Aragon

Aragon
Aragon
Aragón (Spanish)
Aragón (Aragonese)
Aragó (Catalan)
—  Autonomous Community  —
Aragón
Flag of Aragon
Flag
Coat-of-arms of Aragon
Coat of arms
Map of Aragon (in red) within Spain
Coordinates: 41°00′N 1°00′W / 41°N 1°W / 41; -1Coordinates: 41°00′N 1°00′W / 41°N 1°W / 41; -1
Country Spain Spain
Capital Zaragoza
Government
 – President Luisa Fernanda Rudi (Partido Popular)
Area(9.4% of Spain; Ranked 4th)
 – Total 47,719 km2 (18,424.4 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 – Total 1,277,471
 – Density 26.8/km2 (69.3/sq mi)
 – Pop. rank 11th
 – Percent 2.9% of Spain
ISO 3166-2 AR
Anthem Himno de Aragón
Official languages Spanish, Aragonese and Catalan,[1]
Statute of Autonomy August 16, 1982
Parliament Cortes Generales
Congress seats 13 (of 350)
Senate seats 14 (of 264)
Website Gobierno de Aragón
Loarre, one of the most important Romanesque castles in Europe

Aragon (English pronunciation: /ˈærəɡən/; Spanish and Aragonese: Aragón, IPA: [aɾaˈɣon]; Catalan: Aragó, IPA: [əɾəˈɣo] or [aɾaˈɣo]) is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces (from north to south): Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza (also called Saragossa in English). The current Statute of Autonomy declares Aragon a nationality of Spain.

Aragon's northern province of Huesca borders France and is positioned in the middle of the Pyrenees. Within Spain, the community is flanked by Catalonia on the east, Valencia and Castile-La Mancha to the south, and Castile and León, La Rioja, and Navarre to the west.

Covering an area of 47,719 km2 (18,424 sq mi), the region's terrain ranges diversely from permanent glaciers to verdant valleys, rich pasture lands and orchards, through to the arid steppe plains of the central lowlands. Aragon is home to many rivers —most notably, the river Ebro, Spain's largest river in volume, which runs west-east across the entire region through the province of Zaragoza. It is also home to the Aneto, the highest mountain in the Pyrenees.

As of 2006, the population was 1,277,471—with more than half of the autonomous community's people living in Zaragoza, its capital city.

In addition to its three provinces, Aragon is subdivided into 33 comarcas or counties; all with a rich geopolitical and cultural history from its pre-Roman and Roman days; and from the four centuries of Islamic period as Marca Superior of Al-Andalus or kingdom (or taifa) of Saraqustah, and as lands that once belonged to the Frankish Marca Hispanica; and counties that later formed the Kingdom of Aragon and eventually the empire or Crown of Aragon.

Contents

Population

As of 2006, half of Aragon's population, 50.8%, live in the capital city of Zaragoza. Huesca is the only other city in the region with a population greater than 50,000.

The majority of Aragonese citizens, 71.8%, live in the province of Zaragoza; 17.1% in Huesca and 11.1% in Teruel.[2] The population density of the region is the second lowest in Spain: only 26,8/km2; after Castilla La Mancha. The most densely populated areas are around the valley of the river Ebro, particularly around Zaragoza, and in the Pyrenean foothills, while the areas with the fewest inhabitants tend to be those that are higher up in the Pyrenean mountains, and in most of the southern province of Teruеl.

Demographic evolution of Aragon and
percentage of the total national population[3]
1857 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950
Population 880,643 912,711 952,743 997,154 1,031,559 1,058,806 1,094,002
Percentage 5.69% 4.90% 4.77% 4.66% 4.36% 4.07% 3.89%
1960 1970 1981 1991 1996 2001 2006
Population 1,105,498 1,152,708 1,213,099 1,221,546 1,187,546 1,199,753 1,277,471
Percentage 3.61% 3.39% 3.21% 3.10% 2.99% 2.92% 2.86%

Only four cities have more than 20,000 inhabitants: Zaragoza 700,000; Huesca 50,000; Teruel 35,000 and Calatayud 20,000.

Language

Language distribution in Aragon. Spanish is spoken in all of Aragon, and is the only official language.

Spanish is the native language in most of Aragón, and it is the only official language, understood and spoken by virtually everyone in the region. In addition to it, the Aragonese language continues to be spoken in several local varieties in the mountainous northern counties of the Pyrenees, particularly in western Ribagorza, Sobrarbe, Jacetania and Somontano; it is enjoying a resurgence of popularity as a tool for regional identity. In the easternmost areas of Aragón, along the border with Catalonia, varieties of the Catalan language are spoken, including the comarcas of eastern Ribagorza, La Litera, Bajo Cinca, Bajo Aragón-Caspe, Bajo Aragón and Matarraña. The strip-shaped Catalan-speaking area in Aragon is often called La Franja.

