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Comunidad Autónoma de Galicia  ( Spanish )
Galicia / Galiza 
Comunidade Autónoma de Galicia  (officially, Galician )
coat of arms
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Basic data
Country : SpainSpain Spain
Capital : Santiago de Compostela
Area : 29,574  km²
Residents : 2,699,499  (January 1, 2019)
Population density : 91.3 inhabitants / km²
Expansion: North – South: approx. 208 km
West – East: approx. 192 km
Time zone : UTC +1
ISO 3166-2 : ES-GA
Website :
Politics and administration
Official language : Spanish  and Galician
Autonomy since: April 28, 1981
President : Alberto Núñez Feijóo ( PPdeG )
Representation in the
Cortes Generales :
Congress : 25 seats
Senate : 19 seats
Structure : 4 provinces

Galicia ([ gaˈlit͡sɪ̯ɘn ], Galician Galicia [ ɡaˈliθjɐ ], Spanish Galicia [ gaˈliθja ], Portuguese Galiza [ gaˈliza ]; officially Galician Comunidade Autónoma de Galicia, Spanish Comunidad Autónoma de Galicia ) is an autonomous community in north-west Spain . It is divided into the four provinces of A Coruña , Lugo , Ourense and Pontevedra .

The name goes back to the Gallaeker ( Latin Gallaeci ), a group of Celtic influenced peoples who settled in the region in ancient times .


Galicia is located in northwestern Spain and stretches between 9 ° W 42 ° N and 7 ° W 44 ° N. Galicia borders the Cantabrian Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west . It borders Portugal to the south and the Spanish autonomous communities of Castile and León and Asturias to the east .

The region is characterized by the Riyal coast and high mountain ranges that separate Galicia from the rest of Spain. More than half of the area is over 400 meters. The highest point is the Peña Trevinca at 2127 meters . The pronounced coastline of Galicia with a total length of around 1659 kilometers, of which over 800 kilometers consist of cliffs and around 300 kilometers of beach sections, covers around a third of the Spanish Atlantic coast . The Rías , tube- and funnel-shaped, fjord-like estuaries into which the sea ​​has penetrated, are characteristic of Galicia’s coast .

Coastline near A Coruña
The port of Baiona with the replica of the "Pinta", one of Christopher Columbus' ships

In contrast to fjords, however, the Rías are only shallow. A distinction is made between the Rías Baixas (Spanish: Rías Bajas ) and the Rías Altas . The Rías Altas in the north stretch from Ribadeo to A Coruña . The Rías Baixas extend from Cape Finisterre (Galic. Cabo Fisterra ) to the Portuguese border. The main distinguishing feature of the two coastal sections is the very specific coastal characteristics. While the Rías Baixas run gently into the sea, the course of the Rías Altas is much steeper. The highest cliffs on the European continent can be found on the Rías Altas . These are located on the Serra da Capelada northeast of Ferrol and reach a height of 620 meters. The largest ría is the Ría de Arousa , which belongs to the Rías Baixas . This has a length of 37 kilometers and a maximum depth of 69 meters. The numerous wooden rafts on which mussels are grown are striking .

Characteristic for Galicia are also the extensive forests, some of which consist of planted eucalyptus trees . The forest area in the autonomous community corresponds to about 30 percent of the total forest stock in Spain. The rivers that flow directly towards the Atlantic are naturally quite short; the main river in the interior of Galicia is the Rio Miño . It flows through Lugo and Ourense, both through these provinces and through their eponymous capitals, and has an important tributary in the Río Sil .

In Galicia is the goal of both culturally significant tourist Camino de Santiago , the pilgrims and other interested parties on foot, by bike or by car to Santiago de Compostela leads.

Important cities are A Coruña , Ferrol , Lugo , Ourense , Pontevedra , Santiago de Compostela and Vigo .


