1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Guadalajara (province)

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GUADALAJARA, a province of central Spain, formed in 1833 of districts taken from New Castile; bounded on the N. by Segovia, Soria and Saragossa, E. by Saragossa and Teruel, S. by Cuenca and W. by Madrid. Pop. (1900) 200,186; area, 4676 sq. m. Along the northern frontier of Guadalajara rise the lofty Guadarrama mountains, culminating in the peaks of La Cebollera (6955 ft.) and Ocejon (6775 ft.); the rest of the province, apart from several lower ranges in the east, belongs to the elevated plateau of New Castile, and has a level or slightly undulating surface, which forms the upper basin of the river Tagus, and is watered by its tributaries the Tajuña, Henares, Jarama and Gallo. The climate of this region, as of Castile generally, is marked by the extreme severity of its winter cold and summer heat; the soil varies very much in quality, but is fertile enough in many districts, notably the cornlands of the Alcarria, towards the south. Few of the cork and oak forests which formerly covered the mountains have escaped destruction; and the higher tracts of land are mainly pasture for the sheep and goats which form the principal wealth of the peasantry. Grain, olive oil, wine, saffron, silk and flax are produced, but agriculture makes little progress, owing to defective communications and unscientific farming. In 1903, the only minerals worked were common salt and silver, and the total output of the mines was valued at £25,000. Deposits of iron, lead and gold also exist and were worked by the Romans; but their exploitation proved unprofitable when renewed in the 19th century. Trade is stagnant and the local industries are those common to almost all Spanish towns and villages, such as the manufacture of coarse cloth and pottery. The Madrid-Saragossa railway traverses the province for 70 m.; the roads are ill-kept and insufficient. Guadalajara (11,144) is the capital, and the only town with more than 5000 inhabitants; Molina de Aragon, a fortified town built at the foot of the Parameras de Molina (2500–3500 ft.), and on the right bank of the Gallo, a tributary of the Tagus, is of some importance as an agricultural centre. Siguënza, on the railway, is an episcopal city, with a fine Romanesque cathedral dating from the 11th century. It is probably the ancient Segontia, founded in 218 B.C. by refugees from Saguntum. The population of the province, which numbers only 42 per sq. m., decreased slightly between 1870 and 1900, and extreme poverty compels many families to emigrate (see also Castile).