The area now covered by the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park has been settled by several cultures, although it was undoubtedly the Moors that left the greatest legacy, from irrigation to defensive castles and even the original names of villages. The mountainous geography has meant a low density of roads, thus preserving the natural and human heritage.
The chestnut is an integral part of the local economy, especially in and around the village of Parauta. It is sold both throughout Spain as well as being exported to northern Europe. In autumn, the chestnut also becomes the central theme to the local festivities, and its spectacular changing colour attracts visitors from afar.
One of the most curious local human activities is linked to the snow that used to collect all year round on the highest peaks. It was stored in huge wells that were dug out of the ground, and then transported by mule at night to the surrounding villages and towns.
The following towns and villages are located within the boundaries of the Natural Park: Alozaina, Casarabonela, El Burgo, Guaro, Istán, Monda, Ojén, Tolox and Yunquera. Most have between 2,000 and 3,000 inhabitants, the highest of which is Yunquera with 3,300 and the least populated is Istán, with approximately 1,500. For those attracted to areas with little or no urban construction, the Sierra de Las Nieves Natural Park is one of the least dense: just 0.3% of its surface is occupied by towns and villages.