Galician people: Wikis


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Galegos de soa.jpg

1st row: Inés de CastroJerónimo FeijooManuel MurguíaRosalía de CastroValle-Inclán
2nd row: CastelaoJuana de IbarbourouFrancisco FrancoAlexandre BóvedaLuís Seoane
3rd row: Camilo José CelaManuel FragaFidel CastroXosé Manuel BeirasManuel Rivas
4th row: Carlos NúñezLuis TosarSusana SeivaneÓscar PereiroDavid Cal

Total population
approx. 10 million of descendents worldwide
Regions with significant populations
Bandeira galega civil.svg Galicia
          A Coruña Province 1,126,707
          Lugo Province 357.625
          Ourense Province 339.555
          Pontevedra Province 938.311
          Total 2,737,370
 Spain (rest of the country) 374,307[1]
 Argentina 118,085 - 1.000.000.[1]
 Venezuela 33,443.[1]
 Brazil 29,601- 7.000.000.[1]
 Switzerland 29,075.[1]
 Uruguay 28,470.[1]
 France 16,026.[1]
 Germany 13,254.[1]
 Cuba 11,114.[1]
 United Kingdom 10,051.[1]
 United States 9.482.[1]
 Mexico 8.003- 4.000.000.[1]
 Portugal 2.787.[1]
 Netherlands 2.685.[1]
 Andorra 2.546.[1]
Other countries 158,203.[1]

Galician language, Spanish


Roman Catholic

Related ethnic groups

other Spaniards, Portuguese, French, Italians

The Galicians (Galician: Galegos) are an ethnic group whose homeland is Galicia, which is a historical region in Southwestern Europe, embracing a territory situated in the north-west of Spain. Their native language is Galician.


Geography and Demographics


Political and administrative divisions

The autonomous community (a concept established in the Spanish constitution of 1978) that is known as (a) Comunidade Autónoma Galega in Galician , and as (la) Comunidad Autónoma Gallega in Spanish (in English: Galician Autonomous Community), is composed of the four Spanish provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense, and Pontevedra.

Other Galician-speaking areas are situated in the Spanish provinces of León and Zamora in the Autonomous Community of Castile and Leon.

Population, main cities and languages

The official Statistical body of Galicia is the Instituto Galego de Estatística (IGE). According to the IGE, Galicia's total population in 2008 was 2,783,100 (1,138,474 in A Coruña,[2] 355.406 in Lugo,[3] 336.002 in Ourense,[4] and 953.218 in Pontevedra[5]). The most important cities in this region, which serve as the provinces' administrative centres, are Vigo, Pontevedra (in Pontevedra), Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Ferrol (in A Coruña), Lugo (in Lugo), and Ourense (in Ourense). The official languages are Galician and Spanish. Knowledge of Spanish is compulsory according to the Spanish constitution and virtually universal. Knowledge of Galician, after declining for many years owing to the pressure of Spanish and official persecution, is again on the rise due to favorable official language policies and popular support. Currently about 82% of Galicia's population can speak Galician[6] and about 61% has it as a mother tongue.[7]

Population genetics

The most frequent Y-Dna haplogroups in Galicia is R1b (particularly R1b1b2 M269) covering about 59% of the Y chromosomal lineages. The high frequency of this haplogroup is typical in all West European populations, reflecting a cline and likely continuity of the Paleolithic gene pool in Europe. Haplogroups I and G, also characteristic markers for many different West European populations, were found in Galicia at frequencies of respectively 11% and 6%. Together with R1b, I and G, E1b1b (6%) and J (14%) haplogroups comprise about 96% of the Y-chromosomal gene pool of Galician individuals. Haplogroups J and E1b1b consist of lineages with differential distribution within Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Galician language

Speakers of Galician as first language according to Population and Housing Census of the Galician Statistics Institute (2001)

Galician is an Iberian Romance language belonging to the Western Ibero-Romance branch of the Indo-European languages. It is spoken in Galicia, an autonomous community with the constitutional status of an "historic nationality" in northwestern Spain. Galician is also spoken in the neighboring autonomous community of Castile and León, near its border with Galicia.

