Yet, you might be wondering what is “Galiza” anyway…
Simply put, Galiza can be considered “the first country in Europe” – after the Galizan Kingdom was established in 409 CE.
At present, the stateless nation of Galiza is an autonomous territory within the framework of the Spanish State. However, many of us believe in a better and more prosperous Galiza by means of regaining full independence from Spain.
Facts and figures
Local name: Galiza.
Other names: Galicia (English, Spanish), Galice (French), Galicien (German). Not to be confused with the Polish-Ukrainian region of Galicja!
Population: 2,7 million (in official Galizan territory).
Surface: Administrative Galiza: 29,575 km² (actual autonomous region set up by Spain) – Territories of Galizan culture: 35,692 km² (approx. the size of Belgium or Taiwan).
Capital: Santiago de Compostela.
Location: North-West corner of the Iberian Peninsula (Southern Atlantic Europe), right above Portugal.
Currency: Euro (€).
Languages: Galizan-Portuguese (48% monolinguals), Spanish (15% monolinguals).
Main cities: Vigo (300,000), Corunha (250,000), Ourense (105,000), Compostela, (100,000), Lugo (98,000), Ponte Vedra (83,000), Ferrol (70,000).
National holiday: 25th July.
National symbols: Flag, coat of arms and national anthem.
Date of formation: 409 CE (establishment of the Galizan Kingdom), based on the pre-existing Celtic-Roman province of Gallaecia.
Physical geography: The territory is highly fragmented, with highlands in the east, central plateaus, ample estuaries and a myriad of rivers. Galiza has a climate of transition, from Oceanic to Mediterranean. Pockets of Continental climate are present inland. Weather is in general humid with moderate temperatures.
Territory: Administrative Galiza is divided into 53 comarcas or bisbarras (regions), 316 concelhos (municipalities), 3,781 paróquias (parishes). Galiza has more than 33,000 settlements. A number of territories with strong Galizan influence remain outside administrative Galiza, in the Spanish regions of Asturias and León. Northern Portugal is also strongly akin to Galizan culture.
International disputes: Full devolution/independence from Spain. Controversies over eastern territories of Galizan culture in Spanish territory (outside administrative Galiza).
300,000 BCE: First human settlements in what today is Galiza (estimate).
8000-2000 BCE: Megalithic Culture. Regular maritime contacts with Atlantic Europe. Genesis of the Celtic Culture.
2000-700 BCE: Bronze Age. Sea-trade and cultural exchange with Atlantic Europe and the Mediterranean.
1000 BCE: Unequivocal evidences of Celtic peoples (estimate). Iron Age.
9thC BCE – 1stC CE: Castro Culture: Consolidation of a Celtic civilisation based in the historical Callaecia territory.
19 BCE: Establishment of the Roman Empire following a number of military campaigns. Introduction of Latin language and Roman law. Weak level of Romanization: hybrid culture. The new Gallaecia province is never fully incorporated into Roman standards.
2ndC CE: Introduction of Christianity (mixes with Celtic religion).
4th – 5thC CE: Priscilianism: Galiza’s own Christian movement, strongly influenced by the native Celtic beliefs.
409-410 CE: Foundation of the Galizan Suevian Kingdom by means of a treaty with Rome. Galiza becomes “the first country in Europe”. Period of territorial, cultural and economic growth. Roman influences partially dissipate.
5thC CE: Mass Celtic migration to Northern Galiza coming from Britain.
585-711 CE: End of Suevian Dynasty. Visigoth rule (Viceroys).
711 CE: Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula: The Visigoth Empire is dismantled. Re-establishment of the Galizan Crown. Muslims never successfully conquer Galiza.
813 CE: “Discovery” of the remains of St James: ancient Celtic pilgrimage route is Christianised and reactivated (Way of St. James). Galiza progressively becomes the dominant force among Iberian Christian kingdoms. Growing stability.
846-1008 CE: Waves of Viking invasions, all repelled.
1037: Vermudo III dies: end of the direct succession of the Galizan Dynasty.
1065-1072: Garcia II King of Galiza: attempts to restructure and revitalise the Kingdom.
1072-1110: Dynastic wars: political instability.
1093: Era Compostelá: cultural splendour that lasts for more than a century.
1121: Independence of the County of Portucale. The Kingdom splits in two halves (Galiza proper to the north and Portugal – current Northern Portugal – to the south).
1175: First known official document written in Galizan-Portuguese language: despite the formal political “separation” both territories continue to share cultural, economic and social links normally.
1188: The Decreta legionenses, or first attempt at establishing a parliamentary system in Europe, introducing key individual rights.
1230: Afonso VIII dies: Castile arises as a new force in Iberia. Galizan culture will yet flourish, but Galiza’s political influence gradually diminishes.
1366-1387: Galizan attempts made in the search of an union/alliance with Portugal. In 1369, Fernando I of Portugal is welcomed in Galiza and crowned king in the city of Corunha. However, his inability to defend the new territory was made evident by 1371.
1431-1469: Revoltas Irmandinhas: major popular uprisings within Galiza against nobility because of abusive taxes and legal restrictions. The Irmandinhas troops are eventually defeated by said nobility with extreme difficulty.
1474: Dynastic conflicts in Castile: sectors of Galizan nobility seek to recover former supremacy and an alliance with Portugal once more taking advantage of the situation, to no avail.
1483: End of Galizan armed resistance to Castilian (Spanish) forces following a number of offensives. The Galizan nobility (thus support to its armies) had been severily weakened by the Irmandinhas wars.
