In the 11th cent. B.C., the Phoenicians settled there and founded several coastal colonies, notably Gadir (now Cádiz and, supposedly, the inland town of Tartessus, which became the capital of a flourishing kingdom (sometimes identified with the biblical Tarshish). Greeks and Carthaginians came in the 6th cent. B.C.; the Carthaginians were expelled (3d cent. B.C.) by the Romans, who included S Spain in the province of Baetica. The emperors Trajan, Hadrian, and Theodosius were born in the region.
Visigoths ended Roman rule in the 5th cent. A.D., and in 711 the Moors, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, established there the center of their western emirate (see Córdoba). Andalusia remained under Moorish rule until most of it was conquered in the 13th cent. by the kings of Castile; the Moorish kingdom of Granada survived; it, too, fell to the Catholic kings in 1492. The Moorish period was the golden age of Andalusia. Agriculture, mining, trade, and industries (textiles, pottery, and leather working) were fostered and brought tremendous prosperity; the Andalusian cities of Córdoba, Seville, and Granada, embellished by the greatest Moorish monuments in Spain, were celebrated as centers of culture, science, and the arts.
From the 16th cent. Andalusia generally suffered as Spain declined, although the ports of Seville and Cádiz flourished as centers of trade with the New World. Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713, and in 1833 Andalusia was divided into the present eight provinces. With Catalonia, Andalusia was a stronghold of anarchism during the Spanish republic (est. 1931); however, it fell early to the Insurgents in the Spanish civil war of 1936–39. The region later saw recurrent demonstrations against the national government of Francisco Franco. In 1981 it became an autonomous region and in 1982 it elected its first parliament.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.