Cantabria - Cantabria

Autonomous community

Flag of Cantabria (Official).svg
Coat of arms of Cantabria (official) .svg

Hymn : Hymn to The Mountain
Cantabria in Spain (including Canarias).svg
Location of Cantabria
Coordinates 43°20′00″N 4°00′00″O / 43.333333333333, -4Coordenadas: 43°20′00″N 4°00′00″O / 43.333333333333, -4
Capital Santander[1]
Official language Spanish or Castilian
Entity Autonomous community
Country Spanish flag Spain
Parliament of Cantabria
Miguel Ángel Revilla ( PRC )
Subdivisions 102 municipalities
Surface Since 15
• Total 5321 km² (1,05 %)
• Maximum Torre Blanca
2618,5 m s. n. m.
• Minimal 211 kilometers of coastline
0 m asl
Population (2020) Since 16
• Total 582,796 hab. ( 1.23% )
Density 109.55 hab / km²
Demonym Cántabro, -a [ 2 ]
Highlander, -a [ 3 ]
Biscay, -a [ 4 ]
START (nominal) 16th position
• Total 12 918 mill. (2010)[5]
• PIB per cápita 22 328 [5]
IDH (2018) 0.890 ( 8th ) - Very high
Time zone UTC+01:00
• in summer UTC+02:00
ISO 3166-2 ES-CB (autonomous)
ES-S (provincial)
Patron (a) Virgin of the Bien Aparecida
statute January 11, 1982
Official party 28 July [ a ]
15 September [ b ]
Consideration Historical community [ 6 ]
Official Web site

Cantabria is a Spanish autonomous community of a uniprovincial character , defined as a historical community in its Statute of Autonomy . [ 6 ] It limits to the east with the Basque Country (province of Vizcaya ), to the south with Castilla y León (provinces of León , Palencia and Burgos ), to the west with the Principality of Asturias and to the north with the Cantabrian Sea . Santander cityit is its capital and most populated municipality. It has a strong historical link with the Duchy of Cantabria , the Asturias de Santillana , the Brotherhood of the Four Villas , the province of the Nine Valleys and the province of Santander .

Cantabria is located on the Cantabrian coast , the name given to the strip of land between the Cantabrian Sea and the Cantabrian Mountains , in the north of the Iberian Peninsula . It has a humid oceanic climate with moderate temperatures, strongly influenced by the winds from the Atlantic Ocean that hit the mountains. The average rainfall is 1200 mm, which allows the growth of lush vegetation. Its highest elevation is located at the peak of Torre Blanca (2619 meters ). [ 7 ] [ n 1 ]The community is made up of 102 municipalities; one of them, Valle de Villaverde , is an exclave in Vizcaya . Traditionally, its territory is also divided into ten regions . [ N 2 ]

Cantabria is a community rich in archaeological sites from the Upper Paleolithic , although the first signs of human occupation date from the Lower Paleolithic . The paintings in the Altamira cave , dating from 37000 BC, stand out in this regard . C. [ 8 ] and declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1985 . This cataloging was enlarged in 2008 to nine other cntabras cavities, [ 9 ] [ n 3 ] among which the four caveslocated on the Castillo de Puente Viesgo mountain . In 2015 , the Camino de Santiago de la Costa and the Camino de Liébana were also recognized as world heritage [ 10 ] , a category that includes as individual assets the church of Santa María de la Asunción de Castro-Urdiales , the collegiate church of Santa Juliana of Santillana of the Sea and the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana . The latter, a holy place of Christianity , is the pilgrimage center of the Lebaniego Jubilee Yeardue to the papal bull he received in 1512 .

The modern province of Cantabria was established on July 28 , 1778 in the meeting house of Puente San Miguel . [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ] The Organic Law of the Autonomy Statute of Cantabria was approved on 30 of December of 1981 , thus providing the community autonomous organizations and institutions self-government.[ 16 ] It has a legislative assembly called theParliament of Cantabria. Its currentpresidentisMiguel Ángel Revilla, ofthe Regionalist Party of Cantabria, after having agreed with theSocialist Party of Cantabria-PSOEas a result of the2019 electoral results.


Cantabria physical map.

There have been various authors who have dealt with the etymological origin of the name of Cantabria ( San Isidoro de Sevilla , Julio Caro Baroja , Aureliano Fernández Guerra , Joaquín González Echegaray and Adolf Schulten , among others). Although its origin is not certain, the opinion most accepted by experts is that it derives from the root cant- , of ancient Celtic or Ligurian origin and which means 'rock' or 'stone', and the suffix -abr , frequent in the regions Celts. From all this it follows that Cantabrianit would come to mean 'people who live in the rocks' or 'mountain people', in clear reference to the abrupt and mountainous territory of Cantabria. [ 17 ] It is one of the Spanish autonomous communities with the oldest toponymy, since the term " Cantabrians " appears for the first time reflected in Roman sources in the second century BC. C. , by the author Catón el Viejo , although obviously Cantabria did not yet exist at that time as a united political entity, but various peoples lived there. [ 17 ] In his work Origen (c. 195 BC ) he speaks of the birth of theEbro river in Cantabrian land :

[...] Ebro River, it arises when a song is great and beautiful, pisculentus.
[...] the river Ebro: it is born in the land of Cantabrians, large and beautiful, abundant in fish.
Marco Porcio Cato, "the Elder" . Origins (VII), 195 a. C.

Popularly Cantabria also receives other names: La Montaña and La Tierruca .

Physical geography

Cliffs of Toñanes.

The community has an area of ​​5326 km² and its coasts have a total length of 284 kilometers. Its most outstanding place is the place Garlic ( 43 ° 29'33 "N 3 ° 37'15" O  /  43.49250, -3.62083 ). In the community there are three well differentiated geographical areas: La Marina, La Montaña and Campoo, belonging to the Ebro and Duero river basins. The predominant presence of the mountain and the difficult orography of the terrain explain why the entire community is historically known as La Montaña .


Towards the south of the region, the smooth relief of La Marina becomes abrupt, until it reaches the mountains of the Cantabrian mountain range that give way to the North plateau .

Cantabria is a mountainous and coastal community with an important natural heritage. Its energetic relief means that 40% of its surface is located above 700 meters of altitude and a third of the community has slopes of more than 30% of inclination. [ 18 ] It is the fourth most mountainous province in Spain according to the unevenness of the terrain. [ 19 ] In it, three morphologically well differentiated areas are distinguished:

Landscape of La Marina with low valleys, estuary in the foreground.
  • The Navy . A coastal strip of low, wide and smoothly shaped valleys about 10 km wide whose altitude does not usually exceed 500 m above sea level and which borders the sea by means of a line of coastal shallows , configuring steep cliffs that are broken by the appearance of river mouths generating estuaries and beaches. On the coast of the community, the Bay of Santander stands out . To the south, La Marina borders La Montaña , the dividing line being traditionally set in the Sierra del Escudo de Cabuérniga .
  • The Mountain . It is a long barrier of steep mountains parallel to the sea that make up part of the Cantabrian mountain range . Mostly limestone rockaffected by karst phenomenaand covering most of Cantabria. They form deep valleys in a north-south disposition with steep slopes pierced by torrential rivers, of great erosive power and short due to the short distance between their source and their mouth. The valleys make up different natural regions of the region that are physically well delimited by the mountainous ridges: Liébana , Nansa , Saja , Besaya , Pas-Pisueña , Miera, Asón - Gándara , Campoo . To the mountain belongs the Sierra del Escudo , a mountain range between 600 and 1000 m above sea level and which along the western part of Cantabria continues parallel to about 15 or 20 km from the coast. Higher mountains we find ourselves as we move south, with an alignment of ridges that limit the valleys and hydrographic basins of the Ebro , Duero rivers and those that flow into the Cantabrian Sea . They generally exceed 1500 meters in altitude, from the port of San Glorio in the west to that of Los Tornosin the eastern part: Peña Labra , port Sejos , port of the Shield , Castro Valnera and Sia . Also noteworthy are the large calcareous massifs of the Picos de Europa in the southwestern part of the region, most of whose peaks exceed 2,500 meters and where the presence of glacial modeling is extensive in its geomorphology . The highest elevation in Cantabria is located at the peak of Torre Blanca (2,619 meters ), on the dividing line between Cantabria and the province of León , although this honor has traditionally been assigned to Peña Vieja(2617 meters) for being totally within the Cantabrian territory. [ 7 ]
  • Campoo and the southern valleys . The other region that differs is Campoo , in the extreme south of Cantabria. With a more continentalized climate , they present an optimal development of forest masses of rebollo (quercus pyrenaica) and which is in an expansive period due to the abandonment of agricultural lands. There are also large repopulations of conifers (Pinus sylvestris) on the gentle slopes of the region.


