Castile and Leon (Spanish: Castilla y Leon), within the historic areas of Old Castile and Leon, is an autonomous region in north central Spain. With an area of 94,224 km2 (36,380 mi2) and a population of 2,484,603 (1998 est.), the autonomous community, formed in 1983, is the largest in Spain.
It encompasses the provinces of Avila, Burgos, Leon, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid, and Zamora, and its capital is Valladolid. The Cantabrian Mountains rise in the northern part of the region, and the Iberico Mountains are in the northeastern part; they are separated by a corridor known as La Bureba. The Central Mountains dominate the south, and a large elevated plateau occupies the center of the area. Sheep, dairy and beef cattle, and chickens are raised; area crops include wheat, sugar beets, potatoes, and beans. Forestry and lumber production are common in the mountains, where coal and talc are mined.
Commerce is concentrated in the provincial capitals. Industrial development began after World War II but has not increased significantly except in Valladolid, where automobiles, paper, and fertilizer are manufactured, and in the city of Burgos, which has developed since the 1960s. Many younger inhabitants of the region, particularly from the rural areas, have migrated to more economically promising parts of the country.Castile and Leon is rich in Spanish history, with a number of ancient cathedrals, monasteries, castles, and fortified towns scattered throughout the region.
The city of Avila is enclosed by 12th-century Romanesque walls, and Salamanca is the home of one of Europe’s oldest universities, the University of Salamanca (1218). Segovia is dominated by its colossal Roman aqueduct, which probably dates from the 1st century, and a picturesque Moorish castle.