Highlights of the Fabulous Regions of Spain

In total, there are 17 autonomous regions of Spain and 50 provinces. The above map "Regions of Spain" (kindly provided by Map of Spain), shows us the regions of Spain plus their position.

In alphabetical order, they are as follows:

ANDALUCIA, in the south, is one of the largest. It borders on Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha in the north, Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea in the east, the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean in the south and Portugal in the west.

An area of great geographical diversity, it certainly has a terrific amount to attract the visitor: beautiful mountains like the famous ski-ing resort of the Sierra Nevada; golden beaches such as the Costa del Sol, one of Europe s principal holiday destinations; a large number of natural parks offering fabulous flora and fauna; cosmopolitan cities rich in history and monuments; and, off the beaten track, pretty, unspoilt whitewashed villages.

It is composed of 8 provinces, each one named for its capital city: C diz, C rdoba, Jaen, Heulva, Almeria, M laga, Granada and Seville.

This region of Spain is particularly well-known for its colorful fiestas: the April Fair (Feria de abril) in Seville is one of the most fascinating spectacles on offer in Spain, with horsemen parading their dressed-up steeds and ponies, and the women looking absolutely gorgeous in bright flamenco dresses.

ARAGON is one of the regions of Spain to be found in the north east of the country, with France to the north, Catalonia and Valencia to the east, Castilla-La Mancha to the south, and Castilla y Leon, La Rioja and historic Navarra to the west.

It consists of three provinces: Huesca, Zaragoza and Teruel.

Most of the Ebro River is to be found in this region of Spain, and it can roughly be separated into three different areas: the central area consisting of the Ebro basin; the northern area where the Pyrenees lie; and the area made up of the Iberian mountain range.

Aragon is one of the most history-rich regions of Spain and certainly has a lot of offer anyone interested in Spain s heritage (it was Catherine of Aragon who unwisely married Henry VIII of England!). Unfortunately, because it is rather arid, it does tend to be off the tourist menu, which is rather a pity.

Aragon is also known for its energetic and light-hearted dance - "la jota". An area steeped in folklore and bull-fighting traditions, it has a very friendly and welcoming people.

ASTURIAS. The Principality of Asturias is also one of the regions of Spain to be found in the north east. It is a one-province community, having Oviedo for its capital. Bathed by the Cantabrian Sea, it is home to the highest parts of the Cantabrian mountain range.

This region of Spain is bordered by the Cantabrian Sea to the north, Galicia to the west, Cantabria to the east, and Castilla y Leon to the south.

The mountainous terrain of Asturias can be divided into two parts: the coast with its sheer cliff faces that protect wonderful beaches; and the Cantabrian mountain range which forms a natural border between Asturias and Castilla y Leon.

The "Costa Verde" (or Green Coast) as the marvelous Asturias coastline is known, is one of the major attractions of northern Spain and tourism has yet to spoil the area.

Asturias offers a wealth of different landscapes: quaint fishing villages, lush forests, high-peaked mountains, natural parks, plus a variety of modern sporting activities and fishing.

It is a prehistoric land, as the many cave paintings illustrate, with much history, monuments and fine architecture on offer.

It is also well-known for its cider, so take a glass with you and discover the novel way in which they pour it out!

THE BALEARIC ISLANDS. Looking at the map "Regions of Spain", we see that these are to be found just off the east coast of Valencia. They consist of three major islands - Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza - plus three smaller pieces of land - Formentera, Cabrera and the uninhabited Dragonera.

They offer a temperate climate, moderate rainfall and fine beaches sprinkled with coves, capes and bays. The subsoil also houses important aquifers that have given rise to major caves of extraordinary beauty: the Drach and Arta Caves in Mallorca, and the Xoroi Cave in Menorca.

Mallorca is the largest and most commercial island and a magnet for holidaymakers, although some parts do still remain untouched. It is also home to the capital of the Balearic Islands - Palma.

Ibiza is attractive to party-goers and offers fine white sands and clear blue waters.

Menorca is the most serene of the islands, with much of it protected by the government in order to prevent tourism from taking over.

THE BASQUE COUNTRY, or Euskadi as it is known locally, is one of the northerly regions of Spain. The Cantabrian Sea lies to its north, Navarra to the east, la Rioja to the south, and Castilla y Leon and Cantabria to the west.

It comprises three provinces: Vizcaya, Guip zcoa and lava.

A relatively mountainous region, it has a rich historical background with some of Spain s most beautiful castles. Its cities are a rich mixture of tradition and modernism, and tourism has always been part of the Basque region.

