Valencia, located on Spain’s east coast is a 2000 year old city that boasts of a remarkable history of architecture and a buzzing food scene and culture.
Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia and the third-most populated municipality in Spain, with 789,744 inhabitants. It is also the capital of the province of the same name. The wider urban area also comprising the neighbouring municipalities has a population of around 1.6 million, constituting one of the major urban areas on the European side of the Mediterranean Sea. It is located on the banks of Turia, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, at the Gulf of Valencia, north of the Albufera lagoon. Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC.
Islamic rule and acculturation ensued in the 8th century, together with the introduction of new irrigation systems and crops. Aragonese Christian conquest took place in 1238, and so the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Valencia. The city’s population thrived in the 15th century, owing to trade with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, Italian ports and other locations in the Mediterranean sea, becoming one of the largest European cities by the end of the century.
Already harmed by the emergence of the Atlantic Ocean in detriment of the Mediterranean in the global trade networks and the insecurity created by Barbary piracy throughout the 16th century, the city’s economic activity experienced a crisis upon the expulsion of the moriscos in 1609. The city became a major silk-manufacturing centre in the 18th century.
The city served as an accidental seat of the Spanish Government from 1936 to 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The city’s port is the 5th-busiest container port in Europe and the busiest container port on the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its long history, Valencia has numerous celebrations and traditions, such as the Falles, which were declared Fiestas of National Tourist Interest of Spain in 1965 and an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in November 2016.
The Latin name of the city was Valentia, meaning “strength” or “valour”, due to the Roman practice of recognising the valour of former Roman soldiers after a war. During the rule of the Muslim kingdoms in Spain, it had the title Medina at-Tarab (‘City of Joy’) according to one transliteration, or Medina at-Turab (‘City of Sands’) according to another, since it was located on the banks of the River Turia. It is not clear if the term Balansiyya was reserved for the entire Taifa of Valencia or also designated the city. Located on the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and the western part of the Mediterranean Sea, fronting the Gulf of Valencia, Valencia lies on the highly fertile alluvial silts accumulated on the floodplain formed in the lower course of the Turia River.
At its founding by the Romans, it stood on a river island in Turia, 6.4 kilometres (4.0 mi) from the sea. The climate of Valencia is a Mediterranean climate (Koppen: Csa) with mild winters and hot, dry summers. Valencia is one of the oldest cities in Spain, founded in the Roman period, c. 138 BC, under the name “Valentia Edetanorum”.
Valencia enjoyed strong economic growth before the economic crisis of 2008, much of it spurred by tourism and the construction industry, with concurrent development and expansion of telecommunications and transport. The city’s economy is service-oriented, as nearly 84% of the working population is employed in service sector occupations. However, the city still maintains an important industrial base, with 8.5% of the population employed in this sector.
Growth has recently improved in the manufacturing sector, mainly automobile assembly. Agricultural activities are still carried on in the municipality, even though of relatively minor importance with only 1.9% of the working population and 3,973 ha (9,820 acres) planted mostly in orchards and citrus groves. Since the onset of the Great Recession (2008), Valencia had experienced a growing unemployment rate, increased government debt, etc. Severe spending cuts had been introduced by the city government.