Geography

View from Ordesa valley in the Aragonese Pyrenees

With such a low population density large areas of Aragon remain wild and relatively untouched. It is a land of extreme natural contrasts, both in climate and geologically, from the green valleys and snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees to the dry plains and lonely hilly areas of the south.

Relief

Aragon's Pyrenees include splendid and varied mountain landscapes with soaring peaks, deep canyons, dense forests and spectacular waterfalls. Its rugged peaks include the Aneto (3,404 m), the highest in the range, the misty Monte Perdido (3,355 m), Perdiguero (3,221 m), Cotiella (2,912 m) and many others.

Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, near the border with France, boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe with its canyons, frozen lake caverns, numerous waterfalls and varied wildlife many species of which are endemic to the Pyrenees. The park is also one of the last sanctuaries of birds of prey in the range. Many beautiful mountain butterflies and flowers can be seen in the summer, while during winter the region is a paradise for skiers.

The principal valleys in the mountains include those of Hecho, Canfranc, Tena, Benasque and others. The green valleys hide pretty villages with nice Romanesque churches and typical Pyrenean houses with flowers on the balconies. The oldest Romanesque cathedral in Spain is located in the medieval town of Jaca in the very northern part of Huesca Province.

In the Pyrenean foothills, or pre-Pyrenees, the Mallos de Riglos are a famous natural rock formation. Ancient castles nestle on lonely hills, the most famous being the magnificent Loarre Castle.

Further south, the Ebro valley, irrigated by the river Ebro, is a rich and fertile agricultural area covered with vast fields of wheat, barley and other fruit and vegetable crops. Many beautiful and little-known settlements, castles and Roman ruins dot the landscape here. Some of the most notable towns here include Calatayud, Daroca, Sos del Rey Catolico, Caspe and others.

South of Zaragoza and the Ebro valley, the elevation rises again into the Sistema Ibérico, a complex system of mountain ranges that separates the Ebro valley from the Meseta Central and plains of Castile-La Mancha. The highest massif in this range is the Moncayo (2,313 m) and, despite getting less snow than in the Pyrenees, it has several ski resorts.

Climate

Formigal (Huesca) winter

Aragon's climate can be defined as continental moderate. Temperatures are determined mainly by altitude, ranging from cold or very cold in winter and cool in summer in the mountains to the north (Pyrenees) and to the south and west (Iberian range), to mild in winter and hot in summer in the central lowlands. Rainfall is also very variable, with very low mean values in the central areas and increasingly higher values in mountain areas, especially in the high Pyrenees.

In the middle of Aragon, which is only 200 metres (660 ft) above sea level, the annual average temperature is around 14 °C (57 °F). To the north and south of the Ebro valley, where the elevation rises to 500 m (1,600 ft) above sea level, the temperature drops by two degrees. In the mountains, between 600 m (2,000 ft) and 1,000 m (3,300 ft) observed temperatures are between 11 and 12 °C (52 and 54 °F).

History

Crown of Aragon in the XV century.

Formation of the kingdom

Before Aragon came into being as a self-proclaimed kingdom in 1035 A.D., the northern counties of Jaca, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza were all independent marches and Frankish feudal fiefs. In a bid to stem Frankish and Moorish invasions, a northern alliance of the counties of Aragon, Sobrarbe, Ribagorza, and the duchy of Castile united under the Kingdom of Pamplona (later Navarre). After King Sancho's death, the kingdom was divided between his sons. Ramiro I was initially named king of Aragon in 1035; later, after his brother Gonzalo's death, he was also named king of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza in 1044. The new kingdom grew quickly, conquering territories from the moorish kingdoms to the south. Huesca was taken in 1096 and Zaragoza in 1118. According to aragoneses laws the King had to swear he accepted the Kingdom laws before being accepted as king. The King was considered "Primus inter pares" between nobility. There was a noble man with the tittle "Justicia" [4] that acted as ombudsman who was in charge of supervising that the King obbeyed the aragonese laws. There's an old saying "En Aragón antes de Rey hubo Ley" roughly translated as "Aragon had own laws long time before it had a King".

Absorption of Barcelona County

Emblematic allegorical woodcut (c. 1820) made during the Trienio Liberal. The political constitution illuminates the Aragonian shield that had been enclosed by the royal crown.

