Autonomous communities of Spain

In Spain, an autonomous community (Spanish: comunidad autónoma) is a first-level political and administrative division, created in accordance with the Spanish constitution of 1978, with the aim of guaranteeing limited autonomy of the nationalities and regions that make up Spain.[1][2][3]

Autonomous communities

Spanish: comunidad autónoma[lower-alpha 1]
Basque: autonomia erkidegoa[lower-alpha 2]
Catalan: comunitat autònoma[lower-alpha 3]
Galician: comunidade autónoma[lower-alpha 4]
Occitan: comunautat autonòma
Aragonese: comunidat autonoma
Asturian: comunidá autónoma

CategoryAutonomous administrative division
Created bySpanish Constitution of 1978
  • 1979–1983
Number17 (+2 autonomous cities)
PopulationsAutonomous communities:
316,798 (La Rioja) – 8,414,240 (Andalusia)
Autonomous cities:
86,487 (Melilla), 84,777 (Ceuta)
AreasAutonomous communities:
94,223 km2 (Castile and León) – 1,927 km2 (Balearic Islands)
Autonomous cities:
12 km2 (Melilla), 18 km2 (Ceuta)

Spain is not a federation, but a decentralised[4][5] unitary country.[1] While sovereignty is vested in the nation as a whole, represented in the central institutions of government, the nation has, in variable degrees, devolved power to the communities, which, in turn, exercise their right to self-government within the limits set forth in the constitution and their autonomous statutes.[1] Each community has its own set of devolved powers; typically those communities with stronger local nationalism have more powers, and this type of devolution has been called asymmetrical. Some scholars have referred to the resulting system as a federal system in all but name, or a "federation without federalism".[6] There are 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities that are collectively known as "autonomies".[lower-roman 1] The two autonomous cities have the right to become autonomous communities, but neither has yet exercised it. This unique framework of territorial administration is known as the "State of Autonomies".[lower-roman 2]

The autonomous communities are governed according to the constitution and their own organic laws known as Statutes of Autonomy,[lower-roman 3] which define the competences that they assume. Since devolution was intended to be asymmetrical in nature,[7] the scope of competences varies for each community, but all have the same parliamentary structure.[1]