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.

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

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—with the exceptions of Álava, Asturias, Biscay, Cantabria, Gipuzkoa, the Balearic Islands, La Rioja, and Navarre—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, 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 (Galician); La Coruña (Spanish) A Coruña (Galician); La Coruña (Spanish)   Galicia Municipalities
  Álava (Spanish); Araba (Basque) Vitoria (Spanish); Gasteiz (Basque)   Basque Country Municipalities
  Albacete Albacete   Castilla-La Mancha Municipalities
  Alicante (Spanish); Alacant (Valencian) Alicante; Alacant (Valencian)   Valencian Community Municipalities
  Almería Almería   Andalusia Municipalities
  Asturias Oviedo   Asturias Municipalities
  Ávila Ávila   Castile and León Municipalities
  Badajoz Badajoz   Extremadura Municipalities
  Balearic Islands (English); Illes Balears (Catalan); Islas Baleares (Spanish) Palma   Balearic Islands Municipalities
  Barcelona Barcelona   Catalonia Municipalities
  Biscay (English); Vizcaya (Spanish); Bizkaia (Basque) Bilbao   Basque Country Municipalities
  Burgos Burgos   Castile and León Municipalities
  Cáceres Cáceres   Extremadura Municipalities
  Cádiz Cádiz   Andalusia Municipalities
  Cantabria Santander   Cantabria Municipalities
  Castellón (Spanish); Castelló (Valencian) Castellón de la Plana; Castelló de la Plana (Valencian)   Valencian Community Municipalities
  Ciudad Real Ciudad Real   Castilla-La Mancha Municipalities
  Córdoba Córdoba   Andalusia Municipalities
  Cuenca Cuenca   Castilla-La Mancha Municipalities
  Guipúzcoa (Spanish); Gipuzkoa (Basque) 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 language)   Aragon Municipalities
  Jaén Jaén   Andalusia Municipalities
  La Rioja Logroño   La Rioja Municipalities
  Las Palmas Las Palmas   Canary Islands Municipalities
  León León   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; Navarra (Spanish); Nafarroa (Basque) 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 Zaragoza   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.


  • "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