The dynastic union between Petronila, Queen of Aragon, and Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, produced a son, Alfonso II of Aragon who inherited all their respective territories creating the Crown of Aragon which included all lands and people, titles and states previously until then outside of the Kingdom of Aragon. This Crown was effectively ended after the dynastic union with Castile (see below) but the title continued being used until 1714. The dynasty of the Kings of Aragon (called by some present-day historians "Kings of Aragon and Counts of Barcelona") ruled the present administrative region of Aragon, Catalonia, and later the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Sicily, Naples and Sardinia (see Aragonese Empire).

In the Crown of Aragon, the king was the direct king of the Aragonese region but also held the title of King of Valencia, King of Majorca (for a time), Count of Barcelona, Lord of Montpellier, and (temporarily) Duke of Athens and Neopatria. Each of these titles gave him sovereignty over a certain region, and these titles changed as he lost and won territories.

The unsuccessful French assault of Zaragoza in 1808

Union with Castile

Although there was a dynastic union with Castile and most other kingdoms in Spain since the marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon at the end of the 15th century, and this union was progressively consolidating along 16th and 17th centuries, Aragon lasted as a separate kingdom, with its own laws and institutions, until 1707 when Philip V, the first Bourbon king of Spain, invaded Aragon with his Army and forced the signature of the Nueva Planta decrees, consolidating Spain into a more centralized state and forcing the use of castilian language.

Under the Bourbon dynasty

During the War of the Spanish Succession the advancing army of German, British and Dutch troops defeated the Spanish Army in the battle of Saragossa in 1710. As a result of the battle Felipe V was forced to abandon Madrid and retreated to Valladolid.

During the Peninsular War the Aragonese capital was a site of two fierce sieges. During the siege in 1808 the Spanish under General Palafox defeated a superior French force. In 1809 during a particularly bloody siege the Spaniards were overwhelmed by superior enemy forces. In the course of the siege almost 30,000 of the garrison and citizens of Zaragoza (from a total of 32,000) perished instead of surrendering the city. Two weeks after they breached the walls the French were forced to fight for separate houses, squares, churches, convents.

20th century

During the Spanish Civil War, Aragon saw the establishment of various anarchist communes.

In 1982 Aragon became an autonomous community within the new Spanish democracy.

Culture

Further to the south lies Teruel, famous for its Mudejar architecture, which can be easily spotted in its magnificent cathedral, churches and towers. Other notable towns to the south include Albarracin, Alcañiz, Valderrobres, Mora de Rubielos and many others.

Some medieval monuments of Teruel and Zaragoza are protected by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Sites Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon.

The traditional dance is known as jota and is one of the faster dances of Spain. It's also the most widespread in Aragón and the styles and music depends on the region.

There are other less popular dances named "paloteaos" similars to some sword/stick dances in other regions.

The music of one of the typical dance "The dance of majordomos" from Benasque was enjoyed by Rafael del Riego when he was in Benasque so he ordered to copy it and as a result the "himn of Riego" appeared.

There are some typical aragonese instruments like the stringed drum "Chicotén", bagpipes as "gaita de boto", oboes like "Dulzaina", small flutes like "Chiflo" and some instruments are lost like "trompa de Ribagorza" although there have been efforts to reconstruct them. In contrast with other pyrenaic regions "Chicotén" and "Chiflo" never have stopped being played [5]

The Carnival of Bielsa[6](Huesca) has ancient origins and includes a group of men porting long sticks, wearing skirts, cowbells and boucard/goat-like horns&skins with black-painted faces called "Trangas" that symbolice "virility" that surround another man wearing skins that acts as bear called "l'onso". In aragonese mithology the bear carried souls between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Trangas dance with young females named "madamas" that symbolise "purity" and wear colourful dresses. There are also some traditional characters like a horse rider named "Caballé"

Economy

Aragon is among the richest autonomous regions in Spain, with GDP per capita above the nation's average. The traditional agriculture-based economy from the mid 20th century has been greatly transformed in the past several decades and now service and industrial sectors are the backbone of the economy in the region.

The well-developed irrigation system around the Ebro has greatly supported the productive agriculture. The most important crops include wheat, barley, rye, fruit and grapes. Livestock-breeding is essential especially in the northern areas, where the lush meadows provide excellent conditions for sheep and cattle. The main livestock are cattle, 334,600; sheep, 2,862,100; pigs, 3,670,000; goats, 78,000; and poultry, 20,545,000.[7]

The chief industrial centre is the capital Zaragoza, where the largest factories are located. The largest plant is the Opel automotive plant with 8,730 employees and production of 200,000 per year. It supports many related industries in the area. Other large plants in the city include factories for trains and household appliances. Mining of iron ore and coal is developed to the south, near Ojos Negros. Electricity production is concentrated to the north where numerous hydro power plants are located along the Pyrenean rivers and in the 1,150 MW Teruel Power Plant. There is an aluminium refinery in the town of Sabiñánigo. The main centres of electronics industry are Zaragoza, Huesca and Benabarre. Chemical industry is developed in Zaragoza, Sabiñánigo, Monzón, Teruel, Ojos Negros, Fraga, Benabarre and others.