The region's climate is shaped by the Atlantic and is extremely mild, but very humid. Characteristic for Galicia are mild winters with heavy rainfall and not too hot summer months. The average sunshine duration is 1,989.4 hours per year. The mean temperatures on the coast are an annual average of 13.8 ° C in A Coruña and 14.7 ° C in Vigo. Ourense reaches 14 ° C inland. In the mountains, the average temperatures are significantly lower, such as 9.7 ° C in the "Alto de Rodicio" or 8 ° C in "Pedrafita do Cebreiro". The north-west of Galicia has around 150 rainy days a year, making it the rainiest region in Spain. This number is increasingly decreasing towards the southeast. Around 100 rainy days or less are registered here each year. The rainiest periods are winter, autumn and spring in decreasing order. The mean amount of precipitation is 1,404.8 l / m².

The humid climate, frequent fog and winds as well as the green mountainous landscape, especially in autumn and winter, suggest associations with Ireland or Brittany .

Population and language

The population of Galicia is 2,718,525, of which 48.2% are men and 51.8% are women (as of 2016). The German name for the local population is Galicier (span. Gallegos, gal. Galegos ).

In Galicia, in addition to Spanish, the Galician language, which is closely related to Portuguese (self-name galego, span. Gallego ) is spoken. Galician has been the official language in the region alongside Spanish since the early 1980s. In November 2005, Galician was recognized as an "official language" but not as one of the official languages ​​of the European Union .

A survey by the statistical institute of the regional government on language usage dates from 2008. It is not a question of the entire population, but a sample survey aimed at people aged five and over. When asked about the mother tongue, 47.4% of the respondents said Galician, 27.1% Spanish and 23.1% both languages. The following information was provided for self-assessment of knowledge of Galician:

Knowledge of Galician
Well enough low not at all
Understand 66.0% 28.8% 04.6% 00.7%
Speak 54.1% 35.0% 07.7% 03.1%
Read 46.8% 36.2% 14.0% 03.0%
Write 25.3% 32.6% 23.3% 18.9%


“Labirintos de Mogor”: Cup-and-ring marking from Marin,
Pontevedra province

In Galicia, isolated traces have been found dating back to the Late Paleolithic , between 25,000 and 16,000 BC. To be dated. The oldest traces of human activity were found in Budiño, Porriño, and date from around 25,000 BC. From 8000 BC. The finds of stone tools are quite common. Fishing has been practiced on the coast since the Mesolithic and mussels are collected. The period is also known as the Asturian culture and is common along the coast from Vigo to Asturias. The first ceramics appear. The first megalithic systems were built from 4000 BC. Built in BC. About 5,000 hills called Mámoa , which mostly cover dolmens in the center, can be found here. Unfortunately robbery excavations took place in the burial mounds, which continue to this day. The structures of the dolmen of Dombate , dolmen of Axeitos , dolmen of Maus de Salas or Pedra da Arca are well known .

There is evidence of a developed metalworking in the Bronze Age (from 1800 BC). Various figures engraved in stone ( petroglyphs ) also date from this period . Based on abstract themes ( cup-and-ring markings ), animals and people are also represented. The most important places where the figures were found are in the province of Pontevedra (Mogor, Castrove, Campolameiro).

The Pedra Formosa from the Castro de Borneiro

In the late Bronze Age and the Iron Age (around 1000 BC to 400 BC), fortified settlements (Gal. U Spanish castros ) emerged, mostly on sheltered slopes or on hills. The fortifications and the floor plans of the mostly oval houses are partly still visible - good examples are:

Probably from the 7th century BC. The Celts invaded Galicia in different waves and mixed with the local population. The name Galicia is derived from the Celtic Gallaekern , Latin Gallaeci, who settled in this area .

The Romans first introduced in 135 BC Expeditions to Galicia by. The consolidation of Roman power was carried out by Julius Caesar in 60 BC. Galicia became the Roman province of Gallaecia .

Gallaecia included - beyond what is now Galicia - areas in the western part of present-day Castile and in the northern part of Portugal. The pacification of Gallaecia took place through the campaigns under the Roman emperor Augustus . As a result, the Romans developed a comprehensive infrastructure, especially through the construction of roads. Along with the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, the roads of the Romans remained the only good connections to Galicia until the Middle Ages.

