The Spanish toponym (place name) Andalucía (immediate source of the English Andalusia) was introduced into the Spanish language in the 13th century under the form el Andalucía. This was a Castilianization of Al-Andalusiya, the adjectival form of the Arabic language al-Andalus, the name of the Iberian territories under the Muslim rule from 711 to 1492. The etymology of al-Andalus is itself somewhat debated (see al-Andalus), but it entered the Arabic language even before such time as this area came under Muslim rule. The Arabic name is traditionally considered a corruption of an earlier *Vandalusia or the land of the Vandals, the Germanic tribe that invaded Spain after the fall of the Roman Empire and set up various kingdoms in Southern Spain and North Africa. Andalusia was the center of power in medieval Muslim-dominated Iberia.
Like the Arabic term al-Andalus, in historical contexts the Spanish term Andalucía or the English term Andalusia do not necessarily refer to the exact territory designated by these terms today. Initially, the term referred exclusively to territories under Muslim control; later, it was applied to some of the last Iberian Islamic territories to be conquered, though not always to exactly the same ones. In the Estoria de España (also known as the Primera Crónica General) of Alfonso X of Castile, written in the second half of the 13th century, the term Andalucía is used with three different meanings:
From an administrative point of view, Granada remained separate for many years even after the completion of the Reconquista due, above all, to its emblematic character as the last territory conquered, and as the seat of the important Real Chancillería de Granada, a court of last resort. Still, the reconquest and repopulation of Granada was accomplished largely by people from the four existing Christian kingdoms of Andalusia, and Granada came to be considered a fourth kingdom of Andalusia. The often-used expression "Four Kingdoms of Andalusia" dates back in Spanish at least to the mid-18th century.
The Andalusian coat of arms shows the figure of Hercules and two lions between the two pillars of Hercules that tradition situates on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar. An inscription below, superimposed on an image of the flag of Andalusia reads Andalucía por sí, para España y la Humanidad ("Andalusia by herself, for Spain and Humanity"). Over the two columns is a semicircular arch in the colors of the flag of Andalusia, with the Latin words Dominator Hercules Fundator superimposed.
The official flag of Andalusia consists of three equal horizontal stripes, colored green, white, and green respectively; the Andalusian coat of arms is superimposed on the central stripe. Its design was overseen by Blas Infante and approved in the Assembly of Ronda (a 1918 gathering of Andalusian nationalists at Ronda). The green symbolizes hope and union, and the white symbolizes peace and dialogue. Blas Infante considered these to have been the colors most used in regional symbols throughout the region's history. According to him, the green came in particular from the standard of the Umayyad Caliphate and represented the call for a gathering of the populace. The white symbolized pardon in the Almohad dynasty, interpreted in European heraldry as parliament or peace. Other writers have justified the colors differently, with some Andalusian nationalists referring to them as the Arbonaida, meaning white-and-green in Mozarabic, a Romance language that was spoken in the region in Muslim times.
The anthem of Andalusia was composed by José del Castillo Díaz (director of the Municipal Band of Seville, commonly known as Maestro Castillo) with lyrics by Blas Infante. The music was inspired by Santo Dios, a popular religious song sung at harvest time by peasants and day laborers in the provinces of Málaga, Seville, and Huelva. Blas Infante brought the song to Maestro Castillo's attention; Maestro Castillo adapted and harmonized the traditional melody. The lyrics appeal to the Andalusians to mobilize and demand tierra y libertad ("land and liberty") by way of agrarian reform and a statute of autonomy within Spain.
The Parliament of Andalusia voted unanimously in 1983 that the preamble to the Statute of Autonomy recognize Blas Infante as the Father of the Andalusian Nation (Padre de la Patria Andaluza), which was reaffirmed in the reformed Statute of Autonomy submitted to popular referendum February 18, 2007. The preamble of the present 2007 Statute of Autonomy says that Article 2 of the present Spanish Constitution of 1978 recognizes Andalusia as a nationality. Later, in its articulation, it speaks of Andalusia as a "historic nationality" (Spanish: nacionalidad histórica). It also cites the 1919 Andalusianist Manifesto of Córdoba describing Andalusia as a "national reality" (realidad nacional), but does not endorse that formulation. Article 1 of the earlier 1981 Statute of Autonomy defined it simply as a "nationality" (nacionalidad).
The honorific title of Hijo Predilecto de Andalucía ("Favorite Son of Andalucia") is granted by the Junta of Andalusia to those whose exceptional merits benefited Andalusia, for work or achievements in natural, social, or political science. It is the highest distinction given by the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.
The Sevillian historian Antonio Domínguez Ortiz wrote that:
…one must seek the essence of Andalusia in its geographic reality on the one hand, and on the other in the awareness of its inhabitants. From the geographic point of view, the whole of the southern lands is too vast and varied to be embraced as a single unit. In reality there are not two, but three Andalusias: the Sierra Morena, the Valley [of the Guadalquivir] and the [Cordillera] Penibética…