Due to the current of the Gulf, Cantabria, like the rest of the Cantabrian region , has much milder temperatures than those corresponding to its latitude , similar to that of Nova Scotia in North America . The community is affected by an oceanic temperate climate humid, with summers and winters mild. The precipitations are around 1200 mm per year on the coast, increasing the values in mountainous areas up to 2400 mm, which puts it in Spain called wet (or green Spain).

Panoramic of the port of Alisas with the snow-capped peaks

The average temperature is around 14 ° C . The snow is common in the highlands of Cantabria between the months of November and March. The driest months are: July and August, although generally there is no drought itself, since on the one hand there is always a minimum of precipitation, and on the other the temperatures are not very high (Except for the Mediterranean or sub-Mediterranean temperate climate zones) . In some areas of the Picos de Europa with a high mountain climate , above 2,500 meters above sea level, the snow banks remain throughout the year.

However, the differences between regions can become important. Thus, those furthest from the coast, such as Liébana and Campoo , have a continentalized Mediterranean climate, in the first case due to the area's special mesoclimate and in the second due to its proximity to the central plateau .

The influence of the mountainous relief of Cantabria is remarkable on its climate, being the main cause of peculiar atmospheric phenomena such as the so-called suradas , caused by the Foehn effect . The south wind blows strong and dry, increasing the temperature as we approach the coast. This causes a striking decrease in the relative humidity of the air and the absence of precipitation. Conditions that contrast with those of the southern slope of the mountain range where the wind is cooler and wetter and it may be raining. These situations are more frequent in autumn and winter, registering abnormally high temperatures of more than 28 ° C. The fires fanned by this wind are not unusual, such as the one that swept through the city of Santander in the winter of 1941 .

On the other hand, coastal areas are usually subjected to constant winds from the Atlantic Ocean , which frequently become strong. In very particular conditions, more favorable in the months of April - May and September - October , the winds from the West can reach gale magnitudes .


Source of the river Asón
Camesa River as it passes through Santa Olalla

Cantabrian rivers are short, fast and not very large; they save considerable slopes as the sea ​​is close to its source in the Cantabrian mountain range . Its routes are usually perpendicular to the coast, if we except the Ebro river , and have a more or less persistent flow throughout the year due to generally constant rainfall. Even so, this is scarce (20 m³ / s annually) compared to other rivers in the Iberian Peninsula . The rapidity of its waters, motivated by the considerable slopes of the routes, make them have a great erosive power, forming the embedded V- shaped valleys characteristic of theCantabrian cornice . Human activity, increasingly abundant in them due to the constant increase and concentration of the population in the valleys, is exerting strong pressure on these rivers.

The main rivers that divide the region into as many hydrographic basins are:

The Pico Tres Mares ( 2175 m asl ), in the Campoo-Los Valles region , on the border with Palencia, separates the three hydrographic basins; the Híjar , Pisuerga and Nansa rivers are born on its slopes , which flow respectively to the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Cantabrian. Cantabria is, together with Castilla y León, the only autonomous community whose rivers flow into each of the three seas that surround the Iberian Peninsula .

Main rivers and towns they cross
River km Birth River mouth Outstanding towns as they pass through Cantabria
Asón 39 Collados del Asón , in Soba Ría de Limpias , Santoña bay Arredondo , Ruesga , Ramales de la Victoria , Ampuero , Colindres
Agüera 21 Foothills of Burgueño Oriñón estuary La Matanza , El Puente , Oriñón
Besaya 58 Cueto Ropero , in Aradillos Ria de San Martin in Suances [ 20 ] Corrales de Buelna , Puente San Miguel , Torrelavega , Bárcena de Pie de Concha
Camesa 17,9 Sierra de Híjar , in Brañosera R. Pisuerga in Aguilar de Campoo Mataporquera
Deva 64 Glacier Circus of Fuente Dé Ría de Tina Mayor , in Unquera Potes , Tama , La Hermida , Unquera
Ebro 930 Fountains of Híjar , Fontibre Ebro Delta , in Deltebre Fontibre, Reinosa, Polientes
Shield 20,5 S.ª of the Coat of Arms of Cabuérniga San Vicente de la Barquera estuary Roiz , San Vicente de la Barquera
Híjar 20 Tres Mares Peak Ebro river in Reinosa Brañavieja , Espinilla
At ease 41 Portillo de Lunada Ría de Cubas , Santander bay San Roque de Riomiera , Liérganes , La Cavada , Solar Ceceñas
Nansa 46 S.ª de Peña Labra , Polaciones Ría de Tina Menor , in Pesués Lombraña , Santotís , Puentenansa , Pesués
Not 57 Stirrup by Castro Valnera Ría de Mogro , Valdearenas Vega de Pas , Ontaneda , Puente Viesgo , Vargas , Oruña
Pisueña 36,2 Pisueña ( Selaya ). Pas River in Vargas Selaya, Villacarriedo, Pomaluengo, Vargas
Only 67 North of the Sierra del Cordel Ría de San Martín , in Suances Cabezón de la Sal , Torrelavega , Requejada , Suances


Mowing meadow in Valdáliga
Cliffs of Toñanes

The different altitudes of Cantabria, which go a short distance from sea level to 2,600 m asl of La Montaña , make the plant diversity great and there is a large number of biotopes . Cantabria has a Eurosiberian vegetation, within the Atlantic province. It is characterized by having forests of leafy and deciduous species, such as oak and beech. However, human action since ancient times has favored the creation of pastures, favoring large areas of pastures and meadows that feed cattle .

The pasture meadows are interspersed with plantations of eucalyptus ( Eucalyptus globulus ) and small masses of native oak and ash forests.

The southern part of Cantabria, already within the Campoo region and bordering the Castilian plateau, is characterized by having a transitional landscape towards dry vegetation, coexisting Atlantic and Mediterranean bioclimatic varieties . Its plant diversity is favored by being located at the limit of the Mediterranean biogeographic domain , which means that there are species typical of this bioclimate, such as holm oak or strawberry tree , located in poorly developed limestone soils with low humidity.

In Cantabria several floristic levels can be differentiated:

  • The coastal strip , represented by sandy areas and dunes with reduced vegetation. Next to them the cliffs with herbaceous vegetation exclusive to these areas.
  • The marina , a coastal strip that reaches an altitude of 500 meters and was originally made up of deciduous forests with mixed species: ash , linden , laurel , hazel , maple , oak , poplar , birch , holm oak , etc. The river banks were populated by riparian forests of alders and willows. Today these primitive forests have almost completely disappeared, leaving indigenous forest masses of a residual nature in areas of difficult cultivation. In its replacement appear the meadows, areas of grass that are very productive due to the benign climate and that sustain the rural economy of Cantabria. Along with them are large monospecific repopulations of eucalyptus destined for the paper industry and that from some environments are beginning to be questioned.
Panoramic image of the Cantabrian Mountains (left) and La Marina with the city of Santander (right in the background). Alto de Brenas (579 meters). Riotuerto .
  • The average mountain levels , from 500 to 1100 m asl, are colonized by monospecific oak forests ( Quercus robur and Quercus petraea ) on those slopes with the highest insolation. In the shady areas and especially from 800 m above sea level , the beech forests stand out and where holly trees usually appear, which produce edible fruits in winter and are almost the only sustenance for many animal species.
Brañas or mountain meadows from Pico Tordías (968 m). Arenas de Iguña .
  • In the subalpine level , at very high altitudes, the vegetation is made up of birch trees , bushes and herbaceous plants such as grasses , which are of special importance in the livestock economy during the summer as they function as port pastures (called brañas in the region). or branizas) for cattle and horse feeding.

