodium retusum (close to false-bromes), Thymus hyemalis (close to broad-leaved thymes), Asphodelus ayardii (of the same genus as onionweeds). There some introduced species such as the African wood-sorrel and the flax-leaf fleabane.

Fauna

In the region, more than 10 species of land mammals (not considering bats), 19 bat species, more than 80 bird species, 11 species of amphibians, 21 reptile species and 9 species of fishes can be seen.[30][31][32][33][34]

The mammals which inhabit the area are barbary sheeps, European badgers, beech martens, Eurasian otters, red foxes, wild boars, red squirrels, European wildcats, garden dormouses, and Cabreras vole (of the same genus as field voles). In addition, some species of bats are common pipistrelle, Kukhl's pipistrelle, common bent-wing bat, soprano pipistrelle, greater horseshoe bat, meridional serotine (which only inhabits southern Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Tunis), lesser horseshoe bat and European free-tailed bat.

In regards to birds, there are some species of raptors such as Bonelli's eagles, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, little owls and Eurasian eagle-owls. There are also waterbirds like yellow-legged gulls, mallards, black-winged slits, little grebes and garganeys. Other bird species are house sparrow, European greenfinch, European robins, common blackbirdsand European turtle doves.

Some amphibians that can be found in Region of Murcia are Perez's frog, common parsley frog, European toads and Natterjack toads.

Species of reptiles that are present in the region are Montpellier snakes, ladder snakes, horseshoe whip snakes, viperine water snakes, Iberian worm lizards, Spanish pond turtles, Iberian wall lizards, Spanish psammodromus, Tarentola mauritanica, loggerhead sea turtles and Greek tortoises.

Fish species that are present in the region are Atlantic horse mackerel, Spanish toohtcarp, gilt-head bream, greater amberjack, sand steenbras and flathead grey mullet.

History

Prehistory and Ancient Era

There has been presence of human beings in Region of Murcia since the Lower Paleolithic.[35] In regards to the Middle Paleolithic, there is a noteworthy paleontological site named Sima de Las Palomas that is located in Torre-Pacheco municipality, in the southeast of the region. Bone remains of Neanderthals have been discovered there.[36]

During the Chalcolithic, the region was inhabited by people of the argaric civilization and that civilization endured until the early Bronze Age. A remarkable site is La Bastida, which is placed in Totana municipality, in the southwestern quarter of Region of Murcia.[37] During the Middle and Late Bronze Age the people that were present in the territory were the Iberians and this civilization continued existing until the very early Ancient history, before the Romans took control over large part of the Iberian Peninsula.[38] A noteworthy site of those people is El Cigarralejo, that is composed of an ancient settlement, a necropolis and a shrine and another is Santuario Ibérico de la Luz, that consists in remains of a Iberian shrine, located in Murcia municipality.[39]

Roman Theatre, Cartagena.

The Carthaginians settled a town in the place of current Cartagena in the year 227 BC and established a permanent trading port on its coast. They named the town Qart-Hadast. For the Carthaginian traders, the mountainous territory was merely the Iberian hinterland of their seacoast empire. In the year 209 BC, the Romans, conquered Qart-Hadast. During the Roman period the territory belonged to the province of Hispania Carthaginensis.[40]

Although Carthago Nova was the most important place in Region of Murcia during the Roman era, those people were also present in large part of the territory. In the rest of Campo de Cartagena, there are remains of ancient villas.[41][42] In the current municipality Mazarrón, they built a salt factory and they settled a little town named Ficaria.[43] Remains of Roman dwellings also occur in Altiplano and Noroeste comarcas (a kind of regions).[44][45]

In the early 5th century, invasions from the Suebi, Alans and Vandals started to take place in the Iberian Peninsula. The first people settled in Gallaecia province, in the northwest of the peninsula; the second people settled in Lusitania and Carthaginensis province and the Alans in Baetica. Romans asked Visigoths for help about recovering control in Iberian Peninsula and they would provide economic and territory goods in return. The Visigoths defeated the Alans and vandals and they escaped to North Africa. Consequently, Visigoths obtained a federated to the Roman Empire kingdom which occupied territory from Gibraltar to Loire River. In 476, the Visigothic kingdom became independent since the Roman Empire had disappeared.[46]

