CORDOBA is suffering significantly from the plight of rural depopulation plaguing inland areas of Spain, a study has found. 

Out of its 782,979-strong population, a total of 2,261 people have left the province, mirroring a nationwide trend that has captured attention worldwide.  

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Rural depopulation has captured Spain’s minds and hearts in the past couple of years, and became a key issue the two general elections that have taken place in 2019.

In reality, rural depopulation has been an issue in Spain for perhaps the past decade, if not longer.

In some areas the population density is less than Siberia

Villages have seen their population numbers dwindle ever since the days of General Franco and the rural exodus in the 60s and 70s.

But the numbers have seen a large decline in the past decade since the economic crisis, as well as more cultural factors and a change in the necessities of the modern world.

Cordoba
ISOLATED: Rural Cordoba

The figures are startling. According to Spain’s Ministry for Territorial Policy, 90% of the country’s population is squeezed into just 1,500 towns and cities that occupy 30% of the land. 

The remaining 10% sits in 70% of the land, giving a population density per square kilometre of just 14.

In some areas the population density is less than Siberia.

Governments focusing on the economically successful regions rather than the ‘bread and butter’ industries such as agriculture and farming

By province, the situation of population decline is mainly focused on inland Spain and the northern regions of the country, with Madrid’s rural areas seeing the largest reduction, with a 4.6% decrease per year for the past eight years. 

Although the more rural areas of Andalucia have seen a similar fate, as a whole, the southern half of Spain, particularly the coasts, have seen a steady increase.

There are numerous reasons behind this, the primary one being the same reason that is typical for the trend nationwide—rural villages do not have the infrastructure and facilities to support modern livelihoods, therefore people are moving to more populated areas for both work and social reasons.

Rural Depopulation
VILLAGE LIFE: Tiny La Estrella in central Spain

As younger generations are leaving, the birth rate declines and the villages are literally dying out.

In contrast, on average, Andalucia has seen its population increase by around 4.5%.

Although this can be attributed to both the tourism industry and the influx of foreign residents, it is also largely due to the disproportionate investments from previous governments, focusing on the economically successful regions rather than the ‘bread and butter’ industries such as agriculture and farming.

During the 28A and the 10N elections, both Pedro Sanchez and his PSOE party and the conservative PP used their platforms to try and highlight the issue.

Their promises of improving the infrastructure of smaller villages were met with bureaucratic and legal hurdles, which practically guarantee that this will not be a quick process.

Facilities such as access, public transport, high speed internet, banking, schools and health services are all on the agenda to modernise rural Spain.

For example, the Malaga government has recently proposed the ‘Plan Via-ble’ which aims to invest millions of euros into improving road access to villages with less than 10,000 inhabitants.

Time will tell as to whether the political parties promises will come to fruition, and even more so, actually work.

But with the help of worldwide media coverage and local government support, all signs are pointing in the right direction of bringing both residents and tourists back to rural Spain.

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