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Valencian Community

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Valencian Community

Valencian Community
Autonomous Community
Flag of the País Valencià
Coat-of-arms of the Valencian Community
Coat of arms
Anthem: Himne de València
(Anthem of Valencia)
Location of the Valencian Community
Location of the Valencian Community
Country Spain
Capital Valencia
Provinces Alacant, Castelló, and València
 • Type Devolved government in a constitutional monarchy
 • Body Generalitat Valenciana
 • President Alberto Fabra Part (PP)
 • Total 23,255 km2 (8,979 sq mi)
Area rank 8th (4.6% of Spain)
Population (2009)
 • Total 5,111,706
 • Density 220/km2 (570/sq mi)
 • Pop. rank 4th (10.6% of Spain)
Demonym Valencian
valencià, -ana (va)

valenciano, -na (es)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166-2 VC
Area code +34 96
Official languages Valencian and Spanish
Statute of Autonomy 1 July 1982
10 April 2006
Patron Saint Vincent Ferrer
Parliament 99 deputies
Congress 33 deputies (out of 350)
Senate 17 senators (out of 264)
Website Generalitat Valenciana
1.^ According to the current legislation the official name is in Valencian Comunitat Valenciana.

The Valencian Community,[1] or simply Valencia, is an autonomous community of Spain, with nationality status. It is located in the central and south-eastern side of the Iberian Peninsula. The region is divided into three provinces (Alacant, Castelló and València), thirty four comarques (districts) and five hundred and forty-two municipalities. With around 5.1 million inhabitants, it is the fourth most populous Spanish autonomous community. Its capital and largest city is València, the third largest city in Spain.

The Valencian Community occupies a long and narrow area aligned on a rough north-south axis along the Mediterranean Sea, which lies to the east. Its borders largely reflect those of the historic Kingdom of Valencia. It is bounded by the autonomous communities of Catalonia to the north, Aragon to the northwest, Castile–La Mancha to the west, and Murcia to the south. The autonomous community of Valencia was established by the Statute of Autonomy of July 1, 1982. Its government consists of an executive council, headed by a president, and a unicameral legislative assembly.

Historically Valencian-speaking, the Valencian Community has seen a major shift to Spanish in the main cities during the last century. Today, although for the majority their language is Spanish, the region is officially bilingual. All road signs, street names, and many advertisements and services are shown in both languages. The Valencian Community is increasingly becoming multilingual with increasing numbers of migrants, expatriates and minority groups speaking their own languages.

Although contested by some groups, Valencian is officially regarded as a variety of Catalan with its own distinct and unique features. Valencian has its own written standard regulated by the Valencian Academy of the Language, and is well known for its long and own literary tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.


The official name of the autonomous community, in Valencian Comunitat Valenciana, has seen a variety of renditions in English; including "Valencian Community",[1] "Valencian Country", "Land of Valencia", "Region of Valencia" or most commonly, simply "Valencia". The Spanish name, Comunidad Valenciana, was co-official under the first Statute of Autonomy of 1982. At the present moment, the Valencian Government translates the name as "Region of Valencia" or "Valencia Region" and, sometimes, "Land of Valencia", as the Department of Tourism states in publications edited both in Spanish and English.[2][3][4]

Although Comunitat Valenciana (Valencian Community), out of official consideration, is the most widely used name and the one that has become officially enshrined, there were two competing names at the time of the forging of the Valencian Statute of Autonomy. On the one hand País Valencià (País Valenciano in Spanish), was first reported in the 18th century, but its usage only became noticeable from the 1960s onwards, with a left-wing or Valencian nationalist subtext which began with the Spanish Transition to democracy in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[5] It can be translated as "Valencian Country",[6][7] or "Region of Valencia".[8] An example of this use is the so-called Consell del País Valencià (Council of the Valencian Country), the forerunner of the modern Generalitat Valenciana in 1978, and it is also referred to in the preamble of the Statute of Autonomy.[9]

In order to solve the gap between the two competing names—the traditional Regne de València (Kingdom of Valencia) and the contemporary País Valencià (Valencian Country)—a compromise neologism, Comunitat Valenciana, was created ("Comunitat" or "Community" such as in Autonomous Community, which is the official name of the Spanish regions constituted as political autonomous entities).

In any case, the generic name of "Valencia" in English could refer to the city of Valencia, the Valencia province or the autonomous community.[10]


Archeological site of Tossal de Manises, ancient IberianGreekCarthaginianRoman city of Akra-Leuke, Άκρα Λευκή or Lucentum
Villena castle

The Pre-Roman autochthon people of the Valencian Community were the Iberians, who were divided in several groups (the Contestani, the Edetani, the Ilercavones and the Bastetani).

The Greeks established colonies in the coastal towns of Saguntum and Dénia since 5th century BC, where they traded and mixed with the local Iberian populations. After the end of the First Punic War between Carthage and Rome in 241 BC, which established their limits of influence in the Ebro river, the Carthaginians occupied the whole region. The dispute over the hegemony of Saguntum, a Hellenized Iberian coastal city with diplomatic contacts with Rome, destroyed by Hannibal in 219 BC, ignited the Second Punic War, which ended with the incorporation of the region to the Roman Empire.

