A fine tuned climate miracle: not only papaya's like it!
One can often hear or read that Torrox, this coastal town situated about 50km east of Málaga, is the very spot that enjoys the best climate in Europe. As a matter of fact, the whole coast line stretching roughly from Torre del Mar to Motril, is well known to offer very particular climate conditions. Hence, for the area of Almuñecar and Motril, the name 'Costa Tropical' .
This is for the most part due to the shield offered, just 50km more north, by the Sierra Nevada. This massive mountain - 2nd highest in Western Europe with its 3,479m high summit - retains in the winter, all cold, rainy and windy influences coming from the north. Additionally, the mountain acts on its southern side as a screen to retain humidity, creating a green area with a warm and mild microclimate offering very moderate yearly alterations.
This is well illustrated by the figures below:
- 300 days of sunshine per year
- 18 degrees Celsius average yearly temperature
- 16 degrees Celsius average temperature in January
- 30 degrees Celsius average temperature in August
- number of recorded snow falls in 50 years in Nerja: one!
Another piece of data shows eloquently this particular condition, that is the quite constant 10 degrees Celsius difference - 10 warmer in the winter, 10 cooler in the summer - between Granada, inlands, and the nearest coast.
A way to note the effects of these conditions is the increasing production of tropical products in this relatively small area. 50 years ago just a handful of fruit species were traditionally grown there: olives, almonds, chirimoyas (custard apples), figs and grapes. One could also found, in smaller proportions and usually for personal consumption: oranges, lemons, bananas, nísperos (persimmon), kakis and prickly pears (cactus fig).
Then, a few decades ago, the coast witnessed the massive arrival of the avocado first, and short after the mango. These two are now the most commonly seen plantations around, together with the chirimoyas. This last one is in fact also a tropical fruit ,originating from South America.
Recently, more audacious cultivators have experimented ways to introduce many kinds of exotic species in this local environment. Some never seen here shapes, colors and names are progressively showing up in the markets and on your restaurant table: guavas, carambolas, papayas, lychees, longans and the strange ceriman, or Monstera Deliciosa.
Besides exotic species from the far south, there is one coming from the north that also very much appreciates constant warmth as well as some water (on the ground more than falling from the sky). I am of course speaking of the tourist! Having a subtropical micro climate at the heart of Europe is probably the number one argument for attracting visitors. If you add to this the quality of life, good and still improving transportation infrastructure, wide range of quality lodging options, you understand why Nerja, Torrox, Frigiliana and La Herradura are increasingly in demand as travel destinations all year through.
Another effect of an attractive climate, especially with mild winters, is an increasing number of seasonal as well as permanent residents from Northern Europe. In Torrox, it is estimated that 40% of the population is of foreign origin, mostly German and Scandinavian, and the figure is expected to increase. The challenge for these places will be to keep attracting these new incomers, who bring activity and resources to he population, without losing their appeal.
How to blame them? Who doesn't want to live under the best climate in Europe?!
About tropical fruit farming in the region:
Temperature averages, Axarquia
Sierra Nevada from space