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Encyclopedia > Autonomous community

This article is part of the series
Politics of Spain

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   1977 Political Reform Act
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Autonomous communities
Madrid (capital city)

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


Formation and Powers

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 autonom a). 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 autonom a. 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 caf 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
Andaluc a
Sp. Sevilla
Almer a Almer a
C diz C diz
C rdoba C rdoba
Granada Granada
Huelva Huelva
Ja n Ja n
M laga M laga
Seville Seville
Arag n
Zaragoza Huesca Huesca
Teruel Teruel
Zaragoza Zaragoza
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. Pa s Vasco
Ba. Gasteiz
Ba. Araba
Ba. Gasteiz
Guip zcoa
Ba. Gipuzkoa
San Sebasti n
Ba. Donostia
Ba. Bizkaia
Ba. Bilbo
Canary Islands
Islas Canarias
Santa Cruz de Tenerife/
Las Palmas
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Las Palmas Las Palmas
Cantabria Santander Cantabria Santander
Cat. Catalunya
Sp. Catalu a
Barcelona Barcelona Barcelona
Sp. Gerona
Sp. Gerona
Sp. L rida
Sp. L rida
Tarragona Tarragona
Castile-La Mancha
Castilla-La Mancha
Toledo Albacete Albacete
Ciudad Real Ciudad Real
Cuenca Cuenca
Guadalajara Guadalajara
Toledo Toledo
Castile & Leon
Castilla y Le n
Valladolid vila vila
Burgos Burgos
Le n Le n
Palencia Palencia
Salamanca Salamanca
Segovia Segovia
Soria Soria
Valladolid Valladolid
Zamora Zamora
Extremadura M rida Badajoz Badajoz
C ceres C ceres
Ga. Galiza
Santiago de Compostela A Coru a
Sp. La Coru a
A Coru a
Sp. La Coru a
Lugo Lugo
Sp. Orense
Sp. Orense
Pontevedra Pontevedra
La Rioja Logro o La Rioja Logro o
Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid
Murcia Murcia Murcia Murcia
Ba. Nafarroa
Sp. Navarra
Ba. Iru a
Ba. Nafarroa
Sp. Navarra
Ba. Iru a
Vl. Comunitat Valenciana
Sp. Comunidad Valenciana
Valencia Alicante
Vl. Alacant
Vl. Alacant
Castell n
Vl. Castell
Castell n de la Plana
Vl. Castell de la Plana
Vl. Val ncia
Vl. Val ncia

See also:

The map is stable, though some minorities claim separate communities for Le n, Orihuela and lava. Also, there is an enclave of Burgos (Castilla y Le n) inside lava (Pa s Vasco), called Condado de Trevi o where some inhabitants would like to leave Burgos and join lava.

Plazas de soberan a

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

External link

  • Spanish autonomous communities (http://www.rulers.org/spanautc.html) (Rulers.org)

  Results from FactBites:
Untitled-9 (687 words)
Each autonomous community is made up of one or more provinces.
The provinces are much older political units than the autonomous communities.
Today this large area is known as the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha.
Autonomous communities of Spain - Simple English Wikipedia (0 words)
Spain has seventeen parts called "autonomous communities." "Autonomous" means it has power over things in that community.
Here is a list of the autonomous communities, with their capital cities (the place where the government has its offices):
Instead, they are called "autonomous cities." Their governments can do more things than the government of a normal city, but not as many things as the government of an autonomous community.
  More results at FactBites »



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