La Mancha (Spanish pronunciation: [la ˈmantʃa]) is a natural and historical region in the Spanish provinces of Albacete, Cuenca,
The name “La Mancha” is probably derived from the Arabic word المنشأ al-mansha, meaning “birthplace” or “fountainhead”. The name of the city of Almansa in Albacete shares that origin. The word mancha in Spanish literally means spot, stain, or patch, but no apparent link exists between this word and the name of the region.
The largest plain in Spain, La Mancha is made up of a plateau averaging 500 to 600 metres in altitude (although it reaches 900 metres in Campo de Montiel and other parts), centering on the province of Ciudad Real. The region is watered by the Guadiana, Jabalón, Záncara, Cigüela, and Júcar rivers.
The climate is cold semi-arid (Köppen BSk), with strong fluctuations. Farming (wheat, barley, oats, sugar beets, wine grapes, olives) and cattle raising are the primary economic activities, but they are severely restricted by the harsh environmental conditions.
La Mancha has always been an important agricultural zone. Viticulture is important in Tomelloso, Alcázar de San Juan, Socuéllamos, Valdepeñas,
La Mancha includes one National Park, Las Tablas de Daimiel, and one Natural Park, Las Lagunas de Ruidera.
Famous Spaniards like the cinema directors Pedro Almodóvar and José Luis Cuerda, painters Antonio López and his uncle Antonio López Torres, footballer Andrés Iniesta, music band Angelus Apatrida and actress Sara Montiel were born in La Mancha.
Miguel de Cervantes described La Mancha and its windmills in his two-part 1605/1615 novel Don Quixote de La Mancha. Cervantes was making fun of the region, using a pun; a “mancha” was also a stain, as on one’s honor, and thus an inappropriately named homeland for a dignified knight-errant. Translator