port city of Santander is the
capital of the autonomous community
of Cantabria situated on the north
coast of Spain between Asturias (to
the west) and the Basque Country (to
the east). The population in 2007
was about 184,000. Just over a third
of Cantabrians live in Santander.
The city is the home of the Roman
Catholic Diocese of Santander.
2004, Santander has a population of
183,800. The number has remained
fairly steady since 1981. Spain's
low fecundity rate and aging
population have combined with rising
immigration figures to keep the
population growth fairly stagnant.
Nevertheless, the Santander
conurbation continues to sprawl as
young families move away from the
high cost of living in the heart of
Roman Empire, the town was known as
Portus Victoriae Iuliobrigensium.
Its present name is derived from
Saint Emeterio (Santemter, Santenter,
Santander), a martyr whose head was
brought there in the 3rd century,
along with that of Saint Celedonio,
according to legend.
1187, King Alfonso VIII of Castile
made the abbot of San Emeterio lord
of the town, and in 1248 Santander
participated in the battle for
Seville, receiving a coat of arms as
city owes its existence to the
excellent harbour of the Bay of
Santander. Santander was an
important port for Castile in the
later Middle Ages, and also for
trade with the New World. It
officially became a city in 1755.
In 1893 the freighter Cabo
Machichaco exploded in the harbour,
killing 500 people.
In the early 1900s Santander became
the favoured summer residence of
King Alfonso XIII, who built the
Palacio de la Magdalena as the
residence of the royal family during
the holidays. The city gained great
popularity from this and from the
19th century enthusiasm for sea
bathing and it remains popular with
the Spanish for beach holidays