During the migration period , the Germanic Suebi settled in Galicia in 409 and founded the Kingdom of the Suebi in 411 under King Hermeric , who ruled until 438 . During the Suebian rule, however, there were indigenous groups, according to Hydatius in the 5th century the Aunonenses and Auregenses, who could not be subjected to the Suebian suzerainty. In the 6th century the runcones are mentioned in the same context . The first king Ermenrich is followed by the kings Rechila (438–448) and Rechiar (448–456). Only a few records have survived from the time of Regent Rechiar and afterwards. What is certain is that the Sueben kingdom was decisively weakened by the death of King Miro . Miro died in 583 on an unsuccessful campaign against the Visigoth king Leovigild , whose rebellious son Hermenegild he wanted to support. The Suebi then began a power struggle for royal dignity, which Leovigild used to annex the Suebian kingdom. Audeca was the last king of the Suebi. He was defeated by Leovigild, who devastated Galicia in 585, stole the crown treasure and made the country a Visigoth province. The new rule led to a severe economic and social crisis, from which the country was only able to slowly recover at the end of the 8th century. The native aristocracy seems to have continued to exist; Rekkared II is still called rex Gothorum atque Sueuorum . It was not until 652 under Rekkeswinth that an administrative reform was carried out, which better integrated the territory into the Visigoth Empire.

After the reign of Chindaswinth , only Braga , Lucus and Tude ( Tuy ) functioned as mints.

The northwest of the Iberian Peninsula seems to have remained pagan until almost the end of Visigoth rule. The ecclesiastical organization seems to have emerged towards the end of the 6th century. The magnates preferred their own churches under their direct control. The Christianization of the Suebi goes back to the Priscillians who failed to eradicate pagan customs, as well as to Saint Martin of Braga and Fructuosus of Braga . In 561 and 572 councils were held in Braga condemning pagan practices; but at the end of the 7th century Valerius von Bierzo had to complain about their existence.

The Moorish conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, which began in 711, had little influence on Galicia. The first Moors invaded Galicia in 716. There is no evidence of a permanent settlement of the Moors in the Galician core area. Only in the outskirts of the country did a few smaller groups of Berbers settle down. An incorporation of Galicia into the dominion of Al-Andalus did not take place. Around 740, the Moors finally withdrew from Galicia. From the following decades, however, Moorish raids into Galician territory are known again and again.

In the year 813, bones were found in a tomb in today's city of Santiago de Compostela , which were ascribed to the Apostle James (Santiago in Spanish), one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The site became  a place of pilgrimage around 830 - at the time of Bishop Theodemir von Iria Flavia . In the following years, believing Christians from all over Europe made pilgrimages to Galicia on the Camino de Santiago to visit the tomb of James. In 1075 the foundation stone was laid for the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela , which was consecrated in 1211.

In the 10th and 11th centuries, Galicia was briefly an independent kingdom. In 1065 Don García was proclaimed King of Galicia. Galicia was otherwise part of the Kingdom of León . In the 13th century it fell to the Castilian crown together with León.

In 1833 the Kingdom of Galicia was formally dissolved and divided into four provinces, which were directly subordinate to the Spanish central government. The political and cultural heteronomy intensified during the Carlist Wars after 1847.

The economic backwardness of Galicia, which resulted from the remoteness of the region, led to the beginning of mass emigration in the 19th century. Around 2.5 million people emigrated between 1836 and 1980. The most popular destination was Latin America (including Argentina, Brazil, Cuba). But many Galicians also went to Barcelona, ​​Bilbao or Madrid. As a result of this wave of emigration that began at that time, around 1.4 million Galicians (2003) are currently living in emigration , although with the economic upturn in Spain a return movement has started around 1980.

In 1910 a rapidly radicalizing peasant movement emerged, the Acción Gallega , which was directed against caciquismo , the dominance of local political bosses and the associated clientelism . One of their leaders was Basilio Álvarez .

