Municipalities of Spain

Last updated
Municipalities of Spain.svg
Category Municipality
Location Spain
Found in Province
Number8,131 (as of 10 June 2022)
Populations3 - 3,305,408 (Madrid)

The municipality (Spanish : municipio, IPA:  [muniˈθipjo] , Catalan : municipi, Galician : concello, Basque : udalerria, Asturian : conceyu) [note 1] is the basic local administrative division in Spain [1] together with the province [ citation needed ].



Each municipality forms part of a province which in turn forms part or the whole of an autonomous community (17 in total plus Ceuta and Melilla): some autonomous communities also group municipalities into entities known as comarcas (districts) or mancomunidades (commonwealths). There are a total of 8,131 municipalities in Spain, including the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. [2] In the Principality of Asturias, municipalities are officially named concejos (councils). [3]

The average population of a municipality is about 5,300, but this figure masks a huge range: the most populous Spanish municipality is the city of Madrid, with a population of 3,305,408 (2022), while several rural municipalities have fewer than ten inhabitants (Illán de Vacas, had a population of three in 2022 [2] ). 84% (6817) of municipalities have less than 5,000 inhabitants. Castile and León alone accounts for 28% of municipalities but has less than 6% of the population of Spain. A European report said that one of the most important problems facing local governments in Spain is the very high number of little towns with a low number of inhabitants. [4]

The area of the municipal territory (Spanish: término municipal) usually ranges 2–40 km2, but some municipalities span across a much larger area, up to the 1,750.33 km2 of Cáceres', the largest municipality in the country. [5]

The organisation of the municipalities is governed by a 2 April 1985 law, completed by the 18 April 1986 royal decree. The Statutes of Autonomy of the various autonomous communities also contain provisions concerning the relations between the municipalities and the autonomous governments. In general, municipalities enjoy a large degree of autonomy in their local affairs: many of the functions of the comarcas and provinces are municipal powers pooled together.

The governing body in most municipalities is called ayuntamiento (municipal council or corporation), a term often also used to refer to the municipal headquarters (city/town hall). The ayuntamiento is composed of the mayor (Spanish: alcalde), the deputy mayors (Spanish: tenientes de alcalde) and the deliberative assembly (pleno) of councillors (concejales). Another form of local government used in small municipalities is the concejo abierto (open council), in which the deliberative assembly is formed by all the electors in the municipality.


Municipalities were first created by decree on 23 May 1812 as part of the liberal reforms associated with the new Spanish Constitution of 1812 and based on similar actions in revolutionary France. The idea was to rationalise and homogenise territorial organisation, do away with the prior feudal system and provide equality before the law of all citizens. [6]

Between 1812 and 1931 the legislation regarding municipal organisation was changed more than 20 times, and there were 20 addition and unsuccessful proposals for change. [7]


Spain's cities and main towns. SpainOMC.png
Spain's cities and main towns.
English Spanish Catalan  /  Valencian Galician Basque Asturian
Municipality Municipio MunicipiConcello, municipioUdalerriaConceyu
Municipal corporationAyuntamiento, consistorioAjuntament, consistoriConcelloUdalaAyuntamientu
MayorMasc.: Alcalde, regidor
Fem.: alcaldesa, regidora
Masc.: Alcalde, batlle
Fem.: alcaldessa, batllessa
Deputy MayorTeniente de alcaldeMasc.: Tinent d'alcalde
Fem.: Tinenta d'alcalde
Tenente de alcaldeAlkateordeaTeniente d'alcalde
Governing commissionComisión de gobierno, junta de gobiernoComissió de governComisión de gobernoGobernu batzordeaComisión de gobiernu
Plenary assemblyPlenoPlePlenoOsoko bilkuraPlenu
CouncillorMasc.: concejal
Fem.: concejala
Masc.: regidor
Fem.: regidora
City hallAyuntamiento, casa consistorial, palacio municipal, casa de la villaAjuntament, casa de la vilaCasa do concello, concelloUdaletxeaCasa conceyu

See also


  1. In other languages of Spain:

Related Research Articles

Melilla Autonomous city of Spain on the northwest coast of Africa

Melilla is one of two autonomous cities of Spain, located in north Africa. It lies on the eastern side of the Cape Three Forks, bordering Morocco and facing the Mediterranean Sea. It has an area of 12.3 km2 (4.7 sq mi). It was part of the Province of Málaga until 14 March 1995, when the Statute of Autonomy of Melilla was passed.

Provinces of Spain Provinces of Spain

A province in Spain is a territorial division defined as a collection of municipalities, although their origin dates back to 1833 with a similar predecessor from 1822 and with roots in the Napoleonic division of Spain into 84 prefectures in 1810. In addition to their political function, provinces are commonly used today as geographical references for example to disambiguate small towns whose names occur frequently throughout Spain. There are many other groupings of municipalities as described in Local government in Spain.

Comarcas of Spain Divisions of some autonomous communities in Spain

In Spain, a comarca is either a traditional territorial division without any formal basis, or a group of municipalities, legally defined by an autonomous community for the purpose of providing common local government services. In English, a comarca is equivalent to a district, county, area or zone.

