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Alicante (Valencian: Alacant, Spanish: Alicante) is the capital city of the province of Alicante, in the south of the Valencian Country, Spain, by the Mediterranean Sea. Alicante is an important Seaport. Population of the city of Alicante proper was 316,000 as of 2004 estimates. Population of the urban area was 405,000 as of 2004 estimates. Population of the metropolitan area (urban area plus satellite towns) was 680,000 as of 2004 estimates, ranking as the eighth-largest metropolitan area of Spain.
Alicante is one of the fastest growing cities in Spain. Its economy is based upon tourism, wine production, services and administration. It exports wine, olive oil, and fruit, and has light industries, including food-processing, leather, textiles, and pottery. The area's food specialty are turrones - honey and almond nougats.
The city has regular ferry services to the Balearic Islands, and an international airport is nearby. It is strongly fortified, with a spacious harbor. Amongst the most notable features of the city is its castle, the "Castillo de Santa Barbara", which sits high above the city upon a cliff. An important festival, the Bonfires of Saint John, takes place in June, at the time of the summer solstice. Another well-known festival is Moros y Cristianos.
The city is the headquarters of the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market.
Alicante was founded in 324 BC by the Greeks who named it Akra Leuke (White Peak). In 201 BC it was captured by the Romans who called it Lucentum, and Hannibal is said to have unloaded his famous war elephants here. Between 718 and 1249, the city was ruled by the Moors. In 1265 it was retaken by Alfonso X of Castile and incorporated into the kingdom of Castile. In 1304 it was incorporated into the kingdom of Valencia, in the Aragon Crown.
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