Almería (2003 pop. 176,338) is the capital of the province of Almería (Pop. 604,903) in Spain. It is located in southeastern Spain on the Mediterranean Sea and all its area is an important Mediterranean resort. The name "Almería" stems from al-Meraya (Arabic, "the watchtower"), because of its magnificent Moorish castle, Alcazaba: among the Muslim fortresses of Andalusia, only Alhambra is larger. The city was founded by Abd ar-Rahman III of Cordoba in 955 as a principal harbor in his extensive domain, to strengthen his Mediterranean defenses against the Fatimid caliphate in Tunisia. In this period, the port city of Almería reached its historical peak, continuing, after the fragmentation of the Caliphate of Cordoba, under powerful local muslim taifa emirs like Jairan, the first independent Emir of Almería and Cartagena and Almotacin the poet emir, both fearless warriors but also patrons of the arts. A silk industry, based upon plantings of mulberry trees in the hot dry landscape supported Almería in the 11th century and made its strategic harbour an even more valuable prize. Contested by the emirs of Granada and Valencia, Almería suffered many sieges, and one especially fierce when Christians, called to the Second Crusade by Pope Eugenius III, were also encouraged to fall upon the Muslim infidel on a more familiar coast. On that occasion Alfonso VII, at the head of mixed forces of Catalans, Genoese, Pisans and Franks led a crusade against the rich city, and Almería was occupied in October 1147. Within a decade it had passed to the control of the puritanical Almoravid emirs, and though its glorious culture was diminished, not until the late 15th century did it fell permanently into Christian hands, surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, December 26, 1489. See: List of Almería Kings The 16th century was for Almería a century of natural and human catastrophes, for there were at least four earthquake— of which the one in 1522 was especially violent— devastating the city. The people who had remained Muslim were expelled from Almería after the War of Las Alpujarras in 1568 and scattered across Spain. Landings and attacks by Berber pirates were also frequent in that century, and continued until the early 18th century. In that time, huge iron mines were discovered and French and British companies came to settle in the area, bringing renewed prosperity and bringing Almería back to a relative importance within Spain. In the second half of the 20th century, Almería witnessed spectacular economic growth due to tourism and especially to its intensive agriculture with a world wide repuation, which has made Almería products familiar in any quality European market. From the political point of view, there is a strong populist desire to achieve the status of an "autonomous region" in Spain, in spite of the great efforts of the Andalusian government to disuade the voters. Famous natives of Almería include Nicolás Salmerón, who in 1873 was the third president of the First Spanish Republic, and several musicians, like the popular folk singer Manolo Escobar, reputed Flamenco guitar player José Tomás "Tomatito" or Grammy Award winner David Bisbal, record-breaker album seller in America and Spain. It is believed that Walt Disney, who was adopted, originated from this province. Almería hosted the Mediterranean Games in 2005. Almería has an international airport, named Almería International Airport. Almería has the largest naturist beach in Europe (also surrounded by naturist accommodations) called El Playazo despite current attempts to reduce the naturist extent of it. Almeria is the driest region in Europe as well as one of the warmest with an average annual temperature of 19 degrees. Due to its arid landscape, numerous "spaghetti westerns" were filmed in Almeria. One of Almería's most famous natural spots is the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. This volcanic origin park is the marine-terrestrial space of greatest surface and ecological relevance of all the European Western Mediterranean Sea. With one of the most beautiful and ecologically wealthy coasts of the western Mediterranean and an extension of 38,000 hectares it has become one of Spain’s natural jewels. The Cabo de Gata Natural Park extends by the municipal terms of Níjar, Almeria and Carboneras. Its small localities, previously dedicated to fishing, have become tourism spots for those looking for nature. One of the maximum incentives of the Cabo de Gata Natural Park is its beaches. You will find the solitary cove, the great beach, the naturist beaches and coves, or the solitary corner which you will only be able to accede by the sea or by means of a wonderful excursion.