Albacete, with 173,000 inhabitants, is the biggest city in the Castilla-La Mancha region of south-eastern Spain. It is set in wide plains that are typical of central Spain, as described in the pages of Don Quixote. These days Albacete is a dynamic modern city with an infrastructure to match. It has been planned with large areas for pedestrians and green spaces that make it one of the top 10 large cities in Europe with the lowest pollution levels, offering a high quality of life to its citizens. Its population includes around 8% of foreigners, mostly from Central America.
Albacete has a history of making daggers, an activity which evolved into the modern cutlery industry. But aviation is the main employer today in this modern commercial and industrial city. The manufacturing district, one of the biggest industrial parks in Spain, houses an assembly plant for Airbus Helicopters. About 90% of businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises. However, as in the rest of Spain, the 2008 recession has hit jobs, and the unemployment rate in the city is around 25%.
The city is also a communication axis. Since 2003 it has had a civilian airport; there are motorways to Madrid, Valencia, Alicante and Murcia, as well as high-speed rail links to the rest of Spain. It is not known as a tourist area but still has plenty of cultural attractions and festivals, as well as a Convention Centre and well-maintained sports facilities. The Albacete campus of the regional University of Castilla-La Mancha has a student population of around 10,000.
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