Spain ETHNICITY AND LANGUAGE
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
Romanesque church in Lérida Provinc
Galician bagpipe players in regional dress
Canary Islanders in regional dress
Typical regional dress in Cáceres Province
View of Grazalema, Cádiz Province
One of the clearest indicators of Spain's cultural diversity is language. Ethnic group boundaries do not coincide with administrative jurisdictions, so exact figures are impossible to confirm, but observers generally agreed that about one Spanish citizen in four spoke a mother tongue other than Castilian in the late 1980s. Nevertheless, Castilian Spanish was the dominant language throughout the country. Even in the homelands of the other Iberian languages, the native tongue was used primarily for informal communication, and Castilian continued to dominate in most formal settings.
Spain has, besides its Castilian ethnic core, three major peripheral ethnic groups with some claim to an historical existence preceding that of the Spanish state itself. In descending order of size, they are the Catalans, the Galicians, and the Basques. In descending order of the intensity of the pressure they brought to bear on Spanish society and politics in the late 1980s, the Basques came first, followed by the less intransigent and less violent Catalans, and, at a great distance, by the much more conservative and less volatile Galicians. In addition, heavily populated Andalusia had become the center of fragmenting regionalism in the south; and the Gypsies, although few in number, continuing to be a troublesome and depressed cultural minority.
Data as of December 1988
NOTE: The information regarding Spain on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Spain ETHNICITY AND LANGUAGE information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Spain ETHNICITY AND LANGUAGE should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.