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Administrative division of Spain (Twilight of a New Era)

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Administratively Spain, according to the Constitution, is divided in Autonomous Regions, Provinces, Municipalities and Autonomous cities.

The Constitution recognizes the rights of "regions and nationalities" to self-government and declares that "The Republic is an integral state, compatible with the autonomy of the Municipalities and Regions".

There are eighteen autonomous regions, 56 provinces and more then 7.000 municipalities.

Autonomous regions

Spain before Pact of Autonomies (TNE)

Spain before Pact of Autonomies

Spain after Pact of Autonomies (TNE)

Spain after Pact of Autonomies

An autonomous regions (Región Autónoma) is the first-level political division of the Spanish Republic, established in accordance with the Spanish Constitution.

On the proclamation of the Republic, Catalan nationalists also proclaim their autonomy has the Estat Català. Negotiations with the new government resulted in the compromise to give Catalonia a series of political rights and autonomy within Spain to be approved by the Constituent Assembly and a referendum in Catalonia. The Basque Country in a series of negotiations was also given a statue of autonomy.

The colonies of Spanish Sahara (or Spanish West Africa) and Spanish Guinea were organized in provinces, municipality and territory. A General Commissioner (Comisario General), named by the Government exercised all political and administrative authority, and was advised by elected a Overseas Council (Consejo Ultramarino).

The rest of the provinces of Spain, were organized in Provincial Deputations.

The Provincial Boards (Juntas Provinciales) of Andalusia and Galicia prepared and had approved by Assemblies of Municipal Councilors their projects of Statutes of Autonomy. These were modified and voted by the Cortes.

The growing demands of regionalism and nationalism and some form of self government for the African territories were addressed in the Pact of Autonomies that redrawed the territorial administration of Spain. The Pact of Autonomies established that the remaining provinces would be established as autonomous regions, but with limited powers in respect to the historical nationalities (Catalonia, Basque Country, Galicia) and would follow the model of Andalusia of having a referendum to approve or reject the initiative and election of Assemblies of Municipal Councilors.

The province of Madrid, after a series of negotiations was established has an independent autonomy. For Ceuta and Melilla a limited form of autonomy was given under the form of autonomous city.

A special clause also specifies that in case Gibraltar rejoins Spain it would have the category of autonomous region and English has one of its co-official languages. After the enactment of the Constitutional reform, the new basic territorial organization is: autonomous region, province, municipality (municipio) and autonomous city.

The autonomous regions are governed according to the constitution and their own organic laws known as Statutes of Autonomy, which contain all the competences that they assume. The Spanish constitutions prohibits the "federation of autonomous regions".

The eighteen autonomous regions are:

Name (English and Spanish) Capital Provinces (in Spanish) Coofficial languages Year of creation Area (km²)
Flag of Andalucía Andalusia (Andalucía) Sevilla Alemería, Cádiz. Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Malaga and Sevilla Spanish 87.268
Bandera de Estado Aragonés Aragon (Aragón) Saragossa (Zaragoza) Huesca, Teruel and Zaragoza Spanish 47.719
Flag of Asturias Asturias Oviedo Asturias Spanish 10.604
Flag of Balearic Islands Balearic Islands (Islas Baleares / Illes Balears) Palma de Mallorca Islas Baleares Spanish and Catalan 4.992
Flag of the Basque Country Basque Country (País Vasco / Euskadi) Vitoria Álava, Guipúzcoa and Vizcaya Spanish and Basque 7.234
Bandera Ateneo Canary Islands (Islas Canarias) Santa Cruz de Tenerife / Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Las Palmas y Santa Cruz de Tenerife Spanish 7.447
Bandera usual de Castilla-La Mancha Castilla-La Mancha Toledo Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara and Toledo Spanish 79.463
Bandera de Castilla y León Castilla and Leon (Castilla y León) Valladolid Ávila, Burgos, La Rioja, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Santander, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid and Zamora Spanish 104.589
Flag of Catalonia Catalonia (Cataluña / Catalunya) Barcelona Barcelona, Gerona, Lerida and Tarragona Spanish and Catalan 32.114
Flag of Extremadura (Spanish Republic) TNE Extremadura Mérida Badajoz and Cáceres Spanish 41.634
Bandeira galega civil Galicia Santiago de Compostela La Coruña, Lugo, Orense and Pontevedra Spanish and Galician 29.574
Flag of the Community of Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Spanish 8.028
Flag of the Region of Murcia Murcia Murcia Murcia Spanish 11.313
Bandera de Navarra (1931-1937) Navarre (Navarra / Nafarroa) Pamplona Navarra Spanish and Basque 10.391
Senyera del nacionalisme valencià Valencian Community (Comunidad Valenciana / Comunitat Valenciana) Valencia Alicante, Castellón and Valencia Spanish and Catalan (Locally called Valencian) 23.255
Saharawi Autonomous Region (TNE) Western Sahara (Sáhara Occidental / الصحراء الغربية / Taneẓṛuft Tutrimt). Former Spanish Sahara (Sahara Español) El Aaiún Cabo Juby, Ifni, Río de Oro and Saguia el Hamra Spanish, Arabic and Berber 267.502
Flag of Bioko (13 Fallen Stars) Equatorial Guinea (Guinea Ecuatorial) Malabo (former Santa Isabel) Fernando Poo y Río Muni Spanish and special status for aboriginal languages 28.050

All autonomous regions have a parliamentary system based on a division of powers comprising:

  • a unicameral Legislative Assembly (called Parlamento in Catalonia, Baleares, Basque Country, Canary Islands and Navarre; Cortes in Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla and Leon and Valencian Community; Asamblea in Andalusia, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid and Murcia; Junta General in Asturias; Asamblea General in Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara), whose members are elected by universal suffrage according to a system of proportional representation, in which all areas that integrate the territory are fairly represented;
  • a Council of Government (called Junta or Consejo de Gobierno), with executive and administrative powers, headed by a prime minister, whose official title is "president" (Presidente, or Lendakari in Basque Country), elected by the Legislative Assembly—usually the leader of the party or coalition with a majority in the Assembly;
  • a Supreme Court of Justice, hierarchically under the Supreme Court of Justice of Spain.

Provinces

The provinces are a local entity with juridic personality constituted by the aggregations of municipalities. The governance of provinces is carried out by an elected Provincial Deputations. The delegates to a Provincial Deputation are elected by the municipal councilors. The delegates elected a President and one or more vice presidents.

On the Canary Islands the functions of a Diputacion are assigned in each island to an island council (Cabildo insular) and in the Baleares to Insular Council (consells insulars).

The uniprovincial autonomies of Asturias, Madrid, Murcia and Navarre have no Provincial Deputation.

Before the Pact of Autonomies, the Spanish Cortes approved in some cases the association of provinces in commonwealths (mancomunidad) with limited powers. The commonwealths established were West and East Andalusia (before becoming both part of the region of Andalusia), Aragon, Extremadura, and Valencia. The provinces of the colonies of Spanish Sahara (or Spanish West Africa) and Spanish Guinea were already organized in Overseas Councils.

Municipalities

The municipalities enjoy, and are guaranteed by the Constitution and Statutes of Autonomy, a large degree of autonomy in their local affairs. The autonomous regions can define and create below the level the provinces other territorial units such has comarca or mancomunidad, and create or merge municipalities.

The basic organization of the municipalities are Town halls (ayuntamientos) that are in charge of the municipalities' government and administration, and they are integrated by a major (alcalde) and councilors (concejales), the latter elected by universal suffrage, and the former elected either by the councilor or by suffrage.

Autonomous cities

The cities of Ceuta and Melilla have limited self government has autonomous cities (ciudades autónomas). The four Spanish sovereign territories (plazas de soberanía) in Morocco are directly administered by the Central Government.

Tangier IZ and Protectorate of Morocco

The Tangier International Zone is co-administered by France, UK and Spain.

The northern half of the Morocco (Rif), was organized has the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco, until its independence as the Rif Republic.

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