Along with these characteristics, we should also mention the peculiarities of the Liébana region , which, as it has a particular mesoclimate close to the Mediterranean, also grows cork oaks , vineyards and olive trees , and whose degree of degradation by human activity is very low.


Cantabria demographic pyramid according to the 2006 Municipal Register of Inhabitants .

In 2020 Cantabria had a population of 582,796 inhabitants according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (it represents 1.25% of the population of Spain ).

Cantabria only surpasses, demographically speaking, one autonomous community , La Rioja (319 653) and the two autonomous cities Ceuta (83 842) and Melilla (87 076). In terms of provinces , it ranks 28th out of 50 provinces in Spain .

It has a population density of 109.53 inhabitants / km² and a life expectancy of 80 years for men and 87 years for women . According to the WHO (World Health Organization), in Spain (in 2005) life expectancy is 80.3 years on average: 76.9 for men and 83.6 for women. [ 21 ]

Compared with other Spanish regions, Cantabria has not experienced high immigration rates, since in 2017 4.99% of the population of Cantabria was an immigrant, while in the same year 9.79% of the total Spanish population was immigrant. The predominant nationalities are Romania , Moldova , Morocco , Colombia , Peru , the Dominican Republic , Ecuador and Brazil in this order. [ 22 ]

Cantabria demographic map. Inhabitants by population nuclei in 2005. The high concentration of the population in the coastal area and the depopulation in the interior areas can be seen.
Evolution of the population of Cantabria according to the Cantabrian Institute of Statistics.

The main Cantabrian populations are in the coastal zone. Thus, the coastal area has undergone significant urbanization and settlement, while the interior areas of the Community suffer from high depopulation. Three cities stand out, the Cantabrian capital, Santander , with 172,044 inhabitants, Torrelavega , as the second urban and industrial nucleus of Cantabria, with a population of 51,687 inhabitants, and Castro-Urdiales with 31,977 inhabitants (INE 2018). The first two are the nuclei of a conurbation called the Santander-Torrelavega metropolitan area .

The most important municipalities from a demographic point of view (more than 10,000 inhabitants; INE 2018 data ) are the following:

  1. Santander (172,044 inhabitants).
  2. Torrelavega (51,687 inhabitants).
  3. Castro-Urdiales (31,977 inhabitants).
  4. Camargo (30,263 inhabitants).
  5. Piélagos (25 223 inhabitants).
  6. El Astillero (18,108 inhabitants).
  7. Santa Cruz de Bezana (12,964 inhabitants).
  8. Laredo (11,148 inhabitants).
  9. Santoña (11,050 inhabitants).
  10. Los Corrales de Buelna (10,910 inhabitants).

The province of Cantabria is the 23rd in Spain with the highest percentage of inhabitants concentrated in its capital (29.56%, compared to 31.96% for the whole of Spain).

Crime in 2011 was at very low levels compared to the average for Spain , with a crime rate of 29.5 criminal offenses per thousand inhabitants (the Spanish average is 45.1 and around 70 that of the EU ). [ 23 ]


The official language of Cantabria is Spanish , spoken throughout the Community. In Cantabria there is also the Cantabrian or Montañés , a transitional speech between Asturleonés and Spanish that today is practically disappeared and is restricted to some rural areas of the interior and to the elderly; recently some initiatives have been carried out to protect the Cantabrian, [ citation needed ] but today it does not have any type of official recognition or institutional protection.


In 2010, 2011 and 2012 the Spanish Sociological Research Center (CIS) carried out a study in Cantabria interviewing 1,398 people. [ 24 ] from which the following data emerged:


General view of the polychrome ceiling of the Great Hall of the Altamira cave .


Perforated staff adorned with the engraving of a deer found in the cave of El Castillo .

The first human presence on the Cantabrian coast dates back to 200,000 years ago ( Paleolithic ). The Homo erectus , settled during an interglacial period, organized themselves into semi-nomadic clans dedicated to hunting and gathering, and manufactured bifaces . During the Würm glaciation the Neanderthal man occupied the caves and developed an important lithic industry (points, scrapers, scrapers, denticulates) that will be brought to its zenith ( sagayas , perforated rods ) by Homo sapiens during the Upper Paleolithic .

The art that that cave man developed, rock and movable , is found throughout an extensive list of Cantabrian caves ( Altamira , El Castillo, La Pasiega , Las Monedas , Covalanas , Hornos de la Peña , El Pendo ). They practiced engraving, painting and certain hints of sculpture, representing their hunting prey (deer, horse, bison, reindeer), geometric and symbolic motifs, but rarely the human figure and never their predatory enemies.

The Neolithic revolution —appearance of producer societies—, which began in the Mediterranean , reached the Cantabrian Sea with a significant time lag, turning it into a marginal region where hunter-gatherer and producer (agricultural-livestock) societies will coexist for a long time. Culturally, the megalithism stands out , linked to transhumant livestock .

Cantabrian wars and Romanization

Augustal term found in the municipality of Valdeolea. It established the limit between the dependent territory of the Roman city of Julióbriga , subject to taxation, and the pastures attached to the Legio IV Macedonica , free of tribute due to their military character.

The Romans found in Cantabria a clan society without political unity that lived in castros (fortified towns) and pillaged on the Meseta to balance its fragile economy. This, the mining resources, the will to close the borders of the Empire and the search for laurels of victory led Octavio Augusto to initiate the invasion of the region in 29 BC. C. The romanización Cantabria was delayed, focused on the mining and livestock, which marked the communications arrangement, arranged for transport of goods and merchandise. As cities, only Julióbriga and Flaviobriga stand out .

High Middle Ages

The monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana , an important center of Christian pilgrimage since the Middle Ages, keeps the Lignum Crucis and in it the Blessed of Liébana wrote the well-known Commentary on the Apocalypse in the 8th century .

Visigothic society succeeded the Roman one, and in 574 Leovigildo established his domain in the Cordillera , founding the Duchy of Cantabria as a defensive brand with capital in Amaya . At the beginning of the 8th century, the Islamic invasion reached Peña Amaya , pushing an important Hispanic-Japanese immigration to the north. [ 25 ]

In 722 the victory of Pelayo in Covadonga allowed the constitution of the Kingdom of Asturias , the political nucleus within which medieval Cantabrian society will be configured: settlement of villages in the valleys, implantation of an agrarian economy based on cereals , vines and fruits. and the triumph of Christianity will introduce feudalism in the region, with the development of religious lordships linked to the first monasteries ( art of repopulation ): Santo Toribio , Santa María de Piasca , Santa Juliana ,Emeterio and Celedonio , San Pedro de Cervatos , San Martín de Elines .

Middle Ages

Naval Battle of La Rochelle ( 15th century French miniature ). In it, the Castilian navy fleet, made up of Cantabrian ships, obtained a resounding victory against the English navy, passing control of the English Channel to the hands of the Crown of Castile.

The advance of the Reconquest towards the south once again marginalized the Cantabrian region , which only reached a new and relevant role from the 12th century , with the granting of privileges to the fishing villages ( San Vicente de la Barquera , Santander , Laredo and Castro -Urdiales ) by the Castilian crown to promote wool trade with northern Europe and secure the kingdom's borders. The villages thus experience a notable population growth and urban development around fishing and commerce, introducing the Gothicin the region (the four great cathedrals stand out). Their prosperity led them to confederate in the Brotherhood of the Four Villages first and the Brotherhood of the Marshes ( 1296 ) with other Cantabrian ports later, militarily serving the kingdom in the conquest of the Andalusian cities during the 13th century .