The Romans founded the city of Valentia in 138 BC, which throughout centuries overtook Saguntum in importance. After the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, during the Barbarian Invasions, the region was first invaded by the Alans and finally ruled by the Visigoths, until the arrival of the Arabs in 711, which left a big footprint in the region, still visible in today's Valencian landscape and culture. After the fall of the Caliphate of Cordoba, two main independent Taifas were established at the region, Balansiya and Dénia, along with the small and short living Taifas of Orihuela, Alpuente, Jérica and Sagunt and the short Christian conquest of Valencia by El Cid.

But the origins of present day Valencia date back to the former Kingdom of Valencia, which came into existence in the 13th century. James I of Aragon led Christian conquest and colonization of the existing Islamic taifas with Aragonese and Catalan people in 1208 and founded the Kingdom of Valencia as a third independent country within the Crown of Aragon in 1238.

The kingdom strongly developed in the 14th and 15th century, which is to be considered as the Golden Age of the Valencian Culture,[11] with first level works like House of Borja in Rome. After a slow decline following the dynastic union of the Crown of Aragon with the Kingdom of Castile, this came definitely to an end with the Expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609 by the Hispanic Monarchy, which represented the loss of up to one third of the population of the Kingdom of Valencia and took the main agricultural labor force away.

In 1707, in the context of the War of the Spanish Succession, and by means of the Nueva Planta decrees (Nova Planta in Valencian), king Philip V of Spain abolished the Kingdom of Valencia, and the rest of states belonging to the former Crown of Aragon and which had retained some autonomy, and subordinated it to the structure of the Kingdom of Castile and its laws and customs. As a result of this, the institutions and laws created by the Furs of Valencia (Furs de València) were abolished and the usage of the Valencian language in official instances and education was forbidden. Consequently, with the House of Bourbon, a new Kingdom of Spain was formed implementing a more centralized government and absolutist regime than the former Habsburg Spain.

The first attempt to gain self-government (autogovern) for the Region of Valencia in modern-day Spain was during the Second Spanish Republic, in 1936, but the Civil War broke out and the autonomist project was suspended.[13] In 1977, after Franco's dictatorship Valencia started to be partially autonomous with the creation of the Council of the Valencian Country (Consell del País Valencià),[14] and in 1982 the self-government was finally extended into a Statute of Autonomy (Estatut d'Autonomia) creating several self-government institutions under the Generalitat Valenciana. The first democratically elected President of the Generalitat Valenciana, Joan Lerma, took office in 1982 as part of the transition to autonomy.[15]

The Valencian Statute of Autonomy make clear that Valencia is intended to be the modern conception of self-government of the Valencian Country from the first autonomist movements during Second Spanish Republic, but also joining it to the traditional conception of Valencian identity, as being the successor to the historical Kingdom of Valencia.[16] In fact, after a bipartisan reform of the Valencian Statute of Autonomy in 2006, it records the foral civil law, using the traditional conception of a kingdom, and, on the other hand, it also recognizes Valencia as a nationality, in accordance with the modern conception.



Satellite picture of the Land of Valencia; the dry area in the South is easily noticed. Original by NASA

The inland part of the territory is craggy, with some of the highest peaks in the Valencia and Castellón provinces forming part of the Iberian mountain range. The mountains in the Alicante province are in turn a part of the Subbaetic range.

The most emblematic mountain of the Valencian Community is the Penyagolosa, in the Alcalatén area. It is widely thought to be the highest peak with 1,813 m, but actually the highest peak is the Calderón (1,839 m) located in the Rincón de Ademuz, a Valencian exclave between Aragon and Castile–La Mancha. The most emblematic mountain in the southern part of the territory is the Aitana (1,558 m).

The rather thin coastal strip is a very fertile plain mainly free of remarkable mountains except those around the Cap de la Nau area in northern Alicante province and the Peñíscola (Peníscola) area in the Castellón province. Typical of this coastal area are wetlands and marshlands such as L'Albufera close to Valencia, El Fondo in Elche and Crevillent, La Marjal near Pego or El Prat in Cabanes, also the former wetlands and salt evaporation ponds in the Santa Pola and Torrevieja area. All of them are key RAMSAR sites which make Valencia of high relevance for both migratory and resident seabirds and waterbirds.

There are many important coastal dunes in the Saler area near the Albufera and in the Guardamar area, both of them were planted with thousands of trees during the 19th century in order to fix the dunes, thus forming now protected areas of remarkable ecologic value.

In addition to mainland Valencia, the Valencian territory administers the tiny Columbretes Islands and the coastal inhabited islet of Tabarca.