In recent years, the new "rural tourism" trend has become extremely popular there.

Whether you prefer to play golf, surf, watch a bullfight, ride horses in the countryside, laze on a beach, or concentrate on culture, the Basque Country can accommodate you.

THE CANARY ISLANDS are a region of Spain situated just off the north coast of Africa, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

They consist of seven larger islands - Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, la Palma, Gomera and Hierro - plus other smaller ones such as Graciosa, Alegranza and Lobos.

Their very mild winter climate is just one reason among many for the popularity of these islands. The coasts are also blessed with vast sandy beaches full of outstanding reefs, capes and bays.

Perhaps the Canary Islands are most characterised by their volcanic scenery, which can be divided into three different regions: the central islands, the eastern islands, and the western islands.

Tenerife, with its famous snow-capped peak of Mount Teide, is the largest island. Gran Canaria offers superb beaches and a pulsating nightlife, with Fuerteventura probably being the "beachiest" of the islands. Exotic Gomera has many interesting monuments and a marvelous forest which is a protected park. La Palma, with its capital Santa Cruz, has immense natural beauty.

CANTABRIA. Another of the northerly regions of Spain and a part of Green Spain, this region borders on the Cantabrian Sea to the north, The Basque Country to the east, Castilla y Leon to the south, and Asturias to the west. Santander is its capital.

The most notable natural landmark inland is the Cantabrian mountain range whilst, on the coast, the most striking scenery is formed by the Major and Ajo Capes.

The coast has really wonderful beaches lined with steep, sheer cliff faces and, in spite of being extremely popular with the Spanish as an escape from the summer heat, it is still relatively unspoilt.

Cantabria offers a magnificent contrast of landscapes with beaches and cliffs, mountains and valleys, rivers and forests, plus six protected natural areas.

CASTILLA-LA MANCHA is a region of Spain to be found in the very centre of the Iberian Peninsula and comprises the provinces of Guadalajara, Cuenca, Albacete, Cuidadreal and Toledo.

It is bordered by Madrid (Region) and Castilla y Leon to the north, Aragon and the Region of Valencia to the east, Murcia and Andalucia to the south, and Extremadura to the west.

The capital of the region is the city of Toledo. This used to be the ancient capital of Spain and what an extremely picturesque place it is. The visitor will find a wealth of history, a wide array of architectural treasures, and local crafts including the famous Toledo jewellery and swords.

Other places of interest in the area are Albacete, which is well-known for its wine production, and Cuenca, which is famous for its hanging houses, Gothic Cathedral and Museum of Abstract Art.

CASTILLA Y LEON. One of the regions of Spain which covers much of the northern part of the country, it is made up of the provinces of Leon, Palencia, Burgos, Soria, Segovia, vila, Salamanca, Zamora and Valladolid.

Asturias and Cantabria lie to the north, the Basque Country, La Rioja, Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid to the east, Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha to the south, and Portugal and Galicia to the west.

Surrounded by mountains, the area offers magnificent unspoilt countryside, natural parks, and much history such as the walled town of Ciudad Rodrigo, the aquaduct of Segovia and the Cathedral of Burgos, to name but a few examples.

CATALONIA. A region of Spain located in the north east of Iberia, bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, it comprises the provinces of Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Lleida.

To the north, France and Andorra can be found, to the south the Region of Valencia, to the west Aragon, and to the east the Mediterranean Sea.

The region of Catalonia is certainly a very popular one for it possesses a mild climate, a wide array of smooth beaches, plus a mass of places of interest to take in.

Barcelona is its cultural and industrial capital with so much to see and do.

Catalonia also has some of the most beautifully and residentially developed areas with regards to tourism in the well-known Costa Brava and Costa Dorada. Something for everyone in fact.

EXTREMADURA. Glancing at the map "Regions of Spain", we see that this community is to be found in the south west of the country and comprises the provinces of C ceres and Badajoz.

Castilla y Leon lies to the north, Castilla-La Mancha to the east, Andalucia to the south, and Portugal to the west.

Its capital is Merida and this really is a jewel of a city, dating back to Roman times. In fact, Extremadura has an ancient heritage and its history dates back to pre-Roman times, when cave dwellers lived in the area.

Much of the region is vast stretches of plains: rich and fertile land that has, for centuries, supplied much of Europe with fresh produce.

The monumental city of C ceres has been appointed a Heritage of Mankind City, and there are several other cities of interest, such as Menda, Guadalupe, Plasencia, as well as tiny hamlets and villages.

