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The 1833 territorial division of Spain divided the country into provinces, in turn classified into "historic regions" ( es, link=no, regiones históricas).''Real Decreto de 30 de noviembre de 1833''
on Wikisource;
''Real Decreto de 30 de noviembre de 1833''
on the official web site of the government of the Canary Islands. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
Original announcement in th
''Gaceta num. 154.''
on th
''Agencia Estatal Boletin Oficial del Estado of Spain''
This division was followed (helped by the enforcing of the 1834 Royal Statute) by the ensuing creation of provincial deputations, the government institutions for most of the provinces, remaining up to this date. Nearly all of the
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...

provinces
retain roughly or precisely the 1833 borders.Daniele Conversi
The Spanish Federalist Tradition and the 1978 Constitution
, p. 12, footnote 63. Retrieved 31 December 2000.
Conversely, many of the historic regions correspond to present-day
autonomous communities eu, autonomia erkidegoa ca, comunitat autònoma gl, comunidade autónoma oc, comunautat autonòma an, comunidat autonoma ast, comunidá autónoma , alt_name = , map = , category = Autonomous administrative ...

autonomous communities
. Eduardo Barrenechea
Los 'gibraltares' de unas regiones en otras: Treviño, Llivia, Rincón de Ademuz...
''
El País ''El País'' (; ) is a Spanish-language daily newspaper A newspaper is a containing written and is often typed in black ink with a white or gray background. Newspapers can cover a wide variety of fields such as , business, sports and ...
'', 8 February 1983. Retrieved 30 December 2000. This article comments on the persistence of the 1833 territorial division, in the context of a discussion of the remaining
exclaves An enclave is a territory (or a part of one) that is entirely surrounded by the territory of one other state. Enclaves may also exist within territorial waters. ''Enclave'' is sometimes used improperly to denote a territory that is only partly s ...
of various provinces.


Background

Immediately after the death of King
Ferdinand VII Ferdinand VII ( es, Fernando; 14 October 1784 – 29 September 1833) was the Monarchy of Spain, King of Spain during the early- to mid-19th century. He reigned over the Spanish Kingdom in 1808 and again from 1813 to his death in 1833. He was know ...
on 29 September 1833, the
regent A regent (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...
Maria Christina attempted to find a moderate third way between the absolutist
Carlists Carlism ( eu, Karlismo; ca, Carlisme; ; ) is a Traditionalist Traditionalism is the adherence to traditional beliefs or practices. It may also refer to: Religion and spirituality * Traditionalist conservatism, a school concerned about tradi ...
—the followers of the
Infante Carlos ''Infante'' (, ; f. ''infanta''), also anglicised Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell ...
—and the
liberals Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
. This mission was given to
First Secretary of State First Secretary of State is an office sometimes held by a minister in the Government of the United Kingdom ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, dat ...
, leader of a government that lasted only into the following January, having been unable to satisfy either side, let alone both. Despite his vain efforts to gain the support of either the liberals or the Carlists, his government undertook a major reform of the territorial division of Spain whose effects are still felt after more than a century-and-a-half: the division of Spain into provinces. A royal decree of 20 November 1833 ratified a plan put forth by
Javier de Burgos Francisco Javier de Burgos y del Olmo (October 22, 1778—January 22, 1848) was a Spanish jurist, politician, journalist, and translator. Early life and career Born in Motril, into a noble but poor family, he was destined for a career in the ...
, secretary of state for development (''secretario de estado de Fomento''), which created the basis for a centralized stateLuis Moreno
Ethnoterritorial Concurrence and Imperfect Federalism in Spain
, Instituto de Estudios Sociales Avanzados ( CSIC) Working Paper 93-10, p. 12. Retrieved 30 December 2000.
divided into 49 provinces. All but four of the provinces received the name of their capital cities; those four—
Navarre Navarre (; es, Navarra ; eu, Nafarroa ), officially the Chartered Community of Navarre ( es, Comunidad Foral de Navarra, links=no ; eu, Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea, links=no ), is a Fuero, foral autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous co ...

Navarre
with its capital at
Pamplona Pamplona (; eu, Iruña or ; oc, Pampalona), historically known as Pampeluna in English, is the capital city of the Chartered Community of Navarre, in Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo ...

Pamplona
,
Álava Álava ( in Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigua ...

Álava
with Vitoria,
Gipuzkoa Gipuzkoa (, , ; es, Guipúzcoa ; french: Guipuscoa) is a Provinces of Spain, province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country (autonomous community), autonomous community of the Basque Country. Its capital city is San Sebasti ...