Dénia, capital of Marina Alta

Valencia has a generally mild climate, heavily influenced by the neighbouring Mediterranean sea. Still, there are important differences between areas:

  • Proper Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa). It roughly goes along the coastal plain from the northernmost border through the Benidorm area (cities included here are, amongst others, Castellón de la Plana, Gandia and Valencia). It covers in various grades the lower inland areas. In this area, winters are cool, summers are long, dry and hot; rainfall occurs mostly during spring and autumn, usually totalling around 600 mm. with a remarkably wetter micro climate in the Marina Alta and the Safor comarques just north of Cap de la Nau cape, which accumulates an average of up to 1000 mm. due to an orographic lift phenomenon.
  • Mediterranean to continental Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa) and highland climate (Köppen H). These are the innermost lands and those at a higher elevation (cities included here are, amongst others, Alcoy, Morella, Requena and Villena). Here winters are cool to cold, especially at night (a few days of snow are not unusual), summers mild to hot and rainfall more evenly distributed through the year. The lower registered temperatures in the Valencian Community were in these inland areas during the cold wave of 1956. Temperatures plunged to nearly −20 °C; as in Vistabella del Maestrat (−19 °C) and Castellfort (–17 °C).[17]
  • Mediterranean to semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). It roughly goes along the coastal plain from Villajoyosa (La Vila Joiosa) through the southernmost border of the region (cities included here are, amongst others, Alicante, Elche, Orihuela and Torrevieja). Summers are very long, hot to very hot and very dry, winters are cool to mild and its most prominent feature is a very scarce precipitation, typically below 300 mm. per year which is most likely to happen during spring and autumn. The reason for this lack of precipitation is the marked rain shadow effect caused by hills to the west of the Alicante province (and, to a lesser degree, those in the northern part of the province which, in turn, enhance the inverse orographic lift effect around Cap de la Nau).


There are only two major rivers: the Segura in the Alicante province—whose source is in Andalusia—and the Júcar (Xúquer) in the Valencia province—whose source is in Castile–La Mancha—both are subjected to very intense human regulation for cities, industries and, especially, agricultural consumption. The river Turia (Túria) is the third largest and has its source in Aragon. Most rivers in the area, such as the Vinalopó, are usually short, and have little current (due to agricultural usage, climatic reasons or both) and often completely dry during the summer. Other Valencian rivers are the Serpis and Sénia.


Quart Towers, city of Valencia
Old quarter of Castellón de la Plana

The Valencian population traditionally concentrated in localities with fertile cultivation and growing lowlands by the most important rivers (Júcar, Turia, Segura, Vinalopó), also in harbour cities important to the agricultural trade.

The most important population centres used to be, during the Roman times, Sagunto (Sagunt) and Dénia; later on in history, Valencia (València), Alicante (Alacant), Xàtiva, Orihuela, Elche (Elx), Gandia, and Villarreal (Vila-real) and, more recently, Alzira and Castellón de la Plana (Castelló de la Plana).

With a total population of 5,111,706 (2009),[18] the Valencian Community ranks the 4th most populated autonomous community of Spain. The population density which is higher in the central and southern regions and minor in the northern and inner ones, is derived from the traditional distribution of people which originated in the orographic characteristics of the Valencian territory and the possibility to obtain irrigated land agriculture. Demographics were also affected by (being perhaps the exception to the mentioned distribution) the great industrial activity and the commerce of agriculturally derived products during the 20th century of noncoastal cities like Alcoy (Alcoi), Elda, Ontinyent, Petrer, Villena, and La Vall d'Uixó.

In the last years, concentration in the provincial capitals and its metropolitan areas has augmented considerably (e.g. Torrent, Mislata, Paterna, Burjassot, San Vicente del Raspeig (Sant Vicent del Raspeig), etc.) especially in all the coastal cities and towns. Thus, traditionally small populations such as Benidorm or Torrevieja have undergone a considerable population increase (still more remarkable during summertime) due to the seasonal migration of tourists.

Therefore, Valencia's population is nowadays clearly urban and coastal, also influenced by seasonal tourism. See major core cities (municipalities) and metropolitan areas of the Land of Valencia:

Rank Municipality Comarca Province Population
1 Valencia/València Valencia Valencia 809,267
2 Alacant/Alicante Alacantí Alicante 334,418
3 Elx/Elche Baix Vinalopó Alicante 230,822
5 Castelló de la Plana/Castellón de la Plana Plana Alta Castellón 180,690
6 Torrevella/Torrevieja Vega Baja Alicante 101,091
7 Oriola/Orihuela Vega Baja Alicante 87,113
8 Torrent/Torrente Horta Oest Valencia 79,843
9 Gandia Safor Valencia 79,430
10 Benidorm Marina Baixa Alicante 71,198
Rank Metropolitan Area Province Population
1 Valencia Valencia 1,705,742
2 AlicanteElche Alicante 785,020
3 Castellón de la Plana Castellón 386,906
4 AlziraXàtiva Valencia 348,582
5 BenidormLa Vila Alicante 183,253


Skyline of Benidorm

Valencia is long and narrow, running mainly north-south; historically, its rather steep and irregular terrain has made communications and the exploitation of the soil difficult, although the soil of the coastal plain is particularly fertile. This coastal axis has facilitated connections with Europe, either by sea through the Mediterranean, or by land through Catalonia.

