Costa da Morte. Picking shellfish. Pablo Neustadt / © ICEX
The Autonomous Community of Galicia is located in the northwest of Spain, on the shores of the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean. It covers the provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra. It has 2,781,498 inhabitants and a surface area of 29,574.69 square kilometers / 11,419 sq. miles. The capital city is Santiago de Compostela.
Corn, potatoes, cabbages and apples are the foremost among Galicia's many agricultural products.
Livestock in the region is primarily reserved for milk and dairy products, although some small farms raise animals for beef and pork.
Fishing is this region's chief business activity in the primary sector: the Galician fishing sector as a whole records annual sales of about 1.1 billion euros. Its fishing fleet consists of over 5,106 vessels and the captures reach 173,050 tons per year.
Galician estuaries are the second largest producers of mussels in the world.
The white wines made in Galicia are grouped into high-quality Designations of Origin that are widely recognised for their excellence: DO Rías Baixas, DO Ribeiro, DO Monterrei, DO Valdeorras and DO Ribeira Sacra.
Read more: Wines from Spain.
Galicia was visited by 900,214 foreign tourists in 2012.
The old town of Santiago de Compostela, The Tower of Hercules and the Roman Walls of Lugo have been declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO, as has the Route of Santiago de Compostela, one of Europe's best-known pilgrims' roads, covering over 700 kilometers (435 miles) from either of its two starting-points in Spain - Roncesvalles (Navarre) and Jaca (Aragón).
This region is home to the Maritime and Terrestrial National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia, as well as many protected natural areas such as the Baixa-Lima-Serra do Xures and the Lagunas de Carregal Nature Parks.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Galicia: Allariz, Os Ancares Lucenses y Montes de Navia, Cervantes y Becerreá, Transfronteriza Gerês-Xurés and Terras do Miño.
In 2012, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) awarded blue flags to 126 beaches and 17 marinas in Galicia .
More info: Turgalicia.
Galician is an official language (also Spanish) and forms part of the distinct Galician personality, deeply rooted in Celtic culture. Santiago de Compostela has been the final destination of pilgrims since the Middle Ages, who travelled along the Jacobean Route to the final resting place of St. James the Apostle, a road that forged the beginnings of modern day Europe.
Visitors will find many examples of Romanesque architecture in churches, monasteries and chapels all over the region. And the city of A Coruña houses one of Galicia’s most outstanding museums, the Domus, the world's first interactive museum on the subject of man. It is located on the seafront and was designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki.
Some of the most important Galicians in history include: Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885), writer and poet; Ramón María del Valle Inclán (1866-1936) writer; Wenceslao Fernandez Flórez (1885-1964), writer; Camilo José Cela (1916-2002), writer and winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Fiestas and Food Festivals
July 25th, day of the Saint James the Apostle (Santiago el Apóstol).
Many gastronomic fiestas celebrating traditional products and dishes are celebrated throughout the year all over the region.
Galicia, land of emigrants, is the land of gastronomic festivals that celebrate the abundance from the region’s sea and vegetable gardens.
The Galician ecosystem is plentiful in seafood of exceptional quality: percebes (goose barnacles), cigalas (Norway lobsters), vieiras(scallops), centollos (spider crab), nécoras (swim crab), bueyes de mar (large crabs), prawns... The pulpo a feria (octopus with potatos, olive oil and pimentón, a type of Spanish paprika) is one of the typical dishes in this region.
Galician veal is exquisite either alone or when added to Galician stew made with potatoes and chickpeas or a typical beef stew called carne ó caldeiro. Roast kid (baby goat) is also typical, and the quality of the farm chickens, fed carefully with natural foods, is widely appreciated. Lacón (baked pork shoulder) is traditionally eaten in Galicia with grelos (turnip greens). The majority of Galician cheeses are made from cow's milk. Some the best known of these are Tetilla, Ulloa, San Simón and Queso de O Cebreiro.
Among the produce cultivated widely in Galicia's vegetable gardens are pimientos de Padrón (green Padrón peppers), potatoes from Bergantiños and turnip greens. Caldo Gallego (Galician broth) is made with white beans, cabbage or turnip greens, potatoes and lacón.
Galicia has made the empanada, a floury crust filled with fish or meat, a genuine delicacy.
The Designations of Origin in this region are primarily noted for the production of white wines. Orujo gallego (a fiery spirit) is deservedly famous and is the primary ingredient in the Galician queimada (a traditional hot drink made with flamed orujo, sugar and lemon). Other typical liqueurs are made with coffee and herbs.