1486: The ‘Catholic Monarchs’ (joint crowns of Castile and Aragon) initiate their policy of «taming and castration of the Kingdom of Galiza». Galiza becomes a colony.
Late 15thC to 18thC: ‘The Dark Centuries’: Cultural, political, administrative and economic activity in Galiza is controlled by Castile (Spain). In Portugal, the North is often neglected in favour of the capital and the ‘good of the Empire’. Rurality and isolation: backwardness. Emigration.
1601-1602: Galizan soldiers take part in the Battle of Kinsale (Ireland) supporting Gaelic leaders against English rule. The subsequent defeat forced Irish nobles to seek refuge in a number of locations, including the Galizan city of Corunha (1607). It is also believed that Irish soldiers had received military instruction in the city of Ponte Vedra.
1st half 19thC: Mass migration to South America due to the dire economic and political situation.
1808-1813: War of Independence against France (Napoleonic occupation). Spanish troops retreat from Galiza and French troops are eventually defeated by Galizan voluntary forces (with English aid). Autonomy. Establishment of the Xunta (Galizan Government).
1812: Xunta proclaims Galiza’s self-rule, but Galiza is reoccupied by Spain later on.
1833: Galiza formally loses its condition of Kingdom: Spain moves towards the creation of a centralised nation-state, imitating the French model.
1840-1846: Galizanism: reactivation of the Galizan self-consciousness as a reaction to centralisation and the dire economic and political situation.
1846: Armed uprising: proclamation of the Galizan self-rule with initial military success. A final showdown between Galizan and Spanish forces results in a Galizan defeat and the execution of the so-called Martyrs of Carral.
2nd half 19thC: Intense cultural revival: Galizan Rexurdimento (‘Renaissance’).
1st half 20th C: Emigration to the Americas. Xeración Nós (‘Generation Us’): a number of intellectuals set down the foundations of modern Galizan Nationalism following the example of the Irish pro-independence movement and other small European nations.
1931: Short-lived proclamation of the first Republic of Galiza.
1933: Galiza joins the League of Nations (predecessor of the UN) as a stateless nation.
1936: Galizan Statute of Autonomy: partial recovery of self-government within the framework of the Spanish II Republic. Debates on the prospect of a Galizan Free State, following the Irish example.
1936-1939: Spanish Civil War: victory of Spanish far-right nationalists led by General Franco. The Republic and prospects for the Galizan Autonomy are put to an end and thousands are murdered or persecuted. Political refugees. Exile.
1939-1975: Francoist Dictatorship in Spain («Long Night of Stone»): Cultural, political and ideological repression until late 1950s.
1960s: Partial relaxation of Francoist regime: gradual reactivation of the Galizan resistance and culture. Emigration towards Western Europe and Spain.
1975: Franco dies: restoration of Spanish monarchy and start of a new political regime, albeit heavily conditioned by the former rulers as evidenced with the Amnesty Law.
1981: New Statute of Autonomy is passed: Galiza is devolved partial self-government and national status is implicitly recognised. However, Galiza is curtailed from international representation and lacks real sovereignty.
1990s: Increased Spanish nationalism and centralism: fears over Galiza’s autonomy. Emigration resumes.
2002: Coastal oil-spill: major environmental catastrophe. Activation of major civil/grassroots and political movements.
2004: Galizan culture is considered «endangered» by UNESCO.
2005-2009: New Galizan Government opens the debate on the reform of the Galizan laws and search for greater autonomy, with no results.
2008: Establishment of the Galiza-North Portugal Euro-Region, built upon a pre-existing work comission operating since 1991.
2013-2014: Civic movements and organisations claiming for full sovereignty and independence from Spain become more visible and active.
Present day: Galizan autonomy is monitored and controlled by Spain. Galizan culture is threatened and statistics show a decrease in the use of Galizan language. Emigration is, again, a sad economic and social reality for the Galizan People.
Trivia – What is Galiza famous for?
Art: the capital city of Compostela was declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Galizan fine arts and craftsmanship have traditionally been among the best in the world.
Cuisine: with specialities such as empada (pie), caldo (broth), filhoas (crepes), alvarinho and ribeiro wines, etc.
Landscape: with famed breath-taking scenery.
Literature: Galiza has produced fine literature since 13thC, from Medieval Cantigas to modern authors such as Rosalia de Castro, Castelao, Pedraio, Novoneira, Cunqueiro, Celso Emilio Ferreiro, etc.
Music and dance: from traditional melodies to rock. Someone once said: “We’re at the world’s end but we make the best music in the universe”. Some also say that there is a party in Galiza for every day of the year!
International projection: “Galizans are everywhere”. Thanks to millions of emigrants throughout history, and the outstanding expansion of the Galizan commercial and fishing fleet, the name of Galiza has been spread all over the globe. The significance of the so-called ‘Way of St. James’ has also been crucial in the making of Europe.
Sports: football clubs such as Deportivo or Celta Vigo have helped to put Galiza on the map. Rowing, roller hockey, handball, indoor football and sailing are also renowned.
DID YOU KNOW?
… Galiza is a maritime world power … The Galizan Diaspora has been labelled as “the greatest Diaspora in times of peace” … Galiza is the cradle of Portuguese language … Galiza is considered to be “the first country in the history of Europe” … There’s a Galizan person living in almost every country of the World … Irish people are of Galizan origin, according to legend and recent discoveries … Buenos Aires (Argentina) was the “biggest Galizan city ever” and it was even called the “fifth province” … Galiza was considered to be “the end of the World “ … Galiza is often nicknamed “The Land of the Witches” … Table football was invented by a Galizan … Galiza is also called “The Land of the One Thousand Rivers”