GALICIA consists of the provinces of A Coru a, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra, and is another of the "green" regions of Spain situated in the north east of the land.

It is bathed by the Cantabrian Sea to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has Asturias and Castilla y Leon to the east, and Portugal to the south.

Galicia truly is a region of great charm having Santiago de Compostela, the famous pilgrimage centre, as its current capital - one of the most beautiful cities of Spain.

Inland Galicia and coastal Galicia are separated by a mountain range nick-named "Galicia s Backbone. Inland Galicia is green, lush and wooded, abounding in rivers ideal for canoeing and rafting. The coastline offers tiny fishing villages, unspoilt coves, beautiful sandy beaches and some fine hotels.

MADRID REGION lies right in the middle of the Spanish mainland bordering Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y Leon.

This is one of the fairly mountainous regions of Spain and can be divided into two areas: on the one hand, the sierra in the north and west of the region; on the other hand, in the central and southern parts, the area is flatter and forms part of the plateau of La Mancha and La Alcarria.

The city of Madrid is Europe s highest capital and, as well as having much to offer culture- and entertainment-wise, it is also within very easy reach of some other fine cities, such as Segovia, Toledo and vila.

MURCIA. Rather sparsely populated, this is one of the regions of Spain with the cheapest fruit and vegetables! So, you know where to go if you run short of money!

Situated in the south east of the country, it has the Mediterranean Sea to the east, the Valencian Community to the north, the region of Andalucia to the south, and Castilla-La Mancha to the west.

Its main cities are Murcia, Cartagena, Lorca, Caravaca de la Cruz, Molina de Segura, Cieza and Alcantarilla, with more than 50% of its population residing in the first three.

Much of the vast land is given over to the growing of fresh produce: in some areas citrus fruits abound; in others olives and vines; and, in the more arid parts, cacti and palm trees are to be found.

The city of Murcia is beautiful, historic and very interesting indeed. Other historic places well worth a visit are Cartagena, Lorca, Mula and Alham, the latter two possessing enchanting castles.

The region also has 170 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline with some very fine beaches, for example at La Manga and Aguilas.

NAVARRA. This small, historic region of Spain lies in the north of the country with Aragon to its east, Castilla y Leon to its south, La Rioja and the Basque Country to its west, and France to its north.

The Pyrenees separate it from France and, as a border region, Navarra has certainly had its fair share of conflicts, as the various ruins of castles and fortified buildings bear witness.

Its architecture is as diverse as its landscape with Roman, Christian, Muslim and Jewish influences.

The "jota" dance is much practised here, and the region is famous worldwide for its Fiesta de San Fermin, when the bulls run through the streets of Pamplona and there is much celebrating (for want of another word!).

Apart from historic monuments and fiestas, Navarra is also a good base for various outdoor pursuits such as fishing, shooting and hiking.

LA RIOJA is another of the northerly regions of Spain having Aragon to the east, Castilla y Leon to the south and east, and the Basque Country and Navarra to the north. Logro o is its capital.

One of the most important wine-growing areas of Europe, this one-province region is practically split into two: Rioja Alta with its higher rainfall and milder climate; and Rioja Baja which is hotter and more arid.

The region is rich in history, crafts and cuisine with, of course, many opportunities to taste the famous local wines.

It also has many natural attractions and offers good rural tourism with hunting, fishing, climbing, cycling, hiking and aerial sports. So, if you like action (followed! by a glass of fine wine), this could be for you!

VALENCIA COMMUNITY. One of the most popular regions of Spain, it is situated on the east side of the country and composed of the provinces of Castell n, Valencia and Alicante.

Bordering it are Catalonia to the north, Aragon and Castilla-La Mancha to the west, Murcia to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the east.

Well-known for ceramics, fans and wicker-work, its coast consists of many gorgeous resorts offering golden beaches and sparkling blue sea. Its towns are full of history and, inland, the soil is fertile and a variety of crops abound: citrus fruits, olives, rice, almonds ...

Valencia City is the capital of the region and it enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate of hot summers and mild winters. A vibrant city, offering a wealth of plazas and gardens, a wide variety of historical buildings blended with modern constructions, plus a thriving port, marina and beaches.

In conclusion, Valencia is a region of Spain rich in history and its popular coastal resorts make it an excellent holiday destination.

I wonder which of the regions of Spain most appeals to you? Or, perhaps you would like to visit several?

I am sure that, with the harmonious co-existence of tradition and modernity that exists in the regions of Spain, there is something for everyone.

And, for information on the major cities to be found in these varied regions of Spain, just click here.