The crisis of the fourteenth century is reflected in the flag wars caused by the different lineages that wove the stately structure in Cantabria in pursuit of the extension of their patrimonies ( La Vega , Manrique , Velasco ). This stately offensive will bleed the Cantabrian territory (in towns and valleys) until the imposition of royal authority during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs . [ 26 ]

During the Middle Ages , the Cantabrian administrative structure was articulated through councils, boards (or valleys) and merindades ( Becerro de las Behetrías , 1352), [ 27 ] with the subsequent implementation of the townships as institutions of state control: one for Asturias de Santillana , Campoo and Liébana and another for the Cuatro Villas and Trasmiera .

Modern age

Trade routes and fisheries of the Hermandad de las Cuatro Villas
Santander seen by Joris Hoefnagel at the end of the 16th century . This engraving is the oldest existing image of the city.
Laredo Staff Party (Province of Cantabria) Merindad de Campoo ( Province of Toro ).

The end of the Middle Ages in the 15th century did not alter the situation of political and administrative dislocation in Cantabria, divided into towns and valleys, kingdoms and manors, the coast and the interior. The 16th century will also mark the crisis of the seaside towns, affected by the economic distortions caused by the wars of hegemony of the Habsburgs and by the succession of famines and plagues between the end of the century and the first half of the 17th century . On the other hand, the introduction from America of new agricultural products, especially corn, will improve the precarious diet allowing a demographic recovery that will be sustained throughout the 18th century . From the opening of the Camino de las Harinas in 1753 Santander , converted into the port of Castile towards America (Royal Decrees of 1765 and 1778 ), will experience a strong development around commercial activities: creation of the Bishopric in 1754 , granting of the title of city in 1755 , creation of the Consulate of the Sea in 1785 .

The projects of unity of the Cantabrian regions gain strength as the end of the Modern Age approaches , starting from two areas. One, traditional, from the Partido de las Cuatro Villas (seeking to defend its tax exemptions) or from the Province of the Nine Valleys that would give rise to the Province of Cantabria in 1778 . Another, linked to the Santander bourgeoisie, will be the one that triumphs with the creation of the Province of Santander in 1801 and its definitive restoration in 1833 within the territorial scheme implemented by Javier de Burgos .

19th century

Statue erected in Santander in memory of the artillery captain Pedro Velarde Santillán , a Cantabrian hero from the Spanish War of Independence who died during the uprising on May 2 , 1808 in Madrid .

During the nineteenth century , processes began and developed that would shape contemporary Cantabria.

  • Administratively territorial unity is achieved with the formation of the province of Santander . This, however, will not end the problems of devertebration and isolation that affect a large part of the territory.
  • Economically, Santander's mercantile economy triumphed until, in the second half of the century, the decline in Antillean trade led to a productive reorientation: beef production and mining preceded the remarkable industrial growth of the 20th century .
  • Socially, it is the century of bourgeois hegemony , which will see a new middle class and an incipient working class appear with the progressive introduction of industrial activities. In addition, the depopulation of the interior valleys begins, migrating the population towards the coast and the urban-industrial centers ( Santander Bay , Besaya basin , Asón mouth , Castro-Urdiales ) and abroad ( Indianos and Jandalos ) .
  • Politically dynastic liberalism prevails with the consolidation of the Province, which will achieve a stable operation of the turnismo during the Restoration ( 1874 ), thanks to the clientelistic networks woven by a caciquismo that finds a favorable habitat in the rural and compartmentalized Cantabrian space. A vigorous republicanism developed in the urban centers, and at the end of the century the first workers' organizations appeared.

20th century

The Treto bridge connects the town of Adal and Treto ( Bárcena de Cicero ) with Colindres. The controversy surrounding its construction caused the loss of political hegemony in the Laredo-Castro district by the Liberal Party.

The changes initiated in the previous century are accelerating and deepening, evolving the Province towards what will be the Autonomous Community created in 1981 .

  • Demographically, the virtual depopulation of the valleys and mountains of the interior is certified, far from the main centers and communication routes, concentrating the population on the coast in and urban areas.
  • Economically, industrial development based on dairy production, fish processing, chemistry and metallurgy is consolidated , reaching its maximum expression in the middle of the century, then initiating a slow decline that leads to the strong crisis and reconversion of the seventies and eighties. . Prolonged critical period that will influence the complex stabilization of the Autonomy.
  • Socially, there is a notable proletarianization , creating a strong contrast between industrial areas and agrarian areas that in the 1930s fueled the confrontations resulting from the Civil War . The deindustrialization of the last third of the century altered the socio-professional profile of the region, considerably reducing the agrarian population, reducing the number of workers and boosting the tertiary sectors . Since the sixties , in addition, a tourist activity marked in excess by seasonality has been promoted.
  • Politically, the democratizing impulses began in the first third of the century, consolidating during the Second Republic , a period of intense political activity. The imposition of the Franco dictatorship eliminated democratic organizations and works, sustaining the regime on some renovated caciquile networks. The recovery of democracy from 1975 - inseparable in Cantabria from the achievement of autonomy - had to survive, however, with that old caciquismo now wrapped in the discourse of an undetermined regionalism and supported by the links between the political class and real estate development , forger of newclientelistic networks . Politics marked, in addition, by the conservative tendencies reinforced after the long and traumatic process of deindustrialization.

After the approval of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 , the door was opened to the path of autonomy for the Spanish regions. The incipient community of Castilla y León initially tried to integrate the old province of Santander into its statutory project, but pressure from the municipalities and the Cantabrian authorities promoted a draft Statute for the region that was supported by the regional Assembly , as well as for 87 of the 102 Cantabrian municipalities. Like Madrid and La Rioja, Cantabria did not have the concession of the so-called pre-autonomy by decree law. [ 28 ]

In 1979, the drafting of the Statute began, which would be approved by the Cortes Generales in 1981. Finally, on February 1, 1982, the Statute of Autonomy of Cantabria came into force , officially converting the former province of Santander into the autonomous community of Cantabria.

In 1998 the Statute of Cantabria was reformed, eliminating the possibility of incorporating Cantabria into Castilla y León (article 58) and Cantabria was renamed the historical community; "By eliminating the old article 58 that regulated, through a special procedure, the incorporation of the Autonomous Community of Cantabria to another border, to which it is joined by historical and cultural ties, referring to the possible integration of Cantabria into Castilla y León , whose Statute, in its Transitory Provision 8, also contemplates an integration mechanism.On the other hand, the Statute ceases to refer to Cantabria as a historical regional entity, an expression used by the Constitution itself to allow the existence of uniprovincial communities, to be replaced by the expression historical community " [29]​.

Government and administration

Politics of Cantabria

The Statute of Autonomy of Cantabria of the 30 of December of 1981 states that Cantabria in its institutions will respect the fundamental rights and civil liberties, while it strengthens and promotes regional development on the basis of democratic relations. This document collects the powers of the Autonomous Community that have been transferred from the Government of Spain, it should be noted that there are still some not transferred, as in other Communities.

The Parliament of Cantabria is the main institution of self-government of the Autonomous Community , being the representative body of the Cantabrian people. At present it is made up of thirty-five deputies elected by universal, equal, free, direct and secret suffrage.

The main functions of Parliament are: to exercise legislative power, approve the budgets of the Autonomous Community, promote and control government action and develop the other powers conferred on it by the Spanish Constitution , the Statute of Autonomy for Cantabria and the other regulations of the legal system. Similarly, Parliament elects its President .

The president of the autonomous community holds the highest representation of the same and the ordinary of the State in Cantabria and presides, directs and coordinates its action. He will be elected by Parliament from among its members, after consultation with the political forces represented in it, and appointed by the king. He will present his program to the Plenary of the Chamber and must have an absolute or simple majority in a second vote.

The Government of Cantabria is the body in charge of directing political action and exercises the executive function and regulatory power in accordance with the Constitution, the Statute and the laws. The Government will be made up of the president, the vice president , to whom the president may temporarily delegate his executive and representative functions, and the directors, who will be appointed and removed by the president.


