The Andalucian Community is one of Spain's 17 autonomous communities and has approximately 7.5 million residents, representing nearly 18 per cent of the country's total population. It occupies a huge area of approximately 87,500 kilometres in the south of Spain, roughly equivalent to the size of Portugal, and is comprised of the eight provinces of Almeria, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga and Seville. According to the national census for 2001, Seville is most populated of the provinces with just under 1.75 million residents, followed by Malaga with approximately 1.3 million and Cadiz with just over 1.1 million.
The region is comprised of a diverse landscape that includes over 700 kilometres of coastline, the fertile valleys of the Guadalquivir River and several mountain ranges. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the regions of Extremadura, Castile-La Mancha and Murcia to the north and east, and Portugal to the west. Economy: As one of the less developed regions in the EU, with a GDP per capita that is less than 75 per cent of the EU average, Andalucia has attracted significant investment from both the EU and the Spanish government aimed at developing its infrastructure and industry.
Between 1989 and 1999 Spain received nearly twice the amount of EU funds that went to countries such as Italy, Germany and Portugal, and is expected to receive a further 56 billion euros (at 1999 prices) between 2000 and 2006. So far the Andalucia region has attracted more of this investment than any of the other autonomous communities in Spain, with an annual average of over 800 million euros between 1995 and 2000. According to figures published by Spain's National Statistics Institute, the Andalucia region contributes approximately 13.5 per cent of Spain's GDP. The service sector is Andalucia's largest sector both in terms of employment and its contribution to the region's GDP. Some of the most prominent industries within this sector include tourism, trade, transportation and communications, finance and insurance.
Although the service sector has been expanding in recent years, the agriculture industry retains an important role in Andalucia's economy and its contribution to the regional GDP is relatively high in comparison to the contribution of the primary sector at a national level. The region's industrial sector is relatively small and export orientated, relying heavily on foreign demand. Some of the main industries include food manufacture, chemicals, mining and shipbuilding. Workforce: According to the Labour Force Survey 2001 published by the National Statistics Office, Andalucia has an active workforce in excess of 2.9 million people. The unemployment rate is the highest of all the Spanish regions at 18.8 per cent. The region has one of the youngest populations in Europe and with its 7 universities and thousands of university students, offers good access to a large pool of well educated employees. Infrastructure: Andalucia benefits from a comprehensive transport infrastructure that includes high speed trains, an up to date road network and modern airports and sea ports.
All the major cities are connected by a well maintained motorway network. The high speed train AVE, connects Madrid, Cordoba and Seville, while frequently operating regional trains link the provincial capitals. Malaga and Seville are the region's main international airports. Malaga Airport is situated approximately 7 kilometres to the west of Malaga city and is the principal airport serving the Costa del Sol. It caters for schedule and charter flights to and from numerous Spanish and European cities. The airport is currently receiving huge investment as part of the government's National Infrastructures Plan for 2000-2007. Improvements will include a new passenger terminal, which will bring the airports capacity to 20 million passengers a year by 2007. According to the Spanish Airport Authority, Malaga airport catered for over 10.4 million passengers in 2002. Seville Airport is located approximately 10 kilometres north east of Seville city and offers regular flights to several Spanish cities as well as international flights to European cities including Amsterdam, Brussels, D�sseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Munich, Paris and Rome.
The region also has several other smaller airports at Almeria, Gibraltar, Granada and Jerez, which together offer national flights and a limited number of international flights primarily, to London and northern Europe. The region has 5 sea ports, the most important of which is the commercial port of Algeciras. It is the busiest port in Spain in terms of traffic volume and has extensive facilities catering for all manner of cargo. It also ranks in the world's top 25 largest container ports. Quality of Life: Andalucia has a hospitable culture, a pleasant climate and is home to more foreign nationals than most other European regions. It offers an excellent quality of life combining all the advantages that modern cities, such as Malaga, have to offer with the peace and tranquillity of numerous protected natural environments. For example, the Do�ana National Park near C�diz, which covers an area of over 193 square miles and contains a diverse range of habitats and wildlife, is an excellent place to unwind and the region also benefits from the fantastic beach resorts of the Costa del Sol. Business Costs: Wage costs in the region are extremely competitive. According to the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2001, average salaries in Spain are approximately half those in the U.K. Furthermore, wages in Andalucia in particular are low in comparison to other parts of Spain. Figures published by Spain's National Statistics Office show that the average labour cost in Andalucia was 10 per cent lower than the national average in 2000