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Castile and León ( ), known formally as the Community of Castile and León, is one of the 17 autonomous communities of Spainmarker. It was constructed from Old Castile (Spanish: Castilla la Vieja) and Leónmarker, first as a preautonomía—a "pre-autonomous" region—in 1978 and then as an autonomous community in 1983. It is the largest autonomous community in Spain, covering an area of with an official population of around 2.5 million (2005).

The supreme law of Castile and León, under the Spanish Constitution of 1978, is the region's Statute of Autonomy. The statute lays out the basic laws of the region and defines a series of essential values and symbols of the inhabitants of Castile and León, such as their linguistic patrimony (the Castilian language, which English-speakers common refer to simply as "Spanish", as well as Leonese and Galician), as well as their historic, artistic, and natural patrimony. Other symbols alluded to are the coat of arms, flag, and banner; there is also allusion to a regional anthem, though as of 2009 none has been adopted. April 23 is designated Castile and León Day, commemorating the defeat of the comuneros at the Battle of Villalar during the Revolt of the Comuneros, in 1521.


Castile and León borders on Asturiasmarker and Cantabriamarker to the north; Aragonmarker, the Basque Countrymarker, and La Riojamarker to the east; the autonomous community of Madridmarker and Castile-La Manchamarker to the southeast; Extremaduramarker to the south; and Portugalmarker and Galiciamarker to the west.

Castile and León is roughly coterminous with the Spanish part of the Douromarker River basin, on the northern half of the Meseta Centralmarker, a vast plateau in the middle of the Iberian Peninsulamarker. It also extends to some adjoining valleys, such as El Bierzo (Leónmarker) and many secluded mountain valleys including Laciana (León), Valle de Menamarker (Burgosmarker), and Valle del Tiétar (Ávilamarker).


Most of the terrain of Castile and León consists of a large portion of Spain's Meseta Central, surrounded by mountainous regions. The Meseta is a dry, arid high plain, with an average altitude of about , covered by deposits of clay soil.

In the north are the mountains of the provinces of Palenciamarker and Leónmarker, with high, spindly peaks and the mountains of the province of Burgosmarker, divided in two by the Pancorbo Pass, leading from Castile to the Basque Countrymarker. Of those two parts, the more northerly belongs to the Cantabrian Mountainsmarker and continues to the city of Burgosmarker; the mountains of the east and southeast are part of the Sistema Ibéricomarker. In the northeast are the mountains of Zamoramarker, whose peaks have been eroded into mesas. In the east, the mountains of Soriamarker are also part of the Sistema Ibérico, including its highest peak, El Moncayo. Separating the northern Meseta from the southern and from Castile-La Mancha and Madrid, the Sistema Centralmarker includes the Sierra de Gatamarker and the Sierra de Gredosmarker in the western half and the Sierra de Guadarramamarker and Sierra de Ayllón in the eastern half.

Geological evolution

The northern Meseta is constituted of Paleozoic plinths. After the Variscan orogeny raised Central Europe and the Galician area of Spain at the beginning of the Mesozoic, deposits were eroded away by rivers. During the Alpine orogeny, the materials that formed the plateau were broken at multiple points. This fracturing raised the relatively low mountains of León, constituting a dorsal spine of the Meseta, the Cantabrian Mountains and the Sistema Central, formed of materials such as granite or metamorphic slates.

One result of this geology was to create medicinal mineral water springs and/or hot springs in Almeida de Sayago, Boñarmarker, Calabor, Caldas de Luna, Castromontemarker, Cucho, Gejuelo del Barromarker, Morales de Camposmarker, Valdelateja, and Villarijo.


The Douro, in Zamora.
The most prominent hydrographic feature of Castile and León is the River Douromarker ( ) and its tributaries. The Douro runs from its headwaters in the Picos de Urbión in Soria to its mouth at the Portuguese city of Oportomarker. Flowing into the Douro from the north, on its right bank, are the Pisuergamarker, the Valderaduey and the Esla, its most capacious tributaries, and from the east, on its left bank, the lesser flows of the Adaja and Duratón. After passing the city of Zamoramarker, the Douro flows through a canyon in the Arribes del Duero Natural Parkmarker where it constitutes the border with Portugal, flowing north. From its left bank, it receives the waters of such important tributaries as the Tormes, Huebramarker, Águedamarker, the Côa and the Paiva, all originating in the Sistema Centralmarker. From the right bank, it receives the waters of the Sabor, the Tuamarker and the Támegamarker, originating in the Galician Massif. Beyond the Arribes, the Douro turns west, flowing through Portugal to the Atlantic.

