One in ten villages in Andalucia threatened with extinction

by Lorraine Williamson
small villages face extinction

SEVILLE – It is often wrongly thought the exodus of the countryside in Andalucia does not occur. This is because of the growing population, the strong development of agriculture in some areas, and the fact that never has a village been threatened with extinction.

However,  that doesn’t coincide with a report by the Andalucian Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FAMP). Add to that the region’s popularity as a holiday destination and it seems strange that one in ten villages is in danger of extinction. 

In the past ten years, the population of 565 Andalucian municipalities has decreased. However, the risk of extinction is greatest in the following provinces;

  • Almeria (24 villages)
  • Granada (14)
  • Huelva (16)

Moreover, less than eight inhabitants per square kilometres live in the villages here. And only the coasts and the valley of the Guadalquivir are getting more inhabitants. 

For example, more than half of Andalucia has been suffering from the depopulation problem for years. And in some areas, the situation is already getting serious. 

Small villages face extinction

In the larger municipalities with 20,000 inhabitants that are not provincial capitals, the number of inhabitants has almost doubled since 1996 (3.4 million). But, the population of the eight capitals remained stable at 2.8 million. However, the villages with 1000 to 20,000 inhabitants saw many inhabitants leave. 

Three-quarters of the 785 Andalucian villages have seen their villages face extinction as more people leave the village in the past ten years than they have welcomed new residents. Therefore, there is a high risk of depopulation in 82 villages. As such, this is shown by data from the Andalucian Institute of Statistics and Cartography (IECA). Also, the number of Andalucians exchanging the countryside for a life in the city or on the coast continues to increase. 

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Facilities important factor 

The provincial government of Huelva has launched a project to prevent depopulation in the two regions most affected, Sierra in the north and Andévalo near the Portuguese border. Employment is a crucial factor in combating shrinkage in rural areas. But the action plan mainly emphasises another important factor that improves the quality of life of residents: social facilities. This concerns health care, education, the internet or sports. 

Centre of gravity depopulation 

Almeria’s figures give a good picture of the situation. In the past ten years, a total of 9,849 inhabitants have left. The figures by region: Levante 2834, Filares 2790, la Alpujarra 2118, los Vélez 1588 and Metropolitana 519. 

Whereas, in Granada, no fewer than 120 of the 174 municipalities are experiencing negative population growth. The municipality of Algarinejo has also been hit hard. In the past twenty years, she saw half of its inhabitants leave, there are only 2600 people living there. 

The centre of gravity of the depopulation covers a wide corridor in the Sierra Morena, from the Andévalo in Huelva to the north of the province of Jaén; and the Penibetic system in the east and centre of the region: Altiplanicie de los Vélez, Desierto de Tabernas, Alpujarras, Tierra de Alhama, Montes de Málaga and Serranía de Ronda. 

The risk areas (average 5.2 inhabitants/km2) comprise 82 municipalities, in which 66,013 people live. The population density here is on average only 5.2 inhabitants per square kilometre. 

Stable up to 2040 

According to a statistical report from the FAMP, the population of Andalusia will remain almost stable until 2040 (about 8.4 million inhabitants). Therefore, a gradual decline of 800,000 inhabitants is expected from 2040 to 2070. The population would then be approximately 7.6 million, just like at the beginning of the 21st century. 

The largest population growth is expected in the medium-sized municipalities with 1000 to 100,000 inhabitants in the popular areas. As such, this is mainly on the coast or around the large cities. In 2040, these municipalities can welcome an additional 161,000 inhabitants. 

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