Andalusia is the most Spanish part of Spain

Andalusia is regarded as the most 'Spanish' part of Spain, although its name is thought to be a corruption of 'Vandalicia'. Even in winter it is warm and sunny, while in summer the brilliant light reflected off the whitewashed walls produces harsh contrasts of colour. In the countryside agricultural workers live in 'picturesque' cottages of adobe, or in huge cortijas, large country farmhouses built around a central patio, or courtyard, and housing owner, workers, cattle, sheep, chickens and crops in noisy and untidy proximity. Even more interesting to a north European are the caves of the gipsies at Córdoba, Jaén and Granada.

These are by no means peculiar to Andalusia, and, particularly in Granada, money from gullible tourists has brought electric light and other modern conveniences to these otherwise primitive dwellings. Orange trees, date palms, the dark faces of beggars (begging is illegal but ubiquitous in Andalusia) all combine to provide a note of oriental or at least African flamboyance in Andalusia, a note which is augmented literally and metaphorically in well-known restaurants by the throbbing of guitars, the clacking of castanets and the swirling rhythm of flamenco dancers.

These attractive scenes, however, are superficial; they do not reveal the slum tenements, the leprosy colony in the hills, the diseases, such as rickets and blindness, for which abject poverty is mainly to blame. Andalusia is lovely to visit, less lovely to live in.

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