Hispania Citerior (English: "Hither Iberia", or "Nearer Iberia") was a Roman Province in Hispania during the Roman Republic. It was on the eastern coast of Iberia down to the town of Cartago Nova, today's Cartagena, Spain in the autonomous community of Murcia, Spain. It roughly covered today's Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia and Valencia. Further south there was the Roman Province of Hispania Ulterior ("Further Iberia"), being further away from Rome. The two provinces were formed in 197 BC, four years after the end of the Second Punic War (218-201 BC). During this war Scipio Africanus defeated the Carthaginians at the Battle of Ilipa (near Seville) in 206 BC. This led to the Romans taking over the Carthaginian possessions in southern Spain and on the east coast up to the River Ebro. Several governors of Hispania Citerior commanded wars against the Celtiberians who lived to the west of this province. In the late first century BC Augustus reorganised the Roman provinces in Hispania and Hispania Citerior was replaced by the larger province of Hispania Tarraconensis, which included the territories the Romans had conquered in central, northern and north-western Hispania. Augustus also renamed Hispania Ulterior Hispania Baetica and created a third province, Hispania Lusitania.
Hispania is the Latin term given to the Iberian peninsula. The term can be traced back to at least 200 BC by the poet Quintus Ennius. The word is possibly derived from the Punic אי שפן "I-Shaphan" meaning "coast of hyraxes", in turn a misidentification on the part of Phoenician explorers of its numerous rabbits as hyraxes. According to ancient historian Cassius Dio, the people of the region came from many different tribes, not sharing a common language nor a common government.