Part of the south of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by the Byzantines along with the emperor Justinian the Great in 555 AD and the province Spania was established there. Part of the current Region of Murcia belonged to the province and therefore to the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. The current comarca Campo Cartagena-Mar Menor (Cartagena, La Unión, Fuente Álamo, Torre-Pacheco, Los Alcázares, San Javier and Santiago de la Ribera), Mazarrón and the current Alto Guadalentín comarca (Lorca, Águilas, Puerto Lumbreras) belonged to that province.[47][48]

Moorish Middle Ages

In the early 8th century there was a dispute to succeed to the throne among some Visigothic clans. The king Witiza chose his son Agila to be his successor and the nobles of the court chose Roderico for the same issue. The people that were in favour of Agila, planned a conspiracy to overthrow the new king Roderico. They asked muslim troops for help and they would provide the muslims.[49]

The Muslims started conquering the Iberian Peninsula in 711. The king Roderico was murdered and the Visigothic kingdom disappeared. Consequently, the moors conquered large part of Iberian Peninsula by leaps and bounds.[49]

There was a nucleus of resistance in almost all the current Region of Murcia and the south of Alicante province and it was leaded by Teodomiro. In 713, he signed the Agreement of Tudmir because the resistance could not endure any more. The territory became to be under muslim rule but the conquerors granted politic autonomy to it.[49]

Under the Moors, who introduced the large-scale irrigation on which Murcian agriculture depends, the province was known as Todmir; it included, according to Idrisi, the 12th century Arab cartographer based in Sicily, the cities of Orihuela, Lorca, Mula and Chinchilla.

Ibn Hud as depicted in the Cantigas de Santa Maria

A territory centered on the city of Murcia became independent as taifa after the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in the early 11th century. The taifa included at some points parts of the current day provinces of Albacete and Almería as well.

After the 1086 battle of Sagrajas the Almoravid Emirate swallowed up the taifas. As Almoravid rule ultimately retreated, another taifa king, Abu ?Abd All?h Mu?ammad ibn Sa?d ibn Mardan established another taifa around the cities of Murcia, Valencia and Dénia that opposed for a time to the spread of the Almohads, ultimately sucumbing to the latter's advance in the 1170s. Conversely, when the Almohads receded after their defeat at the 1212 Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, another taifa king based in Murcia, Ibn Hud, rebelled against Almohad rule and briefly controlled most of Al-Andalus.

Christian Middle Ages and modern period

Ferdinand III of Castile received the submission of the Moorish king of Murcia under the terms of the 1243 Treaty of Alcaraz [es] turning the territory into a protectorate of the Crown of Castile. There were towns that rejected to comply the treaty such as Qartayanna-Al halfa (Cartagena), Lurqa (Lorca) and Mula. There are also towns which governors accepted the treaty, but its inhabitants did not such as Aledo, Ricote, Uruyla (Orihuela) and Medina La-Quant (Alicante), (although the two last ones don't belong to Region of Murcia, they were part of Taifa of Murcia). In 1245, a Castilian army and a fleet that had came from the Cantabrian sea, entered in and conquered Qartayanna. Consequently, the rest of the resistance towns were also taken by the Castilians.[50] Following the adherence of local muslims to the 1264-1266 Mudéjar revolt, Alfonso X of Castile outright annexed the territory in 1266 with critical military support from his uncle Jaime I of Aragon.[51]

The Castilian conquest of Murcia was significant because it gave the former access to the Mediterranean for the first time.[] Conversely it marked the end of the southwards expansion along the Iberian Mediterranean coast of the Crown of Aragon. The kingdom of Murcia was repopulated with people coming from Christian territories by bestowing properties to them.[52]

James II of Aragon broke an agreement between Castile and Aragon crowns about the territory for every kingdom and conquered Alicante, Elche, Orihuela, Murcia, Cartagena and Lorca from 1296 to 1302. As a consequence of that conquer, there was an agreement named Sentencia Arbitral de Torrellas in which Ferdinand IV of Castile and James II took part. What was stipulated in the second agreement was the return of territory to the Crown of Castile but the towns Cartagena, Orihuela, Elche and Alicante. In 1305 Cartagena was returned to the Castile. The kingdom of Murcia lost definitely the territory of the current province of Alicante.[53]

