JPEG Map of Galicia (188KB)

General information factsheet
+ Geography and climate
+ Population
+ Government and sovereignty
+ Economy
+ Historical background

Geography and climate

Location: Western Europe, north western corner of the Iberian peninsula, 900 km south of Ireland.
Area: 29,434 sq km (approximately the size of Belgium or Maryland).
Coastline: 1,659 km.
Terrain: hills and low mountains. Highlands on the eastern border. Sea cliffs on the west and north coast.
Forest: 2.060.453 ha. - ( 70%)
Highest elevation
: Pena Trevinca (2,124 m), in south east Galicia.
Climate: Temperate maritime, influenced by the North Atlantic current -the Gulf Stream; mild winters, warm summers and consistently humid.
Average temperature and rainfall index:

  Santiago (West) Vigo (Sth-West) Lugo (North)
Temp. August 25 C / 13 C 23 C / 14 C 25 C / 13 C
Temp. January 9 C / 3 C 11 C / 5 C 9 C / 1 C
Rainfall 1700 mm 1810 mm 982 mm


Population: 2.7 million (2000).
Around 70% of the population lives in the western part of the country.
Main 3 cities: Vigo, Corunna, Santiago.
Galician diaspora: largest Galician emigrant communities are found in Argentina, USA, Switzerland, Germany and France.
Population growth rate: info not available.
Ethnic composition: Base of Celtic and Germanic (Swabian). New population contributions from Spanish and Latin American groups.
Religious affiliation: Majority of Christian Roman Catholic affiliation.
Official languages: Galician and Spanish.
Galician is spoken daily by 68% of the population, mostly in rural areas. Spanish is understood by 100% of the population and is spoken in cities mainly by the younger generations. Spanish is the main language of instruction at schools.


 Santiago de Compostela - Photo © J.P. Pouliquen
Santiago de Compostela - Photo © J.P. Pouliquen

Sovereignty: Territory of the Kingdom of Spain, in 1938 and again in 1981 Galicia became an autonomous region of Spain with full powers on economic policy, infrastructure, environment, health, social services, education and culture.
Government type: Parliamentary democracy, autonomous region of the Kingdom of Spain.
Capital: Santiago.
Administrative divisions: 4 Spanish provinces; A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense, Pontevedra.
Constitution: Spanish constitution of 6 December 1978.
Legal system: based on Spanish civil law, substantially modified by Galician concepts.
Executive branch: Xunta de Galicia, the Galician government, is composed by a President (Presidente) and a Cabinet of Ministers (Conselleiros) appointed by the President.
Legislative branch: Parliament (Parlamento de Galicia), consisting on 75 members elected by popular vote, serve four year term.
Judicial branch: Supreme High Court of Galicia (Tribunal Superior de Xustiza de Galicia).
Current Government: Partido Popular de Galicia, majority government. President: Mr. Alberto Núñez-Feijóo.
Political parties: Partido Popular de Galicia (PP); Partido Socialista de Galicia-Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSDG-PSOE); Bloque Nacionalista Galego (BNG).
National holiday: Santiago (Saint James' Day), 25 July.
Official flag: White flag with a blue stripe, adopted in the 20th century replacing the flag of the former Kingdom of Galicia.


 Caion harbour - Photo © J.P. Pouliquen
Caion harbour - Photo © J.P. Pouliquen

- Galicia is a small economy, among the 5 poorest regions of Spain and one of the least developed areas in the EU.
- Galicia has the largest fishing fleet in the EU and a highly developed shellfish and food processing industry.
- Agricultural contribution to the GDP is limited by the subsistence of tiny inviable landholdings and lack of agricultural reform.
- Vigo's car industry accounts for 19% of Galicia's GDP and about 50% of Galician exports.
- Low foreign investment and high public spending has rocketed Galicia's public debt to record €2 billion (2003)
- Unemployment remains at 12% and salaries are 15% below the Spanish average.
GDP Purchasing Power Parity: approx. € 29 billion (2002).
GDP real growth rate: +1.9% (2007).
GDP per capita: purchasing power parity - approx. € 10,740 (2002).
Population below poverty line: info not available.
Labour force: 1.2 million (2001).
Labour force - occupation by sectors: info not available).
Unemployment rate: 12.2% (2002).
Budget: info not available.
Currency: Euro (EUR).
Industries: Fishing and agriculture, food processing, cars, textile manufacturing, mining.
Main airports: Santiago, Vigo.
Main ports: Vigo, A Coruña, Ferrol.

Historical background

St. James' Pilgrimage - Photo © J.P. Pouliquen
St. James' Pilgrimage - Photo © J.P. Pouliquen

- Megalithic culture in Galicia ca. 4500-1500 BC. Stone constructions characteristic of the Galician landscape and heritage.
- Bronze Age and trade in the European Atlantic, 1500-700 BC.
- Celtic culture flourishes in the west of the Iberian peninsula, 800-500 BC.
- Roman empire: Rome conquers northwest Hispania between 135-26 BC and creates the province of Gallaecia.
- Christianity spreads in Gallaecia ca. 350 AD, blending with native beliefs and greatly influencing Galician history and society to this day.
- Fall of the Roman empire ca. 410 AD.
- Germanic invasions: Swabians settle in Gallaecia ca. 410 AD unifying the Celtic tribes and creating the first kingdom in western Europe after the fall of Rome. Celtic refugees from Britannia are given land in a northern province called Britonia.
- Arabic invasions collapse Hispania in 714 AD. Gallaecia is reorganised in 718 AD and splits in 3 Christian kingdoms: Galicia, Asturias and Portugal (1139).
- Viking age: Scandinavians and Normans raid Galicia in the 9th-10th centuries. Britonia is destroyed.
- Pilgrimage to Santiago: The relics of the Apostle St. James are found in Galicia in 835 AD. Santiago becomes the Mecca of the Christian world. Golden Age of Galician scholarship between the 12th and 14th centuries.
- Spanish rule: Galicia is annexed to Castile after losing the succession wars of 1366-1387 and 1472. Disappearance of the Galician native upper classes. Galician trade with America is forbidden in 1573. The Kingdom of Galicia is formally abolished in 1833.
- Emigration: Mass emigration to South America as the Gallegan economy collapses.
Galician renaissance, 19th century: Galician intellectuals advocate the right of the Galicians to express their national culture. Celtic idiosincracy is considered the cornerstone of Galician identity. Cultural and political organisations are created. Galicians vote in 1936 referendum for political autonomy.
- Spanish dictatorship (1936-1975): Military coup and dictatorship. 2,000 Home Rule activists executed in the first month of the war. Galician government in exile. Mass emigration to western Europe.
- Political activism: political parties and cultural organisations re-emerge after the end of dictatorship in 1975 demanding devolution of sovereignty on Galician affairs to the Galician people.
- Political devolution: in 1980 the Galician people voted in a referendum for the creation of a Galician government with large powers over economic policy, culture, education, environment and social affairs. The Galician Government and the Parliament of Galicia were established in 1981.
- European Union: as a part of Spain, Galicia becomes a territory of the EEC - EU in 1986.

Tagged under: Galicia

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