Autonomous Communities of Spain

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I have treated the provinces as secondary divisions for a long time, but it's only now (2015) that I've put them on a separate page.

The GENC standard has codes for autonomous communities and provinces of Spain. They are the same as the ISO codes in every case.

Update 16 to the U.S. standard GEC is dated 2014-06-30. It provides "conventional names" (English names) for some of the autonomous communities to go alongside the Spanish names.

Update 13 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2013-09-30. It assigns codes to Ceuta and Melilla.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number II-1, dated 2010-02-03, changes the ISO codes for six autonomous communities, to avoid conflicts with the province codes. Asturias changed from O to AS; Cantabria changed from S to CB; La Rioja changed from LO to RI; Madrid changed from M to MD; Murcia changed from MU to MC; and Navarra changed from NA to NC.

FIPS Publication Change Notice No. 9, affecting FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2004-10-01. It corrects the type of two subdivisions. Madrid has become a comunidad (community), and Navarra has become a comunidad foral (statutory community), according to the standard.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-4, dated 2002-12-10, corrects the error for Baleares in Newsletter I-2.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. There are only two types of change shown. The description of the places of Spanish sovereignty in Africa was changed to "autonomous citites (sic) in North Africa". Five names were changed from Spanish to the local minority language (Catalan or Galician). The ISO 3166-2 code for Balearic Islands autonomous community was changed from PM to IB. The code for Baleares province, however, remained unchanged as PM. The code for Girona province was changed from GE to GI.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on December 15, 1998. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For Spain, the draft standard showed only the autonomous communities and the municipalities Ceuta and Melilla. The final standard showed those divisions, and the provinces as well.

Note: seven of the autonomous communities consist of only a single province. In those cases, the ISO code for the province is the same as the code for the conterminous autonomous community. Aside from that, all of the ISO codes for divisions of Spain are unique.

Country overview: 

Short nameSPAIN
ISO codeES
GEC codeSP
LanguageSpanish (es)
Time zone+1~ (see note)


Spain has been an independent country during the entire 20th century.

According to the Spanish Constitution, Spanish (more precisely, Castilian, or Castellano) is the official language of the whole country, but the other Spanish languages (languages native to Spain) may be made co-official in each autonomous community by statute.

Time zone note: except for the Canary Islands, which are in zone 0~.

Other names of country: 

  1. Basque: Espainia
  2. Catalan: Espanya
  3. Danish: Spanien
  4. Dutch: Spanje, Koninkrijk Spanje (formal)
  5. English: Kingdom of Spain (formal)
  6. Finnish: Espanja
  7. French: Espagne f
  8. Galician: España
  9. German: Spanien n
  10. Icelandic: Spánn
  11. Italian: Spagna f
  12. Norwegian: Spania, Kongeriket Spania (formal)
  13. Portuguese: Espanha, Reino m de Espanha f (formal)
  14. Russian: Королевство Испания (formal)
  15. Spanish: España, Reino m de España f (formal)
  16. Swedish: Spanien
  17. Turkish: İspanya Krallığı (formal)

Origin of name: 

possibly from a Phoenician word for mine, digging; or Phoenician for coast of the rabbits

Primary subdivisions: 

Spain is divided into seventeen comunidades autónomas (autonomous communities) and two municipalities.

