Opinions on Galicia (Spain)

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Not to be confused with Galicia (East Central Europe).

Galicia (English Listen/ɡəˈlɪsiə/, /ɡəˈlɪʃə/; Galician: [ɡaˈliθja], [ħaˈliθja], or [ħaˈlisja]; Spanish: [ɡaˈliθja]; Galician and Portuguese: Galiza, [ɡaˈliθa], [ħaˈliθa] or [ħaˈlisa]) is an autonomous community in northwest Spain, with the official status of a historic nationality. It comprises the provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra, being bordered by Portugal to the south, the Spanish autonomous communities of Castile and León and Asturias to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the north. It had a population of 2,765,940 in 2013 and has a total area of 29,574 km (11,419 sq mi). Galicia has over 1,660 km (1,030 mi) of coastline, including its offshore islands and islets, among them Cíes Islands, Ons, Sálvora, Cortegada, and—the largest and most populated—A Illa de Arousa.

The area now called Galicia was first inhabited by humans during the Middle Paleolithic period, and it takes its name from the Gallaeci, the Celtic peoples living north of the Douro river during the last millennium BC, in a region largely coincidental with that of the Iron Age local Castro culture. Galicia was incorporated into the Roman Empire at the end of the Cantabrian Wars in 19 BC, being turned into a Roman province in the 3rd century AD. In 410 the Germanic Suebi established a kingdom with its capital in Braga (Portugal) which was incorporated into that of the Visigoths in 585. In 711 the Arabs invaded the Iberian Peninsula, taking the Visigoth kingdom, but soon in 740 Galicia was incorporated into the Christian kingdom of Asturias. During the Middle Ages, the kingdom of Galicia was occasionally ruled by its own kings, but most of the time it was leagued to the kingdom of Leon and later to that of Castile, while maintaining its own legal and customary practices and personality. From the 13th century on, the kings of Castile, as kings of Galicia, appointed an Adiantado-mór, whose attributions passed to the Governor and Captain General of the Kingdom of Galiza from the last years of the 15th century. The Governor also presided the Real Audiencia do Reino de Galicia, a royal tribunal and government body. From the 16th century, the representation and voice of the kingdom was held by an assembly of deputies and representatives of the cities of the kingdom, the Cortes or Junta of the Kingdom of Galicia, an institution which was forcibly discontinued in 1833 when the kingdom was divided into four administrative provinces with no legal mutual links. During the 19th and 20th centuries, demand grew for self-government and for the recognition of the personality of Galicia, a demand which led to the frustrated Statute of Autonomy of 1936, and to the Statute of Autonomy of 1981, currently in force.

The interior of Galicia is characterized by its hilly landscape, although mountain ranges rise to 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in the east and south. The coastal areas are mostly an alternate series of rías (submerged valleys where the sea penetrates tens of kilometres inland) and cliffs. The climate of Galicia is temperate and rainy, but it is also markedly drier in the summer, being usually classified as Oceanic in the west and north, and Mediterranean in the southeast. Its topographic and climatic conditions have made animal husbandry and farming the primary source of Galicia's wealth for most of its history. With the exception of shipbuilding and food processing, Galicia was largely a semi-subsistence farming and fishing economy and did not experience significant industrialization until after the mid-twentieth century. In 2012 the gross domestic product at purchasing power parity was €56,000 million, with a nominal GDP per capita of €20,700. The population is largely concentrated in two coastal areas: from Ferrol to A Coruña in the northwest and from Pontevedra to Vigo in the southwest. To a lesser extent there are smaller populations around the interior cities of Lugo, Ourense and Santiago de Compostela. The political capital is Santiago de Compostela, in the province of A Coruña. Vigo, in the province of Pontevedra, is the most populous municipality with 294,997 (2014), while A Coruña is the most populous city with 215.227 (2014).

Two languages are official and widely used today in Galicia: the native Galician, a Romance language closely related to Portuguese with which it shares Galician-Portuguese medieval literature, and the Spanish language, usually known locally as Castilian. 56% of the Galician population speak more in Galician than in Castilian, while 43% speak more in Castilian.


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