The Costa del Sol ("Sun Coast" or, more literally, "Coast of the Sun") is a region in the south of Spain, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, comprising the coastal towns and communities along the Mediterranean coastline of the Málaga province and the eastern edge of the Cádiz province. The Costa del Sol is situated between two lesser known costas: Costa de la Luz and Costa Tropical. Formerly made up only of a series of small, quiet fishing settlements, the region has been completely transformed during the latter part of the 20th century into a tourist destination of world renown, with a near-continuous urban agglomeration of high-rise settlements and resorts running along the length of the coastline.
It includes the city of Málaga,and the towns of Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella and Puerto Banús which are also the wealthiest towns, San Pedro de Alcántara, Vélez-Málaga, Nerja, Torrox, Estepona, San Luis de Sabinillas, the community of Sotogrande, San Roque and La Línea de la Concepción.
Settlement in the region dates back to the Bronze Age, and it has been colonised and ruled by many cultures such as the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths and Moors, before the Reconquista.
Historically its population lived in the fishing villages, and in the "white" villages a little distance inland, in the mountains running down to the coast. The area was discovered and developed to meet the demands of international tourism in the 1950s and has since been a popular destination for foreign tourists not only for its beaches but also for its local culture. The area is particularly famous for its towns like Marbella, which provides the Costa del Sol with its reputation for being a playground for its super-rich and famous visitors.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, the region became known as the "Costa del Crime", due to the trend for British gangsters to escape from legal trouble at home by moving there to live their lives in luxury. Due to tense relations between the two nations over Gibraltar, extradition between the two countries was not followed. This phenomenon has been alluded to in television shows such as Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and in the more recent film The Business.
In recent years the Costa Del Sol has become known to golf enthusiasts as the "Costa Del Golf" due to the number of high quality golf courses, more than fifty, of which many are centred around Marbella. Attracting golfers from all over Europe and the rest of the world, the Costa del Sol has benefitted from the stimulation provided by this sport to growth in tourism and to the resulting increase in development of new complexes to house the number of golfers visiting the area.
The Costa del Sol is heavily urbanised, with a wide ribbon of densely-packed buildings running along most of the coast. Architectural styles are a mixture of low-rise, whitewashed villas and developments of high-rise apartment blocks concentrated in the tourist resorts. While many of the villas and other single dwellings are designed and built in the local Andalusian-style the purpose-built multi-dwelling blocks have little harmony with the geography of the area.