Autonomous communities of Spain

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Spain's fifty provinces (provincias) are grouped into seventeen autonomous communities (comunidades autónomas), in addition to two African autonomous cities (ciudades autónomas) (Ceuta and Melilla).


Formation and Powers

Autonomous communities of Spain.
Autonomous communities of Spain.

Centralism, nationalism and separatism played an important role in the Spanish transition. For fear that separatism would lead to instability and a dictatorial backlash, a compromise was struck among the moderate political parties taking part in the drafting of the Spanish Constitution of 1978. The aim was to appease separatist forces and so disarm the extreme right. A highly decentralized state was established, compared both with the previous Francoist regime and with most modern territorial arrangements in Western European nations.

The autonomous communities have wide legislative and executive autonomy, with their own parliaments and regional governments.

The distribution of competences is different for every community, collected in the "autonomy statute" (estatuto de autonomía). There is a de facto distinction between "historic" communities (Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia, and Andalusia) and the rest. The historic ones initially received more functions, including the ability of the regional presidents to choose the timing of the regional elections (as long as they happen at most 4 years apart). As another example, the Basque Country and Catalonia have full-range police forces of their own: Ertzaintza in the Basque Country and Mossos d'Esquadra in Catalonia. Other communities have a limited-bailiwick one or none at all.

The Constitution recognizes the historical rights of regions in general terms. This is a reference to the special status of certain regions with respect to the whole as a result of past agreements between the central government and the region, some times centuries ago. It is understood that those rights need to be actualized through the estatuto de autonomía. This explains why the Basque Country and Navarre collect taxes and negotiate with the Spanish government on how much they must contribute to the state's treasury while the rest receive allocations according to the "transferred" government functions.

The initial intent was not that every part of Spain should become part of an autonomous community, but that only the "historic" communities would be created. However, shortly after the Constitution was approved, a wave of creation of autonomous communities ensued. This was dubbed café para todos ("coffee for everybody") by critics of the decentralization.

There has been a tendency for "slow-track" communities to aspire to the function range of their elders. Even in communities without a separatist tradition, the local branches of parties fight for more power and budgets. Current points of disagreement are tax collection and representation at institutions of the European Union.

The Spanish Constitution of 1931 gave autonomy to Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country, but the Spanish civil war crushed this experiment.


Here is a list of the communities and provinces.

Local name(s)
Capital Provinces Capital
Sp. Sevilla
Almería Almería
Cádiz Cádiz
Córdoba Córdoba
Granada Granada
Huelva Huelva
Jaén Jaén
Málaga Málaga
Seville Seville
Zaragoza Huesca Huesca
Teruel Teruel
Zaragoza Zaragoza
Principality of Asturias
As. Asturies
Oviedo Asturias
As. Asturies
Balearic Islands
Cat. Illes Balears
Sp. Islas Baleares
Palma de Mallorca Balearic Islands
Cat. Illes Balears
Sp. Islas Baleares
Palma de Mallorca
Basque Country (autonomous community)
Ba. Euskadi
Sp. País Vasco
Ba. Gasteiz
Ba. Araba
Ba. Gasteiz
Ba. Gipuzkoa
San Sebastián
Ba. Donostia
Ba. Bizkaia
Ba. Bilbo
Canary Islands
Islas Canarias
Santa Cruz de Tenerife/
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Las Palmas Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Cantabria Santander Cantabria Santander
Castile-La Mancha
Castilla-La Mancha
Toledo Albacete Albacete
Ciudad Real Ciudad Real
Cuenca Cuenca
Guadalajara Guadalajara
Toledo Toledo
Castilla y León
Valladolid Ávila Ávila
Burgos Burgos
León León
Palencia Palencia
Salamanca Salamanca
Segovia Segovia
Soria Soria
Valladolid Valladolid
Zamora Zamora
Cat. Catalunya
Sp. Cataluña
Barcelona Barcelona Barcelona
Sp. Gerona
Sp. Gerona
Sp. Lérida
Sp. Lérida
Tarragona Tarragona
Extremadura Mérida Badajoz Badajoz
Cáceres Cáceres
Ga. Galiza
Santiago de Compostela A Coruña
Sp. La Coruña
A Coruña
Sp. La Coruña
Lugo Lugo
Sp. Orense
Sp. Orense
Pontevedra Pontevedra
La Rioja Logroño La Rioja Logroño
Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid
Region of Murcia Murcia Murcia Murcia
Foral Community of Navarre
Ba. Nafarroa
Sp. Navarra
Ba. Iruña
Ba. Nafarroa
Sp. Navarra
Ba. Iruña
Land of Valencia
Vl. Comunitat Valenciana
Sp. Comunidad Valenciana
Valencia Alicante
Vl. Alacant
Vl. Alacant
Vl. Castelló
Castellón de la Plana
Vl. Castelló de la Plana
Vl. València
Vl. València

See also:

The map is stable, though some minorities claim separate communities for León, Orihuela and Álava. Also, there is an enclave of Burgos (Castilla y León) inside Álava (País Vasco), called Condado de Treviño where some inhabitants would like to leave Burgos and join Álava.

Plazas de soberanía

There are five "places of sovereignty" (plazas de soberanía) near Morocco, under direct Spanish administration:

External link

be:Аўтаномная Супольнасьць ca:Autonomies d'Espanya cs:Autonomní oblasti Španělska de:Autonome Regionen Spaniens eo:Aŭtonoma Komunumo de Hispanio es:Comunidad autónoma fr:Communautés autonomes d'Espagne it:Comunità autonome della Spagna nl:Autonome regio (Spanje) ja:スペインの地方行政区画 pt:Comunidades autônomas da Espanha ro:Comunităţi autonome în Spania simple:Autonomous communities of Spain sv:Spaniens autonoma regioner zh:西班牙行政區劃


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