Gipuzkoa
with
San Sebastián San Sebastian, also known as Donostia-San Sebastián (official names in both local languages: ''Donostia'' () and ''San Sebastián'' ()) is a city and Municipalities of Spain, municipality located in the Basque Country (autonomous community), ...

San Sebastián
, and
Biscay Biscay (; eu, Bizkaia ; es, Vizcaya ) is a Provinces of Spain, province of Spain, lying on the south shore of the Bay of Biscay, eponymous bay. The name also refers to a historical territory of the Basque Country (autonomous community), Basque ...
( es, link=no, Vizcaya) with
Bilbao ) , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = 275 px , map_caption = Interactive map outlining Bilbao , pushpin_map = Spain Basque Country#Spain#Europe , pushpin_map_caption ...

Bilbao
—reflected long standing entities, and retained their historic names. Javier de Burgos's division is practically the same as the short-lived
1822 territorial division of Spain The 1822 territorial division of Spain was a rearrangement of the territory of Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthe ...
, dating from the " Liberal Trienium" (''Trienio Liberal''), but without the provinces of
Calatayud Calatayud (; 2014 pop. 20,658) is a Municipalities of Spain, municipality in the Province of Zaragoza, within Aragón, Spain, lying on the river Jalón (river), Jalón, in the midst of the Sistema Ibérico mountain range. It is the second-larges ...
, Vierzo, and Játiva; also, in contrast to the 1822 division, several provinces were given names other than those of their capitals.


Provincial division and "historic regions"

Javier de Burgos' 1833 provincial division included 49 provinces. The same decree that created the provincial division grouped the provinces into "historic regions". However, these were merely honorary and classificatory: there was no level of administration between the central government and the provinces. These "historic regions" had no powers, no administrative organs, no common jurisdiction over the provinces grouped within them. Each province had a governor (''jefe político'', "political chief") appointed by the central government.Jefes Políticos y Gobernadores Civiles
, Diputación de Albacete. Retrieved 30 December 2000.
Besides looking to the 1822 arrangement, Javier de Burgos took as his model the
departments of France In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admin ...
. While many of the borders and inclusions in the provinces may at first appear arbitrary from a historical and geographical point of view, he was operating under a set of rational criteria: area (it was intended to be possible to travel between the capital and any point in the province in a single day), population (wherever feasible, the provinces had populations between 100,000 and 400,000), and geographic coherence. The provincial division restored the traditional names of the Basque provinces and Navarre, which had been renamed in the
1822 territorial division of Spain The 1822 territorial division of Spain was a rearrangement of the territory of Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthe ...
, but few concessions were made to historic
enclaves and exclaves An enclave is a territory (or a part of one) that is entirely surrounded by the territory of one other state. Enclaves may also exist within territorial waters. ''Enclave'' is sometimes used improperly to denote a territory that is only partly s ...
. The most important of these that were retained were the
Rincón de Ademuz Rincón de Ademuz is Spain, Spanish Comarques of the Valencian Community, comarca constituted as an exclave of both the Valencian Community and the Valencia (province), Valencia province located between the provinces of Province of Cuenca, Cuenca ( ...
(part of Valencia, but located between Teruel and Cuenca) and the Treviño enclave (part of Burgos, but surrounded by Álava); another notable exclave is
Llívia Llívia (; es, Llivia ) is a town in the ''Comarques of Catalonia, comarca'' of Cerdanya (comarca), Cerdanya, province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain. It is a Spain, Spanish exclave surrounded by the French ''departments of France, département'' of ...

Llívia
(part of Gerona, but one must pass through France to reach it). The provincial division consolidated rapidly and remains with rather few changes down to the present day. Santiago Pastrana
El siglo XIX y la revolución liberal
in ''Páginas didácticas sobre geografía''.
This is in part because the provincial capitals all became the seats of basic government institutions. The ''jefes políticos'' would eventually be replaced by civil governors, and eventually delegates of the central government. The provincial division was followed by all
branches of government Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
and formed the basis for all future divisions and combinations. Each of Spain's municipalities (''ayuntamientos'') falls within a single province. In 1834, Spain was divided into
legal district A judicial district or legal district denotes the territorial area for which a legal court (law) A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized com ...
s (''partidos judiciales''); these took provincial borders into account. These
legal district A judicial district or legal district denotes the territorial area for which a legal court (law) A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized com ...
s later became the basis of
electoral districts An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or electorate, is a subdivision of a larger state St ...
and tax districts. Civil health districts also followed provincial lines (though military health districts sometimes did not). By 1868 there were 463 legal districts; the number of municipalities has repeatedly risen and fallen.


