Aragon is an autonomous community of Spain. Located in northeastern Spain, the region comprises three provinces from north to south: Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza.
Aragon's northern province of Huesca borders France and is positioned in the middle of the Pyrenees. Within Spain, the region is flanked by Catalonia on the east, Valencia and Castile-La Mancha to the south, and Castile and Leon, La Rioja, and Navarre to the west.
Covering an area of 47,719 km2 (18,424 sq mi), the region's terrain ranges diversely from permanent glaciers, to verdant valleys, rich pasture lands and orchards, through to the arid steppe plains of the central lowlands. Aragon is home to many rivers — most notably, the river Ebro (or Iber as the Romans called it and after which the Iberians were named) — Spain's largest river in volume, which runs west-east across the entire region through the province of Zaragoza. It is also home to the Aneto the highest mountain in the Pyrenees.
As of 2006, the population was 1,277,471 with half of the region's people living in Zaragoza, its capital city.
In addition to its three provinces, Aragon is subdivided into 33 comarcas or counties; all with a rich geo-political and cultural history from its pre-Roman and Roman days; and the four centuries of Islamic period as Marca Superior of Alandalus or kingdom (or taifa) of Saraqustah; and as lands that once belonged to the Frankish Spanish March or Marca Hispanica; and counties that later formed the Kingdom of Aragon and eventually the empire or Crown of Aragon.
Before Aragon came into being as a self-proclaimed kingdom in 1035, the northern counties of Jaca, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza were all independent marches and Frankish feudal fiefs. In a bid to stem Frankish and Moorish invasions, a northern alliance of the counties of Aragon, Sobrarbe, Ribagorza, and the duchy of Castile united with the Kingdom of Pamplona (later Navarre). After King Sancho's death, the kingdom was divided between his sons. Ramiro I was initially named king of Aragon; later, after his brother Gonzalo's death, he was also named king of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza. The new kingdom of Aragon grew quickly, and incorporated Navarra. This kingdom conquered the muslim kingdom and city of Zaragoza in 1118. Split from the kingdom of Navarre, the kingdom of Aragon was re-established in 1035 and lasted as a separate kingdom until 1469 when Ferdinand the Catholic married Isabella of Castile, creating the Kingdom of Spain.
The dynastic union between Petronila, Queen of Aragon, and Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, produced a son, Alfonso II of Aragon who inherited all their respective territories creating the Crown of Aragon which included all lands, titles and states previously until then outside of the Kingdom of Aragon. This Crown was effectively ended after the dynastic union with Castile (see below) but the title continued being used until 1714. The dynasty of the Kings of Aragon (called by some present-day historians "Kings of Aragon and Counts of Barcelona") ruled the present administrative region of Aragon, Catalonia, and later the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Sicily, Naples and Sardinia (see Aragonese Empire).
In the Crown of Aragon, the king was the direct King of the Aragonese region but also held the title of King of Valencia, King of Majorca (for a time), Count of Barcelona, Lord of Montpellier, and (temporarily) Duke of Athens and Neopatria. Each of these titles gave him sovereignty over a certain region, and these titles changed as he lost and won territories.
During the War of the Spanish Succession the advancing army of German, British and Dutch troops defeated the Spanish Army in the battle of Saragossa in 1710. As a result of the battle Felipe V was forced to abandon Madrid and retreated to Valladolid.
During the Peninsular War the Aragonese capital was a site of two fierce sieges. During the siege in 1808 the Spanish under General Palafox defeated a superior French force. In 1809 during a particularly bloody siege the Spaniards were overwhelmed by superior enemy forces. In the course of the siege almost 30,000 of the garrison and citizens of Zaragoza (from a total of 32,000) perished instead of surrendering the city. Two weeks after they breached the walls the French were forced to fight for separate houses, squares, churches, convents.
During the Spanish Civil War, Aragon saw the establishment of various anarchist communes.
Map of Aragon: