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Provinces of Spain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Provinces of Spain
Found inAutonomous community
Created byRoyal Decree (30/11/1833)
  • 1833
Areas1,980–21,766 km²

A province in Spain[note 1] is a territorial division defined as a collection of municipalities.[1][2][3] The current provinces of Spain correspond by and large to the provinces created under the purview of the 1833 territorial re-organization of Spain, with a similar predecessor from 1822 (during the Trienio Liberal) and an earlier precedent in the 1810 Napoleonic division of Spain into 84 prefectures.[4] There are many other groupings of municipalities that comprise the local government of Spain.

The boundaries of provinces can only be altered by the Spanish Parliament,[1] giving rise to the common view that the 17 autonomous communities are subdivided into 50 provinces. In reality the system is not hierarchical but defined according to jurisdiction (Spanish: competencias).[5]

The body charged with government and administration of a province is the Provincial council, but their existence is controversial. As the province is defined as a "local entity" in the Constitution, the Provincial council belongs to the sphere of local government.

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 division of the Province of Canary Islands into the provinces of Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

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 provinces were the "building-blocks" from which the autonomous communities were created following processed defined in the 1978 Constitution. Consequently, no province is divided between these communities.

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.

Provinces are also used as geographical references: for instance in postal addresses and telephone codes. National media will also frequently use the province to disambiguate small towns or communities whose names occur frequently throughout Spain. A small town would normally be identified as being in, say, Valladolid province rather than the autonomous community of Castile and León. In addition, organisations outside Spain use provinces for statistical analysis and policy making and in comparison with other countries including NUTS, OECD, FIPS, CIA World Factbook, ISO 3166-2 and the UN's Second Administrative Level Boundaries data set project (SALB).

Most of the provinces are named after their capital town —with the exceptions of Álava, Asturias, Biscay, Cantabria, Gipuzkoa, the Balearic Islands, La Rioja, and Navarre, and a name reduction in Las Palmas and Castellón— and biggest town[6] —with the exception of Pontevedra (Vigo), Asturias (Gijón) and Cádiz (Jerez). 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, the Balearic Islands, Cantabria, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, and Navarre. These are sometimes referred to as "uniprovincial" communities. Ceuta, Melilla, and the plazas de soberanía are not part of any province.

A map of Spain's provinces. Names are shown in Spanish. Ceuta and Melilla are not part of any province.

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 (Basque, Catalan, which is officially called Valencian in the Valencian Community, Galician) are also indicated where they differ.


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


  1. ^


  1. ^ a b Spanish Constitution 1978, Article 141(1).
  2. ^ Zafra Víctor 2004, p. 102.
  3. ^ Local Government Act 1985, Article 31.
  4. ^ Canel 1994, pp. 51.
  5. ^ MPA, paragraph 1.
  6. ^ See Ranked lists of Spanish municipalities.


  • "The Spanish Constitution" (PDF). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado. 1978. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  • "Local Government Act (Organic Law 7/1985)" (in Spanish). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado. 1985. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  • Zafra Víctor, Manuel (2004). "Reflexiones sobre el gobierno local" [Reflections on local government] (PDF). Anuario del Gobierno Local (in Spanish) (1). Barcelona: Institut de Dret Públic. ISBN 84-609-5895-7. ISSN 2013-4924. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2016-08-09. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  • "Local Government in Spain" (PDF). Ministry of Public Administration. Retrieved 11 June 2022.

See also