Swiped from Wikipedia:
Al-Andalus (Arabic: الأندلس, trans. al-ʼAndalus; Spanish: Al-Ándalus; Portuguese: Al-Andalus; Catalan: Al-Àndalus), also known as Moorish Iberia, was a medieval Muslim state and territorial region occupying parts of what is today Spain and Portugal, and small parts of modern France; its precise extent varied over time. The name more generally describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims (given the generic name of Moors), at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries underwent constant changes due to wars with the Christian Kingdoms.123
Following the Muslim conquest of Hispania, Al-Andalus was divided into five administrative areas roughly corresponding to Andalusia, Galicia and Portugal, Castile and León, Aragon and Catalonia, and Septimania.4 As a political domain or domains, it successively constituted a province of the Umayyad Caliphate, initiated by the Caliph Al-Walid I (711–750); the Emirate of Córdoba (c. 750–929); the Caliphate of Córdoba (929–1031); and the Caliphate of Córdoba’s taifa (successor) kingdoms. Rule under these kingdoms saw the rise in cultural exchange and cooperation between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Under the Caliphate of Córdoba, al-Andalus was a beacon of learning, and the city of Córdoba became one of the leading cultural and economic centres in both the Mediterranean Basin and the Islamic world.
In succeeding centuries, Al-Andalus became a province of the Berber Muslim dynasties of the Almoravids and Almohads, subsequently fragmenting into a number of minor states, most notably the Emirate of Granada. With the support of local inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula the Almoravids deposed the taifa Muslim princes, after helping to repel Christian attacks on the region by Alfonso VI. Rule under the Almoravids and Almohads saw a decline in cultural and social exchange and increased persecution of religious minorities, with a return to more fundamentalist forms of Islam.
For much of its history, Al-Andalus existed in conflict with Christian kingdoms to the north, which at first were forced into subservience but eventually overpowered their Muslim neighbors to the south. In 1085, Alfonso VI of León and Castile captured Toledo, precipitating a gradual decline until, by 1236, with the fall of Córdoba, the Emirate of Granada remained the only Muslim-ruled territory in what is now Spain. The Portuguese Reconquista culminated in 1249 with the conquest of the Algarve by Afonso III. In 1238, the Emirate of Granada officially became a tributary state to the Kingdom of Castile, then ruled by King Ferdinand III. On January 2, 1492, Emir Muhammad XII surrendered the Emirate of Granada to Queen Isabella I of Castile, who along with her husband King Ferdinand II of Aragon were the “Catholic Monarchs”. The surrender concluded Al-Andalus as a political entity, but the cultural and social contributions under Muslim rule still persist in the region.