Provinces of Spain

Spain and its autonomous communities are divided into fifty provinces (Spanish: provincias, IPA: [pɾoˈβinθjas]; sing. provincia).[note 1] Spain's provincial system was recognized in its 1978 constitution but its origin dates back to 1833. Ceuta, Melilla and the Plazas de soberanía are not part of any provinces.

Provinces of Spain
CategoryProvince
LocationSpain
Found inAutonomous community
Created byRoyal Decree (30/11/1833)
Created1833
Number50
Populations95,258–6,458,684
Areas1,980–21,766 km²
GovernmentProvincial council
SubdivisionsMunicipality

Provincial organization

The layout of Spain's provinces closely follows the pattern of the territorial division of the country carried out in 1833. The only major change of provincial borders since that time has been the subdivision of the Canary Islands into two provinces rather than one.

Historically, the provinces served mainly as transmission belts for policies enacted in Madrid, as Spain was a highly centralised state for most of its modern history. The importance of the provinces has declined since the adoption of the system of autonomous communities in the period of the Spanish transition to democracy. They nevertheless remain electoral districts for national elections and as geographical references: for instance in postal addresses and telephone codes.

A small town would normally be identified as being in, say, Valladolid province rather than the autonomous community of Castile and León. The provinces were the "building-blocks" from which the autonomous communities were created. Consequently, no province is divided between more than one of these communities.

Most of the provinces—with the exception of Álava, Asturias, Biscay, Cantabria, Guipúzcoa, Balearic Islands, La Rioja, and Navarra — are named after their principal town. Only two capitals of autonomous communities — Mérida in Extremadura and Santiago de Compostela in Galicia — are not also the capitals of provinces.

Seven of the autonomous communities comprise no more than one province each: Asturias, Balearic Islands, Cantabria, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, and Navarra. These are sometimes referred to as "uniprovincial" communities.

The table below lists the provinces of Spain. For each, the capital city is given, together with an indication of the autonomous community to which it belongs and a link to a list of municipalities in the province. The names of the provinces and their capitals are ordered alphabetically according to the form in which they appear in the main Wikipedia articles describing them. Unless otherwise indicated, their Spanish-language names are the same; locally valid names in Spain's other co-official languages (Asturian, Basque, Catalan, Galician) are also indicated where they differ.

Provinces

Province name Capital Autonomous community Lists of municipalities
A Coruña (Galician); La Coruña (Spanish); Corunna (English, archaic) A Coruña (Galician); La Coruña (Spanish); Corunna (English, archaic) Galicia Municipalities
Álava; Araba (Basque) Vitoria-Gasteiz; Gasteiz (Basque); Vitoria (Spanish) Basque Country Municipalities
Albacete Albacete Castilla-La Mancha Municipalities
Alicante; Alacant (Valencian) Alicante; Alacant (Valencian) Valencian Community Municipalities
Almería Almería Andalusia Municipalities
Asturias; Asturies (Asturian) Oviedo; Uviéu (Asturian) Asturias Municipalities
Ávila Ávila Castile and León Municipalities
Badajoz Badajoz Extremadura Municipalities
Balearic Islands; Illes Balears (Catalan); Islas Baleares (Spanish) Palma Balearic Islands Municipalities
Barcelona Barcelona Catalonia Municipalities
Biscay; Bizkaia (Basque); Vizcaya (Spanish) Bilbao; Bilbo (Basque) Basque Country Municipalities
Burgos Burgos Castile and León Municipalities
Cáceres Cáceres Extremadura Municipalities
Cádiz Cádiz Andalusia Municipalities
Cantabria Santander Cantabria Municipalities
Castellón; Castelló (Valencian) Castellón de la Plana; Castelló de la Plana (Valencian) Valencian Community Municipalities
Ciudad Real Ciudad Real Castilla-La Mancha Municipalities
Córdoba Córdoba; Cordova (English, archaic) Andalusia Municipalities
Cuenca Cuenca Castilla-La Mancha Municipalities
Gipuzkoa (Basque); Guipúzcoa (Spanish) San Sebastián (Spanish); Donostia (Basque) Basque Country Municipalities
Girona (Catalan); Gerona (Spanish) Girona (Catalan); Gerona (Spanish) Catalonia Municipalities
Granada Granada Andalusia Municipalities
Guadalajara Guadalajara Castilla-La Mancha Municipalities
Huelva Huelva Andalusia Municipalities
Huesca Huesca (Spanish); Uesca (Aragonese) Aragon Municipalities
Jaén Jaén Andalusia Municipalities
La Rioja Logroño La Rioja Municipalities
Las Palmas Las Palmas Canary Islands Municipalities
León (Spanish); Llión (Leonese) León (Spanish) ; Llión (Leonese) Castile and León Municipalities
Lleida (Catalan); Lérida (Spanish) Lleida (Catalan); Lérida (Spanish) Catalonia Municipalities
Lugo Lugo Galicia Municipalities
Madrid Madrid Community of Madrid Municipalities
Málaga Málaga Andalusia Municipalities
Murcia Murcia Region of Murcia Municipalities
Navarre; Nafarroa (Basque); Navarra (Spanish) Pamplona; Iruña (Basque) Navarre Municipalities
Ourense (Galician); Orense (Spanish) Ourense (Galician); Orense (Spanish) Galicia Municipalities
Palencia Palencia Castile and León Municipalities
Pontevedra Pontevedra Galicia Municipalities
Salamanca Salamanca Castile and León Municipalities
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Santa Cruz de Tenerife Canary Islands Municipalities
Segovia Segovia Castile and León Municipalities
Seville; Sevilla (Spanish) Seville; Sevilla (Spanish) Andalusia Municipalities
Soria Soria Castile and León Municipalities
Tarragona Tarragona Catalonia Municipalities
Teruel Teruel Aragon Municipalities
Toledo Toledo Castilla-La Mancha Municipalities
Valencia; València (Valencian) Valencia; València (Valencian) Valencian Community Municipalities
Valladolid Valladolid Castile and León Municipalities
Zamora Zamora Castile and León Municipalities
Zaragoza; Saragossa (English) Zaragoza; Saragossa (English) Aragon Municipalities

See also

General:

Notes

  1. In other languages of Spain:
    • Catalan províncies (IPA: [pɾuˈβinsiəs]), sing. província.
    • Galician provincias (IPA: [pɾoˈβinθjɐs]), sing. provincia.
    • Basque probintziak (IPA: [pɾobints̻iak], sing. probintzia.
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