The Valencian territory has few natural resources; the only important mineral deposit is the marble quarried in Alicante province.

Hydrological resources (see Geography above) are also lacking: the demand for water exceeds the supply, with this imbalance especially serious in Alicante province. In particularly severe drought years, the problem is managed through occasional nocturnal restrictions during summer and exploitation of aquifers. Valencia's water needs result in harsh contention with neighbouring regions such as Castile–La Mancha and Catalonia.

Agriculture—more specifically, citrus cultivation for the export market—was responsible for Valencia's first economic boom in the late 19th century, after centuries of slow development and even decay. Although in absolute terms the agricultural sector has continued to grow, the boom in the secondary and tertiary sectors during the Spanish miracle of the 1960s, has meant that its relative importance has decreased over time. The provinces of Castellón and Valencia still have thousands of hectares of citrus-producing groves and citrus continues to be a major source of income on the countryside. Alicante province also grows citrus, but its agriculture is more diversified with a higher presence of vegetables, especially in the Vega Baja del Segura area.

Though the low insulation rate and overall stable weather during the summer may pose a threat to water supplies for agriculture and human consumption, conversely this climate allows tourism to be the province's main industry. Very dense residential housing along the coast, occupied by locals, people from inland Spain and from other EU countries (mostly from the British Isles, Benelux, Germany and Scandinavia), boosts the summertime population (and hydrological demands).

In 2004, Valencia's GDP was 93.9% of the European Union average,[19] although this figure may be too low because of the important presence of foreign residents either from other regions of Europe or economic immigrants, who are not properly represented in the official statistics. As in all of Spain, there was significant growth in the years immediately following 2004, at least until the 2008–13 Spanish financial crisis.

In 2008, the Land of Valencia generated 9.7% of the Spanish GDP. In terms of human resources, the unemployment rate was over 21% in 2009, and even greater among women,[20] and the rate of activity reached 56.8% in 2002. The typical Valencian business is a small-to-medium-sized company, mainly family-owned and operated, although there are some multinationals.

In addition to tourism, the Valencia has significant exports, and is ranks second in this respect among the Spanish autonomous communities, constituting 12% of the national total. Major exports include agricultural products, ceramic tiles, marble products and cars (Ford has an assembly line in Almussafes), which make the port of Valencia one the busiest in Spain.


Institutions of government: La Generalitat

Palau de la Generalitat Valenciana, seat of the Valencian government

In the process whereby democracy was restored in Spain between 1975 and 1978, the nationalist and regionalist parties pressed to grant home rule to certain territories in Spain. The constitution of 1978 opened a legal way for autonomous communities to be formed from provinces with common historical and cultural links. In recognition of the Region of Valencia as a historical nationality of Spain, and in accordance to the second article of the Spanish Constitution which grants autonomy to the "nationalities and regions" that comprise the Spanish nation, Valencia was granted self-government and constituted itself as an autonomous community in 1982, with the promulgation of its first Statute of Autonomy, the basic organic law, later approved by the General Courts of Spain.

All autonomous communities were organized politically within a parliamentary system; that is, the executive branch of government. The "President" is dependent on the direct support of the legislative power, whose members elect him by majority.

A new Statute of Autonomy was promulgated in 2006. The government of Valencia is represented by the Generalitat Valenciana (statutorily referred to simply as La Generalitat) constituted by three institutions:[21]

  • the Council of the Generalitat Valenciana (Valencian government), a collegiate institution with executive powers, integrated by the President him/herself and the cabinet members appointed by him/her.

The Generalitat can also be integrated by the institutions that the Valencian Courts create. The Courts have approved the creation of the Síndic de Greuges (Ombudsman), the Sindicatura de Comptes (Public Audit Office), the Consell Valencià de Cultura (Valencian Council of Culture), the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (Valencian Academy of the Language), the Consell Jurídic Consultiu (Juridic and Consultative Council) and the Comité Econòmic i Social (Social and Economic Committee).

Valencian symbols

Valencian coat of arms over the entrance of Serranos Towers
Reial Senyera, Valencian flag

The official Valencian anthem is the Hymn of the Regional Exhibition of 1909 (Himne de l'Exposició Regional de 1909 in Valencian; commonly known as the Himne de València, "Anthem of Valencia"), in whose composition the old hymn of the City of Valencia of the 16th century is included. The emblem of the Valencian Generalitat includes the seal of King Peter IV of Aragon, representative of the historical Kingdom of Valencia, whose shield is inclined towards the right, or, four bars Gules.

The official flag, the Royal Senyera (Reial Senyera), also known as Senyera Coronada (Crowned Senyera) or Senyera Tricolor (Tricolour Senyera) is the same as Valencia's City flag, which, in turn, is a historical derivation of the Senyera, the heraldic symbol of the Crown of Aragon, also used today with few variations in all the former Kingdoms and Counties which were a part of this crown. There are also a number of Valencian private and civil entities such as trade unions,[22] cultural associations,[23] or political parties[24] which simply use the Senyera as Valencian flag.

