1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Almería (province)

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ALMERÍA, a maritime province of southern Spain, formed in 1833, and comprehending the eastern territories of the ancient kingdom of Granada. Pop. (1900) 359,013; area, 3360 sq. m. Almería is bounded on the N. by Granada and Murcia, E. and S. by Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea, and W. by Granada. It is traversed by mountain ridges, with peaks of 6000 to 8000 ft. in altitude; and it is seamed with valleys or great fertility. The chief sierras, or ranges, are those of Maria, in the north; Estancias and Oria, north of the Almanzora river; Filabres, in the middle of the province; Cabrera and Gata, along the south-east coast; Alhamilla, east of the city of Almería; Gádor in the south-west; and, in the west, some outlying ridges of the Sierra Nevada. Three small rivers, the Adra, or Río Grande de Adra, in the west, the Almeria in the centre, and the Almanzora in the north and east, flow down from the mountains to the sea. On the south coast is the Gulf of Almería, 25 m. wide at its entrance, and terminating, on the cast, in the Cabo de Gata, the southernmost point of eastern Spain. The climate is mild, except among the higher mountains. The valleys near the sea are well adapted for agriculture; oranges, lemons, almonds and other fruit trees thrive; silk is produced in the west; and the vine is extensively cultivated, less for the production of wine than to meet the foreign demand for white Almería grapes. Although the cost of transport is very heavy, the exportation of grapes is a flourishing industry, and more than 2,000,000 barrels are annually sent abroad. The cattle of the central districts are celebrated for size and quality. Almería is rich in minerals, especially iron and lead; silver, copper, mercury, zinc and sulphur are also obtained. At the beginning of the 20th century the mines at work numbered more than two hundred, and proved very attractive to foreign as well as native capitalists. Garnets are found in the Sierra de Gata and in the Sierra Nevada fine marble is quarried. The development of mining was facilitated by the extension of the railway system between 1895 and 1905. The main line from Madrid to Almería convoys much ore from Granada and Jaén to the sea; while the railway from Baza to Lorca skirts the Almanzora valley and transports the mineral products of eastern Almería by a branch line from Huércal-Overa to the Murcian port of Águilas. Light railways and aerial cables among the mountains supplement these lines. The chief imports compase coal, timber, especially oak staves, and various manufactured goods. The exports are minerals, esparto, oil, grain, grapes and farm produce generally. The principal seaports are Almería, the capital, pop.(1900) 47,326, Adra (11,188), and Garrucha (4661), which, with Berja (13,224), Cuevas de Vera (20,562), Huercal-Overa (15,763) and Níjar (12,497), are described in separate articles. Other towns, important as mining or agricultural centres, are Albox (10,049), Dalías (7136), Lubrin (6593), Sorbas (7306), Tabernas (7629), Vélez Blanco (6825), Vélez Rubio (10,109) and Vera (8446). Education is backward and the standard of comfort low. A constant annual loss of 2000 or 3000 emigrants to Algeria and elsewhere prevents any rapid increase of population, despite the high birth-rate and low mortality.