The Castilian monarchs proceeded to entrust wide competences to a senior officer called the Adelantado Mayor over the whole Kingdom of Murcia (then a borderland of the Crown of Castile, nearing Granada and Aragon). The kingdom of Murcia was divided into religious manors, nobility manors and señoríos de realengo (type of manioralism in which the noble had the property, but the king had the authority to administer justice). There were two noble lineages during the Low Middle Ages and the modern period: Los Manueles and Los Fajardo.[54]

The Kingdom of Murcia was adjacent the Emirate of Granada and that fact brought on several wars and Muslim raids, which occurred mainly during the 15th century.[55][56]

Map of the Kingdom of Murcia in 1590

In the early 16th century, the numbers of inhabitants increased in the Kingdom of Murcia. There were three plague epidemic during the century, but they did not affect severely the region. In the first third of that century, the Revolt of the Comuneros occurred. Some places that were supporting the revolt were towns in the current Castile and León and Castilla-La Mancha regions. In the Kingdom of Murcia, the revolutionary towns were Murcia, Cartagena, Lorca, Caravaca, Cehegín and Totana. The castle of Aledo was a spot for defending the Monarchy. In 1521 the Revolt of the Comuneros was defeated.[57]

In the early 17th the king Philip III of Spain expelled all the moriscos (descendants of muslims) of the Crown of Castilla and the Crown of Aragon. During this century two plague epidemics also occurred.[58]

During the 18th century there was relevant baroque artist in the Kingdom of Murcia whose name is Francisco Salzillo. He made carvings with religious imagery.[59]

19th and 20th centuries

In 1807, Napoleon signed the Treaty of Fointenebleau with Spain to cross the peninsula in order to conquer Portugal. In the early 1808, Napoleon betrayed Spain and invaded Pamplona, San Sebastián, Barcelona, Burgos and Salamanca. The people from Madrid started an uprising in 1802. The inhabitants of Spain were summoned for fighting against the French invaders. The people of the country established an organisation and groups of administrators were made up - they composed a politic organisation that was an alternative of the official one. The name of that groups was junta and there was one for each province. There were not much presence of French invaders in the Kingdom of Murcia and battles were also rare in the region. Nevertheless, there were soldiers from the territory who battled in other areas of Spain. In addition, the region became an strategy area for the traffic of troops, guns and supplies which destination was the east of the Iberian Peninsula or Andalucía. French troops attacked the Kingdom of Murcia in 1810. Most people who had posts of politic authority escaped. The French side, which came form Lorca, invaded the town Murcia on 23 April, and looted it on 26. The troops came back to the town in August, but the martial resources had been expanded and the French attack was averted. The French army occupied Murcia again in January 1812. It looted Águilas, Lorca, Caravaca, Cehegín, Jumilla, Yecla, Mula, Alhama de Murcia and the territory of Ricote Valley. Cartagena withstood the French siege owing to its rampart and the help of English floats. The French side was definitely defeated in Vitoria (north of Spain) in 1814.[60][61]

In 1936, there was a martial uprising during the Second Spanish Republic era. The North African territories of Spain were taken on 17 July. The uprising was successful in some areas of Spain. The partial success of the uprising brought on the Spanish Civil War. The province of Murcia supported the Frente Popular (governing party in that era). The port of Cartagena became the main base of the Republican sided navy and was home to destroyer, cruise and submarine fleets. Thus, Region of Murcia was a geostrategic spot during the war. There were also anti-aircraft bases through out the region in order to defend Cartagena. The Region of Murcia was in a rear position and situation in regards to the war and overall it didn't receive attacks. The exceptions consisted in aviation attacks, specially to Cartagena and Águilas. However, all the large factories, the basis services and some properties were seized by trade unions and went under their rule. There was a impoverishment among the inhabitants and a lack of meal supplies. Consequently, the rationing was established in the territory.[62][63]

During the Francoist Spain, the wine agriculture and economic activities raised in Altiplano comarca (north of Region of Murcia).[64] An oil refinery structure was established in Cartagena in 1942 and more power refineries, supply refineries and factories were constructed in the same area during the 1950s and 1960s decades.[65][66]

Murcia became an autonomous region in 1982.