Other symbols are used at different levels by the Valencian society, like the heraldic animals of rat-penat (a bat) and drac alat (a winged dragon which was the emblem of James I), or the music of the Muixeranga, among others.


Valencian and Spanish are the official languages of Valencia. Spanish (Castilian[2]) is the official language of the Spanish state, while Valencian (the variety of the Catalan language spoken in the Valencian Community) is the language considered by the Statute of Autonomy as llengua pròpia ("own language" or "language proper" to the territory). Valencian has more speakers in the densely populated coastal areas rather than inland, where many places have Spanish as their traditional language, also those areas incorporated into the provinces of Alicante and Valencia at their creation in 1833 and which did not form part of the historical Kingdom of Valencia. Consequently, the 1984 Law on the "Use and Education of Valencian" defines certain municipalities as "predominantly Spanish-speaking", and allows them some few optional exceptions as to official use of Valencian, even though the right to use and to receive education in Valencian is guaranteed by the Statute of Autonomy (Art. 6.2) anywhere in Valencia.

Even in areas which formed part of the former Kingdom of Valencia, the knowledge and use of Valencian has diminished by language shift (especially relevant during the Francoist era) also influenced by immigration from other parts of Spain and the world.

Knowledge of Valencian in
the Valencian Community
Can understand 76%
Can speak 53%
Can read 47%
Can write 25%
Source: Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (2004). .Enquesta sobre la situació del valencià

In areas which the Generalitat Valenciana defines as "predominantly Valencian-speaking", according to the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua, 83% can understand and 58% can speak Valencian.[25] However, these numbers result from a survey which required no proof of understanding or ability to speak Valencian.

It is also worth noting that the figures for the "predominantly Valencian-speaking" are scarcely any higher than in Valencia as a whole (see table).

Valencian is regulated by the Valencian Academy of the Language (Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua, AVL), created in 1998. The law that instituted the Academy, originally declared that Valencian was part of the same linguistic system that the former territories of the Crown of Aragon—namely Catalonia and the Balearic Islands—recognize as their "own language" or "language proper" to their territories.[26] Note, that, as of 1996, Valencian was considered a dialect of Catalan by most linguists.[27] However, in a subsequent official statement, in 2005, the AVL stated that the language spoken in Valencia is the same language that is spoken in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, and that the different varieties constituted a "single language" which refers to the term "linguistic system" used in the previous law.[28] The Institute of Catalan Studies (Institut d'Estudis Catalans, IEC), also considers Catalan and Valencian to be the same language. Even though phonetic differences are evident, written standard Valencian differs only slightly from written standard Central Catalan.[29] There is also a Valencian Sign Language which has been granted a special protection from the Statute of Autonomy[30] for those Valencian deaf persons.

Many Valencians, as well as the Valencian political parties, think that early Valencian literature preceded Catalan literature; they consider Catalan to be a product or early Valencian and a different language.[27] Politically, it is feared that placing Valencian as a dialect of Catalan will put Valencia in a vulnerable position in front of Catalonia.[27]

Aside from purely philological criteria, the traditional and usual name of the language in Valencia is "Valencian". The widespread usage of this term by citizenry and all major parties does not necessarily deny nor endorse its Catalan linguistic filiation. Both Catalan and Valencian have slightly different standards, something which has produced some confusion as to whether they are both regarded as the same language or not. Thus, some Spanish government documents contain different versions for Catalonia and Valencia,[31] then, in the 2005 referendum to approve the proposed European Constitution the Spanish government at first distributed identical translations of the Constitutional Treaty in standard Catalan, the same for Catalonia and Valencia. This provoked a vocal reaction of the Valencian regional government demanding the translation to be in standard Valencian, once it was approved, then, in turn, the Catalan government, as a means to endorse philological identity between Catalan and Valencian, assumed the Valencian standard and did not use the standard Catalan one in the leaflets used in Catalonia.[32]

The ruling conservative People's Party (PP), mostly avoids addressing the filiation of Catalan and Valencian, while effectively endorsing the Valencian standard which is most consistent with Catalan; in spite of this, it may be quite vocal in reacting and defending "Valencian translations" on occasions like the European referendum mentioned above. Furthermore, the PP includes a right-wing group sympathetic to or absorbed from the Blaverism movement, which opposes considering these two as a single language.


State Education in Spain and the Valencian Community is free and compulsory from six to sixteen years of age. The current education system is called LOE (Spanish: Ley Orgánica de Educación, [33]


  • From three to six years: Preparatory School (Spanish and Valencian: Infantil, popularly known as Preescolar)
  • From six to twelve years: Primary School (Spanish: Primaria, Valencian: Primària)
  • From twelve to sixteen years: Compulsory Secondary School (Spanish: Secundaria, Valencian: Secundària)
  • From sixteen to eighteen years: Post-Secondary School (Spanish: Bachillerato, Valencian: Batxillerat)

Children from three to five years old in the Valencian Community have the option of attending the infantil or Pre-school stage, which is non-compulsory and free for all students. It is regarded as an integral part of the education system with infantil classes in almost every primary school. There are some separate nursery schools.