In the Spanish Civil War , Franco's forces brought Galicia under their control in July 1936. After the war, the public use of the Galician language was severely hampered by a repressive language policy.

In the course of the democratization of Spain in the 1970s, Galicia was recognized as one of the historical nations of Spain alongside Catalonia , Navarre and the Basque Country and was therefore one of the first regions in Spain to receive a statute of autonomy in 1980/1981. Since then it has been one of the Autonomous Communities of Spain .

The years between 1989 and 2005 were marked at the level of the autonomous community by a clear absolute majority of the conservative Partido Popular under the head of government Manuel Fraga Iribarne .

In recent years there have been several off the coast of Galicia oil tanker - accidents . In particular, the serious accident of the tanker Prestige in 2002 came into the focus of the international public (see also oil spill ). This was the starting point for the comprehensive citizens' and social movement “Never again!” (Nunca Máis) .


Galicia has the status of an autonomous community within the Kingdom of Spain and has its own regional parliament. The regional government is called Xunta de Galicia .

The political landscape of Galicia is formed by the regional branches of the large Spanish popular parties Partido Popular (here: Partido Popular de Galicia - PPG) and Partido Socialista Obrero Español (here: Partido Socialista de Galicia - PSdeG) as well as the left-wing nationalist regional party Bloque Nacionalista Galego (BNG) certainly.

In the regional elections on June 19, 2005, the Partido Popular, headed by Manuel Fraga Iribarne , who was running for a fifth term , won 44.9% of the votes (37 seats) and thus just missed the renewed absolute majority. The socialists, who received 32.5% (25 seats) of the vote, and the BNG with 19.6% (13 seats) thus had a narrow majority in the regional parliament. The United Left ( Izquierda Unida ) obtained 0.8% (0 seats) of the vote in the elections on June 19, 2005.

After the formation of a coalition government from PSdeG and BNG, Emilio Pérez Touriño from PSdeG was elected by the Galician parliament on July 29, 2005 to succeed Manuel Fraga Iribarne as head of government and took office on August 2, 2005.

In the regional parliament elections on March 1, 2009, after four years in the opposition, the PP was again able to achieve an absolute majority of the seats:

Political party percent Seats 2009 Seats 2005
PP 46.7% 38 37
PSdeG-PSOE 31.0% 25th 25th
BNG 16.0% 12 13
EU-IU 1.0% 0 0

As a result of the regional elections, Alberto Núñez Feijóo was elected as the new head of government with the votes of the PP MPs.

Political structure

The four provinces

The Autonomous Community of Galicia is divided into four provinces, each named after the administrative seat:

The provinces for their part comprise 53 districts with 315 parishes and 3,781 so-called parroquias .

It is noteworthy that Galicia, with a share of only 5.8% of the total area of ​​Spain, comprises over half of the localities in Spain. In 1996 there were 20,947, some of which only counted one house.

province Residents Capital List of municipalities
A Coruña 1,119,596 A Coruña Municipalities in the province of A Coruña
Lugo 0.329,587 Lugo Municipalities in the province of Lugo
Ourense 0.307,651 Ourense Municipalities in the Province of Ourense
Pontevedra 0.942,665 Pontevedra Municipalities in the province of Pontevedra

Economy and Infrastructure

The gross domestic product (GDP) at market prices was 89.3 billion euros in 2015 (32.7 billion in 2000). The per capita GDP was 20,500 euros, a level that amounted to 88.4% of the Spanish per capita GDP in 2015 (23,200 euros). Compared with the GDP of the EU expressed in purchasing power standards Galicia achieved an index of 79 (EU-28: 100) (2015).

The country's economic structure is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises ( SMEs ). In 2003 there were a total of 174,083 companies in Galicia, of which 173,935 (99.9%) were small and medium-sized companies (between 0 and 249 employees). Around 94.9% of companies in Galicia belonged to the group of micro-enterprises (0 to 9 employees). The number of large companies in Galicia is underdeveloped compared to the whole of Spain. Among the large companies based in Galicia, Inditex SA (Industrias de Diseño Textil Sociedad Anónima) deserves special mention. Inditex is one of the largest textile companies in the world, based in Arteixo, a suburb of A Coruña , Spain. The Zara company belongs to Inditex . Other large companies are the bank Banco Pastor from A Coruña and the food industry company Pescanova Alimentación, SA from Redondela .

