.. usian handicrafts are an excellent reflection of the rich cultural traditions of this autonomous region. The ceramics and pottery have gained a great name as well as the artistic metal and jewelry workmanship, shoes and saddles, and textiles including blankets, shawls and embroidery. This display of skill includes furniture making, bookbinding, stone and marble work and musical instruments amongst other items. Natural Habitat In Andalusia there is an environmental protection agency that observes the European laws on health and environment. The region has more that 80 protected areas.

In total 17% of the surface is classified as parks and reserves. Included in this list is the National Park of Doana, in the province of Huelva, declared by Unesco as a “biosphere reserve” with internationally important wetlands. This spacious territory of over 50.000 hectares of forest, marshes and protected dunes extends throughout the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla and Cdiz. The 22 natural parks correspond to mountainous and wooded terrain, and coastal areas such as Cabo de Gata in Almera. These parks host everything from large colonies of tawny vultures to one of the most important agglomerations of cork oak trees and gall oaks in the world.

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Microclimates, different species of animals, meadowlands, deep gorges and fir trees from the tertiary period, along with pine trees, reservoirs, lagoons and torrents make up the average scene of these locations. The 28 natural reserves are mostly wetlands. Although smaller extensions than most parks they are nonetheless of enormous importance for the flora and fauna, especially birds. The 31 declared natural areas are of a great variety; from the interesting rock formations of Torcal de Antequera, Mlaga, to the only desert on the European continent found in Tabernas, Almera. Geography Andalusia is the largest and southernmost region of Spain with an area of 87.268 km2. The three regions which stand out are: to the north, the Sierra Morena, in the center, the Guadalquivir river valley, and in the south, the Cordillera Btica.

This physiognomy determines a land division; the Guadalquivir set in lower western region of Andalusia, while the foothills mark the upper Andalusia in the east. The climate is generally considered Mediterranean with hot and dry summers and mild winters with irregular rainfall. Nonetheless a larg most distinctive feature of the climate of Andalusia is the number of hours of annual sunlight, reaching over 3.000 in the lower Guadalquivir region, Atlantic coast and shores of Granada and Almera This climate produces a luminous atmosphere that is reflected in the character of its people. Numerous literary testimonies from both local and foreign writers confirm this. The hospitable and laid back view on life that embellish the Andalusians has a lot to do with clear skies and pleasant temperatures.

The coast makes up the other significant land area of Andalusia, extending over more than eighthundred kilometers of numerous stretches of beaches. The average temperatures of its waters and hours of sunlight have made them internationally known and enjoyed. The Andalusian coastline runs from the coast of Almera and the Tropical Coast of Granada to the Costa de la Luz of Cdiz and Huelva, gravitating along the Costa del Sol in Mlaga, one of the most famous international tourist centers in the world. The maintenance and protection of the Andalusian beaches during the past few years has added to the development of new boardwalks and the general improvement of services. New investment is based on strict urban guidelines which comply with a harmonious development.

This includes grand avenues, parks and open spaces, in a group effort by various municipalities and both national and regional administrations. Transportation Andalusia has witnessed a considerable improvement in its transportation system. The highway network has over 22.000 kilometers of roads. It is composed of motorways, highways and roadways of various categories. Investments carried out between the period of 1984-1992 have boosted this grid. The Highway 92, a horizontal core which crosses through the region from east to west linking all Andalusian capitals, facilitates the access to inland tourist areas of great interest. The railway system, the main star being the AVE, (high speed train) covers the distance between Madrid and Sevilla in less than three hours; a true revolution.

This new line of tracks has also improved communication between Madrid and Mlaga, as the Talgo trains also use the AVE tracks between Crdoba and the nations capital. Other junctions and stretches of important regional railways have been boosted while preserving the interest in the luxurious Al-Andalus line. Andalusia has a great number of airports. The one with the most activity is Mlaga; one of Europes twenty most important in its number of passengers. Plans for expansion already underway, will increase annual passenger capacity to twelve million by the year 2000. Sevillas airport has been completely transformed by adding on a new terminal servicing an annual capacity of four million passengers.

The airports in Almera and Jerez de la Frontera have also modernized their installations. The extensive Andalusian coastline has ports in Algeciras, Cdiz, Mlaga and Almera. Over nine thousand moorings for ships and boats are spread over numerous marinas, generating important commercial and tourist activity. The province of Mlaga with its Costa del Sol has the largest number of moorings and marinas, followed by Almera, Cdiz and Huelva. Sevilla also has two river ports.

Tourism Relax in Andalusia. expand your knowledge, practice sports, enjoy nature, or spend time in a pleasantly tranquil environment; options for all visitors. New tastes have generated abundant information about other forms of tourism such as hiking, camping and observing animal life. These activities incorporate the expansion of rural tourism in the region. The network of health spas and clinics in Andalusia are options for health conscious tourists.

The list of sport installations is extensive. Skiing for example in the Sierra Nevada, host of the 1995 world championship, is the southern most ski resort in Europe. As regards golf, the Costa del Sol has the largest number of courses in all Europe, designed by specialists like Gary Player, Severiano Ballesteros amongst others it was chosen to host the 1997 Ryder Cup. Both public and private tennis courts are abundant in numbers and are very well equipped. Hunting and fishing are special activities available throughout the whole region.

Andalusia is a horseback riders paradise, where one can enroll in classes or take a ride through the open country. In addition to these possibilities there are centers dedicated to high risk sports: cave exploring, mountain climbing and air sports such as gliding, paragliding, microlights or hot air ballooning. The Ciruito de Velocidad de Jerez (speedway track) hosts international events in motorcycle and auto racing The traditional tourist infrastructure of the coast offers sporting activities such as sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing and scuba-diving in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The numerous marinas and scuba centers are proof of this. Other recreation centers include water parks and theme parks such as the “Parque Temtico Isla Mgica” in Sevilla as well as casinos.

Conferences and conventions held in Andalusia take place in the well equipped convention centers with the latest technology. In addition to these conference and trade centers in Sevilla, Torremolinos, Granada, Huelva, Jan, Jerez de la Frontera, etc. there are numerous hotels and state-run hotels, “Paradores”. The cultural possibilities of Andalusia also includes a complex calendar of music and dance festivals, cinema and theater and other events along with other art, culture and traditions.