Ayuntamiento is the general term for the town council, or cabildo, of a municipality or, sometimes, as is often the case in Spain and Latin America, for the municipality itself. Ayuntamiento is mainly used in Spain; in Latin America alcaldía is also for municipal governing bodies, especially the executive ones, where the legislative body and the executive body are two separate entities. In Catalan-speaking parts of Spain, municipalities generally use the Catalan cognate, ajuntament, while Galician ones use the word concello, Astur-Leonese conceyu and Basque udaletxea. Since ayuntamiento is a metonym for the building in which the council meets, it also translates to "city/town hall" in English.

A comarca is a traditional region or local administrative division found in Portugal, Spain and some of their former colonies, like Brazil, Nicaragua, and Panama. The term is derived from the term marca, meaning a "march, mark", plus the prefix co-, meaning "together, jointly".

Municipio and município are country subdivisions in Italy and several Hispanophone and Lusophone nations, respectively. They are often translated as "municipality". In the English language, a municipality often is defined as relating to a single city or town; however, in Spanish, the term "municipio" may not mean a single city or town, but rather a jurisdiction housing several towns and cities, like a township, county, borough or civil parish. The Italian term "municipalità" refers either to a single city or a group of cities and towns in a township, but Portuguese usage of the term is almost entirely restricted to a cluster of cities or towns like in a county, township and so forth. However, in Brazil, a Municipio is an independent city & a public corporporation with status of Federated Entity.

Parroquia (Spain) Subdivision of Spain

A parroquia is a population entity or parish found in Galicia and Asturias in north-west Spain. They are entities with a territorial scope lower than municipality and have their own legal personality. They usually, but not always, coincide with the ecclesiastic divisions as they originated on pair with them.

Allande Municipality in Asturias, Spain

Allande is a municipality in the Autonomous Community of the Principality of Asturias, Spain. Its capital is Pola de Allande.

Grandas de Salime Municipality in Asturias, Spain

Grandas de Salime is a municipality in the Autonomous Community of the Principality of Asturias, Spain. It is famous for its hydroelectric dam across the Navia River, forming the Embalse de Salime. It is also famous for being a stop along the Camino Primitivo path of the Camino de Santiago, where it is the last stretch of Asturian land before the entrance into Galicia through the Acebo Pass.

Carreño Municipality in Asturias, Spain

Carreño is a municipality in the autonomous community of the Principality of Asturias, Spain. It is bordered by Corvera de Asturias on the west, Gozón on the north, the Cantabrian Sea on the north and east, and Gijón on the east and south. Its capital is Candás.

Cabranes Municipality in Asturias, Spain

Cabranes is a municipality in the Autonomous Community of the Principality of Asturias. Some Towns of cabranes are: Santolaya, Torazu, Fresnéu, Graméu, Pandenes, Viñón, Niao, Arboleya, etc. It is bordered on the north by Villaviciosa, on the south by Piloña and Nava, on the east by Piloña and Villaviciosa and on the west by Villaviciosa y Nava.

Municipalities of El Salvador

The municipalities or municipios of El Salvador correspond to the second level administrative division in the Republic of El Salvador which divide its departments. El Salvador contains 262 municipalities.

Pola de Siero Place in Asturias, Spain

Pola de Siero is a town in the autonomous community of Asturias on the north coast of the Kingdom of Spain. It is the administrative capital of the municipality (concejo) of Siero. Pola de Siero is located in the centre of Asturias, approximately 16 km east of the regional Capital Oviedo and 16 km south of Gijón.


In present-day Spain a mancomunidad is an association of municipalities voluntarily established by some municipalities with the aim of carrying out joint projects or providing common services. A mancomunidad is a legal personality, and can exist either for a particular period to achieve a concrete goal or can exist indefinitely.

Political divisions of Spain

The political division of the Kingdom of Spain is defined in Part VIII of the Spanish constitution of 1978, which establishes three levels of territorial organization: municipalities, provinces and autonomous communities, the first group constituting the subdivisions of the second, and the second group constituting the subdivisions of the last. The State guarantees the realization of the principle of solidarity by endeavouring to establish an economic balance between the different areas of the Spanish territory.

An Ayuntamiento is the body charged with the government and administration of the municipalities in Spain not bound to the regime of concejo abierto . The Ayuntamiento, formed by the Mayor and the Councillors, is charged with the municipal government and administration. Under the concejo abierto system, which exists in the municipalities under 100 inhabitants, in municipalities with a tradition of using the system or in the case of geographical circumstances that favor it, the government and administration are performed by the mayor and the "neighbourhood assembly".

In some communities of Spain, minor local entity is a territorial entity of scope smaller than municipality defined and regulated by the regional governments.

Local government in Spain

Local government in Spain refers to the government and administration of what the Constitution calls "local entities", which are primarily municipalities, but also groups of municipalities including provinces, metropolitan areas, comarcas and mancomunidades and sub-municipal groups known as Minor local entities.


  1. Albet i Mas 2019, p. 21.
  2. 1 2 Register of Local Entities.
  3. Statute of Autonomy of the Principality of Asturias, Art. 6.1: "El Principado de Asturias se organiza territorialmente en municipios, que recibirán la denominación tradicional de Concejos, y en Comarcas".
  4. Cools & Verbeek 2013, Explanatory Memorandum paragraph 12 on page 7.
  5. "Cáceres, el municipio más extenso del país". Hoy . 28 July 2008.
  6. Albet i Mas 2019, pp. 14, 15.
  7. Albet i Mas 2019, p. 15.