Agriculture and fishing are of particular importance in Galicia . The importance of agriculture in the east of the country and industry and the major ports in the west predominate .

In 2003, employment in the Galician economy was broken down into the economic sectors as follows:

  • Agricultural sector 12.8% (Spain total: 5.6%)
  • Industrial sector 20.3% (18.2%)
  • Construction / construction sector 12.1% (11.8%)
  • Service sector 54.8% (64.3%)

The average annual unemployment rate was 15.7% in 2017. The youth, d. H. the part of the population with the best level of education has the highest unemployment rate. The availability of staff is evident and is compounded by the immigration of young Galician descendants from Latin America and Europe.

With a score of 0.880, Galicia ranks 9th among the 17 autonomous communities in Spain in the Human Development Index .

Forest fires

Compared to the rest of Spain, Galicia is hit by an above-average number of forest fires each summer . In 2006 the fires reached a preliminary peak: According to official information, around 70,000 hectares of forest and scrubland burned within two weeks at the beginning of August; Over 1,600 sources of fire were counted. People were also injured (four dead) and houses were destroyed in these fires; The smoke from the burning forests led to considerable smog on the coast, which means that roads even had to be closed at times. The total damage is estimated at 500 million euros in 2006 alone. The causes of these fires - which are surprising at first because Galicia is very humid and rainy compared to the rest of Spain - are diverse. On the one hand, the forests of Galicia are largely monocultures of eucalyptus and conifers, which are particularly easily inflammable. The forests are also considered to be "neglected", i.e. H. poorly managed; plenty of dry undergrowth contributes to the spread of fires. In addition to natural fires caused by lightning strikes or self-ignition in the heat, however, many fires can be traced back to arson. These are partly due to soil speculation - despite a law according to which burned areas may not be built on for 30 years. Firefighters have also been convicted of arson, as the mostly private fire brigades receive bonuses for deployments. Finally, carelessly thrown cigarette butts and barbecues are also possible causes. The variety of causes make effective control or prevention very difficult. However, the very strong fires in 2006 apparently initiated a process of rethinking among the population. People are increasingly thinking about the ecological and economic value of forests.

The Galician fires in particular led to the adoption of a resolution by the European Parliament on September 6, 2006, which was tabled by an inter-party group of parliamentarians. The EU Commission will u. a. called on to ensure the sustainable development of Europe's forests and to develop and better coordinate measures to prevent forest fires and floods.

Lighthouse at Cabo Fisterra





Carlos Nuñez
Susana Seivane

Traditional Galician music is characterized by the use of the bagpipes (Galician Gaita ), hurdy-gurdy and harp . In addition, percussion instruments such as tamboril ( snare drum ) or pandereta ( pandeiro ) play an important role. Traditional folk music hardly differs from certain types of music played in Spain or Portugal. Nowadays, Celtic music is often played as part of the recognition of a Celtic identity. These are mainly loans from Irish, Scottish or Breton music.

An early literary mention of the use of the Gaita in Galicia can be found in the Punica, a poem by Silius Italicus about the Second Punic War . There it says:

"Fibrarum et pennae divinarumque sagacem
flammarum misit dives Callaecia pubem,
barbara nunc patriis ululantem carmina linguis,
nunc pedis alterno percussa verbere terra,
ad numerum resonas gaudentem chatter caetras." (Book III.344-7)

The Caetras and Gaethas mentioned by Silius Italicus are bagpipes made from Callaecia .

Johan Gonçalves, who lived in Monfero in 1374, is the first gaiteiro (German bagpiper ) of Galicia to be passed down by name .

