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General Information on Valencia
Valencia is Spain's third largest city half way down the Eastern Mediterranean Coast.
Valencia has around a million inhabitants. They are predominantly from the city itself of from the close-lying villages and towns. There is also a large number of Spaniards from other parts of Spain.
Valencia has its large share of foreigners, attracted by booming economy and available employment. The largest group is Latin American, mainly from Equador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, as well as Cuba, Venezuala and Argentina, although you will find people from the rest of Latin America too.
There are also a fair number of African immigrants, both from North Africa (mainly Morocco) and Sub-Saharan. Likewise, you will find a community of Chinese and Indo-Pakistani.
European and North American ex-pats are present too, although for the moment in fairly small numbers. Valencia is not like places along Costa Blanca or costa del Sol where ex-pats are numerious.
Historically, Valencia has been the capital of an autonomous Valencian Community within the Spanish Crown. This status was taken away in the XVIII century after the European War of Succession and not re-gained until very recently. Currently, Valencia is proud to be once again an autonomous region with the right to promote its own cultural identity, and the region has been working very closely with its neighbour - autonomous Catalunya (Barcelona) - although Valencia is not even nearly as extreme in its separatist tendencies.
Valencia is the conservative stronghold of Spain, mainly due to its family-oriented culture and a strong drive to preserve cultural identity. The Conservative Party here enjoys an almost guaranteed win in all local elections, which sometimes heats up the local political climate when the central government of Spain is leftist.
The Valencians have their own language - Valenciano. It is quite close to Castellano (the "official" Spanish), and even closer to Catalan. If you speak Castellano you will roughly understand the former.
DONT make a mistake of calling Castellano Espanol, when talking to a Valencian. Valenciano is Espanol too. Also, many linguists would call Valenciano a dialect of Catalan and you may hear it somewhere and suggest that to a Valencian. DON'T.
Naturally, all Valencians are bilingual and they won't speak Valenciano to you. So do not anticipate linguisitc arrogance, like you would in Catalunya.
You won't hear that much Valenciano on the streets of Valencia - it is more common in villages. However, many signs will be in both (or Valenciano only).
Valencia is a very lively economic player and that is why the city has so much to offer. Historically a major agricultiral and merchant centre, Valencia has also developed several strong industries in addition to that. Currently, Valencia is one of the main European centres for trade fairs and conferences. It has also been receiving a healthy boost from tourist revenue for the past 10 years.
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