Galician and Portuguese were, during medieval times, a single language spoken in the Kingdom of Galicia and in Portugal. The language is variously called Galician-Portuguese, Medieval Galician, or Archaic Portuguese. The two modern languages continue to be linked by a dialect continuum in the north of Portugal.

Despite the positive effects of official recognition of the Galician language, Galicia's socio-linguistic development has suffered from the growing influence of Spanish, a world language. The drift toward Spanish is ascribed to the growth of urban centers, the emergence of a Galician middle class, and the worldly influences of education and the media.

Galicia also boasts a rich oral tradition, in the form of songs, tales, and sayings, which has made a vital contribution to the spread and development of the Galician language. Still flourishing today, this tradition constitutes a priceless cultural heritage, much of which is shared with its neighbor Portugal.

Culture and society

Galician gaiteiros

Culture and landscape

Galicia's cultural heritage is characterized by its extensive, abundant and varied geography. Indeed, the entire region could be considered as a sort of museum that never closes its doors to the public.

Galicia was entirely inmersed in the Megalithic Culture, common to other areas of Atlantic Europe. Galician cultural elements can be traced back to the Bronze Age (Celtic) civilization known as Castro Culture. It also boasts a wealth of Roman remains, highlights of which include the Walls of Lugo, declared a World Heritage Site, as well as the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña. The Way of St James has also been acknowledged by UNESCO, as has Galicia's capital, Santiago de Compostela, declared a World Heritage City in 1985.

More than 30,000 centers of population make up a decidedly humanised land and landscape. These settlements are home to magnificent examples of the Galician people's architectural and ethnographic heritage. Stone crosses, raised granaries and shrines, etc are all fine examples of the traditional constructions to be found in this land.


Galician folk dances in Mexico

Like other Iberian regions, Galicia's history has been defined by mass emigration. There was significant Galician emigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries to other parts of Spain, Portugal, and to the Americas.

Unlike the Basque and the Catalan regions which were rich, urbanized, and industrialized, Galicia remained relatively poor, agricultural and dominated by rural and village society, as industry had yet to make its appearance there on a large scale. Moreover, its agricultural sector continued to be among the most backward in Spain, and farm productivity was severely hampered by the tiny size of the individual farmsteads known as minifundios. The minifundio was the product of an attempt to distribute land plots in a closed rural system to a growing population by requiring that equal shares be bequeathed to each heir. After just a few generations, the land had been subdivided so much that most of the plots were too small to support a family or to be economically viable.

For these reasons, Galicia was a net exporter of population to the rest of Spain. Between 1900 and 1981, the net outflow of people from Galicia was more than 825,000. In fact, the city with the second greatest number of Galician people is Buenos Aires, Argentina, where immigration from Galicia was so massive that all Spaniards are now known as gallegos (Galicians). During the Franco years, there was a new wave of emigration out of Galicia to other European countries, most notably to France, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Galician cuisine

Galician cuisine refers to the typical dishes and ingredients found in the cuisine of the Galicia region of Spain. These include shellfish and fish, many pork-related dishes (chourizos, zorza, botelo, androlla), empanadas, torta de Santiago (cake of Santiago), polbo á feira (a dish made of octopus), the cheese queixo de tetilla, the ribeiro and albariño wines, and orujo liquor. In Galician cuisine, the freshness and quality of the produce are paramount.

Potatoes are nowadays a staple of Galician cooking; however potato crops only started to be widespread in Galicia as late as the 18th century. Potatoes supplanted the ancient use of chestnuts in many Galician dishes such as the popular caldo galego (Galician vegetable soup). Another innovation was the widespread use of olive oil from the 19th century on which replaced the older use of pork tallow.

Some taboos of Galician cooking, which are only disappearing in the globalization age, are the wide disregard for most mushrooms (with some exceptions) and some mollusks such as snails.

In Galicia, a wide variety of sea produce can be found in traditional dishes due to the province's long shoreline and traditional fishing economy. Agriculture products such as potatoes, maize, and wheat are also a staple in the Galician diet, along with dairy and meat products from animals such as cows, sheep, and pigs; Galicia's grasses and shrubs are green year-round and are excellent for grazing. Historically, rye was the most traditional cereal crop in Galicia.