The regional elections are every four years coinciding with the municipal elections. In this way, in the regional elections the deputies of the Parliament of Cantabria are elected . The 39 deputies that make up the Parliament of Cantabria are currently elected by universal , equal, free, direct and secret suffrage . The first elections to the Parliament of Cantabria were held on May 8 , 1983 .

After several legislatures presided over by the Popular Party of Cantabria or by the UPCA of Juan Hormaechea , the Government of Cantabria was between the regional elections of 2003 and those of 2011 led by a coalition between the Regionalist Party of Cantabria and the Socialist Party of Cantabria -PSOE . During this period, the president of Cantabria was Miguel Ángel Revilla ( PRC ) and his vice president, Dolores Gorostiaga ( PSC-PSOE ). After the regional elections of 2011, in which for the first time the PP achieved an absolute majority in the chamber, with 20 deputies, its candidate Ignacio Diego was appointed president of Cantabria . The PRC - PSOE pact was reissued in 2015 , once again granting the presidency to Miguel Ángel Revilla.

Ideologically, Cantabria is as a whole a conservative community when compared to other areas of Spain . In the current democratic period, the conservative parties ( Popular Coalition / Popular Party ) have almost always been the most voted list, despite the fact that there have been agreements between other parties that other governments have allowed. Key to this trend is the weight of the capital, Santander , traditionally very conservative. The industrial areas of the community such as Torrelavega or Reinosa , as well as some coastal towns with a younger population, are in general where the progressive parties get the most votes.

The following tables show the results of the elections to the Parliament of Cantabria in 2003 , 2007 , 2011 and 2015 .

Regional elections, May 25 , 2003
Game Votes % Deputies
PP 146 012 42,43 % 18
PSC-PSOE 102 918 29,91 % 13
PRC 67 003 19,47 % 8
Regional elections, May 27 , 2007
Game Votes % Deputies
PP 141 926 41,52 % 17
PRC 98 702 28,87 % 12
PSC-PSOE 83 163 24,33 % 10
Regional elections, May 22 , 2011
Game Votes % Deputies
PP 156 199 46,12 % 20
PRC 98 731 29,15 % 12
PSC-PSOE 55 220 16,31 % 7
Regional elections, May 22 , 2015
Game Votes % Deputies
PP 105 944 32,58 % 13
PRC 97 185 29,89 % 12
PSC-PSOE 45 653 14,04 % 5
We can
( United we can )
28 895 8,89 % 3
C's 22 552 6,94 % 2
Regional elections, May 26 , 2019
Game Votes % Deputies
PRC 122 479 37,74 % 14
PP 78 039 24,05 % 9
PSC-PSOE 57 098 17,60% 7
Citizens 25,952 8 % 3
VOX 16,392 5,05 % 2

Institutional symbols


Traditional regions

The Law 8/1999 of Regions of the Autonomous Community of Cantabria of the April 28, 1999 states that the region is a necessary integral entity of the territorial organization of the community. With this law, development is opened to regionalization in Cantabria, promoting the creation of regional entities, a process that has barely been developed. Likewise, it points out that the creation of the regions will not require their generalization to the entire territory of the autonomous community until 70% of the territory of the community has been regionalized. In the same way, it has been clarified that the city of Santander will not be governed by said regionalization law, having instead to establish its own metropolitan area .

Currently the regions in Cantabria do not have an administrative nature and are hardly defined. Only Liébana , due to its geographical condition in the Picos de Europa , Trasmiera and Campoo , in the Ebro valley are established as clearly defined regions in the community. However, functional differences can be established in the territory that divide Cantabria by way of regions:

  • The region of Asón-Agüera : located in the eastern part of the Community, it has mainly a rural character. In it are the upper courses of the Asón and Agüera rivers , very close to the border with Vizcaya . Its county seat is Ramales de la Victoria .
  • The Besaya region : located in the center of the Community, it has its regional head in the city of Torrelavega and extends along the Besaya river , which functions as an articulating axis or corridor through which the main communication routes circulate. It is one of the most industrialized areas of Cantabria.
View of the center of Torrelavega , capital of the Besaya region .

Natural regions

In relation to the physical features of the natural environment, Cantabria is divided into ten regions that serve the different quite defining strips in which the community's territory is divided.

Historic districts

From the century XIII the organization of valley Cantabria, typical of all northern Spain , was replaced by cities, towns or regions that grouped valleys historic.


At present the number of municipalities in Cantabria amounts to 102. In general, these have several towns and these several neighborhoods. Some municipalities have the name of one of their localities (be it their capital or not) and others do not share a name with any of their localities. Each municipality is governed by its own council .

One of the municipalities of Cantabria, called Valle de Villaverde , is a Cantabrian enclave completely surrounded by the province of Vizcaya ( Basque Country ).

The Campoo-Cabuérniga Commonwealth does not constitute a municipality per se , even in spite of the extension of its territory. It is a large, unique communal property due to its size and characteristics, managed by the municipalities of the Hermandad de Campoo de Suso , Cabuérniga , Los Tojos and Ruente . In this mountain farm, destined to pasture in its brañas of mainly Tudanca cattle and horse riding to a lesser extent, transterminant livestock traditions survive .

Most populated municipalities
(2017) [ 30 ]
Position Municipality Population
1.ª Santander 171 951
2.ª Torrelavega 52 034
3.ª Castro-Urdiales 31 817
4.ª Camargo 30 556
5.ª Pielagos 24 918
6.ª The Shipyard 18 120
7.ª Santa Cruz de Bezana 12 818
8.ª Laredo 11 347
9.ª Santoña 11004
10.ª The Corrales de Buelna 10 912
11.ª Reinosa 9331
12.ª Santa Maria de Cayón 9095
13.ª Suances 8645
14.ª Cabezón de la Sal 8326
15.ª Reocin 8312
16.ª Colindres 8288
17.ª Middle Cudeyo 7459
18.ª Polanco 5850
19.ª Cards 5742
20.ª Cudeyo Marina 5147

The 20 most populated municipalities in Cantabria are those indicated in the table. Data obtained from the National Institute of Statistics in 2017, with the official name of the municipality indicated by the INE


According to the Regional Accounting carried out by the National Institute of Statistics , in 2007 the GDP per capita of Cantabria was 23,377 euros per inhabitant, similar to the Spanish average, which stands at 23,396 euros [ 31 ] and for below the € 29 455 of the EU 25. GDP in real terms is 4.1%, two tenths above the national average (3.9%) in the same period. [ 32 ] In the second quarter of 2011 the unemployment rate in Cantabria stood at 14.8% of the active population, compared to 20.89% of the average for Spain. [ 33 ]

Headquarters of Banco Santander , in the Paseo de Pereda de Santander

Since 1994 Cantabria has carried out a gradual convergence with the more developed European regions, which was possible thanks to its inclusion for six years in the list of Objective 1 regions and for which it received non-refundable subsidies for its development. [ 34 ] The economic success accompanied the progressive loss of these cohesion funds that it had been receiving since 1994-1999. In 1999 the EU financial framework program ends and when calculating for the new period 2006 - 2007 Cantabria is excluded from Objective 1. Since its exit was highly questioned [ 35 ]Because it minimally exceeded the established limit of 75% of GDP per capita, [ 36 ] it was considered an Objective 1 region "in a transitory situation." In 2007 the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) decreased by 46.2% as a result of the conclusion of the transitional period output Objective 1 [ 37 ] and entry into Objective 2. [ 38 ]

Cantabria has a declining primary sector that employs 5.8% of the active population with cattle, traditionally dairy and meat in recent times; agriculture, highlighting corn, potatoes, vegetables and forage plants; sea ​​fishing; and zinc mining and quarries .

The secondary sector accounts for 30.4% of the active population. In the industry, the steel , food, chemical, paper, textile, pharmaceutical , industrial and transport equipment, etc. stand out. In construction, symptoms of stagnation are beginning to be noticed, although it continues to be the biggest asset in this sector.

