Galician people

Galician people

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Galicians

flag_caption = The civil flag of Galicia

Then there were people from carbondale.

1st row: Inés de Castro • Jerónimo Feijoo • Concepción ArenalEduardo PondalRosalía de CastroEmilia Pardo Bazán
2nd row: Pablo IglesiasCurros EnríquezJosé CanalejasValle-InclánLa Belle OteroCastelaoJuana de Ibarbourou
3nd row: Francisco FrancoLuís SeoaneCamilo José CelaManuel FragaFidel CastroFrank Caldeiro

pop = approx. 10 million of descendents worldwide
region1 =
region2 = nbsp|10"A Coruña Province"
pop2 = "1,126,707"
ref2 =
region3 = nbsp|10"Lugo Province"
pop3 = "357.625"
ref3 =
region4 = nbsp|10"Ourense Province"
pop4 = "339.555"
ref4 =
region5 = nbsp|10"Pontevedra Province"
pop5 = "938.311"
ref5 =
region6 = nbsp|10Total
pop6 = 2,737,370
region8 = Diaspora
region9 = flagcountry|Spain
pop9 = 374,307 [ Censo electoral de galegos residentes no estranxeiro a 1 de abril de 2008, segundo país de residencia e provincia de inscrición] ]
region10 = flagcountry|Argentina
pop10 = 118,085.
region11 = flagcountry|Venezuela
pop11 = 33,443.
region12 = flagcountry|Brazil
pop12 = 29,601.
region13 = flagcountry|Switzerland
pop13 = 29,075.
region14 = flagcountry|Uruguay
pop14 = 28,470.
region15 = flagcountry|France
pop15 = 16,026.
region16 = flagcountry|Germany
pop16 = 13,254.
region17 = flagcountry|Cuba
pop17 = 11,114.
region18 = flagcountry|United Kingdom
pop18 = 10,051.
region18 = Other countries
pop18 = 158,203.
langs = Galician language, Spanish
religions = Roman Catholic
related = other Spaniards, Portuguese, French, Italians

The Galicians (Galician: "Galegos") are an ethnic group or nationality whose homeland is Galicia, which is a historical region in Southwestern Europe, embracing a territory situated in the north-west of Spain. The languages of Galicia are Galician and Spanish.

Geography and Demographics

Political and administrative divisions

The autonomous community (a concept established in the Spanish constitution of 1981) that is known as "(a) Comunidade Autónoma Galega" in Galician , and as "(la) Comunidad Autónoma Gallega" in Spanish (in English: "Galician Autonomous Community"), is composed of the four Spanish provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense, and Pontevedra.

Other Galician-speaking areas are situated in the Spanish provinces of León and Zamora in the Autonomous Community of Castile and Leon and in the Autonomous Community of Asturias.

Population, main cities and languages

The official Statistical body of Galicia is the "Instituto Galego de Estatística" (IGE). According to the IGE, Galicia's total population in 2008 was 2,783,100 (1,138,474 in A Coruña, [ [ [1:0] ;9912:15&S= A Coruña province 2008 census] ] 355.406 in Lugo, [ [ [1:0] ;9912:27&S= Lugo province census 2008] ] 336.002 in Ourense, [ [ [1:0] ;9912:32&S= Ourense province census 2008] ] and 953.218 in Pontevedra [ [ [1:0] ;9912:36&S= Pontevedra province census 2008] ] ). The most important cities in this region, which serve as the provinces' administrative centres, are Vigo, Pontevedra (in Pontevedra), Santiago de Compostela , A Coruña , Ferrol (in A Coruña), Lugo (in Lugo), and Ourense (in Ourense). The official languages are Galician and Spanish. Knowledge of Spanish is compulsory according to the Spanish constitution and virtually universal. Knowledge of Galician, after declining for many years owing to the pressure of Spanish and official persecution, is again on the rise due to favourable official language policies and popular support. Currently about 82% of Galicia's population can speak Galician [ [ Knowledge of Galician language 2003] ] and about 61% has it as a mother tongue. [ [ Use of Galician langue 2003] ]

Galician language

Galician is an Iberian Romance language belonging to the Western Ibero-Romance branch of the Indo-European languages. It is spoken in Galicia, an autonomous community with the constitutional status of an "historic nationality" in northwestern Spain. Galician is also spoken in the neighbouring autonomous communities of Asturias and Castile and León, near their borders with Galicia.

Galician and Portuguese were, during medieval times, a single language spoken in the Kingdom of Galicia and in Portugal. The language is variously called Galician-Portuguese, Medieval Galician, or Archaic Portuguese. The two modern languages continue to be linked by a dialect continuum in the north of Portugal.