Important representatives of traditional Galician music, some of which have also received international attention, are the groups Milladoiro or Fuxan os Ventos. Milladoiro in particular became internationally known in the field of Celtic folk music years ago .

Musicians who are firmly rooted in traditional Galician music, but who are also looking for new paths. a. Berrogüetto , Carlos Núñez , Luar na Lubre , Mercedes Péon, Pancho Alvarez, Susana Seivane , Ialma, Cristina Pato and Xosé Manuel Budiño. These musicians were also able to gain some prominence in the international folk scene .


More than four thousand local festivals are celebrated in Galicia every year, to which countless pilgrimages, gastronomic celebrations and other traditions, such as the carnival, are added.

Religious celebrations

  • July 16: Fiesta del Carmen . Day of the Virgin Mary del Carmen, is considered the patron saint of fishermen and is celebrated at all ports with a ship procession.
  • July 25th: Name day of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela . At the same time, this day is the Galician national holiday ( Día da Patria Galega ).
  • August 31: San Ramón de Bealo . A very traditional and popular festival in the pilgrimage site of San Ramón de Bealo.
  • Second week of September: Festas da Virxe de Guadalupe de Rianxo . One of the most famous and oldest festivals in Galicia (since 1773).

Historical festivals

Some annual celebrations with a historical background are:

  • March 28 : Festa da Reconquista in Vigo - Celebration of the "reconquest" of the city after the invasion of Napoleonic troops.
  • 1st Sunday in August: Festa Viquinga (German Viking Festival) in Catoira, Pontevedra - The festival is based on a historical event. At the festival, locals disguised as Vikings attack the peace-loving residents of Catoira from their dragon boats. After the re-enactment of the battle is over, tons of wine, mussels and squid are consumed. The Catoira Viking Festival has now been classified as a festival of "national historical interest". The festival is musically accompanied by traditional bagpipe groups.


The proximity to the Atlantic Ocean is reflected in the coastal regions. The specialties of Galician cuisine include various crustaceans and shellfish. These include u. a. the barnacle Pollicipes pollicipes (Galician percebes ), oysters ( ostras ), lobsters ( lagostas ) and scallops ( vieiras ). Various types of fish are also regularly on the menu here. These include, for example, the hake ( merluza ) or the salted stockfish ( bacallau ). Hearty stews (e.g. caldo galego ), the Polbo á feira (Galician-style octopus) or the empanada are also typical of Galicia . This dish, consisting mainly of dough and a spicy filling, is one of the most popular dishes in traditional Galician cuisine and was featured in the glory portal of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela as early as 1188.

There are currently five designations of origin ( Denominacións de Orixe ) for wines from Galicia. These are Ribeiro , Valdeorras , Rías Baixas , Ribeira Sacra , and Monterrei .


In the 2018/19 season, the Real Club Celta de Vigo, a Galician football club, is represented in the Primera División . The Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña and Club Deportivo Lugo compete in the second-rate Segunda División .

In the Segunda División B of play Coruxo FC and Rápido de Bouzas of Vigo and Pontevedra CF . In addition, there are secondary agencies for Celta de Vigo and Deportivo La Coruña.


Web links

Wiktionary: Galicia  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Galicia  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Galicia  - Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. Cifras oficiales de población resultantes de la revisión del Padrón municipal a 1 de enero . Population statistics from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (population update).
  2. ^ Population by Autonomous Community and Autonomous City and Sex. INE statistics .
  3. Conocimiento y uso del gallego. Datos de años anteriores. Años 2003 and 2008. Instituto Gallego de Estatística (Spanish, Galician) .
  4. ^ O primeiro dos reinos., July 5, 2004.
  5. Xunta de Galiucia (PDF)
  7. Eurostat. Retrieved April 15, 2018 .
  8. ( Memento of the original from December 22, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. Unemployment rate, by NUTS 2 regions. Retrieved November 5, 2018 .
  10. ^ Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab. Retrieved August 12, 2018 .
  11. PE 378.317v01-00 or B6-0460 / 2006

Coordinates: 42 ° 45 ′  N , 7 ° 53 ′  W