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AdHocNow 2014, June 22-27, 2014, Benidorm, Spain

Benidorm is a coastal town and municipality located in the comarca of Marina Baixa, in the province of Alicante, Valencian community, Spain, by the Western Mediterranean. Prior to the 1960s, Benidorm was a small village. Today it stands out for its hotel industry, beaches and skyscrapers, built as a result of its tourist-orientated economy. According to the 2010 census, Benidorm has a permanent population of 71,198 inhabitants, ranking as the fifth most populous town in the Alicante province. It has a population density of 1,848.8 inhab/km². The unique skyline formed by its numerous tall hotels and apartment buildings, which is unlike any other on the Costa Blanca (White Coast) Urban Age project, bears witness to the fact that Benidorm has the most high-rise buildings per capita in the world. Benidorm itself is dwarfed by the 1406 m tall Puig Campana.

It is believed there were settlements in the Benidorm area perhaps as far back as 3000BC including evidence of Roman and Punic remains. However, settlements in the area were small and it was not until the arrival of the Moors (from whom the town derived its Arabic origin name) that the local population began to grow. The Christian King James I of Aragon re-conquered the region in 1245 and Benidorm first officially became known in 1325 when Admiral Bernat De Serria of Polop awarded it a town charter as a way of removing the Moors and allowing Christians to inhabit the area. Benidorm’s history for the next few centuries was plagued by attacks from the sea by Turkish and Barbary pirates. The 17th century saw things improve for Benidorm and its people, most notably with the construction of an advanced irrigation system in 1666 to channel water to the region. By the 18th century Benidorm fishermen had become famous and sought after all over Spain and beyond.

Tuna was their main catch and they perfected the ancient almadraba technique passed down from the Arabs. The success of the fishing industry, together with improved local agriculture, helped to fuel a strong local economy. Coastal traffic increased too, bringing more wealth to the region with the town becoming a base for sea captains and the building of their vessels. In 1952 Benidorm’s fishing industry went into decline; a factor in encouraging the town council to approve many new development plans aimed at the tourist market. Today the town is Europe and Spain’s biggest holiday resort and responsible for a significant chunk of Spain’s large tourist industry, with five million tourist arrivals per year.