La Mancha is a state located in the Southeastern Region of Spain that shares borders with Murcia and Valencia to the east, Andalusia to the south, Extremadura to the west and Castilla to the North. La Mancha is a largely plain state, with much of its populace of just under 1 and a half million living in major cities like the state capital and largest city of Albacete (pop. 255,712), Ciudad Real, Tomelloso, or Puertollano.
La Mancha was formerly grouped with the province of Madrid into New Castile (Castilla la Nueva), but with the advent of the modern Spanish system of states (Estados), it was separated due to great demographic disparity between the capital and the remaining New-Castilian provinces. Also, distinct from the former New Castile, La Mancha added the province of Albacete, which had been part of Murcia; adding Albacete placed all of the historic region of La Mancha within this single region.
It is mostly in this region where the story of the famous Spanish novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes is situated, due to which La Mancha is internationally well-known. Although La Mancha is a windswept, battered plateau, it remains a symbol of Spanish culture with its vineyards, sunflowers, mushrooms, olive plantations, windmills, Manchego cheese, and Don Quixote.