The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Mancha, La

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MACHA, La, an old province of Spain, chiefly in the S. part of New Castile, now included in the central and eastern portions of Ciudad Real, and the adjoining parts of Cuenca and Albacete; area, about 7,000 sq. m.; pop. about 200,000. The N. W. and S. E. portions are mountainous, and the centre in general a desolate sandy plateau. The towns are few and uninteresting; the cottages in the villages are built of mud. Most of the country is denuded of trees, exposed to the wintry blasts, and scorched by the summer heat. The earth is arid and stony; the dust is impregnated with saltpetre, and the glare of the sun almost blinds the eye. Water is wanting, and dry dung is used for fuel. In some places, however, corn, saffron, and wines are produced; and the mules of La Mancha are celebrated. The natives are jovial, honest, industrious, brave, and temperate. The scenery has become celebrated by the descriptions in “Don Quixote.”