Conflict with the Basque districts

The new design arranged by Jorge de Burgos and government officials in Madrid opened a scenario of overt confrontation with the Basque territories and institutions, who kept a separate legal and institutional status, including taxation and customs with the Spanish heartland on the
Ebro , name_etymology = , image = Zaragoza shel.JPG , image_size = , image_caption = The Ebro River in Zaragoza , map = SpainEbroBasin.png , map_size = , map_caption = The Ebro r ...
. Navarre was still a semi-autonomous kingdom with its own parliament and government—the ''Cortes'' and ''Diputación''—while Álava,
Gipuzkoa Gipuzkoa (, , ; es, Guipúzcoa ; french: Guipuscoa) is a Provinces of Spain, province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country (autonomous community), autonomous community of the Basque Country. Its capital city is San Sebasti ...

Gipuzkoa
and
Biscay Biscay (; eu, Bizkaia ; es, Vizcaya ) is a Provinces of Spain, province of Spain, lying on the south shore of the Bay of Biscay, eponymous bay. The name also refers to a historical territory of the Basque Country (autonomous community), Basque ...
(the Basque Provinces, known also as "Biscay" up to the
Peninsular War The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was the military conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or paramilitary groups such as Mercenary, mercenaries, Insurgency, insurg ...

Peninsular War
), were also autonomous. News of the central government's decision overruling native institutions spread to the Basque districts, sparking uproar and anger. The new design thus notably paved the way to the outbreak of the
First Carlist War The First Carlist War was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''St ...
. While Jorge de Burgos' design of provincial Spain suppressed enclaves, it did keep the ones located in Basque territoriesTrucios in Biscay, and Treviño in
Álava Álava ( in Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigua ...

Álava
. According to the new arrangement, the Basque enclaves were to be attached to the closer Spanish province of Common Fiscal Regime. That meant they would be paying taxes to Madrid, not to the relevant Basque government (Álava, Biscay). was incorporated into Gipuzkoa—definitely in 1845. Despite their close ties of cultural, linguistic, institutional, and legal nature (cf. ''
fueros (), (), () or () is a Spanish legal term and concept. The word comes from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in ...
''), it was decided to nominally regroup the above districts into two different "historic regions": ''Provincias Vascongadas'' and ''Navarra''.


Later modifications

As remarked above, the 1833 system of provinces has undergone only minimal changes. ''Jefes políticos'' were replaced by civil governors, and eventually by delegates and sub-delegates of the central government. There were a few minor adjustments of borders, and several provinces have been renamed to accord with local languages or in view of other issues of regional identity. The "historic regions" went by the wayside during the
Spanish transition to democracy The Spanish transition to democracy, known in Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map ...
in the later 1970s and early 1980s, when they were replaced by the
autonomous communities eu, autonomia erkidegoa ca, comunitat autònoma gl, comunidade autónoma oc, comunautat autonòma an, comunidat autonoma ast, comunidá autónoma , alt_name = , map = , category = Autonomous administrative ...

autonomous communities
, many of which coincide precisely with an earlier "historic region". Some authors writing about present-day Spain use the term "historic regions" to refer only to the Basque Country, Catalonia, usually Galicia, and occasionally Andalusia, all of which have historically had the strong local nationalisms. *In 1836 some territory was transferred from Alicante to Valencia, while
Villena Villena () is a city in Spain, in the Valencian Community. It is located at the northwest part of Alicante (province), Alicante, and borders to the west with Castilla-La Mancha and Region of Murcia, Murcia, to the north with the province of Valenc ...
was transferred from Albacete to Alicante and Sax from Murcia to Alicante.División provincial de Javier de Burgos de 1833
''Jarique''. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
*In 1841 a decree was issued returning Logroño to its larger 1822 borders, but it was never put into practice. *Between 1844 and 1854 the capital of Gipuzkoa was at Tolosa rather than San Sebastián. *In 1846 the border between Ciudad Real and Albacete was adjusted, with
Villarrobledo Villarrobledo () is a Spanish city and municipality in the province of Albacete (province), Albacete, part of the autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. It's better known for having the world's largest area co ...
becoming part of the latter. *In 1851 Requena and
Utiel Utiel is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as ...
were transferred from Cuenca to Valencia. *In 1927 the single most important change took place: the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...
, previously a single province, were divided into the present-day provinces of
Las Palmas Las Palmas (, ; ), officially Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is a city and capital of Gran Canaria Gran Canaria (, ; ), also Grand Canary Island, is the third largest and second most populous island of the Canary Islands, an archipelago off th ...
and
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Santa Cruz de Tenerife, commonly abbreviated as Santa Cruz (, ), is a major city, capital of the island of Tenerife, Province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and capital of the Canary Islands. Santa Cruz has a population of 206,593 (2013) within its ...
, bringing the number of provinces to 50. *In 1980 the province of Logroño was renamed the province of ''La Rioja''.The Autonomy Process of La Rioja
, SiSpain.org. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
*In 1982, as part of its transformation into an autonomous community, the province of Santander was renamed the province of ''Cantabria''.LEY ORGÁNICA 8/1981, de 30 de diciembre, de Estatuto de Autonomía para Cantabria
'' BOE'' número 9 de 11 January 1982. (BOE-A-1982-635). Retrieved 31 December 2009. Although the law was passed in December 1981, it was published (and thereby went into effect) in 1982.
*In 1983 the province of Oviedo was renamed the province of ''Asturias''.Ley 1/1983, de 5 de abril, sobre cambio de denominación de la actual provincia de Oviedo por la de provincia de Asturias
noticias.juridicas.com. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
*In 1992 the provinces of Gerona and Lérida changed to use their
Catalan language Catalan (; autonym Autonym may refer to: * Autonym, the name used by a person to refer to themselves or their language; see Exonym and endonym * Autonym (botany), an automatically created infrageneric or infraspecific name See also * Nomin ...
names ''Girona'' and ''Lleida'', respectively. License plates from Gerona/Girona were changed from "GE" to "GI". *In 1995 the municipality of Gátova was transferred from the province of Castellón to the province of Valencia. *In 1997, the province of Palma de Mallorca was renamed the ''provincia de les Illes Balears'' (Province of the Balearic Islands, using the Catalan name for the islands). The license plate changed from "PM" to "IB". *In 1998 the provinces of La Coruña and Orense changed to the
Galician language Galician (, ; ) is an Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent a ...
''A Coruña'' and ''Ourense''. The license plate of Orense/Ourense changed from "OR" to "OU". *In the early 2000s, Guipúzcoa officially turned into ''Gipuzkoa'', the Basque language form, as per decision made by the General Council of Gipuzkoa, ratified by the Spanish Parliament in 2011. *In 2011, Álava and Vizcaya turned also into ''Álava/Araba'' and ''Bizkaia'', as passed by the Spanish Parliament in 2011. Under Article 141 of the
Spanish Constitution of 1978 The Spanish Constitution (Spanish language, Spanish, Asturleonese language, Asturleonese, and gl, Constitución Española; eu, Espainiako Konstituzioa; ca, Constitució Espanyola; oc, Constitucion espanhòla) is the Democracy, democratic la ...
, the provinces remain Spain's basic units of territorial organization. They are the basis for electoral constituencies (Article 68) and autonomous communities are normally formed out of one or more provinces, with no province divided between two or more autonomous communities (Article 143).Spanish Constitution
official translation on the site of the Senate of Spain. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
The revised
Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 2006 ( ca, Estatut d’Autonomia de Catalunya) provides Catalonia's basic institutional regulations under the Spanish Constitution of 1978. It defines the rights and obligations of the citizens of Cataloni ...
that went into effect in August 2006 ignored the provincial division within
Catalonia Catalonia (; ca, Catalunya ; Aranese, Aranese Occitan: ''Catalonha'' ; es, Cataluña ) is an Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community in the northeastern corner of Spain, designated as a ''nationalities and regions of Spain, na ...

Catalonia
, replacing it with a division into seven ''
vegueria The ''vegueria'' (; grammatical number, pl. ''vegueries'') was the feudalism, feudal administrative territorial jurisdiction of the Principality of Catalonia (to the Crown of Aragon) during the Middle Ages and into the Modern Era until the Nueva ...
s''. However, the number of senators or
deputies A legislator (also known as a deputy or lawmaker) is a person who writes and passes law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unifie ...
that Catalonia contributes to Spain's parliament, the
Cortes Generales The Cortes Generales (; en, Spanish Parliament, lit=General Courts) are the bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative ...
: remained regulated by Article 69 of the Constitution in terms of provinces. While the ''veguerias'' project remained controversial, the Catalan government intended to put it into effect in January 2010. However, the
2010 Catalan regional election The 2010 Catalan regional election was held on Sunday, 28 November 2010, to elect the 9th Parliament of Catalonia, Parliament of the Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Catalonia. All 135 seats in the Parliament were up for el ...
produced a new legislature which has put these plans on hold.La Vanguardia
23 January 2011


References

;Informational notes ;Citations {{DEFAULTSORT:1833 Territorial Division of Spain Territorial division Provinces of Spain Subdivisions of Spain