The census of December 31, 1930 marks, for the territory of the Spanish republic, 23,817,179 residents (including the 561,347 residents of the Canaries), which the official estimates for January 1934 raise to 24,242,038 (566,879 in the Canaries). The distribution of this total in the historical regions is summarized in the table at the foot of the page, which allows us to follow the events of the Spanish population over the last seventy-five years.
According to Trackaah, the population of the Spanish state, which slightly exceeded 10 million residents at the beginning of the last century, it has almost exactly doubled in the last hundred years, as can be seen from these overall figures:
The increase is due only to the assets of the demographic balance, which places Spain in one of the first places in Europe (ahead of Italy); however, the birth rate has been significantly decreasing in the last century. In the decade 1861-70 its rate was 37.6%, and 34.4% between 1901 and 1910; but in 1920 it had reduced to 30%, to drop to 29% in 1930 and to 26.2% in 1934. Fortunately, mortality, which at the beginning of our century was among the highest in Europe and reached 33% in 1910, gradually contracted, to mark values not much higher than the Italian ones. The data relating to the demographic movement are, for the last twenty-five years, the following (per ° / oo):
Spain would certainly be much more populated today if emigration had not, especially in the past, deprived it of a conspicuous number of hands each year. The exodus increased considerably after 1900, reaching a maximum of 220,000 expatriates in 1913. About 50% of these, almost all peasants, came from the north-western provinces (Galicia), and then from the south-eastern provinces (Almería) and the Balearics, that is, from agricultural regions with relatively high population density, strong land splitting, poor development of communication routes and a significant percentage of illiterate people. Not all of this emigration is to be considered definitive: approximately 10% went in fact to the opposite Africa minor (Algeria and Morocco). But the bulk turned preferably to Cuba (over 40%) to
After 1913 the exodus has rapidly decreased, especially in the war period (the minimum falls in 1918), to resume, albeit to a lesser extent, in recent years (185,918 emigrants in 1920, 93,946 in 1925, 100,988 in 1929 and 94,571 in 1930).
Apart from the reliability of these data, it is useful to take into account the repatriations, which seem to have been numerous especially after 1927.
To give a more precise idea of how the Spanish population is distributed, it is appropriate to examine it according to its grouping into provinces. It should be remembered, however, that this administrative division, which dates back to 1833, and which does not always take due account of geographical conditions and historical events, makes room for territorial units of very different size (from 21,848 sq. Km. Of the province of Badajoz to 1885 of that of Guipuzcoa!).
A look at the density indices immediately shows how unevenly the Spanish population is distributed. The higher figures mark the peripheral areas, in stark contrast to those of the inner plateau. While the coastal selvedge collects more than half of the Spanish population, huge expanses of territory remain in the plateaualmost completely depopulated. Leaving aside the provinces whose density is too strongly influenced by large urban centers (Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia; the only three that each exceed 1 million residents), the highest values correspond to the North Atlantic region, the only one in the which locally exceed 100 residents per sq. km. Quite densely populated are also the Levantine coast, Catalonia and the Balearics, where the index fluctuates, overall, between 75 and 90; a little less Andalusia, always in the areas close to the Atlantic. In all the rest, the figures remain very low, falling below 20 in the Aragonese provinces of Huesca and Teruel, and in the Castilian provinces of Cuenca, Guadalajara and Soria. Of the 50 provinces, almost half have indices between 20 and 50; a third between 50 and 100; four above 100, and only two over 200. Most of these contrasts are long-standing, but in the course of the twentieth century they still appear exasperated by the usual phenomenon of urbanism, which follows every decisive development of large industry. And the phenomenon, together with emigration, explains the weak increase, or even the demographic regression, of some provinces, among which the latter include, in the period after 1870, those that mark the absolute minimum of density.