Despite the positive effects of official recognition of the Galician language, Galicia's socio-linguistic development has suffered from the growing influence of Castilian Spanish, a world language. The drift toward Spanish is ascribed to the growth of urban centres, the emergence of a Galician middle class, and the worldly influences of education and the media.

Galicians, increasingly, have also had contacts with other European nations along the Atlantic seaboard, particularly with the so-called "Celtic countries", with which Galicia shares a cultural and musical tradition. As well Galician language shares typical structures of the celtic languages like Welsh or Irish, principally. For instance, questions can be asked with the same verb used in that question. Cultural influences from across the Atlantic have also manifested themselves in Galicia from the second half of the 20th century onwards; Galician émigrés have maintained their ties to their motherland, and they have shared aspects of the cultures of their adoptive homelands with friends and family who remained behind.

The fact that Galicia is home to Santiago de Compostela, the terminus of the most famous Christian pilgrimage route, has enabled Galicians to absorb European thought and art forms from medieval times until the present.

Galicia also boasts a rich oral tradition, in the form of songs, tales, and sayings, which has made a vital contribution to the spread and development of the Galician language. Still flourishing today, this tradition constitutes a priceless cultural heritage, much of which is shared with its neighbour Portugal.

Today Galician culture is vibrant, firmly rooted in tradition, yet open to contemporary contributions.

Culture and society

Culture and landscape

Galicia's cultural heritage is characterised by its extensive, abundant and varied geography. Indeed, the entire region could be considered as a sort of museum that never closes its doors to the public.

It boasts a wealth of Roman remains, highlights of which include the Walls of Lugo, declared a World Heritage Site, as well as the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña. The Way of St James has also been acknowledged by UNESCO, as has Galicia's capital, Santiago de Compostela, declared a World Heritage City in 1985.

More than 30,000 centres of population make up a decidedly humanised land and landscape. These settlements are home to magnificent examples of the Galician people's architectural and ethnographic heritage. Stone crosses, raised granaries and shrines… are all fine examples of the traditional constructions to be found in this land.


Like other Iberian regions, Galicia's history has been defined by mass emigration. There was significant Galician emigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries to other parts of Spain, Portugal, and to the Americas.

Unlike the Basque and the Catalan regions which were rich, urbanized, and industrialized, Galicia remained relatively poor, agricultural and dominated by rural and village society, as industry had yet to make its appearance there on a large scale. Moreover, its agricultural sector continued to be among the most backward in Spain, and farm productivity was severely hampered by the tiny size of the individual farmsteads known as minifundios. The minifundio was the product of an attempt to distribute land plots in a closed rural system to a growing population by requiring that equal shares be bequeathed to each heir. After just a few generations, the land had been subdivided so much that most of the plots were too small to support a family or to be economically viable.

For these reasons, Galicia was a net exporter of population to the rest of Spain. Between 1900 and 1981, the net outflow of people from Galicia was more than 825,000. In fact, the city with the second greatest number of Galician people is Buenos Aires, Argentina, where immigration from Galicia was so massive that all Spaniards are now known as "gallegos" (Galicians). During the Franco years, there was a new wave of emigration out of Galicia to other European countries, most notably to France, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Galician cuisine

Galician cuisine refers to the typical dishes and ingredients found in the cuisine of the Galicia region of Spain. These include shellfish and fish, many pork-related dishes (chourizos, zorza, botelo, androlla), empanadas, torta de Santiago (cake of Santiago), polbo á feira (a dish made of octopus), the cheese "queixo de tetilla", the ribeiro and albariño wines, and orujo liquor.

Compared to the wide variety of foods in the cuisines of France and India, for example, Galician cuisine could be considered to be fairly simple. Galician recipes are in general less elaborate than in other cuisines. In Galician cuisine, the freshness and quality of the produce are paramount.

Potatoes are nowadays a staple of Galician cooking; however potato crops only started to be widespread in Galicia as late as the 18th century. Potatoes supplanted the ancient use of chestnuts in many Galician dishes such as the popular caldo galego (Galician vegetable soup). Another innovation was the widespread use of olive oil from the 19th century on which replaced the older use of pork tallow.

Some taboos of Galician cooking, which are only disappearing in the globalization age, are the wide disregard for most mushrooms (with some exceptions) and some mollusks such as snails.

In Galicia, a wide variety of sea produce can be found in traditional dishes due to the province's long shoreline and traditional fishing economy. Agriculture products such as potatoes, maize, and wheat are also a staple in the Galician diet, along with dairy and meat products from animals such as cows, sheep, and pigs; Galicia's grasses and shrubs are green year-round and are excellent for grazing. Historically, rye was the most traditional cereal crop in Galicia.


The majority of Galicians are Roman Catholics with a non-religious minority.