The tertiary sector employs 63.8% of the active population and is increasing, this fact being symptomatic of the concentration of the population in urban centers and the importance that tourism (especially rural) has acquired in recent years . As the main banking entities of the autonomous community , the Caja Cantabria stands out, which currently manages a business volume close to 10,800 million euros , and the Santander Bank that gave rise to the Santander Group , with 129,000 employees, 66 million clients, 10,200 branches and 2.4 million shareholdersaround the world. The group is among the top ten financial institutions in the world and is the largest bank in the Euro Zone . Regarding the sale of vehicles, in 2013 it fell by 2.6% compared to the same month of the previous year. On the other hand, in the rest of Spain, car sales have grown by 10%. [ 39 ] Apparently, the objective of the PIVE-2 plan to renew the car fleet is not causing the expected effect in Cantabria, despite being one of the autonomous communities with the highest number of dealerships per inhabitant. [ 40 ]

Transport and comunication

The large communication infrastructures in Cantabria present a great technical and environmental complexity due to the complicated relief. At 145 meters high, the Montabliz viaduct of the A-67 highway is considered the highest bridge in Spain on the date of its inauguration in January 2008 . [ 41 ]

The most significant consequence that derives from the strong energy of the relief of the Cantabrian territory is the existence of topographic barriers that decisively condition the layout of the connection infrastructures, both perpendicular, in their accesses to the Castilian plateau, and transversal, in communication between valleys, as well as its high cost of construction and maintenance.

The insufficiencies in the provision of transport infrastructures under State competence, [ 42 ] fundamentally with regard to communication with the plateau by road [ 43 ] and by rail, [ 44 ] and the significant cost per linear kilometer of Due to its difficult terrain, construction has led to a significant deficit in Cantabria's communications with the outside world. [ 45 ]

According to the Ministry of Development , Cantabria has conventional 2393 km of roads and 206 km of expressways or highways . [ citation required ]

General view of the Port of Santander
Parayas Airport, located 5 km from Santander , in the municipality of Camargo .

The Airport Santander , Cantabria airfield only intended for regular passenger traffic, has seen much passenger traffic since 2003 empezase to operate on it the low - cost airline Ryanair . [ 46 ] Currently from the airport you can fly to different national and international destinations.

Together the main communication infrastructures of the community are:

Highways, highways and towns that cross
Highway / motorway km Journey Outstanding towns as they pass through Cantabria
E-70 A-8 Cantabrian Highway 602 Irún - Santiago de Baamonde Castro-Urdiales , Laredo , Solar , Torrelavega , Cabezón de la Sal , Unquera
A-67 Meseta Highway 203 Santander ( Raos ) - Sale of Bathrooms Santander , Torrelavega , Los Corrales de Buelna , Reinosa
S-10 S-10 16 Solar - Santander Solar , El Astillero , Maliaño , Santander
S-20 S-20 22 Bezana - Santander ( El Sardinero ) Santander , Santa Cruz de Bezana
S-30 Bay Round 12,2 Peñacastillo-San Salvador Santander , Peñacastillo , Parbayón , Revilla de Camargo



The number of press readers in Cantabria is above the Spanish average, with more than 100 copies per 1000 inhabitants. The main newspapers are El Diario Montañés , founded in 1902, and Alert , founded in 1937, with a circulation in the first case of 45,000 copies. [ 47 ]

In the Autonomous Community there is a clearly higher predominance of the Cantabrian press compared to that of state coverage, being one of the regions where this data is more overwhelming. Thus, there are cases such as the aforementioned newspaper dean of the Cantabrian press and one of the most important at the regional level in Spain, El Diario Montañés , which accounts for more than 60% of the Cantabrian market. [ 48 ]

The Spanish Civil War put an end to a panorama of the daily press much more extensive than the current one, which had covered the last third of the 19th century and the first thirty years of the 20th . Three of the historical capitals that had marked an era until then would disappear: El Cantabrico , La Región and La Voz de Cantabria .

In recent years, taking advantage of the dissemination facilities offered by new technologies, new alternatives for digital journalism have emerged in the community through electronic editions of printed newspapers or the birth of new ones that have their only broadcast channel on the Internet . Along with these new models are free press initiatives following the example of many other similar projects in Spain and the rest of Europe.

In February 2008 the newspaper El Mundo launched a reprint with an edition for Cantabria, El Mundo Hoy en Cantabria . In June of that same year, the 2006 Digital Group published the new newspaper Aqui Diario in Cantabria , trying to cover the demand of left-wing media in the region. Since October of the same year, Aqui Diario was sold exclusively together with the Público newspaper until it was no longer published.

There are currently several free newspapers in the region, such as Pueblos (weekly, distributed throughout the region), Qué! (daily), [ 49 ] People in Santander (distributed weekly, only Santander), [ 50 ] Rakeros (distributed weekly, only Santander), [ 51 ] In Holders (distributed weekly, only Santander), [ 52 ] Diagonal Cantabria (bimonthly separata of the bi - weekly newspaper Diagonal). In 2008, the biweekly newspaper Ciudad del Besaya was launched, which is distributed in the Besaya region .


Unlike the written press, radio in Cantabria has experienced constant growth in recent decades. Radio Santander was the pioneer, almost simultaneously with Radio Torrelavega (EFJ 44), which was the first to go from OM to FM and later also the one that provided its broadcasts with stereophony. Years later, in the sixties and seventies , COPE (the old Popular Radio) and later Radio Nacional de España arrived .

In the nineties modulated frequency stations made their appearance , highlighting Onda Cero , seeing the light of a large number of regional and local radios, some of uncertain legality. This even led to complaints by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation for interference in the radio frequency spectrum intended for air navigation due to the power with which certain of them were emitted from Peña Cabarga and, in some cases, from unauthorized locations. A large part of these problems were based on the permissiveness of the competent public bodies in the face of the fraudulent occupation of theradioelectric space . An attempt was made to resolve this issue through public tenders to assign new frequencies to stations that at that time were in legal limbo and that in many cases were controversial. Before the announcement of the regional government to open disciplinary proceedings, platforms have emerged that group independent radio stations that continue to lack licenses .

According to various authors, it is to be expected that these radioelectric spectrum management problems will be overcome with the implementation of digital terrestrial radio and with it the arbitrary radio frequency allocation policy that has been a constant in Spain since the 1970s . [ 53 ] However, in Cantabria no competition has yet been called for the allocation of licenses for DAB broadcasts .


Cantabria does not have a public regional television channel . In 1989, the government of Cantabria, under the presidency of Juan Hormaechea , acquired equipment destined for a television production broadcasting center, but the change of government and the great cost that it entailed finally led to the project being discarded and the material sold. Currently there are no plans to resume it and the presidency of the government has already indicated that the creation of a regional television is not a priority. [ 54 ]

In 1984 the Regional Center of TVE was created in Cantabria and in 1996 the first local televisions began their broadcasts. With the analog blackout and the move to Digital Terrestrial Television, the Government of Cantabria initially contemplated the broadcasting of the signal by satellite transmission to homes, since it was considered that this was the only technology that guaranteed a complete deployment of the signal in Cantabria due to the strong mountainous profile of the region. [ 55 ]But in November 2008 the regional government decided to terminate the contract with the company that won the public tender, considering the implementation of the concerted service unfeasible and given that the Government of Spain granted aid to the autonomous communities for the installation of digital terrestrial repeaters. that would allow the deployment of DTT, which Cantabria took advantage of. This fact caused the winning company SES Astra to sue the Government of Cantabria before the courts for breach of contract, the latter being sentenced in 2013 to payment of 1.4 million euros. [ 56 ] [ 57 ]

The 30 of January of 2009 , the Government of Cantabria called a new tender for the distribution of local licenses digital radio and terrestrial television to which many of the candidates stations are not presented because of the strong provisional guarantees that were required and in the face of uncertainties about profitability.

Natural resources

Main articles: List of natural spaces of Cantabria , Beaches of Cantabria , Flora of Cantabria and Fauna of Cantabria .


From the point of view of its flora, Cantabria is located between two biogeographic regions . Most of the territory belongs to the Eurosiberian region , but the southern end is part of the Mediterranean region . This border situation has a direct effect on the characteristics of the vegetation landscape of the region, in which Mediterranean species and Atlantic species intermingle, enriching the botanical composition of the different existing ecosystems .



