Badajoz (formerly sometimes written Badajos), a frontier province of western Spain, formed in 1833 of districts taken from the province of Estremadura (q.v.), and bounded on the N. by Cáceres, E. by Cordova and Ciudad Real, S. by Seville and Huelva, and W. by Portugal. Pop. (1900) 520,246; area, 8451 sq. m. Badajoz is thus the largest province of the whole kingdom. Although in many districts there are low ranges of hills, the surface is more often a desolate and monotonous plain, flat or slightly undulating. Its one large river is the Guadiana, which traverses the north of the province from east to west, fed by many tributaries; but it is only at certain seasons that the river-beds fill with any considerable volume of water, and the Guadiana may frequently be forded without difficulty. The climate shows great extremes of heat in summer and of cold in winter, when fierce north and north-west winds blow across the plains. In the hot months intermittent fevers are prevalent in the Guadiana valley. The rainfall is scanty in average years, and only an insignificant proportion of the land is irrigated, while the rest is devoted to pasture, or covered with thin bush and forest.

Agriculture, and the cultivation of fruit, including the vine and olive, are thus in a very backward condition; but Badajoz possesses more livestock than any other Spanish province. Its acorn-fed swine are celebrated throughout Spain for their hams and bacon, and large herds of sheep and goats thrive where the pasture is too meagre for cattle. The exploitation of the mineral resources of Badajoz is greatly hindered by lack of water and means of communication; in 1903, out of nearly 600 mines registered only 26 were at work. Their output consisted of lead, with very small quantities of copper. The local industries are not of much importance: they comprise manufactures of woollen and cotton stuffs of a coarse description, soaps, oils, cork and leather. The purely commercial interests are more important than the industrial, because of the transit trade to and from Portugal through no less than seven custom-houses. Many parts of the province are inaccessible except by road, and the roads are ill-made, ill-kept and wholly insufficient. The main line of the Madrid-Lisbon railway passes through Villanueva de la Serena, Mérida and Badajoz; at Mérida it is joined by the railways going north to Cáceres and south to Zafra, where the lines from Huelva and Seville unite.

After Badajoz, the capital (pop. (1900) 30,899), the principal towns are Almendralejo (12,587), Azuaga (14,192), Don Benito (16,565), Jerez de los Caballeros (10,271), Mérida (11,168) and Villanueva de la Serena (13,489); these, and also the historically interesting village of Albuera, are described in separate articles. Other small towns, chiefly important as markets for agricultural produce, are Albuquerque (9030), Cabeza del Buey (7566), Campanario (7450), Fregenal de la Sierra (9615), Fuente de Cantos (8483), Fuente del Maestre (6934), Llerena (7049), Montijo (7644), Oliva de Jerez (8348), Olivenza (9066), San Vicente de Alcántara (7722), and Villafranca de los Barros (9954). Very few inhabitants emigrate from this province, where the birth-rate considerably exceeds the death-rate. Education, even primary, is in a very backward condition.

Badajoz, the capital of the Spanish province described above; situated close to the Portuguese frontier, on the left bank of the river Guadiana, and the Madrid-Lisbon railway. Pop. (1900) 30,899. Badajoz is the see of a bishop, and the official residence of the captain-general of Estremadura. It occupies a slight eminence, crowned by the ruins of a Moorish castle, and overlooking the Guadiana. A strong wall and bastions, with a broad moat and outworks, and forts on the surrounding heights, give the city an appearance of great strength. The river, which flows between the castle-hill and the powerfully armed fort of San Cristobál, is crossed by a magnificent granite bridge, originally built in 1460, repaired in 1597 and rebuilt in 1833. The whole aspect of Badajoz recalls its stormy history; even the cathedral, built in 1258, resembles a fortress, with massive embattled walls. Badajoz was the birthplace of the statesman Manuel de Godoy, duke of Alcúdia (1767-1851), and of the painter Luis de Morales (1509-1586). Two pictures by Morales, unfortunately retouched in modern times, are preserved in the cathedral.

Owing to its position the city enjoys a considerable transit trade with Portugal; its other industries include the manufacture of linen, woollen and leather goods, and of pottery. It is not mentioned by any Roman historian, and first rose to importance under Moorish rule. In 1031 it became the capital of a small Moorish kingdom, and, though temporarily held by the Portuguese in 1168, it retained its independence until 1229, when it was captured by Alphonso IX. of Leon. As a frontier fortress it underwent many sieges. It was beleaguered by the Portuguese in 1660, and in 1705 by the Allies in the War of the Spanish Succession. During the Peninsular War Badajoz was unsuccessfully attacked by the French in 1808 and 1809; but on the 10th of March 1811, the Spanish commander, José Imaz, was bribed into surrendering to the French force under Marshal Soult. A British army, commanded by Marshal Beresford, endeavoured to retake it, and on the 16th of May defeated a relieving force at Albuera, but the siege was abandoned in June. The fortress was finally stormed on the 6th of April 1812, by the British under Lord Wellington, and carried with terrible loss. It was then delivered up to a two day's pillage.

A military and republican rising took place here in August 1883, but completely failed.