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Marbella is an upmarket city in Andalusia, Spain, by the Mediterranean, situated in the region of Malaga, beneath the Sierra Blanca. In 2000 the city had 98,823 inhabitants, in 2004, 116,234.

Marbella is an important beach resort of the Costa del Sol. The town is famous for being a playground for the famous and super-rich. Marbella is internationally recognised as a favourite destination for extremely wealthy tourists from Northern Europe, in particular the UK and France and also to wealthy Arabs. The area around Marbella is particularly popular with those who like Golf.

It is easy to reach other places, like Malaga and Algeciras, by bus. The area is also served by the A7 auto via, and the closest airport is at Malaga.

Archaeological excavations have been made in the mountains around Marbella, which point at human habitation in Palaeolithic and Neolithic times. There are also remains of Phoenician and later Carthaginensian settlements in the area of Rio Real. In Roman times, the city was called Salduba

During Islamic rule, Muslims built a castle in this city, and they surrounded it by walls. The name Marbella, which is derived from Marbil-la, dates from this Islamic era. In 1485, the Spaniards reconquered the city, and during the centuries that followed, the city grew.

In the 1940s, Marbella was a small village with only 900 inhabitants but this changed when Prince Max Egon zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg and his heir Alfonso of Hohenlohe experienced a problem with their Rolls-Royce in the area.

This first encounter with Marbella so impressed Alonso that he decided to buy land commercially, marketing the area as a tourist destination. In 1954 he opened the Hotel Marbella Club which, in spite of its name, was far from being a conventional tall and impersonal building but rather was a resort with traditional low houses among 23.000 trees.

He soon convinced other noble European families to move to Marbella and enjoy discreet luxury. Alfonso de Mora y Aragón, a Spanish socialite and brother to the queen Queen Fabiola were also a frequent vacationer.

In 1974 the Prince Fahd arrived at the city after having broken the bank of the Casino of Monte Carlo. Until his death in 2005 he was a frequent and profitable guest of Marbella, where his retinue of over thousand people spending petrol-dollars was welcome, including the then-anonymous Osama bin Laden.

In the Eighties, Marbella continued to be a destination for the jet set, with the most recognizable face being that of Gunilla von Bismarck. However, problems arose in 1987 when both Melody Nakachian, daughter of a weapons struggler and the Korean princess and singer Kimera were kidnapped, putting the city in the focus of the media.

In 1991 the builder and president of Atlántico Madrid, Jesus Gil y Gil was elected by wide majority for mayor of Marbella for his own party, the Independent Liberal Group (GIL in Spanish), promising to fight petty crime and the declining prestige associated with the region. Amongst other things, he used, as an international spokesman for the city, actor Sean Connery who later ended this relationship after his image was used for electoral purpose by Gil.

The city also experimented with extensive building activity under the administration of Gil, with critics stating that this construction was often performed without regard for the existing urban plan and thus new plans were stopped by the Andalusia government.

Something of a maverick, Gil despised town-hall formalities instead ruling from his office at the Club Financiero. Criticism was levelled at Gil by the major parties of Spain (PSOE and People's Party) but this did not convince enough voters to oust him and Spanish celebrities continued to spend summers there.

Additional criticism be cried the presence of alleged criminals from the Russian mafia in the city.

Gil's GIL extended to other Costa del Sol towns like Estepona and across the Strait of Gibraltar to the Spanish African cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

This period brought an appraisal of the city but also investigations of corruption began. Eventually, Jesus Gil was forced to resign in 2002 after being jailed for diverting public funds for Atlántico. He was succeeded by Julian Munoz, a former waiter then well-known for being romantically engaged with singer Isabel Pantoja with more than one hundred trials for corruption hanging on. Munoz was overthrown by his own party which elected as new mayor Marisol Yagüe, a former secretary.

Muñoz and Gil took part in a scandalous debate on television where both accused each other of having robbed public funds. The situation exploded in March 2006, when Yagüe was also jailed when the city council was near bankruptcy.

According to unsubstantiated testimony, Muñoz and Yagüe were puppets in the hands of Antonio Roca, a councilman who got the job after failing in private business and gathering substantial wealth while working as a public servant.

 While Yagüe was in jail, the city council was run by Tomas Reñones, a former Atlántico Madrid football player, who ended up in jail as well.

On April 8, 2006, the Spanish government decided to suspend the council, the first time such a course of action was taken in Spanish democracy


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