The fauna of Cantabria has a wealth that can be considered high, both in number of species and in the importance and uniqueness of some of them, due to its still high degree of naturalness, variety of media and its geographical location. Most of the territory belongs to the Eurosiberian region , but the southern end is part of the Mediterranean region . This border situation has a direct effect on the characteristics of the fauna of the region and makes Mediterranean and Atlantic species coincide.


Natural Protected Areas

Despite its small size, Cantabria has a good number of protected areas. The following make up the Network of Protected Spaces of Cantabria:

The most important of them is the Picos de Europa National Park , which extends, in addition to Cantabria, through Castilla y León and Asturias and whose management is shared by the three autonomous communities.

On the other hand, Cantabria has eight Special Protection Areas for Birds (ZEPAS): Santoña, Victoria and Joyel marshes and Ajo Ría, Liébana, La Hermida Gorge, Sierra de Peña Sagra, Sierra de Híjar , Sierra del Cordel and headwaters del Nansa y Saja, Embalse del Ebro and Hoces del Ebro.

There are also 21 Places of Community Importance (SCI): Liébana , Montaña Oriental , Rías occidental and Duna de Oyambre , Dunas de Liencres and Estuario del Pas , Dunas del Puntal and Estuario del Miera , Central Coast and Ría de Ajo , Santoña Marshes, Victoria and Joyel , Sierra del Escudo de Cabuérniga , Valles high del Nansa y Saja and Alto Campoo , Sierra del Escudo , Rio Deva , Rio Nansa , Rio Saja , Rio Pas , Rio Miera ,River Ason , Aguera River , the river and the Ebro Reservoir , River Camesa and 2 cavities with large colonies of bats .


Portalada stamped with the weapons of the Cuetos site, in Sobremazas ( Medio Cudeyo ).

Cantabria belongs to a common cultural unit that it shares, despite regional differences, with the communities of northern Spain bathed by the Cantabrian coast. This cultural unity, which has its roots in pre-Roman times , was already recognized in the 1st century by the Greek geographer Strabo :

Such is the life of the mountain people, that is, of the tribes that inhabit the northern side of Iberia: the Callaicos , Asturians and Cantabrians up to the Basques and the Pyrenees . Because the lives of all of them are identical.
Geographica III, 4, 7

However, this cultural unity of the Atlantic facade does not mean a cultural homogenization of the societies in this geographical area. Within this whole group, Cantabria has an undoubted ethnographic personality , which distinguishes it from the east and west from Basques and Asturians , as well as naturally from the inhabitants of Tierra de the south. To fully understand the regional cultural structure, one must understand the nature of its territory, divided into valleys, more or less isolated from each other. The strong compartmentalization of the territory, as a consequence of a robust orography, has generated a marked internal division of Cantabria, with difficult transverse communications between valleys, this being an essential question to be able to understand all the traditions and customs of the region. [ 58 ]

It is this abrupt relief, and the consequent type of exploitation that the Cantabrians have been exercising since time immemorial of the territory, another of the distinctive factors when defining the cultural reality of Cantabria: settlements tending to the concentration in the central and western regions , and dispersed or ultra-dispersed in the eastern area and especially in the Pasiega region , that is, in the headwaters of the Pas and Miera rivers . [ 58 ]

The substitution of the old orchards for pasture meadows led to the virtual disappearance of cider production in the region.

One of the most characteristic peculiarities of Cantabria is the highly defined model of a traditional mountain dwelling , with a gabled roof and a main façade on one of the falls. In it the solarium or continuous wooden balcony, protected under the eaves, is very frequent . This model, which has variants according to the regions, has given rise to the typical mountain house . One of the elements of this is the portal , usually stamped with the coat of arms , which gives access to the corralada. But there are also other models of houses, the so-called Pasiega cabin being characteristic and unique , with the main facade on the gable end..[58]

As for the traditional production model, its forms do not differ excessively from what is common to the other regions of the northwestern quadrant of the Iberian Peninsula. It was in the middle of the 20th century when a profound change began in the agrarian economy of La Marina and the pre-coastal valleys of Cantabria, when the rural people began to abandon the predominantly agricultural dedication until then to dedicate themselves to an extensive livestock activity in parcos yields, sustained in a territory with an extremely fragmented land, which has not been corrected until a few decades ago. [ 59 ]

Within this complex it is worth noting, as very characteristic, the use of a peculiar model of a screaming car , with its typical cornal yoke , as well as the use of the basna . In the same way, and related to the work of the field, the craftsmanship of farm implements and tools stands out, frequently carried out with a true artistic taste, as is the case of albarcas and colodras .

It is in the intangible culture where perhaps the particularity of Cantabria stands out. In addition to its own beliefs, myths and superstitions, it is necessary to point out the wide diversity of its rich oral literature , composed of stories , legends , romances , trovas , sayings , riddles and prayers . But it is here where it is worth noting above all the richness of its heritage and musical culture in all its various forms: from lullabies to songs of the round , through children's songs , tunes , jotas, picayos , marzas , etc. Many of these melodies are accompanied by dances, highlighting the modalities of dance to lu altu and lu baju , and among these the Baila de Ibio . [ 58 ]


Among the many prestigious Cantabrian writers or writers of Cantabrian descent, we must highlight those who for their work have achieved national and even universal renown throughout history:

The Spanish or Castilian is the official language of Cantabria. Currently, the novelist Álvaro Pombo is one of the most recognized writers on a national scale.

Highlights Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo , polygraph , politician and scholar Spanish , devoted mainly to the history of ideas , criticism and history of Spanish literature and Latin American and Hispanic philology in general, but also cultivated poetry , the translation and philosophy , brother of the writer Enrique Menéndez Pelayo .

Another illustrious person is Gerardo Diego , poet and writer of the Generation of 27 .

The Cantabrian or mountain dialect , considered within the Asturleonian linguistic system , is not regulated or has official recognition. There are remains of the mountaineer with more force in the western half and in the valleys of Pas and Soba , in the eastern mountain.

Monuments and museums

View from the Fuente De cable car .
Eccentric stalactites in El Soplao cave .


Menéndez Pelayo International University . Magdalena Palace . Headquarters of the summer courses of the UIMP (Santander).

Fairs and parties

La Vijanera Festival in Silió.

In Cantabria a multitude of patron saint festivals, commercial fairs and festivities of pagan origin are celebrated with greater or lesser survival of traditional folklore. The most frequent celebrate festivities around San Juan and San Miguel .

The second Sunday of August is celebrated in Cabezon de la Sal the Mountain Day , during which many traditional activities are practiced as the game of bowling , drag oxen , craft markets and representation of dances and Cantabrian music. It is also considered of National Tourist Interest.

In addition, on July 28, the Cantabrian Institutions Day is celebrated in Puente San Miguel ( Reocín ).

Regarding fairs , understood as large product markets held periodically, the Torrelavega Cattle Fair held in the "Jesús Collado Soto" National Cattle Market, the third largest in Spain, stands out, which brings together the sale of all types of cattle from the region and part of the neighboring regions, the main product being beef. Throughout the region, livestock and typical product fairs are held weekly, monthly or annually that bring together the residents of the region.

Festivals of National Tourist Interest

Festivals of Regional Tourist Interest



Since ancient times unusual geological formations have sparked the human imagination.

Northern Spain is an area rich in mythology . Throughout the Cantabrian coast, from Galicia to the Basque Country, passing through Asturias and Cantabria, there are imaginary and impossible rites, stories and beings.

In the case of the mythology of Cantabria, this makes the Cantabrian forests and mountains magical places that promote the appearance of legends , well maintained in the popular heritage through oral tradition transmitted from father to son, or because they were recovered or idealized by folklorists. like Manuel Llano Merino among others.

In their mythology and superstitions , as in those of the whole of Europe, elements of pre-Christian religions and beliefs ( Roman or pre-Roman ) could subsist that would have been more or less Christianized , reaching in many cases a religious syncretism . It should be noted, as in other towns, the presence of fabulous beings of gigantic proportions and cyclopean features (the ojáncanus and the ojáncanas ), fantastic animals (the snake , the Caballucos del Diablu , the ramidrejus , etc.), fey beings(the Anjanas , the Ijanas of the Aras Valley ), goblins ( Nuberus , Trentis , Ventolines, Trasgus , Trastolillus ), anthropomorphic characters (the Sirenuca , the Fish Man , the Andara Bear ), etc.


The region's livestock reputation and its favorable weather and orographic conditions for bovine breeding led the European Union to approve the name " Cantabria meat " as a protected geographical indication for beef of certain autochthonous breeds ( Tudanca , Monchina and Asturiana valleys and Asturiana de la Montaña ) and others already adapted to the environment ( Limousine ) or integrated by absorption ( Brown alpina ). The compango and the chorizo de Potes are typical.


Cantabrian Bolo Palma Championship in the indoor bowling alley of La Encina de La Cavada .
Regatta of trawlers in the Bay of Santander .

The traditional sport par excellence in Cantabria is the game of bowling in four ways: bolo palm , pasabolo board , pasabolo slab and bolo pasiego . The first is the most widespread, going beyond the regional area itself to the eastern part of Asturias , and being the one with the greatest complexity when it comes to playing. The existence of bowling alleys or corros intended for the game of bowling is important in all population centers of Cantabria, being located generally near the church or the village bar.

Since the end of the 1980s , bowling has lived through a period of consolidation with the strengthening of bowling schools, promoted by the different Cantabrian municipalities and institutions; League, Cup and Regional or National Circuits competitions or their media expansion motivated by social interest.

As in the entire north coast of Spain, especially in Cantabria and the Basque Country, rowing is a very traditional sport in coastal towns. The origins of rowing go back several centuries, when several trawlers from each town disputed the sale of fish, which was reserved for the boat that first arrived at the fish market. It was at the end of the 19th century when work became a sport and regattas began to be organized between towns in the Cantabrian Sea. The clubs of Cantabria, especially Castro , Astillero , and Pedreña They are three of the most awarded in the history of this sport and are currently experiencing some of their best sporting moments after decades of trophy drought.

The pasiego jump is another of the outstanding rural sports of the region and a clear example of how the use of a skill or work technique disappears with the passage of time, giving rise to competition and play. Similar in conception to other types of modalities such as the Canarian shepherd jump , at first this technique was used in the Pasiegos Valleys to save the stone walls that limited the meadows, the cliffs, streams, ravines, etc. that obstructed the passage in the abrupt topography of the high areas of Cantabria.

Within mass sports, Cantabria is present in national and international competitions through teams such as Racing de Santander or Gimnástica de Torrelavega , in football ; The Handball Cantabria has won several leagues and cups of the King as well as international titles in handball , the Cantabria Lobos , who has played in the CBA basketball and Estela Santander who play in LEB, and was also represented in the top of the world cycling such as the UCI Pro Tour team , Footon-Servetto as well as its subsidiary Trasmiera-Fuji, Camargo FerroAtlántica or Cuevas El Soplao in the amateur category.

The Cantabria Rally has been part of the Spanish Rally Championship since 1989.

In the individual aspect, it is worth mentioning athletes of the stature of José Manuel Abascal , Severiano Ballesteros , Óscar Freire , María Pardo , Francisco Gento and Carlos Alonso González (Santillana).


  1. Torre Blanca (2619 meters ) is located on the dividing line between Cantabria and the province of León , which is why in a traditional way Peña Vieja (2617 meters ) has been considered the highest peak because it is totally within the Cantabrian territory.
  2. Asón-Agüera , Besaya , Campoo-Los Valles , West Coast , Costa Oriental , Liebana , Saja-Nansa , Santander , Trasmiera and Valles Pasiegos .
  3. El Castillo , Las Chimeneas , Covalanas , Chufín , La Garma , Hornos de la Peña , Las Monedas , El Pendo and La Pasiega .


  1. Article 2 of the Statute of Autonomy of Cantabria establishes that "The capital of the Autonomous Community is the city of Santander , where its institutions of self-government will be based."
  2. Royal Spanish Academy : «Cantabrian, bra : 1. adj. Natural of Cantabria, autonomous community of Spain. 2. adj. Belonging or relating to Cantabria or the Cantabrians. " Dictionary of the Spanish language .
  3. Royal Spanish Academy : «montañés, sa: 3. adj. Natural of the Mountain, region of the north of Spain, or of the autonomous community of Cantabria. 4. adj. Belonging or relating to the Mountain, Cantabria or the mountaineers. » Dictionary of the Spanish language .
  4. Royal Spanish Academy : «Cantabrian, ca: 2. adj. Belonging or relating to the autonomous community of Cantabria, in Spain. " Dictionary of the Spanish language .
  5. a b Regional Accounting of Spain. , National Institute of Statistics of Spain (INE) .
  6. a b "The Statute stops referring to Cantabria as a historical regional entity, an expression used by the Constitution itself (art. 143) to allow the existence of single-province communities, to be replaced by the expression historic community (art. 1)". Carbajal Iranzo, Ignacio. Lawyer of the Cortes Generales. Updated by Portal de la Constitución. ( 2005. Updated in 2007 ). "Synopsis of the Statute of Cantabria" . Retrieved November 7, 2009 .
  7. a b Urrutia, Javi. "White Tower (2619 m)" . .
  8. «The Palaeolithic paintings of Cantabria are“ the oldest in the history of mankind ”» . The Montañés Newspaper . 2012 . Retrieved June 12, 2011 .
  9. «Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic rock art of northern Spain» . Unesco . Retrieved January 13, 2021 .
  10. ^ "Ways of Santiago de Compostela: French Way and Ways of the North of Spain" . Unesco . Retrieved January 13, 2021 .
  11. Baró Pazos, Juan; Manuel Vaquerizo Gil (1994). «Sources of Historical Law of Cantabria. Governance Ordinances. General Ordinances. Ordinances of the Assembly of the Province of Cantabria. July 28, 1778 ». In University of Cantabria, ed. Historical Institutions of Cantabria (1 edition). Santander, Cantabria. p. 104. 84-8102-082-6 .
  12. ^ Casado Soto, José Luis (1979). University of Cantabria, ed. The province of Cantabria notes on its constitution and ordinances (1727-1833) . Santander. p. 88. 843001389X .
  13. Reocín City Council. "Day of the Institutions" . Archived from the original on December 31, 2009 . Retrieved October 19, 2009 .
  14. Parliament of Cantabria. «History» . Archived from the original on December 12, 2009 . Retrieved October 19, 2009 .
  15. Official Gazette of the Cortes Generales. Senate. (1979). "Proposal of law on the change of name of the current province of Santander by Cantabria" . Retrieved October 19, 2009 .
  16. «Synopsis of the Statute of Cantabria» . . Retrieved April 5, 2016 .
  17. ^ A b González Echegaray, Joaquín (1993). Editorial Estudio, ed. Los Cántabros (Third edition edition). Santander. p. 277 . ISBN 84-87934-23-4 .
  18. ^ European Commission (1999). "Cantabria in the European Economic Community." . Archived from the original on April 27, 2007 . Retrieved April 12, 2007 .
  19. Roughness field Filed on September 28, 2011 at the Wayback Machine .
  20. The Besaya river converges with the Saja in Torrelavega .
  21. Organización Mundial de la Salud (2007): «Life Tables for WHO Members States», tabla en World Health Statistics 2007 Highlights and Tables.
  22. Data on immigration in Cantabria 2004-2006 ( Icane )
  23. ^ "Cantabria solves 54% of crimes" . The Montañés Newspaper . 2011 . Retrieved October 4, 2011 .
  24. The number refers to the people who have answered the interview
  25. ^ González Echegaray, Joaquín (1998). Cantabria in the transition to the Middle Ages. The dark centuries: IV-IX XII (1st edition). Santander: Estvdio. ISBN 9788487934636 .