Autonomous Community in central Spain, its territory forming part of the Meseta, the great plateau of central Spain. La Mancha, made famous by Cervantes, is a plateau in the south of the region. In the northwest is the valley of the Tajo (Tagus).
The Community was formed from the territories of four of the five provinces of New Castile (Guadalajara, Cuenca, Ciudad Real and Toledo) plus Albacete, in the southeast, previously associated with Murcia.
These five provinces are all rural, but in a generally dry landscape; of the towns, only Albacete is over 100,000 in population, indeed it is the only one over 60,000. The contrast with the one province of New Castile that was not included in Castilla-La Mancha is enormous. Madrid, with a tenth of the area of Castilla-La Mancha, has three times as many people. Its interests are manifestly different from those of its fellow provinces of New Castile and so in the discussions about autonomy that preceded the Constitution of 1978 it was separated from them and became a Community itself.
The parliament of the Community was first elected in 1983; its government is called the Junta de Communidades de Castilla-La Mancha. Toledo is the capital. Castilla-La Mancha is the 3rd largest of the 17 communities in area and the 8th in population, but with only 21 people per square mile it is the least densely populated.