CASTILLA Y LEÓN
Inland autonomous community in northwestern and northern Spain, whose first parliament was elected in 1983, and whose government is called the Junta de Castilla y León. Its capital is Valladolid.
Practically all the Communities of Spain are formed from an historic region, whether big like Andalucía or small like Cantabria or La Rioja, but Castilla y León is formed from two such regions: León, long ago one the great kingdoms of the peninsula, and Old Castile, the jumping-off ground for the greatest of them. Consequently it consists of more provinces than any other Community (nine, one more than Andalucía). The three western provinces, León, Zamora, and Salamanca, had earlier formed the province of León, the core of the old Kingdom, but in addition to these the capitals of the Old Castilian provinces of Valladolid and Palencia, in the north, and Ávila and Segovia, in the south, had all once belonged to the Kingdom of León, though by the mid-12th century they were in Castile. The capitals of the other two provinces, Burgos and Soria, had belonged to the County and emerging Kingdom of Castile.
The territory, taken as a whole, is broadly similar to the immense buffer zone that appeared in the 8th century between the Christian Kingdom of Asturias, on the northern coast and sheltered by the Cantabrian Mountains, and the marches that protected the heart of Muslim Spain. The Berbers, who had settled in what later became Extremadura and New Castile, showed no inclination to settle in that more northern, arid region, while much of its Christian population had fled or, in the case of the towns, had been deliberately withdrawn by Alfonso I (739-57). The lands up to the River Duero were later repopulated in the later 9th and earlier 10th centuries. Those south of the river remained a largely depopulated frontier region until the reign of Alfonso VI (1065/72-1109), when the towns of Salamanca, Ávila and Segovia were resettled.
Castilla y León is the largest of all the 17 autonomous communities of Spain, but it is only sixth in population. In density of population, at 27 people per kilometre, it only exceeds Extremadura (26), Aragón (25) and Castilla-La Mancha (21). Its lands may once have formed a buffer zone, but nature as well as policy limited its numbers.