Marbella is situated on the Mediterranean Sea, between Málaga and the Strait of Gibraltar, in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca.
The municipality covers an area of 117 square kilometres (45 sq mi) crossed by highways on the coast, which are its main entrances.
Since the mid-1950s, however, Marbellan residents have been called "marbellís" or "marbellíes", the only gentilic, or demonym, that appears in the Diccionario de la Lengua Española (Dictionary of the Spanish Language) published by the Royal Spanish Academy.
In 2001, only 26.2% of Marbella's population had been born there, 15.9% were foreign-born, and those born in other towns in Spain made up the difference.
During the summer months the population of Marbella increases by 30% with the arrival of tourists and foreigners who have their second homes in the area.
The highest peaks of the mountains are occasionally covered with snow, which usually melts in a day or two.
Average rainfall is 628 l/m², while hours of sunshine average 2,900 annually.
In 2012 the population of the city was 140,473 inhabitants, making it the second most populous municipality in the province of Málaga and the eighth in Andalusia.
It is one of the most important tourist cities of the Costa del Sol and throughout most of the year is an international tourist attraction, due mainly to its climate and tourist infrastructure.The coast has the Natural Monument site of the Dunas de Artola, one of the few protected natural beaches of the Costa del Sol, which contains marram grass, sea holly, sea daffodils and shrubs such as large-fruited juniper.Unlike other towns in the Costa del Sol, Marbella had a significant population before the population explosion caused by the tourist boom of the 1960s.Because most of the mountain areas around Marbella cannot be managed by the City Council and they are under the management of the central government, remnants of the land in its natural state are still preserved in the mountains, where there are chestnut and cherry trees, reforested firs, Aleppo, Monterrey and maritime pines; pinyons, and ferns.The fauna is represented by golden eagles, Bonelli's eagles, short-toed eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, genets or musk cats, badgers, wild goats, deer, martens, foxes and rabbits.Marbella's topography is characterised by extensive coastal plains formed from eroded mountains.