Demography

Religion in Murcia (2019)[67]

  Catholicism (80.1%)
  Unaffiliated (17.9%)
  Other (2.1%)

The Region of Murcia has a population of 1,424,063 inhabitants (INE 2008, National Statistic Institute of Spain), of which almost a third (30.7%) live in the municipality of Murcia. It makes up 3.0% of the Spanish population. In addition, after Ceuta and Melilla, Murcia has the highest population growth (5.52 by thousand inhabitants) and also the highest birth rate of the country.

  • Birth rate (2004): 13.00 per 1,000
  • Mortality rate (2004): 7.48 per 1,000
  • Life expectancy (2002):
    • Men: 76.01 years
    • Women: 82.00 years

In the 1991-2005 period the Murcian population grew at by 26.06%, as opposed to the national average of 11.85%. 12.35% of the inhabitants are of foreign origin, according to the INE 2005 census, which is 4% more than the Spanish average. The most notable groups of immigrants are Ecuadorians (33.71% of the total of foreigners), Moroccans (27.13%), Britons (5.95%), Bolivians (4.57%) and Colombians (3.95%).

Roman Catholicism is, by far, the largest religion in the Region of Murcia. In 2019, the proportion of Murcians that identify themselves as Roman Catholic was 80.1%.[67]

Municipalities

Municipalities in Region of Murcia

The Region of Murcia comprises 45 municipalities, the most populated being Murcia, Cartagena, Lorca, and Molina de Segura.

Language

The Spanish spoken in the region has its own accent and local words. The Murcian dialect is one of the southern dialects of Spanish and tends to eliminate many syllable-final consonants and to emphasize regional vocabulary, much of which is derived from Aragonese, Catalan and Arabic words. The general intonation and some of the distinctive vocabulary of the Spanish dialect spoken in Murcia share several traits with the one spoken in the neighboring province of Almería, north of Granada, and the Vega Baja del Segura in the Alicante province.[68]

The Valencian language is spoken in a small area of the region known as El Carche.[69]

Economy

The Gross domestic product (GDP) of the autonomous community was 31.5 billion euros in 2018, accounting for 2.6% of Spanish economic output. GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was 22,800 euros or 76% of the EU27 average in the same year. The GDP per employee was 84% of the EU average.[70]

Agriculture, ranching and fishing equalled a 5.99% of Region of Murcia Gross Value Added (GVA). Extraction industries, manufacturing industries and several power supplies economy activities equalled 18.32% of the GVA.[71] Tourism sector activities provided 11.4% of regional GPD in 2018.[72]

35.9% of the territory is occupied by landcrops and high grown products in the region are oat, barley, lettuce, citrus fruits, peaches, almonds, apricots, olives and grapes.[73][74] In regards to fishing sector, the most caught species are anchovies, round sardinellas, sardines, chub mackerels, gilt-head breams and pompanoes. Aquaculture is also performed and the species that are bred are atlantic blufins tunae, gilt-head breams and sea basses.[75][76]

Tourism

Despite the famous seaside resorts, the overall region is relatively unknown even within Spain, so it continues to be relatively unspoilt compared to other more overcrowded areas of the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Nevertheless, its more than 300 sunny days a year with an average temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, and the 250 km (160 mi) of beaches of the so-called Costa Cálida (Warm Coast) have attracted tourists for decades.

The region is also being promoted as a cultural destination with a lot of highlights for visitors: monuments, gastronomy, cultural events, museums, historic remains, festivals etc. The Region of Murcia is one of the Spanish autonomous communities that has grown the most in the last years, and this has conferred it the character of an ideal destination of services, shopping and for the organization of cultural events and conventions.

Cultural tourism

Major tourist destinations

Murcia Cathedral.

The most visited towns are shown below:[77]

  • Murcia, the capital city, offers the facilities, equipment and services of a large city. It is the seventh largest Spanish city by population with approximately 440,000 inhabitants in 2009. Murcia's sights include a very tall belfry and its famous Cathedral. Murcia is also a large University town with more than 30,000 students per year. It has more than 2 million m2 of parks and gardens. Murcia has a rich history tied to the Jewish community.
  • Cartagena is the region's second largest city and one of the main Spanish naval bases. Sights include its recently restored Roman Theatre (among its numerous other Roman remains) and a number of modernist buildings made for its military fortifications.
  • Lorca is a large medieval town at the foothills of which its famous castle stands. It is the second largest municipality of Spain by area.
  • Caravaca de la Cruz, or simply Caravaca, is one of the five official Holy cities for Catholicism since it is claimed to house part of the Lignum Crucis, the Holy Cross.

