Ferrol 43°28′N 8°15′W is an Atlantic-facing city in the province of A Coruña in Galicia in north-western Spain .Today, is best known for the Navantia shipbuilding yards and for being the Spanish capital of the Maritime Department of the North and back in the 18th century was the most important arsenal in Europe. The city was the birthplace of the Spanish General Francisco Franco in 1892, and was officially known as El Ferrol del Caudillo from 1938 to 1982. Ferrol has a population of 77,859 and its metropolitan area (i.e.: the urban area plus all the satellite towns known as Ferrolterra) has a population of over 210,000 (2004).History After various local dominations, Henry II gave the town to the Andrade family. . It was only considered a safe harbour under the House of Austria, but became a leading naval centre under the Bourbons. For the first time the immense strategic importance of the port of Ferrol came to be understood and it was made Capital of the Maritime Department of the North, formed under Ferdinand VI and Charles III for the defence of the Spanish Colonial Empire in America. Rapid and well planned improvements followed and the position of Ferrol was made almost unassailable from the sea, the difficulties of disembarking troops on its precipitous coast being heightened by its protecting line of fortresses, particularly San Carlos. The Naval shipyards of A Graña and Ferrol, were built between 1726-1783 and produced ships protected with copper sheets from the rolling mills of Xubia. In 1772 it was created The Spanish Royal Academy of Naval Engineers of Ferrol the first one in Spain. A decline set during the reign of Charles IV, and in 1800, after the defences had been removed, a British fleet of 109 vessels landed troops on the beach of Doniños to take the Castle of San Felipe. Although only equipped with meagre artillery, the castle small defence force under the command of Count Donadio and helped by citizens of Ferrol, successfully resisted the attack and the fleet withdrew. The arsenals and fortress remained abandoned and they were easily occupied by the French in 1809. The alliance with England during the War of Independence failed to prevent the deterioration in the town’s fortunes and, under Ferdinand VII, Ferrol became a “dead” town, losing its title of capital. New activities sprang up, however, during the administration of the Marquis de Molina, Minister for Naval affairs in the mid 19th century. Ten years after the Spanish-American War of 1898 where the Spaniards lost Cuba and the Philippines, the Maura Government, in an attempt to restore the Spanish Navy and Spanish shipbuilding industry hired to The Spanish Society for Naval Construction (whose major investors were the British firms: John Brown, Vickers and Armstrong) the shipbuilding yards, workshops, foundries and dry docks in Ferrol. For a period of sixteen years all the technicians were exclusively British, and the situation was not altered till 1925 when the management was taken over by Spanish engineers, as one of the new policies introduced by the then newly created government, including ministers both civil and military, of the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923–1930). In sight of the outbreak of a civil war, and because there was fear of social unrest in the naval station, the Foreign Office in London, organized a ship to repatriate all the remaining British citizens and on July 22, 1936 the ship HMS Witch departed from Ferrol back to Britain. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) meant that the shipbuilding yards, workshops, foundries and dry docks in Ferrol were taken over by the state and fully nationalized in 1945 under the name of BAZAN, later renamed as IZAR and from January 2005 as NAVANTIA. The town has also been, for centuries, the birthplace of relevant national and international personalities; men and women of letters, state's men, politicians, and others, amongst them Francisco Franco, after whom the city was officially known as El Ferrol del Caudillo from 1938 to 1982 . The end of the dictatorship and the arrival of democracy in 1978 did not help Ferrol in the slightest,  and from 1982 till the early 1990s the city confronted numerous problems due to a decline in the naval sector. The beginning of the new millennium however, has been a time of economic expansion and prosperity in general. A new motorway and an outer-port  have been recently built; making the communications by land and sea, with the rest of the world, much easier and faster. Ferrol, the most important Naval Station in the north of Spain  , with its well sheltered harbour and busy port, together with the NAVANTIA shipyards seems to be flourishing once again, and with it, the whole heavily populated district of As Mariñas and Ferrolterra.