Valencia[a] (Valencian: València)[b] is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia and the third-most populated municipality in Spain, with 791,413 inhabitants. It is the capital of the province of the same name. The wider urban area comprising the neighbouring municipalities has a population of around 1.6 million, constituting one of the major urban areas on the European side of the Mediterranean Sea. It is located on the banks of the Turia, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, at the Gulf of Valencia, north of the Albufera lagoon.
Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC. Islamic rule and acculturation ensued in the 8th century, together with the introduction of new irrigation systems and crops. Aragonese Christian conquest took place in 1238, and so the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Valencia. The city's population thrived in the 15th century, owing to trade with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, Italian ports and other locations in the Mediterranean sea, becoming one of the largest European cities by the end of the century. Already harmed by the emergence of the Atlantic Ocean in detriment of the Mediterranean in the global trade networks and the insecurity created by Barbary piracy throughout the 16th century, the city's economic activity experienced a crisis upon the expulsion of the moriscos in 1609. The city became a major silk-manufacturing centre in the 18th century. The city served as the accidental seat of the Spanish Government from 1936 to 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.