The castles itinerary

Castle of Lorca

The interior of the region of Murcia has plenty of castles and fortifications showing the importance of these frontier lands between the Christian Castile and the Muslim Andalusia. They include:

  • Castle of Jumilla, a former Roman fortification turned by the Moors into an Alcazaba. The Castilian Kings and the marquis of Villena gave it its appearance of Gothic royal residence.
  • Castle of Moratalla, one of the largest castles of the province, built to defend the town of Moratalla from the invaders from the nearby Muslim Kingdom of Granada.
  • Castle of Mula, of Muslim origin, but as with many castles, eventually restored and renovated.
  • Real Alcázar of Caravaca de la Cruz, where the Holy sanctuary was built, also of Moorish origin, conquered by the Christians and finally home of several noble families.
  • Concepción Castle, in Cartagena, built on one of the five hills of the old Carthagena, following the Roman taste. Now is home of the Centre for the Interpretation of Cartagena's History.
  • Lorca Castle, also known as the Fortress of the Sun.

Festivals

Cartagena's and Lorca's Holy Week's processions have been declared of International Tourist Interest[78][79], together the Murcia's "Bando de la Huerta" and "The Burial of the Sardine in Murcia", included in its Spring Festivities.[80] Murcia's Holy Week is also interesting since its processions include Murcian sculptor Francisco Salzillo's statues.

Cartagena's main festivities are the Carthagineses y Romanos, re-enacting the Punic Wars. They have been declared of National Tourist Interest.[81]

The Águila's Carnival is one of the most important and colourful of Spain.[82]

Beaches and Gulf

La Manga del Mar Menor

This is the most developed tourist resource in Murcia. The Costa Cálida has 250 km (160 mi) of beaches, from el Mojón at the North near Alicante to Águilas, South West Murcia, near Almería. One of the major destinations of Murcia is the Mar Menor or Small Sea, the largest natural lake of Spain and the largest salty lagoon in Europe, located by the Mediterranean.[83] It is separated from the mediterranean by a 22 km (14 mi) narrow sandy strip known as La Manga del Mar Menor or simply La Manga.[84] It is probably the most developed and overcrowded holiday area of Murcia, despite being declared a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMIs) by the United Nations.

Mar Menor's muds are famous for its therapeutic properties.[85] Apart from Mar Menor, the Murcian coast from the historical city of Cartagena to the frontier with Andalusia, that corresponds to the Mediterranean Sea alternates wild and unspoilt rocky areas with large sandy beaches, with the towns of Mazarrón and Águilas standing out.[86][87]

The tourism needs have forced the area to add all kinds of facilities and services. The construction boom shows the huge amount of estates, including the controversial holiday resorts of Polaris World and second residences, as well as numerous malls. Thanks to the orography and climate of the region of Murcia, these lands are suitable for golf courses, a fact that has been very controversial because of the need for water, which Murcia lacks, being a very dry region.

Other services includes nautical charters; yacht facilities; golf courses; adventure tourism companies; sports federations; tourist routes; guided visits and excursions by sea.

Natural resources and rural tourism

The region of Murcia has 19 areas under different statutes of protection, representing 6% of its territory.[88][89][90]

San Pedro's marsh
  • The Sierra Espuña, a protected natural space, has an area of 17,804 ha. It is located on the Baetic Cordillera within the basin of the Segura. This Regional park is centred around the 1 583M Sierra Espuña mountain. It is also declared as Special Protected Area for the Birds.
  • Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro del Pinatar, a salt marsh by the Mar Menor.
  • Cabo Cope-Puntas del Calnegre, between Águilas and Lorca, by the Mediterranean sea. The government of Murcia has amended Law 1/2001 of 24 April on Land in the Region of Murcia, declassifying a total of 1600 hectares of the land protected by the Regional Park of Cabo Cope and Puntas de Calnegre. Rares species of animals (Bonelli's eagle, Greek tortoise, Martingale) and plants are threatened.
  • Calblanque, Monte de las Cenizas y Peña del Aguila, between La Manga and Cartagena, Calblanque is also one of the top-favourite beaches for the Murcians although it is an undeveloped area.
  • Carrascoy y el Valle is a Special Protection Area (SPA) and Site of Community Importance (SCI).
  • Sierra de la Pila, also a Special Protection Area (SPA).
  • Sierra del Carche, also part of the Baetic Cordillera. It is placed in the north of the region and in Yecla and Jumilla municipalities.[91]
  • Cañón de Almadenes
Almadenes Canyon
  • Humedal del Ajuaque y Rambla Salada, another wetland and also a Special Protection Area (SPA).
  • Cerro de Cabezo Gordo, in which there is the archaeological site of Sima de las Palomas, a cave where the second oldest human remains in the Iberian Peninsula were found.
  • La Muela y Cabo Tiñoso: This landform occurs in the south of the region and in Cartagena municipality.[92]
  • A group of islands and islets on the Murcian Mediterranean has a high ecological importance.
  • Espacios Abiertos e Islas del Mar Menor, in which the five volcanic islands of the Mar Menor are included.
  • Sierra de las Moreras: It is a mountain range that occupies part of Mazarrón municipality in the south of Region of Murcia. It has the protective legal status Site of Community Importance.[93]
  • Cañaverosa
  • Sierra de Salinas
  • Barrancos de Gebas
  • Saladares del Guadalentín
  • Cuatro Calas

Inner lands of the region, near the historical towns of Caravaca de la Cruz and Moratalla, offer a number of rural accommodations and facilities: cottages, farmhouses, country houses and camp sites. Visitors can engage in activities related to excursions, day trips, sports, sightseeing.

Transport

Road

The region's highway network provides connectivity along the coast, with three highways links with Andalusia (Autovía A-91, Autovía A-7 and the tolled Autopista AP-7) and another three with the Valencian Community (A-7 and the tolled AP-7 and Autopista AP-37), but only the Autovía A-30 connects Murcia with inland Spain. It is thus the goal of the regional government to provide alternative highway corridors that connect the inland border of Murcia to the coastal zones.

All in all, the autonomous government is investing heavily in its highway network, both for trips along the coast and inland-coast connectivity. Due to the expansion of the regional network that this effort is expected to produce, Murcia has recently implemented a new naming scheme for its regional highways, more in accordance with the national network. When the renaming is complete, all highways will be identified by white-on-blue names that start with RM (for Región de Murcia).

Signal Type Denomination Itinerary
Interurban Autovía RM-1 San Javier (AP-7) -- Zeneta (MU-30/RM-30/+AP-37)
Interurban Autovía Alhama - Campo de Cartagena Alhama (A-7) -- RM-23 -- Fuente Álamo (MU-602) -- Cartagena (A-30)
Interurban Autovía RM-3 Totana (A-7) -- RM-23 -- Mazarrón (AP-7)
Interurban Autovía RM-11 Lorca (A-7) -- N-332 -- Águilas (AP-7)
Access road Autovía de La Manga Cartagena (AP-7/CT-32) -- El Algar (N-332) -- La Manga del Mar Menor
Interurban Autovía del Noroeste Alcantarilla (MU-30/A-7) -- Mula -- Caravaca de la Cruz (C-415/RM-714)
Access road Autovía del Mar Menor A-30 -- Polaris World -- San Javier (AP-7)
Interurban Autovía de conexión RM-23 RM-2 -- RM-3

*: in construction -- +: planned

Rail

The Chinchilla-Cartagena railway provides the only rail route to Madrid from the region. The Cercanías Murcia/Alicante commuter rail network connects Murcia to Alicante via Orihuela and Elche, along with a branch to Águilas.

The Madrid-Levante high-speed rail network is due to reach Murcia in 2021, and the Murcia-Almería high-speed rail line will connect the region to Almería by 2023.

Air

The Región de Murcia International Airport opened in 2019 replacing the Murcia San Javier Airport for passenger flights. It was used by a million passengers in its first year of operation. Alicante Airport, although outside Murcia, is also used by air travellers from the region.

Sea

Cartagena contains the region's only port. 60% of exports and the 80% of imports from the Region of Murcia are made through the port of Cartagena.[94]

Notable people

See also

Notes and references

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Further reading

External links


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