Other notable varieties in the forms of centralization interfere with these disharmonies of distribution. The northern Atlantic selvedge, where small private property and the sharecropping system predominate, has a typically sparse population; on the contrary, the inner plateau knows only centralized forms. In the northern meseta the settlements, generally not very populous (500-1000 residents Each), flee from the arid páramosas a rule to be placed in the humid valley bottoms; to Spain of the median cordillera, however, they are still reduced in number, but presenting the appearance of large rural villages (5-10 thousand residents each). The extreme conditions are achieved on the one hand in Galicia, where the municipalities are all made up of tiny centers, farmhouses and houses scattered throughout the countryside, and on the other in La Mancha, where it happens to travel tens and tens of kilometers without running into a single house.. The Levantine region arranges for the centralized forms, in the huertas, a fairly large rural dissemination, which is however significantly reduced when one moves away from the coastal area. Similar conditions occur in the Andalusian depression. As for Catalonia, the settlement assumes a rich variety of forms, and it happens very frequently that even the small inhabited centers show an urban character, connected as they are formerly with industrial activity. Finally, the Pyrenean region has only small mountain centers, arranged in the valleys and generally very far from each other.
It is therefore clear also in this respect the prevalence, in Spanish territory, of the Mediterranean types, the fundamental reason of which must be placed in relation with the needs imposed by an arid environment. Where the location does not correspond to the outcropping of a spring, the presence of a well or the proximity of a river, there is usually a characteristic cavity filled with rainwater (charcha) in the center of the town. especially to the needs of livestock. The mesetait knows in substance that the large property in the flat areas, the average in the high: hence the existence of a large agricultural proletariat, forced to live and work in common. In the regions, on the other hand, where water abounds, either due to the contribution of rains or irrigation, an increasingly large part is made of individual initiative, which alone is sufficient for the diminished needs of the farm. The marginal mountainous areas still maintain an efficient, albeit in continuous decline, pastoral activity: but a clear imprint on the forms of settlement can now only be seen in the more isolated recesses of the Sierra Nevada or the Pyrenean mountain range.
On the whole, the number of large cities is not very remarkable, two of which, however, have reached one million residents: here too, let us not forget the contrast between the internal and peripheral regions. The former have just four centers with populations over 75,000. (Madrid, Granada, Murcia, Zaragoza and Valladolid); all the others arise on the sea or under its immediate influence (Seville, Bilbao). Overall, the greatest number of Spanish cities dates back, in their origins, to Roman colonization: the Middle Ages were in fact a period with a distinctly rural character for the peninsula, with the exception of the southern regions. With the reconquista were built for military needs, many of the most important centers of the plateau, but a decisive urban development took place only with the affirmation of the municipal bourgeoisie and, even more, as a consequence of the expansion movement that precedes and accompanies the large transoceanic companies. Since then, a new transformation took place only during the twentieth century, in relation to the industrialization process that characterizes it, and which not even Spain has been able to escape. As it is easy to deduce from the united table, the peripheral centers and the capital have benefited above all from this transformation; the inner cities, on the other hand, reveal, with few exceptions, less marked progress, or stagnation, or even regress. Indeed, many of these live more by virtue of their administrative function than by real adaptation to the new economic climate. Hardly a small number of the major inhabited centers of the interior managed to escape this fate: and only where, as in the case of the capital itself, the establishment of large modern industry has created new living conditions. But it is no coincidence that Madrid, born at the behest of a sovereign and, in a certain sense, an artificial creation, ended up giving its primacy to Barcelona, despite its recent and successful development. However, modern transformations have generally slightly altered the characters of the old Castilian cities, almost all built in prominent places, next to and around large public buildings (cathedral, fortress, town hall), surrounded by walls, and picturesquely irregular topography. Where the increase in population, on the other hand, has been more rapid and intense,
The population of Spain is, in terms of nationality, one of the most compact in Europe. Foreigners represented, before the civil war, just 0.05% (120,000 Portuguese, 28,000 French, 25,000 South Americans, 17,000 Cubans, Italians were about 4,500). Nevertheless, and apart from all anthropological considerations, the differences determined by the different geographical environment and by the many elements that come into play in creating the national consciousness (genres of life, language, aspirations, customs), have maintained and continue to maintain lively regional separations. having a very different meaning from the usual ones. The Castilians, whose language is the official language of the state, and who constitute the largest group, are contrasted by the marginal groups of the Catalans, the Basques and the Galicians.