The majority (about 80%) of Galicians are Roman Catholics with a small minority are Protestants and a substantial non-religious minority.

Nationalism and history

Galician nationalism - which appeared as early as the 1840s in the form of Galicianism - recalled the "Golden Age" of the Kingdom of Galicia, when that kingdom played a major role in the politics of medieval Iberia. That was the time when the northern half of Galicia was hemmed in and isolated while the southern portion expanded southward in the wake of the Moor's withdrawal. This southern part of the realm eventually became Portugal; the northern part fell into disorder.

A Revival and a sense of national willpower

Following the dynastic union of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, namely after 1486, Galicia's political and cultural influence was severely diminished, a process that was later to continue with the establishment of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain in the 18th century and the establishment of a liberal state in the 19th century. This would lead to the gradual centralization of the monarchic institutions and the total loss of Galicia's political rights and institutions.

With the spread of Romanticism throughout Europe and its call for the acknowledgement of the cultures of stateless nations, Galicia began to experience a Revival, characterised by a resurgence of national awareness. Nineteenth century political movements such as provincialism and regionalism, and the consolidation of the concept of Galicianism, spur on the creation of alternatives designed to endorse the region with its own self-governing institutions and to embark upon a process aimed at promoting and standardizing both the Galician language and culture.

Galicia during the time of exile and resistance

The process of setting up Galicia’s first government following the passing of the Statute of Autonomy in 1936 suffered a sharp setback following the military coup that took place that same year and marked the start of the Spanish Civil War.

During the forty years of dictatorship, the Galician nationalist movement was forced into exile, leading to its restructuring in order to be able to carry out the political and cultural projects that would have been practically infeasible in Galicia until the consolidation of democratic resistance groups that challenged the dictatorship.

Democratic self-government for the future

The final years of Franco's regime saw the revival of the sense of national identity amongst the people of Galicia, starting off in the field of culture, and then gradually generating an extending towards political movement in favor of self-government and cultural standardization within the framework of the Spanish State, seen as a multinational and multilingual political entity.

Fraga's Galicia

In 1990, conservative politician Manuel Fraga took over as President of Galicia. He believed that Galicia should try to modernise itself without losing its valuable traditions. Fraga's past as a Franco minister was put aside during this stage of his life, in which he assumed some of the claims of Galician nationalists such as the use of the Galician language. Fraga's rule over Galicia came to an end in April 2005.

Galicia today

Today Galician culture is slowly but gradually recovering. Firmly rooted in tradition, it has also incorporated more contemporary aspects. The fact that Galicia was home to the end of a pilgrimage route that acted as the cultural backbone of Europe enabled it to soak up European thought and art forms from the Middle Ages until today.

Galician Cultural Future

A strong cultural fabric

The Galician City of Culture Modern Galician culture has been built on solid historical foundations, with a cultural industry currently under consolidation supported by a dynamic cultural framework. The principal cultural spaces include, within the field of art, the Centre for Galician Contemporary Art (CGAC) in Santiago de Compostela and Vigo’s Contemporary Art Museum (MARCO), without forgetting, in the area of dramatic art, the network of theatres and auditoriums. In addition, the Galician City of Culture, although currently undergoing the redefinition and reorganization of its contents and spaces, also constitutes a global cultural project. A description of Galicia’s cultural scene would not be complete without a mention of the many socio-cultural centers, networks of libraries, alternative exhibition centres and the multiple associations that organize, promote and support root cultural projects.

Cultural Institutions

The principal official institutions in terms of cultural affairs include the Galician Royal Academy, founded in Cuba in 1906, and the Galician Council for Culture, whose aim is to advise the Galician autonomous governments in all matters concerning culture. The region’s universities also play a major role in Galicia’s cultural development. This is particularly true of the University of Santiago de Compostela, which first took on this task back in the 15th century. The Museum of the Galician people (Museo do Pobo Galego) also serves as an important cultural institution.

The major driving forces for culture in Galicia today are the publishing industry, which is producing a growing number of publications, and the audiovisual and art industries, in which private initiative is currently thriving.

Famous people of Galician origin

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.


See also

External links


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