Valencian students aged six to sixteen undergo primary and secondary school education, which are compulsory and free of charge. Successful students are awarded a Secondary Education Certificate, which is necessary for entering further (optional) education as for their University or Vocational Studies. Once students have finished their Bachillerato (Valencian: Batxillerat), they can take their University Entrance Exam (Spanish: Pruebas de Acesso a la Universidad, Valencian: Proves d'Accés a la Universitat), known commonly in Spanish as La Selectividad (Valencian: Selectivitat) which differs greatly from region to region.

The secondary stage of education is normally referred to by their initials, e.g. ESO standing for Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (Valencian: Educació Secundària Obligatòria).


The Valencian Community is home to a number of prestigious universities (Spanish: universidades, Valencian: universitats) like the University of Valencia, founded in 1499. At the request of James I of Aragon, Pope Innocent IV in 1246, authorized by a papal bull the establishment of estudis generals in Valencia. The University Statutes were passed by the municipal magistrates of Valencia on April 30, 1499; this is considered to be the 'founding' of the University. In 1501, Pope Alexander VI signed the bill of approval and one year later Ferdinand II of Aragon proclaimed the Royal Mandatory Concession. Only very meagre accounts have been preserved of the practical workings of the university. From the time of its foundation the courses included Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, philosophy, mathematics, physics, theology, Canon law, and medicine.

Nowadays the Polytechnic University of Valencia has become one of the most prestigious universities in Spain, according to its technology, investigation, several degrees offering a close relation with some the most important universities in the world such as Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard. Most faculties and colleges are based in the city of Valencia, with some branches in Gandia and Alcoy.

Other universities are University of Alicante, Miguel Hernández University in Elche, Jaume I University and Valencian International University in Castellón de la Plana, Catholic University of Valencia, and CEU Cardenal Herrera University in Valencia.



New Alicante Terminal being built

The Valencian Community is served by two international airports, Alicante Airport, which is mainly tourist-oriented and Valencia Airport, which carries more business traffic. A third airport, in Castellón province in the north of the Valencian territory, is a white elephant which was officially opened on 25 March 2011 but has yet to receive a single commercial flight.[34]

A new terminal at Alicante Airport was opened in March 2011. The New Alicante Terminal (NAT) replaced the other two existing terminals T1 and T2, doubling the passenger capacity of the airport to 20m passengers per annum. Valencia airport is also being expanded to serve the higher passenger demand due to new flight connections to the city.


Provisional station of Valencia

The Valencian Community has an extensive rail system which connects the principal cities with the rest of Spain such as the Euromed towards Catalonia and AVE towards Madrid, or northern and southern Spain, both run by the Spanish national rail company RENFE.

In December 2010 the high-speed rail (AVE) Madrid–Valencia opened as part of the Madrid–Levante high-speed rail line. The current high-speed station, Valencia-Joaquín Sorolla, is a provisional station located in the outskirts of the city of Valencia. It is expected that in the coming years the high-speed line Madrid–Valencia will reach Valencia Central Station through an underground tunnel under the new (Valencia Central Park).

High-speed rail Madrid–Alicante is planned to open in 2012 with a provisional station in the outskirts.

There are some medium-range plans for further high-speed connections, like the Valencia–Bilbao link via Zaragoza or the Mediterranean high-speed rail corridor.

In addition, the Generalitat Valenciana has planned on building a regional high-speed rail along the coast to connect all major coastal cities like Valencia, Gandia, Dénia, Benidorm, Villajoyosa, Alicante and Torrevieja.

Commuter rail and Metro

Alicante light metro through the city center

Cercanías (rodalia in Valencian) is the commuter rail service that serves all three provincial capitals of Valencia and their metropolitan areas. It is operated by Cercanías Renfe, the commuter rail division of RENFE.

While the Valencian-owned company, Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV) operates a tram-train line between Alicante, Benidorm and Dénia. It also operates the city tram and metro system of Valencia (Valencia Metro) and Alicante (Alicante Tram). There is as well a third new tram and trolleybus system being built in Castellón de la Plana and its metropolitan area. Additionally both, Valencia metro and Alicante tram are being extended to serve uncovered areas, like the new tram line planned to open in the coming months towards the University of Alicante and San Vicente del Raspeig.



Valencian paella

The Valencian gastronomy is of great variety, although their more international dishes are rice-based (arròs in Valencian), like the Valencian paella known worldwide. Rice is a basic ingredient in many of the typical dishes, like the arròs negre, arròs amb costra, arròs a banda, arròs a la pedra, arròs caldós, among many.

