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Murcia

Murcia is a city located in south-eastern Spain along the Segura River and is the capital of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia. The 2008 population of 433,850 ranked the city as the seventh largest in Spain. The population of the metropolitan area is 743,326, ranking ninth out of the largest metropolitan areas of the country.

Murcia is mainly a services city and a university town. Its frequently forgotten by visitors despite having some outstanding monuments like its famous Cathedral, renowned local cuisine, Holy Week processions, figures from the famous Murcia sculptor Francisco Salzillo, and the Spring Festival.

Murcia is located near the center of a low-lying fertile plain known as the huerta (orchard or vineyard) of Murcia. This includes the valleys of the Segura River and its right-hand tributary, the Guadalentín, or Sangonera River. The Segura is recognized as one of the most polluted rivers in Europe. The Region of Murcia is surrounded by two mountain ranges, the Sierra de Orihuela and the Cresta de Gallo. Despite the proximity of the sea, the climate is subject to great variation: the summer heat is severe while frosts may occasionally befall the capital city during winter.

The city covers approximately 882 square kilometres (341 sq mi) and is divided from east to west by a series of mountain ranges (Carrascoy, El Puerto, Villares, Columbares, Altaona, and Escalona). These two zones are known as Field of Murcia and Orchard of Murcia.

The city has an elevation of 43 m.a.s.l. and is located on the medium alluvial plain of the Segura river (Vega Media del Segura). The river crosses the city from west to east. The river belongs to a Mediterranean pluvial system. Its volumetric flow is mostly small but, the river is known to produce occasional flooding, like those that inundated the capital in 1946, 1948, 1973 or 1989.

The best known and most dominant aspect of the municipal area's landscape is the orchard. The area is sparse, with hills surrounding the valley of the Segura river. This terrain owes its varied character to the mountain ranges of the south (Cordillera Sur), while the steep hill Monteagudo near the plain's center protrudes emphatically.

In addition to the orchard and urban zones, the great expanse of the municipal area is made up of different landscapes: badlands, groves of Carrasco pine trees in the precoastal mountain ranges and, towards the south, a semi-steppe region.

A regional park is also part of the area of Carrascoy and the Valley (Carrascoy y el Valle) belonging to the city of Murcia.

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