Roughly the size of Switzerland, but with only 1.1 million inhabitants, Extremadura is one of the most rural regions of Spain. Its largest city, Badajoz, has a population just over 150,000.
Extremadura has long been one of the poorest regions in the country, with a GRP 25% under the national average and similar to those of Andalusia and Portugal.
The discovery of the American continent proved very fruitful for impoverished Extremadurans, and a disproportionate number of early conquistadors, explorers and governors hailed from that region. As a result, Extremaduran place names have spread throughout the former Spanish Empire. For instance, there are municipalities in five Latin American countries named after the home town of Francisco Pizarro, Trujillo, the largest of which is a city of 1 million inhabitants in Peru. Trujillo is also the name of a Venezuelan state, a Colombian and a Peruvian province, and the former name of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican republic. Another example is Mérida, whose Mexican homonym in Yucatan has outgrown the original town by a factor of nearly 20.
Famous people from Extremadura include (chronologically): the conquistadors Francisco de las Casas, Francisco Pizarro (conqueror of the Inca Empire), Pedro de Alvarado, and Hernán Cortés (conqueror of the Aztec Empire), the explorers Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Hernando de Soto, Francisco de Orellana, and Sebastián Vizcaíno, and the author Carolina Coronado.
Pork and mutton are the dominant feature of Extremaduran cuisine. Extremaduran dishes are commonly seasoned with pennyroyal, garlic, bay leaves and anise. Embutidos (sausages) of Iberian pork, such as jamón serrano and lomo, are very popular. The most notable local cheese is torta del casar, a sheep cheese from Casar de Cáceres.
Culinary specialties include ajoblanco extremeño (cold soup with bread, crushed almonds, garlic, water, olive oil, salt), ancas de ranas fritas (fried frog legs), arroz con liebre (rice with hare), callos con manos de cerdo (tripe with pig's feet), caldereta de cordero (mutton stew), cabrito en cuchifritos (roast goat with fried potatoes), chanfaina (stew of mutton offals cooked with a mixture of bay leaves, garlic, bread crumbs and boiled eggs.), cocido extremeño (chicken and chick pea casserole), frite de cordero (mutton fry), cabrito a la hortelana (lamb stew with vegetables), and potaje de castañas secas (chestnut soup).
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