Nationalism and history

Galician nationalism - which appeared as early as the 1840s in the form of Galicianism - recalled the "Golden Age" of the Kingdom of Galicia, when that kingdom played a major role in the politics of medieval Iberia. That was the time when the northern half of Galicia was hemmed in and isolated while the southern portion expanded southward in the wake of the Moor's withdrawal. This southern part of the realm eventually became Portugal; the northern part fell into disorder.

A Revival and a sense of national willpower

Following the dynastic union of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, namely after 1486, Galicia's political and cultural influence was severely diminished, a process that was later to continue with the establishment of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain in the 18th century and the establishment of a liberal state in the 19th century. This would lead to the gradual centralisation of the monarchic institutions and the total loss of Galicia's political rights and institutions.

With the spread of Romanticism throughout Europe and its call for the acknowledgement of the cultures of stateless nations, Galicia began to experience a Revival, characterised by a resurgence of national awareness. Nineteenth century political movements such as "provincialism" and regionalism, and the consolidation of the concept of Galicianism, spur on the creation of alternatives designed to endorse the region with its own self-governing institutions and to embark upon a process aimed at promoting and standardising both the Galician language and culture.

Galicia during the time of exile and resistance

The process of setting up Galicia’s first government following the passing of the Statute of Autonomy in 1936 suffered a sharp setback following the military coup that took place that same year and marked the start of the Spanish Civil War.

During the forty years of dictatorship, the Galician nationalist movement was forced into exile, leading to its restructuring in order to be able to carry out the political and cultural projects that would have been practically infeasible in Galicia until the consolidation of democratic resistance groups that challenged the dictatorship.

Democratic self-government for the future

The final years of Franco's regime saw the revival of the sense of national identity amongst the people of Galicia, starting off in the field of culture, and then gradually generating an extending towards political movement in favour of self-government and cultural standardisation within the framework of the Spanish State, seen as a multinational and multilingual political entity.

Fraga's Galicia

In 1990, conservative politician Manuel Fraga took over as President of Galicia. He believed that Galicia should try to modernise itself without losing its valuable traditions. Fraga's past as a Franco minister was put aside during this stage of his life, in which he assumed some of the claims of Galician nationalists such as the use of the Galician language. Fraga's rule over Galicia came to an end in April 2005.

Galicia today

Today Galician culture is slowly but gradually recovering. Firmly rooted in tradition, it has also incorporated more contemporary aspects. The fact that Galicia was home to the end of a pilgrimage route that acted as the cultural backbone of Europe enabled it to soak up European thought and art forms from the Middle Ages until today.

Galician Cultural Future

A strong cultural fabric

The Galician City of Culture Modern Galician culture has been built on solid historical foundations, with a cultural industry currently under consolidation supported by a dynamic cultural framework. The principal cultural spaces include, within the field of art, the Centre for Galician Contemporary Art (CGAC) in Santiago de Compostela and Vigo’s Contemporary Art Museum (MARCO), without forgetting, in the area of dramatic art, the network of theatres and auditoriums. In addition, the Galician City of Culture, although currently undergoing the redefinition and reorganisation of its contents and spaces, also constitutes a global cultural project. A description of Galicia’s cultural scene would not be complete without a mention of the many socio-cultural centres, networks of libraries, alternative exhibition centres and the multiple associations that organise, promote and support root cultural projects.

Cultural Institutions

The principal official institutions in terms of cultural affairs include the Galician Royal Academy, founded in Cuba in 1906, and the Galician Council for Culture, whose aim is to advise the Galician autonomous governments in all matters concerning culture. The region’s universities also play a major role in Galicia’s cultural development. This is particularly true of the University of Santiago de Compostela, which first took on this task back in the 15th century.

The major driving forces for culture in Galicia today are the publishing industry, which is producing a growing number of publications, and the audiovisual and art industries, in which private initiative is currently thriving.

Famous people of Galician origin


*Amancio footballer
*Niki Lauda Austrian aviator, entrepreneur, former Formula One (F1) racing driver and three-time F1 World Champion. (Galician grandparents from Nogueira de Ramuín by his father's side) [ [ Niki Lauda poderá ser galego de Loña do Monte se así o quere] ]
*David Cal flatwater canoer
*Carlos Pérez Rial flatwater canoer
*Fernando Torres footballer (father from Boqueixón) [ [ O neno que creceu na praia de Cee] ]
*Luis Suárez footballer, winner of the L'Équipe golden ball
*Óscar Pereiro professional road bicycle racer. Winner of the 2006 Tour de France.
*Nacho Novo footballer
*Míchel Salgado footballer


