Málaga (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmalaɣa]) is a city and a municipality, capital of the Province of Málaga, in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,507 in 2010, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in Spain. The southernmost large city in Europe, it lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean, about 100 km (62.14 mi) east of the Strait of Gibraltar and about 130 km (80.78 mi) north of Africa.
Málaga enjoys a subtropical–mediterranean climate. It has one of the warmest winters in Europe, with average temperatures of 17 °C (62.6 °F) during the day and 7–8 °C (45–46 °F) at night in the period from December through February. The summer season lasts about eight months, from April to November, although in the remaining four months temperatures sometimes reach around 20 °C (68.0 °F).
Málaga’s history spans about 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. It was founded by the Phoenicians as Malaka about 770 BC, and from the 6th century BC was under the hegemony of Ancient Carthage. Then from 218 BC it was ruled by the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire as Malaca (Latin). After the fall of the empire it was under Islamic domination as Mālaqah (مالقة) for 800 years, but in 1487 it again came under Christian rule in the Reconquista. The archaeological remains and monuments from the Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian eras make the historic center of the city an «open museum», displaying its rich history of more than 3,000 years.
This important cultural infrastructure and the rich artistic heritage have culminated in the nomination of Málaga as a candidate for the 2016 European Capital of Culture.
The internationally acclaimed painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso and actor Antonio Banderas were born in Málaga. The magnum opus of Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, «Malagueña», is named for the music of this region of Spain.
The most important business sectors in Málaga are tourism, construction and technology services, but other sectors such as transportation and logistics are beginning to expand. The Andalusia Technology Park (PTA), located in Málaga, has enjoyed significant growth since its inauguration in 1992. Málaga is the main economic and financial centre of southern Spain, home of the region’s largest bank, Unicaja, and the fourth-ranking city in economic activity in Spain behind Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.
The Phoenicians from Tyre founded the city as Malaka about 770 BC. The name Malaka or mlk is probably derived from the Phoenician word for «salt» because fish was salted near the harbour. (Cf. «salt» in other Semitic languages, e.g. Hebrew מלח mélaḥ or Arabic ملح malaḥ).
After a period of Carthaginian rule, Malaka became part of the Roman Empire. In its Roman stage, the city (Latin name, Malaca) showed a remarkable degree of development. Transformed into a confederated city, it was under a special law, the Lex Flavia Malacitana. A Roman theatre was built at this time. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it was ruled first by the Visigoths and then by the Byzantine Empire (550–621).
In the 8th century, during the Muslim Arabic rule over Spain, the city became an important trade center. Málaga was first a possession of the Caliphate of Córdoba. After the fall of the Umayyad dynasty, it became the capital of a distinct kingdom ruled by the Zirids. During this time, the city was called Mālaqah (Arabic مالقة). From 1025 it was the capital of the autonomous Taifa of Málaga, until its conquest by the Taifa of Granada in 1057.
The traveller Ibn Battuta, who passed through around 1325, characterised it as «one of the largest and most beautiful towns of Andalusia [uniting] the conveniences of both sea and land, and is abundantly supplied with foodstuffs and fruits». He praised its grapes, figs, and almonds; «its ruby-coloured Murcian pomegranates have no equal in the world.» Another exported product was its «excellent gilded pottery». The town’s mosque was large and beautiful, with «exceptionally tall orange trees» in its courtyard.
Málaga was one of the Iberian cities where Muslim rule persisted the longest, having been part of the Emirate of Granada. While most other parts of the peninsula had already succumbed to the reconquista, the medieval Christian Spanish struggled to drive the Muslims out. Málaga was conquered by Christian forces on 18 August 1487, The Muslim inhabitants resisted assaults and artillery bombardments before hunger forced them to surrender, virtually the entire population was sold into slavery or given as «gifts» to other Christian rulers, five years before the fall of Granada.
On 24 August 1704 the indecisive Battle of Malaga, the largest naval battle in the War of the Spanish Succession, took place in the sea south of Málaga.
Málaga had a period of rapid development in the 19th century, becoming with Barcelona one of the two most industrialised cities of Spain. But that early industry was gradually dismantled, because the successive national governments were supporting the industrial centers in the north of the country.
After the coup of July 1936 the government of the Second Spanish Republic retained control of Málaga. Its harbour was a base of the Spanish Republican Navy at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. It suffered heavy bombing by Italian warships which took part in breaking the Republican navy’s blockade of Nationalist-held Spanish Morocco and took part in naval bombardment of Republican-held Malaga. After the Battle of Málaga and the Francoist takeover in February 1937, over seven thousand people were killed. The city also suffered shelling later by Spanish Republican naval units. The well-known British journalist and writer Arthur Koestler was captured by the Nationalist forces on their entry into Málaga, which formed the material for his book Spanish Testament. The first chapters of Spanish Testament include an eye-witness account of the 1937 fall of Málaga to Francisco Franco’s armies during the Spanish Civil War.
After the war, Málaga and Koestler’s old haunts of Torremolinos and the rest of the Costa del Sol enjoyed the highest growth of the tourism sector in Spain