One of the 17 autonomous regions of Spain, this is one of the oldest wine-growing areas in the world. Shortly before the turn of the century, the Romans settled on the banks of the river Guadiana and founded the city of Emerita Augusta, today's Mérida. Under them, there was a first great flowering in viticulture. In the 13th century, the area was a hotly contested buffer zone between Christian and Moorish Spain. Under Moorish influence, viticulture declined, but reached a peak again in the 17th century. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was mainly emigrants from Extremadura who conquered Central and South America as conquistadores, above all Hernán Cortés (1485-1547), Francisco Pizarro (1476-1541) and Hernando de Soto (1500-1542). Much of the captured wealth flowed back home.