The Valencian Mediterranean climate favors the cultivation of vegetables and citrus fruits, with the cultivation of the orange being perhaps of highest importance as one of the typical fruits of Valencian agriculture.


Horchata (orxata in Valencian), production of which has traditionally been centred around Alboraya (Alboraia), is a typical drink, accompanied with fartons. Also traditional are the production of coffee liqueur (typical of Alcoy), and mistela (in Marina Baixa and Hoya de Buñol (Foia de Bunyol)).


The great majority of desserts typical of Valencia have their origin in Arabic times and play an important part in the local festive activities. Some are internationally famous. Xixona is the place of traditional manufacture of turrón, torró in Valencian (a soft nougat), consumed during Christmas in Spain and the rest of the Hispanic world. In Casinos the turrón is typical too but the most important manufacture of the village is peladillas (dragées and sugared almonds). In Xàtiva, the arnadí, a dessert elaborated with pumpkin is made. And in Orihuela and its region the almojábanas.


Football (association football) is the most widely known sport. There are teams in every town or village, four of which are currently playing in La Liga, Spain's premier league: Valencia CF, Villareal CF, Elche CF and Levante UD. There are many big teams elsewhere, such as CD Alcoyano, Hércules CF, and CD Castellón.

Professional Basketball is represented by one team, Valencia BC in the top league, the ACB. Also, Ros Casares Valencia is a female basketball team, which is the current champion of the Spanish Women's League and finalist of the Euroleague Women.

Motorcycle races are very popular, as the Circuit of Valencia race track and its hosted Valencian Community Grand Prix prove.

The autochthonous Valencian sport is the Valencian pilota, which features a professional Valencian Pilota Squad for international matches with related ball games all around the world. This sport has many variants, that may be played at the streets or at special courtfields like the trinquet. It may also be played by teams or on individual challenges. An amazing trait of this sport is that spectators may sit very close or even in the middle of the court. Even while the match is ongoing bookmakers take bets for reds or blues, since these are the colours players must wear, red being the colour of the strongest team or player. The Valencian pilota can be traced to the 15th century, but it was abandoned during modern times, this decadence is being fought back with TV broadcasts, new built colleges have courtfields and a new professional players firm, ValNet.

Another relevant game is the pigeon sport, with an autochthonous dove race being trained, the gavatxut valencià.

Petanca and its variant Calitx are traditional sports as well, especially in towns or among elders.

Regarding female professional sports, Valencian Handball rules the Spanish Honor division league with more than half of the teams, such as CE Handbol Marítim (Astroc Sagunto) and CBF Elda (Elda Prestigio).


Traditionally the land is divided into comarques, and in 1833 was, along with the rest of Spain, divided into provinces according to a decree from minister Javier de Burgos (based on the previous division of 1822, which included the disappeared fourth province of Játiva). There are 32 comarques, and three provinces: Castellón/Castelló, Valencia/València, and Alicante/Alacant (names in Spanish/Valencian).[35]

Here is a list of some of the largest cities:

  • Valencia (Valencian: València), population 896,549, capital of the province of the same name, on the river Turia. Famous festival of the Falles on March 19.
  • Alicante (Valencian: Alacant), population 359,380, capital of the province of the same name, in the Mediterranean coast. Famous for its hard nougat or turrón duro (Valencian: torró dur) and Postiguet, Albufereta and Sant Joan Beaches. The famous festival of the Bonfires of Saint John is in June. Its city hall and the Santa Barbara Castle are historic monuments.
  • Elche (Valencian: Elx), population 215,137, famous for the wood of the palm tree called Palmeral, and for the Misteri d'Elx, two-day festival of singing and street drama that acts out the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, declared by UNESCO as part of all humankind's oral heritage.
  • Castellón de la Plana (Valencian: Castelló de la Plana), population 167,455, capital of the province of Castellón.
  • Alcoy (Valencian: Alcoi), population 66,590, an important industrial area for textile products, with characteristical 19th century modernist buildings and with the best known Moors and Christians festivities, on April. Surrounded by mountains with a rich environment. Also known as the city of bridges, due to the large number of these infrastructures built.
  • Torrevieja, population 54,348, in the south, important tourist center with many hotels, apartments and tourist accommodations; includes La Mata Beach.
  • Gandia (Spanish: Gandía), population 52,943, is another important tourist center, situated on the Costa del Azahar.
  • Orihuela, population 35,009, on the Segura River, historic city with palaces, churches and the Cathedral, a highly productive area for farm products such as oranges, lemons and the like.
  • Benidorm, population 58,492, a major holiday resort, dubbed Beniyork because of its many skyscrapers, including Spain's tallest, the 52-story Gran Hotel Bali.
  • Elda, population 55,571, important production center for shoes and wine in the Vinalopo area.
  • Villena, population 35.000, important production of shoes and wine, with many historical and monumental visits. Also, fiestas of Moros y Cristianos, one of the most important in the Community, with the highest participation.
  • Vila-real (Spanish: Villarreal), population 46,696, important producer of ceramics and brick.
  • Xàtiva (Spanish: Játiva), population 29,386, historical town at the age of the Kingdom of Valencia, and origin of the Borgia dynasty, has an important architectural heritage.

