Despite the natural wealth of the region, poverty is widespread; Andalusian farm laborers are among the poorest in Europe, and many unemployed Andalusians have migrated to more industrialized regions of Spain. With its subtropical climate, Andalusia has many affinities with Africa, which it faces. Barren lands contrast with richly fertile regions where cereals, grapes, olives, sugarcane, and citrus and other fruits are produced. Industries, based generally on local agricultural produce, include wine making, flour milling, and olive-oil extracting. Much farming has become mechanized. Cattle, bulls for the ring, and fine horses are bred. The rich mineral resources, exploited since Phoenician and Roman times, include copper, iron, zinc, and lead.
Moorish influence is still strong in the character, language, and customs of the people. One of Europe's most strikingly colorful regions, Andalusia, with its tradition of bull fights, flamenco music and dance, and Moorish architecture, provides the strongest external image of Spain, especially to North Americans. Increasing tourism has made the service industry the fastest growing economic sector.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.