The transport infrastructure has been greatly improved. There are more than 1,000 km (620 mi) of motorways which run from Zaragoza to Madrid, Teruel, Basque country, Huesca and Barcelona. The condition of the other roads is also good. As of 2005 there are 520,000 cars in Aragon.[8] Through the territory of the province runs the new high-speed railway between Madrid and Barcelona with siding from Zaragoza to Huesca, which is going to be continued to the French border. There is an International Airport at Zaragoza, as well as several smaller airports at Huesca, Caudé, Santa Cilia de Jaca and Villanueva de Gállego.

Government and politics

Current political organisation

As an autonomous community of Spain, Aragon has an elected regional parliament or cortes, which meets in the Aljafería, a Moorish palace in the capital city, Zaragoza. The Parliament chooses a president for the Diputación General de Aragón or Aragon Government, for a four-year term. The current president (since July 2011) is Luisa Fernanda Rudi.

List of historic Chancellors

Castle of San Pedro in Jaca.
The gates of Daroca
The city of Teruel is known for its numerous old Mudéjar buildings.
Regional parliaments of Aragon.
  • Alfons de la Cavallería 1494–1508
  • Tomás de Malferit 1508
  • Antoni Agustí de Sicart 1508–1523
  • Frederic Honorat de Gualbes de Vallseca (for the Principality of Catalonia) 1523–1529
  • Jeronimo de Rage (for Aragón Kingdom) 1523–1529
  • Eiximèn Perez de Figuerola (for Valencia Kingdom) 1523–1529
  • Joan Sunyer 1529–1533
  • Enrique Bierling 1533–1546
  • Jeroni Descoll de Oliva 1546–1554
  • Pere de Clariana de Seva 1554–1562
  • Bernardo de Bolea y Portugal 1562–1585
  • Simó Friigola 1585–1598
  • Dídac Civarrubias Sanç 1598–1607
  • Diego Clavera 1608–1612
  • Andreu Roig 1612–1622
  • President Garci Peréz de Araciel 1623–1624
  • President Juan Manuel de Mendoza Luna Manrique, marquis of Montesclaros 1628
  • President Enrique Pimentel, bishop of Cuenca 1628–1632
  • President Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, Duke of Dürbheim 1632–1637
  • President Gaspar de Borja y de Velasco 1637–1645
  • Maties Bayetola Cabanilles 1646–1652
  • Cristòfor Crespí de Vallclaura Brizuela 1652–1671
  • [elcior de Navarra Rocafull 1671–1677
  • President Pasqual d'Aragó Folc de Cardona 1677
  • President Pere Antoni d'Aragó Folc de Cardona i Córdoba 1677–1690
  • Melcior de Navarra Rocafull 1690–1691 (second time)
  • President Gaspar Jan Girón y Sandoval y Weidner, duke of Spaichingen Osuna 1692–1694
  • President Ferran de Montcada-Aragó i de Montcada 1695–1698
  • President Rodrigo Manuel Manrique de Lara y de Tabora 1698–1702
  • President Iñigo de la Cruz Manrique de Lara y Ramírez de Arellano, count of Aguilar and Frigiliana 1702–1707

See list of Lieutenants of the Kingdom of Aragón.

The dynastic union of Castile and Aragon in 1479, when Ferdinand II of Aragon wed Isabella I of Castile, led to the formal creation of Spain as a single entity in 1516. See List of Spanish monarchs and Kings of Spain family tree.

Cuisine

With its lush pyrenean pastures, lamb, beef, and dairy by-products are, not surprisingly, predominant in Aragonese cuisine. Also of note is its ham from Teruel; olive oil from Empeltre and Arbequina; longaniza from Graus; rainbow trout and salmon, boar, truffles and wild mushrooms from the upper river valleys of the Jacetania, Gallego, Sobrarbe, and Ribagorza regions; and wines from Cariñena, Somontano, Calatayud, and Campo de Borja; and fruit, especially peaches, from its fertile lower valleys. The region also features a unique local haggis, known as chireta, several interesting seafood dishes, including various crab pastes, which developed from an old superstition that crabs help prevent illness and sweets such as "Adoquines del Pilar" and "Frutas de Aragón". There are also other sweets like "Tortas de alma" from Teruel and "Trenza de Almudevar" or "Castañas de Huesca" from Huesca

Notable people from Aragon

Up to the 19th century

20th and 21st centuries

See also

Footnotes

External links


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