Regarded by many as the epicenter of Spanish cultural heritage and custom, Malaga is the second largest city in Andalucía with a population of around 568,000. The metropolis lies on the southernmost point in Europe, 100km east of the Straight of Gibraltar and 130km north of Africa and enjoys the subtropical-Mediterranean climate the Costa del Sol is famous for, with over 300 days of sunshine per year and an average summer season of eight months.
Characterised by the archeological remains and monuments from the Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian eras dating back over 3000 years, Malaga is one of the oldest and most historically rich cities in the world, and is home to some of the most internationally treasured artistic, musical and culinary Spanish traditions. Well-known 'Malagueños' include artist Pablo Picasso and the proud self-proclaimed patriot of Malaga, Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas, who was also born and raised in the area.
As with most of the Costa del Sol, Malaga's economy is heavily reliant on tourism and real estate. However, since the 1990s Malaga has also developed into a major technological base, with companies such as Oracle, Fujitsu and Huawei basing themselves in the city. The huge port of Malaga - which has been in operation since 600 BC – is one of the busiest ports on the Mediterranean and acts as a bridge to North Africa. In 2012 the port had a trade volume of almost 430,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU's) and almost 650,000 cruise ship passengers passed through the port. The "Malaga Open for Business" initiative has also played a big part in helping to promote the city's economical status.
Overshadowed in the past by popular nearby cities such as Seville and Granada, Malaga has become an equal contender for national and international visitors who flock to the cities many cultural attractions, its rejuvenated city centre and port and the many innovative and stylish hotels and restaurants, many of which feature trendy rooftop terraces with bars, pools, and stunning views. The New York Times recently selected Malaga as one of 52 Places to Go in 2016, "Beauty, but now a cultural capital too."
Malaga is a vast landscape of historical relics and architectural beauty. The Roman amphitheatre, Malaga Cathedral affectionately known by locals as 'La Manquita' (the one armed woman), and the fortress of Alcazaba amongst others, each reveal their own tale from the cities ancient past and are visited year round by locals and tourists alike.
Malaga is home to over 30 cultural museums and institutions - more than any other city in Andalucía. Visitors of the area can learn more about the city's social history and customs through its wine at the Wine Museum, its cars at the Automobile Museum and its major artistic contributions at the Thyssen Museum which exhibits a vast collection of nineteenth-century Spanish paintings. The Picasso Museum which opened in 2003 and presents a stunning retrospective of the life of Malaga's most famous son, signifies for many the city’s long-awaited cultural rebirth. Also home to the area is the Cervantes Theatre, hosting nationally acclaimed shows, acts and performers throughout the year, as well as the world's most important festival celebrating movies in the Spanish language, the Malaga Film Festival, attended yearly by both national and international celebrities.
With an abundance of restaurants, bars and chiringuitos in the city centre, dotted along the beach and in the beautiful port celebrating the authentic culinary tastes of the South of Spain, Malaga is also well known for its traditional Easter processions during 'Semana Santa' and the 'Feria de Malaga', where the local culture erupts into weeklong street parties of food, music and dance.
Malaga offers an abundance of transportation options. Visitors and locals may choose to travel via Malaga's two-line metro system, whiz around the city centre on a segway or bike taxi, or maybe even stroll around the cities port and parks in a Spanish horse and carriage.
Malaga also has a very efficient local bus service network operated by a municipal company called EMT, which connects you to areas in and around the city centre. Malaga Bus Station on Paseo de los Tilos offers bus services to other areas along the coasts as well to the popular Sierra Nevada Ski Resort nearby.
Malaga airport is the main international airport in Andalucía and serves most of the Costa del Sol. With convenient transport links to many local areas, as well as to the Malaga-RENFE train station that provides high-speed rail links to Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada, over 12.5 million passengers passed through the airport last year from over 120 different worldwide destinations.
Residents of Spain and contributors to the Spanish social security system are immediately entitled to free healthcare through the network of Centros de Salud and hospitals. The Carlos Haya Hospital Complex located in the city centre is a group of modern and well-equipped hospitals that specialize in healthcare across the board. Health insurance providers such as Mapfre, Cesar and Sanitas also offer healthcare services in a number of private clinics in the area.
State schools in Spain are operated by the local Autonomous Community which for Malaga is Andalucia. Schools accept pupils according to their area of residency and applications for a place need to be made at the Malaga Ayuntamiento (Malaga Town Hall) located in the Avenida de Cervantes. Transport, school dinners and extra curricular activities usually form part of the school system and additional Spanish tuition for expat children is also available at many state schools.
Much like the rest of the coast, Malaga is also home to a number of international schools including the Mayfair International Academy and St George's British School of Malaga. Students transferring to Spain from a foreign country are then given the opportunity to continue their studies towards an International Baccalaureate or British GCSE's and A Levels, allowing for an easier transfer to a University abroad.
Established in 1972, Malaga University is also situated in the city centre and currently has around 40,000 students enrolled on a variety of courses. Ranging from Spanish language tuition to other short courses up to Masters and PHD level, the university offers higher education for both Spanish and international students.