Image gallery

See also


  1. ^ Pronunciation:
    • English: "Valencian Community"
    • Valencian: Comunitat Valenciana
    • Spanish: Comunidad Valenciana
  2. ^ Spanish is referred to as castellano (Valencian castellà) a term that has a wider meaning than the English term Castilian, and, depending on context, can refer to either the entire Spanish language or just the dialects spoken on the Iberian Peninsula.


  1. ^ Languages across Europe. Valencian, valencià, BBC
  2. ^ Terms mainly used from the Department of Tourism of the Valencian Government. See official publications, and an example of using "Region of Valencia". The other term, "Land of Valencia" is also used by this department
  3. ^ Scenery in Land of Valencia, edited by the Valencian Agency of Tourism
  4. ^ CVNews, English-language magazine published by the Valencia Region Tourist Board
  5. ^ Javier Paniagua. "Un solo territorio y varias identidades". en 1979 la UCD ya había abandonado la expresión 'País Valenciano' (...) País Valenciano quedó en manos de las opciones de izquierdas PSOE, PCE, PSPV, PSP y otros 
  6. ^ Centre International de Recherche sur le Bilinguisme, Lorne Laforge (1987). Actes du Colloque international sur l'aménagement linguistique. Presses Université Laval. p. 156.  
  7. ^ Kas Deprez, Theo Du Plessis, Lut Teck (2001). Van Schaik Publishers, ed. Multilingualism, the Judicial Authority and Security Services: Belgium, Europe, South Africa, Southern Africa. p. 38.  
  8. ^ Colman Andrews (2006). Harvard Common Press, ed. Catalan Cuisine: Vivid Flavors from Spain's Mediterranean Coast.  
  9. ^ " tradició valenciana provinent de l'històric Regne de València es va trobar amb la concepció moderna del País Valencià i va donar origen a l'autonomia valenciana..." Preamble of Valencian Statute of Autonomy (reformed in 2006)
  10. ^ According to article Valencia from Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  11. ^ Siglo de Oro Valenciano
  12. ^ José Escribano Úbeda-Portugués: España y Europa a través de la Historia. Desde el siglo XV al Siglo XVIII pp 16-17
  13. ^ Proyecto de Estatuto de Autonomía para el País Valenciano (1937)
  14. ^ Real Decreto-Ley 10/1978, de 17 de marzo, por el que se aprueba el Régimen Preautonómico del País Valenciano
  15. ^ "Fallece el expresidente preautonómico de la Generalitat Enrique Monsonís, Dirigió el Consell entre 1979 y 1982".  
  16. ^ Preamble on Valencian Statutes of Autonomy 1982 and 2006: "Aprovada la Constitució Espanyola, va ser, en el seu marc, on la tradició valenciana provinent de l'històric Regne de València es va trobar amb la concepció moderna del País Valencià i va donar origen a l'autonomia valenciana [...]"
  17. ^ Lower temperatures of 1956
  18. ^  
  19. ^ Eurostat GDP figures 2004
  20. ^ Unemployment rate reaches 23% of the total working population
  21. ^ Third Section, First Chapter of the Statute of Autonomy of the Valencian Community
  22. ^ See logo of one of major trade unions: CCOO-PV
  23. ^ See usage of the Senyera by a Valencian cultural association: ACPV
  24. ^ See usage of Senyera by political parties EUPV, Bloc Nacionalista Valencià, Green Parties, amongst others, whose combined participation in the Autonomous Elections of 2007 achieved 9% of the total votes.
  25. ^ Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (2004). .Enquesta sobre la situació del valencià
  26. ^ LLEI 7/1998, de 16 de setembre, de la Generalitat Valenciana, de Creació de l'Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua. (1998/7973)
  27. ^ a b c Fernand de Varennes (December 1996), Reading Literacy in an International Perspective,  
  28. ^ Dictamen de l’Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua sobre els principis i criteris per a la defensa de la denominació i l’entitat del valencià. First bullet point under "Dictamen".
  29. ^ See Valencian language for more discussion and examples
  30. ^
  31. ^ For example, the temporary driver's license issued immediately after the practical driving test, and the translated versions of the Spanish constitution.
  32. ^ Cataluña asume la traducción valenciana de la Constitución europea (translation:"Catalonia assumes Valencian translation of EU Constitution text"), El Pais newspaper. October 10, 2004.
  33. ^ Sistema Educativo LOE by the Spanish Ministry of Education(Spanish Only)
  34. ^
  35. ^ The names in both languages are official as per Ley 25/1999, de 6 de julio, por la que se declaran cooficiales las denominaciones Alacant, Castelló y València para las provincias que integran la Comunidad Valenciana.

External links

  • Official tourism webpage
  • Valencian Government (Generalitat Valenciana)
  • Valencian Parliament (Corts Valencianes)

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