*Álvaro Cunqueiro writer and journalist
*Concepción Arenal writer and feminist
*Castelao writer, politician and painter
*Camilo José Cela writer, Nobel Prize in Literature
*Dani Garza writer and musician
*Emilia Pardo Bazán writer and feminist
*Manuel Rivas writer
*Suso de Toro writer
*Bea Gonzalez writer
*Vicente Risco writer and politician
*Luis Seoane writer and painter
*Rosalía de Castro writer
*Gonzalo Torrente Ballester writer
*Ramón María del Valle Inclán writer
*Xosé Luís Méndez Ferrín writer, He was proposed to the Nobel Prize in literature by the Galician Writers Association in 1999
*Manuel Curros Enríquez writer


*Simón Bolívar (web page: has a complete detail of the Galician connection to Bolívar's family)
*Fernando Caldeiro astronaut
*Santiago Casares Quiroga politician who was Prime Minister of Spain from May 13 to July 19, 1936
*Fidel Castro (both parents from Galicia) former president of Cuba
*Raúl Castro (both parents from Galicia) president of Cuba
*Manu Chao (father from Vilalba) singer
*Martin Codax medieval troubadour who lived between the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century
*Enrique Iglesias (grandfather from Ourense) singer
*Julio Iglesias (father from Ourense) singer
*Pablo Iglesias founder of the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in 1879 and the Spanish General Workers' Union (UGT) in 1888
*Juan Niño de Tabora former governor of the Philippines.
*Ramón Franco pioneer of aviation, a political figure and brother of later dictator Francisco Franco.
*Jerry Garcia (father born in A Coruña) lead guitarist and singer for the Grateful Dead
*Nancho Novo actor
*Lou Piniella (Galician grandparents) current manager of the Chicago Cubs and former Major League Baseball outfielder
*Francisco Franco was the leader and later formal head of state of Spain from October 1936, and of all of Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975.
*Tabaré Vázquez (of Galician ancestry) president of Uruguay
*Carlos Nuñez musician and bagpiper
*Luz Casal singer
*Iván Ferreiro singer
*Gonzalo de Vigo first European castaway in the history of the Pacific Ocean
*Carlos Leal Swiss rapper and actor born to Galician immigrants
*Xoel López singer
*La Belle Otero dancer, actress and courtesan
*Patricio Montojo naval commander at the Battle of Manila Bay
*Mendinho was a medieval troubadour from the 13th century
*Manuel Fraga Iribarne President of the Galician Parliament from 1990 until 2005
*Benito Jerónimo Feijoo e Montenegro neoclassical monk and scholar noted for encouraging scientific thought in Galicia and Spain.
*Ines de Castro noble woman declared Queen of Portugal posthumously
*Adolfo Dominguez fashion designer
*Kina Fernández fashion designer
*Rosalia Mera coofounder of the Inditex Group
*Natalia Oreiro singer
*Amancio Ortega fashion entrepreneur, Spain's richest man and in 2007 the 8th richest man in the world (Forbes) and the founder, with his then-wife Rosalia Mera, and chairman of the Inditex Group
*Cristina Pato bagpiper
*Antonio Pernas fashion designer
*Anxo Quintana politician, current leader of the Galician Nationalist Block (Bloque Nacionalista Galego), the main Galician Nationalist party
*Rodrigo de Quiroga conquistador, he was twice the Royal Governor of Chile.
*Mariano Rajoy Brey politician
*Paulina Rubio (father from A Coruña)
*Marta Sánchez (both parents from A Coruña) singer
*Pedro Sarmiento de GamboaExplorer
*Susana Seivane bagpiper
*Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez (mostly known as Martin Sheen) (father from Parderrubias,Salceda de Caselas) actor"And the four children of Martin Sheen:":*Carlos Irwin Estévez (mostly known as Charlie Sheen) actor:*Emilio Estevez actor:*Ramon Estevez actor:*Renée Estevez actor
*Luis Tosar actor
*Luis Váez de Torres Explorer
*Xoán Vázquez Del Pozo Businessman
*Paula Vázquez actress
*Jesús Vázquez actor
*Roberto Verino fashion designer

See also

*Galician language
*Galicia (Spain)
*Celtic Gallaecia
*Celtic Nations
*History of Galicia
*Timeline of Galician History
*Galician nationalism
*The Way of St James
*Santiago de Compostela
*Fillos de Galicia
*Nationalities of Spain
*Spanish people

External links

* [ Galician Portal]
* [ A collaborative study of the EDNAP group regarding Y-chromosome binary polymorphism analysis]

Online references

* [ Galician language portal]
* [ Galician Music, Culture and History]
* [ Galician Government]
* [ Galician History and Language]
* [ Galician History]
* [ Santiago Tourism]
* [ Page about The Way of St James]
* [ Oficial page about The Way of St James]


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