Galicia Spain Map, History and Culture

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Interactive Map of Galicia, Spain

Galicia Map Links:

In the northwest corner of Spain just north of Portugal is Galicia. The Galicia, Spain map contains beautiful Atlantic coasts, rolling mountains, and the historical capital city Santiago de Compostela.

Galicia covers a total area of approximately 11,400 square miles, making it the 7th largest autonomous region in Spain. The Galicia, Spain map borders Portugal to the south, the Atlantic coast to the north and west, and Spanish territories of Asturias and Castilla y Leon to the east.

City List:

  • A Coruna
  • Vigo
  • Lugo
  • Ourense
  • Pontevedra
  • Ferrol

Quick Facts:

  • Population: 2.7 million
  • Languages: Spanish, Galician
  • Ethnicities: Galician, Celtic, Asturian
  • Capital: Santiago de Compostela

The History of Galicia

The first inhabitants of Galicia were a Celtic tribe known as the Gallaeci. The Gallaeci occupied the modern-day region of Galicia and the country of Portugal. The Gallaeci inhabited the region until the Romans made their debut in 137 BC.

During this time, it is estimated that around 60,000 Galician soldiers faced the Romans in battle but were unsuccessful in their effort. By 19 BC, the Romans had finally conquered the western territory of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Romans ruled the territory until being overtaken by Germanic tribes in 406 AD. These tribes include the Vandals, Suebi, and Alani. The Suebi agreed to enter into a peace treaty with the Romans in 409, resulting in the creation of the first medieval kingdom in Europe. This kingdom was established before the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD. The Suebi control was short-lived. In 585 AD, the Suebi were invaded by the Visigoths, another German tribe.

By 711 AD, the Muslim Invasion began in Spain; however, they were unable to take full control over the western territories of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula.

One of the most significant historical events of Galicia happened nearly 100 years later in 813 AD. It was in this year that the remains of apostle Saint James were found in a tomb on an ark, which led to King Alfonso II of Asturias to build a church around the tomb in the town of Santiago de Compostela to signify its holiness and give Christians a place to worship.

For centuries to come, the holy site grew. What began as a single church grew into a cathedral, then a village, and finally a city, laying the foundation for the capital city that is present today. The establishment of Santiago de Compostela helped the Christian Reconquest succeed by providing a place of refuge for Christians as well as providing a place for Roman Catholic art to be displayed.

The Peninsular War began in 1807, which involved Spain, Portugal, and Great Britain. Galicians opposed the French authorities and were able to fend them off with the help of Great Britain. Because of this, Galicia only saw six months of involvement during the war.

By 1833, Spain was divided into territorial provinces, which ended the Kingdom of Galicia and placed Galicia into the central Spanish monarchy. The seven provinces of Galicia were reduced to four, and the territory was divided between nationalists and federalists.

In 1931, the Second Spanish Republic was declared, which ultimately led to General Francisco Franco annulling Galicia’s autonomy statute of 1936. General Franco promoted only the Spanish language to be spoken, learned, and recognized. Because of this, he suppressed any language aside from Spanish, including Galician.

After General Franco’s death in 1975, Galicia regained its autonomy as well as its recognition of the Galician language and heritage. Galicia was officially established through the approval of the second statute of autonomy on April 6, 1981.


As mentioned, Spanish is the official language of the region, but because the Galician language and heritage were recognized after General Franco’s death in 1975, the region has been able to preserve the Galician language.

Galician Spanish has Celtic influences that set it apart from the Castilian Spanish that is spoken throughout the country. Galician Spanish is often heard spoken in Portugal, as Galicia borders Portugal, and many of the Celtic tribes lived throughout the region.


The primary religion of Galicia is Roman Catholic. The Moors were unable to push westward during the Muslim Invasion on the Iberian Peninsula, which helped Christians maintain their dominance throughout the region.

However, the discovery of the suspected body of Saint James helped the region to establish a sanctuary city in Santiago de Compostela, which became a refuge and focal point during the Christian Reconquest. Because of this, Roman Catholicism was re-established in the area, making it the primary religion today.


The geography of Galicia has coasts, hills, and plains, making it ideal for different ways of life. The coastline provides a destination for tourists while the plains provide an agricultural way of life for citizens living in the area. Aside from the coastline that is connected to the region, that are various archipelagos that are scattered in the Atlantic Ocean.

The primary mountain range in Galicia is the Macizo Galaico, which acts as a border between Galicia and Castilla y Leon. In addition to mountains, numerous rivers flow throughout the region. The rivers provide hydroelectricity through dams and reservoirs.

The geography in Galicia provides opportunities for fishing both recreationally and professionally. Fishing agriculture is one of the largest industries in the region.


Roman architecture, cathedrals, and churches are what give Galicia its cultural symbolism today. When the suspected body of Saint James was discovered and placed in Galicia, it quickly became a center point of Christianity during the Christian Reconquest. Today, there are Roman cathedrals, churches, and buildings throughout the region that symbolize the strong Roman Catholic influence that has existed in the region for centuries.

Immigration & Migration Patterns

In 1836, Galicia saw the first recorded significant emigration from Galicians to the western world. When Spain founded Mexico, Uruguay, and Chile, emigrants began to move to these areas because the once-successful farming industry in Galicia had begun to suffer. Between 1860 and 1880, it is recorded that approximately 122,000 people left Galicia.


The Galician genealogy extends into Portugal, Asturias, and various countries in the western hemisphere. It would be extremely likely for those people living in Central America to have heritage traced back to the Galicia region of Spain because of how many emigrants left the region during the 1800s to find better opportunities in the new world.

Most regions that emigrants settled in were countries in Central America, but it would not be uncommon to find regions in the southern United States and countries in the eastern Caribbean to have Galician genealogy as well, as many Spanish emigrants migrated to these regions.

Caleb Pike
About the author

Caleb Pike is an avid hiker and nature lover, with a passion for exploring the great outdoors. He's a writer, photographer, and adventurer, always seeking new trails to blaze and peaks to conquer.