Murcia

Murcia
/moor"sheuh/; Sp. /moohrdd"thyah/, n.
1. a city in SE Spain. 243,759.
2. a region in SE Spain: formerly a kingdom.

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I
Autonomous community (pop., 2001: 1,197,646), province, and historic region, southeastern Spain.

It covers 4,368 sq mi (11,314 sq km), and its capital is the city of Murcia. It was an independent Moorish kingdom until its annexation by Castile in 1243. The autonomous community was established in 1982. The Segura River flows through its centre, irrigating rich farmland and orchards. The ports of Cartagena, Mazarrón, and Aguilas have grown with the development of shipping and mining along the coastal plain. Principal crops are grain, olives, grapes, and melons.
II
City (pop., 2001: 370,745), capital of the autonomous community of Murcia, southeastern Spain.

The site was settled before the Roman occupation of Spain in the 3rd century BC. It became the Muslim city of Mursīyah in AD 825, when it was made a provincial capital by the emir of Córdoba. It was the birthplace of Ibn al-Arabī (1165). The Segura River divides the city into older and newer parts. The 14th-century cathedral was restored in the 18th century. It is a communications and agricultural-trade centre for surrounding areas. Its silk industry dates from Moorish times.

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Spain
      city, capital of Murcia provincia (province) and comunidad autónoma (autonomous community), southeastern Spain. It lies at the confluence of the Segura and Guadalentín (Sangonera) rivers in a fertile, irrigated area known as the huerta (orchard land). The site was settled before the Roman occupation of southern Spain in the 3rd century BC, but its name even during the Roman rule is unknown, although some have tentatively identified it with the Roman town Vergilia. As Mursīyah it was first mentioned in the histories and chronicles of the Muslims. According to the Arab geographer Yāqūt, it was founded in 825 by the Umayyad emir of Córdoba, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II, who made it a provincial capital. After the fall of the caliphate of Córdoba in 1031, the city came under the control of Almería and then of Valencia, until 1063 when its ruler, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Ṭāhir, declared the kingdom of Murcia independent.

      The Segura River divides the city into an older, northern sector and a more modern, southern sector. The 14th-century Gothic-style Cathedral of Santa María was restored in the 18th century. It contains the fine chapel of the Vélez family (1507). In the Hermitage of Jesus (Ermita de Jesús) are the majority of the Passion sculptures of Francisco Salzillo, which attract many visitors during Holy Week. The University of Murcia was founded in 1915.

      Murcia is a communications and agricultural-trade centre for the surrounding areas along the Segura River. Flour is also processed. The city's silk industry, which dates from Moorish times, still exists. Murcia's manufactures include woolen, linen, and cotton goods; saltpetre; leather; aluminum products; furniture; and hats. Murcia's main industries are metalworking, papermaking, and food processing. Pop. (2006 est.) 180,113.

▪ Spanish kingdom
      independent Muslim (Moorish) kingdom centred on the city of Murcia (Arabic: Mursīyah), Spain. It came into being on two occasions: first in the 11th century, following the disintegration of the Spanish Umayyad caliphate; and again in the 12th century, as part of the Spanish Muslim reaction against the rule of the North African Almoravids. The kingdom's first ruler, ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān ibn Ṭāhir, declared himself independent in 1063, though to preserve the fiction of the unity of the Umayyad caliphate he took the title not of king (malik) but of minister (ḥājib).

      For a time Murcia played an intermediary role between the Almoravids and the Castilians, but in the end religious sympathies inclined it to the Almoravids. Then the Almoravid caliph Yūsuf ibn Tāshufīn, who had brought the quarreling states of Muslim Spain under his control, took possession of Murcia in 1092, incorporating it into his empire. General discontent under the Almoravids led to a rising under Abu Jaʿfar ibn Hud in 1144 and the reestablishment of Murcian independence. The kingdom was then united with Valencia.

      After 1168 Murcia came under the rule of the North African Almohads. In spite of this, it retained an autonomous administrative system that was conserved by the Christian Castilians when they took possession of the territory, almost without a struggle, in 1243.

Introduction

      comunidad autónoma (autonomous community) and historical region of southeastern Spain that is coextensive with the provincia (province) of Murcia. It is bounded by the autonomous communities of Castile–La Mancha to the north, Valencia to the east, and Andalusia to the west; the Mediterranean Sea lies to the south. The autonomous community of Murcia was established under the statute of autonomy of June 9, 1982. The capital is Murcia city. Area 4,368 square miles (11,313 square km). Pop. (2007 est.) 1,392,117.

Geography
      The Baetic Cordillera in the southern portion of Murcia borders the Mediterranean and declines eastward into the plain of Cartagena. The tableland of Jumilla and Yecla rises in the northern portion of Murcia. To the west of Murcia is the pre-Baetic cordillera. The Segura River runs northwest to southeast through the centre of Murcia, irrigating the rich huertas (irrigated farming plots that are usually family-run) in the valleys of the Baetic Cordillera. Annual precipitation in the region is very low, ranging from about 7 inches (170 mm) around Cape Tiñoso to about 11 inches (280 mm) in Cartagena. Temperatures are high and show relatively little seasonal variation.

      The population of the plain of Cartagena is sparse, and the isolated farmsteads and small villages are located where there is water. Emigration from Murcia has been considerable since 1900. The dialect in the countryside is called Panocho, and it reflects Arab, Catalan, and Aragonese influences.

      Intensive irrigation supports a dense population in the huertas on the satellite farming communities around the city of Murcia. The autonomous community has relied on water transfer for irrigation since the 1960s, mainly through the Tagus-Segura river scheme. By the early 21st century, however, water supplies had been depleted, and the transfer of water had to be approved by the central government in Madrid. Minifundios (small farms) predominate in the huertas, while the growth of small-scale industries in the towns has allowed many underemployed agricultural workers to work part-time in factories. The traditional dwelling of the Murcian huerta is the barraca, a thatched farmhouse, oftentimes decorated with jasmine and geraniums. The populations of the ports of Cartagena, Mazarrón, and Aguilas have grown with the development of shipping and mining along the coastal plain.

      About one-half of the land under cultivation is dry-farmed, mainly for barley and grapes to make wine, but this accounts for only a small percentage of the autonomous community's agricultural output and is gradually losing ground to irrigated farming. The principal crops of the irrigated huertas are tomatoes, peppers, plums, peaches, grapes, oranges, lemons, apricots, and melons. Pigs are bred.

      The food-processing industry is concentrated along the Segura River and has absorbed some of the surplus workforce from the surrounding huertas. Cartagena has emerged as an industrial centre of the first order, exploiting the coast's resources of lead, zinc, and salt. A petrochemical complex at Escombreras has established Cartagena as one of Europe's leading petrochemical centres. The service sector has benefited from the development of tourism along the coast.

History
      Castile annexed the kingdom of Murcia in 1243, thereby securing access to the Mediterranean and challenging the southern expansion of the Crown of Aragon. Castile ceded part of Murcia to the kingdom of Valencia in 1304, and the remaining territory was divided into the provinces of Murcia and Albacete in 1833.

Vicente Rodriguez

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Universalium. 2010.

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