Nonetheless, the Douro and its tributaries are not the region's only important rivers; the Jalón in Palencia, Burgos, and Soria flows via the Ebro to the Mediterranean Seamarker. The River Minho (Miño) flows from León into Portugal, the Alagón in Salamanca flows to the Tagusmarker and several provinces containing portions of the Cantabrian Mountainsmarker have waters flowing north into the Cantabrian Seamarker.

The Tormes, in Salamanca.
Rivers played an important part in the development of the region. Each of the provincial capitals of Castile and León is on the banks of a river.
Rivers and capitals of provinces through which they run
Capital where river flows River Mouth Other places where river flows
Ávilamarker Adaja Douromarker in Villamarciel Tordesillasmarker and Arévalomarker
Burgosmarker Arlanzón Arlanzamarker Arlanzónmarker, Pampliegamarker
Leónmarker Bernesga Eslamarker La Roblamarker
Palenciamarker Carrión Pisuergamarker in Dueñas Guardomarker, Carrión de los Condesmarker, Palenciamarker and Dueñas.
Salamancamarker Tormes Douromarker in Fermosellemarker Guijuelomarker and El Barco de Ávilamarker
Segoviamarker Eresma Adaja in Matapozuelosmarker Cocamarker
Soriamarker and Zamoramarker Douromarker Atlantic Oceanmarker in Portomarker Almazánmarker, Aranda de Dueromarker, Toromarker, Tordesillasmarker, Aldeadávila de la Riberamarker, and Vilvestremarker
Valladolidmarker Pisuergamarker Douromarker in Geriamarker Aguilar de Campoomarker, Cervera de Pisuergamarker, Venta de Bañosmarker, Dueñas, Tariego de Cerratomarker, and Simancasmarker

Lakes and reservoirs

Laguna Negra, Picos de Urbión, Province of Soria
Besides these rivers, the Douro basin also has a great number of lakes and lagoons, such as the Laguna Negra, in the Picos de Urbión, the Laguna Grande in Gredos, the Sanabria Lakemarker in Zamora or the Laguna de la Nava in Palencia. There are also a great number of reservoirs, fed by the snows and rains in the mountains and by glacial meltwater. Despite having relatively little rainfall, Castile and León has one of Spain's largest quantities of water held in reserve.


Castile and León has a continentalized Mediterranean climate: a Mediterranean climate with a marked character of a continental climate. The continentalized Mediterranean climate is similar to a typical Mediterranean climate, but with more extreme temperatures typical of a continental climate. Winters are long and cold, with average temperatures between and in January. Summers are short and hot (averages between and ), with the three or four dry summer months typical of a Mediterranean climate. Rain averages only to annually, mostly in the lower altitudes.

Climatic factors

The mountains surrounding Castile and León block the winds from the seas, reducing precipitation in the region. Consequently, the rains fall very unequally through the Castilian-Leonese region. While the center of the Douro basin receives an annual rainfall of , in the western comarcas (roughly shires) of the mountains of León and the Cantabrian Mountainsmarker precipitation can be as much as per year.

The high altitude of the Castilian-Leonese Meseta and mountain ranges contributes not only to the contrast of summer and winter temperatures, but also to a marked contrast of day and night temperatures.

Climatic regions

Although the climate throughout Castile and León is predominantly a continentalized Mediterranean climate throughout, there are distinctive climatic regions.

In the north, Castile and León includes the southern face of the Cantabrian Mountains; the northern slope, facing the Atlantic, falls within other provinces. The highest portion of the Cantabrian Mountains in Castile and León experiences the oceanic climate from the Atlantic, with milder winters (at least relative to the altitude) and more temperate summers. The lower slopes of the same range share these temperate summers, but have the colder winters more typical of the Meseta.

Nearly all of the central portion of the Meseta has the continentalized Mediterranean climate discussed above, although the eastern part of Zamora has a much drier climate.

The mountainous regions of the northeast, east, and south have a typical Mediterranean mountain climate, with little rain, hot summers, and cold winters.

Regional administration and government

Provinces of Castile and León
Castile and León is divided into nine provinces: Each of these provinces is named after its respective provincial capital.

Seat of the Courts of Castile and León in Valladolid.
Although the "Statute of Autonomy" for Castile and León does not specify any city to be the capital of the autonomous community, the city of Valladolidmarker serves that purpose in certain contexts. Initially, the Courts (Cortes, the legislature) met provisionally in Burgos; Tordesillasmarker was discussed as a possible capital, and at one point, the Courts met, also on a provisional basis, at the Castle of Fuensaldañamarker. Finally, a law adopted in 1987 established the Junta of Castile and León—the Regional Executive government of the Community—and the Courts—the legislature—in Valladolid. Thus, Valladolid is now effectively the capital.

However, other institutions of government and administration are distributed through the region. The Economic and Social Council is in Valladolid, but the Superior Tribunal of Justice—the highest regional judiciary body—is in Burgos, the Consultative Council (Consejo Consultivo) is in Zamora, the Board of Auditors (Consejo de Cuentas) in Palencia, and the Ombudsman (Procurador del Común, literally "Common Attorney") in León.

Autonomous Executive

The executive of Castile and León is known as the Junta de Castilla y León in Spanish.

It has one head of the Regional Executive (Spanish: Presidente de la Junta) and twelve departments: Two Vicepresidencias and ten ministries (Spanish: Consejerías).

Regional Legislature

The Regional Courts of Castile and León (Spanish: Cortes de Castilla y León) is the elected legislature of the Autonomous Community. The tradition of the Regional Courts is traced back to the Royal Council (Latin: Curia Regis) of León (1188). The Curia Regis was a king's summons of the estates of the realm. Although the practical outcome of the Curia Regis of 1188 is still disputed, its charter seems to be an early movement towards the rule of constitutional law, much like the Magna Carta. The Regional Courts meet in Valladolidmarker.

Three parties have parliamentary representation in Castile and León:
Partido Popular de Castilla y León: Associated with the national center-right People's Party (PP): 48 seats in the Regional Courts, 18 seats in the Cortes Generales (the national legislature of Spain).
Partido Socialista de Castilla y León: Associated with the national center-left Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE): 33 seats in the Regional Courts, 14 seats in the Cortes Generales.
Unión del Pueblo Leonés ("Leonese People's Union"): A Leonese nationalist party: 2 seats in the Regional Courts.

Two other parties, the left-wing United Left (Izquierda Unida, IU) and the left-of-center Castilian Nationalist Tierra Comunera - ACAL, contest elections and have held seats in the Regional Courts in the past, but as of 2009 neither is represented in that body.

Political party Autonomic elections, 2007 Autonomic elections, 2003 Autonomic elections, 1999
Percentage Seats Percentage Seats Percentage Seats
Partido Popular de Castilla y León 49.41% 48 48.56% 48 51.96% 48
Partido Socialista de Castilla y León 37.49% 33 36.74% 32 33.86% 30
Unión del Pueblo Leonés 2.74% 2 3.88% 3 3.81% 3
Izquierda Unida LVCyL 3.09% 0 3.43% 0 5.59% 1
Tierra Comunera - ACAL 1'16% 0 1'19% 0 1'42% 1

Regional judiciary


The Ombudsman of Castile and León (Spanish: Procurador del Común) is appointed by the Regional Courts.

  • Seat of the Ombudsman of Castile and León: Leónmarker

Consultative Committee

The Consultative Committee of Castile and León (Spanish: Consejo Consultivo) is a group of five legal analysts. They are appointed by the Regional Courts and the Junta. The Committee delivers reports on legal issues both to the Regional Government and to incumbent municipal governments.
  • Seat of the Consultive Committee: Zamoramarker

Flag and coat of arms

The flag of Castile and León and coat of arms of Castile and León each show the quartered coats of arms of Castile, represented by a castle, and Leónmarker, represented by a lion. The seal is topped with a royal crown.

Castile and León Day

The regional holiday Castile and León Day commemorates the events of April 23, 1521, when the Revolt of the Comuneros was defeated. While the politics and meaning of the revolt remains a matter of contention, it has been embraced by liberals and, later, the left as a symbol of opposition to absolutism and privilege since at least 1821 during the trienio liberal—the three years of liberal ascendancy—when Juan Martín Díez, "El Empecinado" ("The Undaunted"), made a speech at Villalar (now Villalar de los Comunerosmarker) honoring the Comuneros. This tradition was embraced strongly during the Second Spanish Republic and again in the post-Franco transition to democracy, when tens of thousands began to gather at Villalar on the anniversary.

Every year on the occasion of Castile and León Day, the Community awards the Castile and León Prizes (Premios Castilla y León) to Castilian-Leonese people distinguished in seven areas: Arts, Human Values, Scientific Investigation, Social Science, