The Valencian people speak a variety of Catalan called Valencian, accounting for a third of all Catalan speakers. Valencian is a diglossic language that has been historically repressed in favour of Spanish, more recently during Franco's dictatorship. Since it regained official status in 1982, Valencian has been implemented in public administration and the education system, leading to an exponential increase in knowledge of its formal standard. However, its social use continues to be threatened by Spanish due to migration from other parts of Spain, especially in the cities of Valencia and Alicante. Furthermore, the linguistic conflict continues to be pressing, with some groups opposing the official standard based on Catalan orthography.
Valencia was founded by the Romans under the name of "Valentia Edetanorum", which translates to 'Valiance (or Courage) of the Land of the Lamb'. With the establishment of the Taifa of Valencia, the name developed to بلنسية (Balansiyya), which eventually became Valencia after the expulsion of the Moors.
"Valencian Community" is the standard translation of the official name in Valencian recognized by the Statute of Autonomy of 1982 (Comunitat Valenciana). This is the name most used in public administration, tourism, the media and Spanish written language. However, the variant of "Valencian Country" (País Valencià) that emphasizes the nationality status of the Valencian people is still the preferred one by left-wing parties, civil associations, Catalan written language and major academic institutions like the University of Valencia.
"Valencian Community" is a neologism that was specifically adopted after democratic transition in order to solve the conflict between two competing names: "Valencian Country" and "Former Kingdom of Valencia". On one hand, "Valencian Country" represented the modern conception of nationality that resurged in the 19th century. It became well-established during the Second Spanish Republic and later on with the works of Joan Fuster in the 1960s, implying the existence of the "Catalan Countries" (Països Catalans). This nationalist subtext was opposed by anti-Catalan blaverists, who proposed "Former Kingdom of Valencia" (Antic Regne de València) instead in order to emphasize Valencian independence from Catalonia. Currently, blaverists have accepted the official denomination.
The autonomous community can be homonymously identified with its capital "Valencia". However, this could be disregarding of the provinces of Alicante and Castellón. Other more anecdotal translations have included "Land of Valencia", "Region of Valencia" and "Valencian Region". The term "Region", however, carries negative connotations among many Valencians because it could deny their nationality status.
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 the 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, with first level works like Tirant lo Blanch. It also developed a high level role in Europe both economically with the silk trade, and politically with the rise of the Crown of Aragon (in which the Kingdom of Valencia became the most populated and the main economical power at that time) and the ascension of the Valencian 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 Nova Planta decrees, 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 Valencian Country in modern-day Spain was during the Second Spanish Republic, in 1936, but the Civil War broke out and the autonomist project was suspended. 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), 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.
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. 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.
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 Province of Alicante 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 Castilla–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 (Elx) 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.
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).
Semi-arid climate (Köppen BSh) to arid climate (Köppen BWh), although in zones at the interior the average temperatures are slightly lower, being from BSk to BWk in the Köppen climate classification. It roughly goes along the coastal plain from Villajoyosa through the southernmost border of the territory (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 Province of Alicante, whose source is in Andalusia, and the Júcar (Xúquer) in Province of Valencia, whose source is in Castilla–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, have little current (due to agricultural usage, climatic reasons or both) and are often completely dry during the summer. Other Valencian rivers are the Serpis and Sénia.
The estimate population according to the INE on January 2013 is 5,104,365, ranking the fourth most populous in Spain. The list of largest cities is topped by Valencia, the third largest city in Spain overall:
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. In actuality, population is particularly dense along the coast as well as in central and southern regions of the territory, and more sparse around the inner and northern regions.
Important historical cities include Sagunt and Dénia in Roman times; Valencia, Alicante, Xàtiva, Orihuela, Elche, Gandia, and Villarreal (Vila-real) later on in history and, more recently, Alzira and Castellón de la Plana. Another set of noncoastal cities increased significantly in numbers due to industrialization in the 20th century, including Alcoy, Elda, Ontinyent, Petrer, Villena, and La Vall d'Uixó. Furthermore, traditionally small fishing towns like Benidorm and Torrevieja have increased in population significantly, more remarkably during summertime, due to seasonal migration of tourists.
In more recent years, concentration in provincial capitals and its metropolitan areas has augmented considerably (e.g. Torrent, Mislata, Paterna, Burjassot, San Vicent del Raspeig, etc.). Besides Valencia, Alicante-Elche is the eighth most populous urban agglomeration in Spain. According to the INE, the largest metropolitan areas are:
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 Valencian Country as a nationality of Spain, and in accordance to the second article of the Spanish Constitution which grants autonomy to the "nationalities and regions" that compose 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:the Corts Valencianes (Valencian parliament), the legislature, which is to be integrated by a minimum of ninety-two representatives (diputats) elected through universal suffrage by proportional representation for a four-year period;
the President of the Generalitat Valenciana elected by the Courts from which s/he must obtain the vote of confidence; the current President is Ximo Puig (from the Socialist Party of the Valencian Country). The Vice President is Mònica Oltra (from Coalition Commitment, a Valencianist party).
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).
The current government is formed by a left coalition between the Socialist Party of the Valencian Country and Coalition Commitment, with also the support of Podemos.
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 Castilla–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 Castelló and Valencia still have thousands of hectares of citrus-producing groves and citrus continues to be a major source of income on the countryside. Province of Alicante 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, although this figure may be too low because of the important presence of foreign residents either from other regions of Europe or as 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 Valencia Country generated 9.7% of the Spanish GDP. In L of human resources, the unemployment rate was over 21% in 2009, and even greater among women, 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 Valencian Country has significant exports, and it 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 Europe.
Spanish (Castilian or castellano) has official status in all of Spain, including the Valencian Community. Aside from it, the Statute of Autonomy recognizes Valencian as the language proper to the Valencian people (llengua pròpia), and commends its protection and regulation to the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua (AVL) under the Generalitat Valenciana. Valencian is also official in the autonomous communities of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, where it is called Catalan.
Valencian Sign Language is widely used by Valencian deaf persons and is also granted protection under the Statute.
Not all of the Valencian territory is historically Valencian-speaking, with 10% of the population living in traditionally Spanish-speaking inner regions. These regions include the areas where Aragonese rather than Catalan settlers introduced Castilian-Aragonese language in the historic Kingdom of Valencia, as well as several Castilian municipalities that were annexed to the Valencian Community in the 19th century. Valencian is traditionally spoken in the more densely populated coastal areas where Catalan settlers introduced their language in the Middle Ages. These areas are delimited for administrative purposes by the Generalitat, that established different areas of linguistic predominance (predomini lingüístic). The Valencian area of linguistic predominance suffers in many cases a process of linguistic substitution, especially in the cities of Valencia and Alicante, where Spanish has become predominant in spite of Valencian being the traditional language.
Most of the population have at least a passive knowledge of Valencian, which allows normal communication in this language across the Valencian Community. Thanks to its implementation in public administration and the education system in recent decades, knowledge of Valencian has increased phenomenally both in absolute and relative terms, most significantly in the case of its written standard. The source also reveals that knowledge varies greatly within the territory, with knowledge in the Province of Alicante being consistently lower than in Castellón and Valencia.
Despite the increase in knowledge of Valencian, its social use in relative terms is declining, with only a third of the population using it at home according to the Generalitat in 2010. The data collected varies greatly within the Valencian Community, with the percentage of use being over 50% in the regions of Alcoy-Gandia and Júcar-Turia, approximately 40% in Castelló and about 15% in Alicante and the Valencia metropolitan area.
Despite differences in dialect and denomination, linguists consider Catalan and Valencian two varieties of the same language. They feature relative uniformity in terms of vocabulary, semantics, syntax, morphology and phonology. Mutual intelligibility ranges from 90 to 95%, which is considerably higher than between dialects of an assumed single German language (High German). Furthermore, there is a dialect continuum where speakers at the Catalan–Valencian border share the same dialect. In practice, Catalan and Valencian share the same written standard, as established by the AVL and the Institut d'Estudis Catalans respectively. Much of the bibliography used in the Valencian education system consists of Catalan works and translations in Catalan with only occasionally some words being swapped for those more commonly used in Valencia. Furthermore, the Universities of Valencia and Alicante refer to Valencian studies of language and literature as Catalan Philology.
In spite of these arguments, a significant proportion of Valencian population refuse to identify Valencian with Catalan. This phenomenon is known as blaverism. This position is often held by those who use Castilian more commonly than Valencian or do not use the latter fluently as well as promote Spanish nationalism and oppose Catalan independence. The government of the PP has been criticized for publicly endorsing some of these positions. However, younger generations educated in Valencian are much less likely to hold these views.
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 received the first commercial flight on 15 September 2015.
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.
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.
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.
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 (Llei Orgànica d'Educació).From three to six years: Preparatory School (Infantil, popularly known as Preescolar)
From six to twelve years: Primary School (Primaria)
From twelve to sixteen years: Compulsory Secondary School (Secundaria)
From sixteen to eighteen years: Post-Secondary School (Bachillerato)
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 Batxillerat (Spanish: Bachillerato), they can take the PAU exams (Proves d'Accés a la Universitat), commonly known as Selectiu.
The secondary stage of education is normally referred to by their initials, e.g. ESO standing for Educació Secundària Obligatòria.
The Valencian Community is home to a number of prestigious universities 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.
Until its dissolution on November 2013, the public-service Ràdio Televisió Valenciana (RTVV) was the main broadcaster of radio and television in the Valencian Community. The Generalitat Valenciana constituted it in 1984 in order to guarantee the freedom of information of the Valencian people in their own language.
Prior to its dissolution, the administration of RTVV under the People's Party (PP) had been controversial due to accusations of ideological manipulation and lack of plurality. The news broadcast was accused of giving marginal coverage of the Valencia Metro derailment in 2006 and the indictment of President de la Generalitat Francisco Camps in the Gürtel scandal in 2009. Supervisors appointed by the PP were accused of sexual harassment.
In face of an increasing debt and shrinking audiences that had fallen under 10 and even 5% of share in recent years, RTVV announced in 2012 a plan to shed 70% of its labour. The plan was nullified on 5 November 2013 by the National Court after trade unions appealed against it. On that same day, the President de la Generalitat Alberto Fabra announced RTVV would be closed, claiming that reinstating the employees was untenable. On 27 November, the legislative assembly passed the dissolution of RTVV and employees organized to take control of the broadcast, starting a campaign against the PP. Nou TV's last broadcast ended abruptly when Spanish police pulled the plug at 12:19 on 29 November 2013.
Having lost all revenues from advertisements and facing high costs from the termination of hundreds of contracts, critics question whether the closure of RTVV has improved the financial situation of the Generalitat, and point out to plans to benefit private-owned media. Currently, the availability of media in the Valencian language is extremely limited. All the other autonomous communities in Spain, including the monolingual ones, have public-service broadcasters, with the Valencian Community being the only exception despite being the fourth most populated.
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)). Another one is Agua de Valencia, in Valencian Aigua de València, it is a cocktail made from a base of cava or champagne, orange juice, vodka, and gin. In general, it is served in pitchers of various sizes and is drunk in a broad cocktail glass. It was made for the first time in 1959 by Constante Gil in the bar Café Madrid, in the city of Valencia.
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.
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 Valencia, "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, cultural associations, or political parties 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).
One of the most recognised and representative valencian symbols are the music and dance of the Muixeranga, ancient tradition of human towers preserved for the last 4 centuries, during the Festivity of 'La Mare de Déu de la Salut Festival' of Algemesí, recognized-UNESCO "intangible heritage of humanity". Typical folk music in celebrations is played with the tabalet (a drum) and the dolçaina (a flute). Valencian traditional costumes and dresses include espardenyes (shoes) and traditional fallera dresses (the Falles dresses).
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
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.
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).