Andalusia ES.ANANES61SP51h8,371,270 87,26833,694Sevilleandaluz
Aragon ES.ARARES24SP52l1,344,509 47,66918,405Zaragozaaragonés
Asturias ES.ASASES12SP34l1,075,183 10,5654,079Oviedoasturiano
Balearic Islands ES.PMIBES53SP07l1,100,503 5,0141,936Palma de MallorcabalearCatalan
Basque Country ES.PVPVES21SP59h2,185,393 7,2612,803Vitoria-GasteizvascoBasque
Canary Islands ES.CNCNES70SP53h2,082,655 7,2732,808Santa Cruz de Tenerifecanario
Cantabria ES.CBCBES13SP39l592,542 5,2892,042Santandercántabro
Castile and Leon ES.CLCLES41SP55l2,540,188 94,14736,350Valladolidcastellanoleonés
Castile-La ManchaES.CMCMES42SP54l2,106,331 79,22630,589Toledocastellanomanchego
Catalonia ES.CTCTES51SP56h7,519,843 31,93012,328BarcelonacatalánCatalan
Ceuta ES.CECEES63SP61 83,517 187Ceutaceutí
Extremadura ES.EXEXES43SP57l1,104,499 41,60216,063Méridaextremeño
Galicia ES.GAGAES11SP58h2,772,928 29,43411,365Santiago de CompostelagallegoGalician
La Rioja ES.LORIES23SP27l321,173 5,0341,944Logroñoriojano
Madrid ES.MDMDES30SP29l6,421,874 7,9953,087Madridmadrileño
Melilla ES.MLMLES64SP62 81,323 145Melillamelillense
Murcia ES.MUMCES62SP31l1,462,128 11,3174,370Murciamurciano
Navarra ES.NANCES22SP32h640,129 10,4214,024PamplonanavarroBasque
Valencia ES.VCVCES52SP60h5,009,931 23,3058,998ValenciavalencianoValencian
19 divisions 46,815,916504,782194,897
  • Community: except for Ceuta and Melilla, which are municipalities.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision code.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • NUTS: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics. Note: the first three characters of the NUTS code identify
    still larger regions, as in the table below.
  • GEC: Codes from GEC.
  • Rs: Autonomous communities are classified as having high (h) or low (l) responsibility.
  • Population: 2011-11-01 census
  • Gentilic: Masculine singular name for an inhabitant.
  • Language: Co-official language in this autonomous community.



Further subdivisions:

See the Provinces of Spain page and the Municipalities of Spain page.

The autonomous communities are subdivided into provinces, although some of them have only one province. The provinces are subdivided into municipalities. Formerly, there were historical regions instead of autonomous communities. For the relationship between the historical regions and the autonomous communities, see the Province page.

Territorial extent: 

  1. Balearic Islands and Canary Islands occupy the island groups of the same names. The former is in the Mediterranean Sea; the latter is in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco.
  2. Cantabria autonomous community has an exclave within Basque Country (La Matanza).
  3. Castile and Leon autonomous community has an exclave within Basque Country (Condado de Treviño), two exclaves within Cantabria, and two exclaves within La Rioja.
  4. Ceuta and Melilla occupy small areas on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco.
  5. Madrid autonomous community has an exclave (La Cepeda) within Castile and Leon.
  6. Navarra autonomous community has exclaves (Petilla de Aragón and Bastanes) within Aragon.
  7. Valencia autonomous community has an exclave (Rincón de Ademuz) that lies on the border between Castile-La Mancha and Aragon.

The UN LOCODE page  for Spain lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Andalusia: through Arabic from Low Latin Vandalusia: land of the Vandals
  2. Aragon: from the river Aragón
  3. Asturias: from Basque asta: rock, ur: water
  4. Baleares: the ancients explained it as a Semitic name meaning "slingers' islands"
  5. Canary Islands: from Latin canis: dog
  6. Cantabria: for the Cantabrian Mountains, named for Cantabri (ethnic name)
  7. Castile: Latin castella: castle
  8. Catalonia: probably from Catalauni, name of Celtic tribe
  9. Ceuta: Latin Castellum ad Septem Fratres: castle of the seven brothers, referring to seven mountains, through Arabic Sebta
  10. Extremadura: Latin Extrema Durii: end of the Douro (River)
  11. Galicia: possibly from Latin Gallus: man from Gaul
  12. La Mancha: from Arabic for the high plain
  13. León: from Latin legionis, genitive case of legio: legion; headquarters of the Seventh Legion
  14. Madrid: possibly from Celtic mago: big + ritu: ford
  15. Murcia: from Arabic for the firmly founded
  16. Navarra: possibly from Basque naba: mountain pass or valley, Nabarra: tribe from mountain valleys
  17. Valencia: from city name, from Latin Valentia Edetanorum, probably meaning "strong city of the Edetani tribe"

Change history: 

  1. 1979: Basque Country and Catalonia autonomous communities formed.
  2. 1981: Andalusia, Asturias, and Galicia autonomous communities formed.
  3. 1982-01-31: Cantabria autonomous community formed. (Law passed 1981-12-15, approved by king 1981-12-30, published in Official Bulletin 1982-01-11, took effect 1982-01-31.)
  4. 1982: Aragon, Canary Islands, Castile-La Mancha, La Rioja, Murcia, Navarra, and Valencia autonomous communities formed.
  5. 1983: Balearic Islands, Castile and Leon, Extremadura, and Madrid autonomous communities formed.
  6. 1993-11-01: Under the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union replaced the European Communities, of which Spain was a member.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Andalusia: Andalousie (French); Andalucía (Spanish); Andalusien (German); Andaluzia (Portuguese)
  2. Aragon: Aragão (Portuguese); Aragó (Catalan); Aragón (Spanish); Aragona (Italian); Aragonien (German)
  3. Asturias: Astúrias (Portuguese); Asturie (Italian); Asturien (German); Asturies (French); Astúries (Catalan); Principado de Asturias (formal)
  4. Balearic Islands: Balearen (Dutch, German); Balearene (Norwegian); Baleares, Islas Baleares (Spanish); Baleari (Italian); Îles Baléares (French); Ilhas Baleares (Portuguese); Illes Balears (Catalan)
  5. Basque Country: Baskenland, Baskische Provinzen (German); Basque Autonomous Community (formal-English); Basque Provinces (variant); CAV, Comunidad Autonoma Vasca (formal); Communauté Autonome Basque, (formal-French); Comunidade Autonoma Basca (formal-Portuguese); Comunitat Autònoma Basca (formal-Catalan); EKE, Euskadi, Euskal Autonomia Erkidegoa (Basque); País Basc (Catalan); País Basco (Portuguese); País Vasco (Spanish); Pays Basque, Provinces Basques (French); Province Basche (Italian); Vascongadas (Spanish-obsolete)
  6. Canary Islands: Canarias, Islas Canarias (Spanish); Canárias, Ilhas Canárias (Portuguese); Canarie (Italian); Canarische eilanden (Dutch); Îles Canaries (French); Illes Canàries (Catalan); Kanariøyene (Norwegian); Kanarische Inseln (German); Канарские острова (Russian)
  7. Cantabria: Cantàbria (Catalan); Cantábria (Portuguese); Cantabrie (French); Kantabrien (German)
  8. Castile and Leon: Castela e Leão (Portuguese); Castella i Lleó (Catalan); Castile-Leon (variant); Castilha-Leão (Brazilian Portuguese); Castilla y León (Spanish); Castille et Léon (French); Kastilien-León (German)
  9. Castile-La Mancha: Castela-La Mancha, Castela-Mancha (Portuguese); Castella-la Manxa (Catalan); Castilha-La Mancha (Brazilian Portuguese); Castilla-La Mancha (Spanish); Castille-La Manche (French); Kastilien-La Mancha (German)
  10. Catalonia: Catalogna (Italian); Catalogne (French); Cataluña (Spanish); Catalunha (Portuguese); Catalunya (Catalan); Katalonien (German)
  11. Extremadura: Estremadura (German, Italian, Portuguese); Estrémadure (French)
  12. Galicia: Galice (French); Galícia (Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan); Galicien (German); Galiza (Portuguese); Galizia (Galician, Italian)
  13. La Rioja: Rioja (French, German, variant)
  14. Madrid: Communauté de Madrid (French); Community of Madrid (formal-English); Comunidad de Madrid (formal); Comunidade de Madrid (Portuguese); Comunitat de Madrid (formal-Catalan)
  15. Murcia: Região de Múrcia (Portuguese); Regió de Múrcia (formal-Catalan); Región de Murcia (formal); Région de Murcie (French); Region of Murcia (English)
  16. Navarra: Communauté forale de Navarre (French); Comunidad Foral de Navarra (Spanish); Comunidade Foral de Navarra (Portuguese); Comunitat Foral de Navarra (formal-Catalan); Nafarroa (Basque); Navarre (variant)
  17. Valencia: Communauté de Valence (French); Comunidade Valenciana (Portuguese); Comunidad Valenciana (Spanish); Comunitat Valenciana (formal-Catalan); Valencian Community (formal-English)


  1. [1] Territory and Administration in Europe. Robert Bennett, ed. Pinter Publishers, London and New York, 1989.
  2. [2] Library of Congress country study  (retrieved 1999).
  3. [3] Censos de Población y Viviendas 2011 . Resultados Nacionales, por Comunidades Autónomas y Provincias. Instituto Nacional de Estadística (retrieved 2012-12-14).
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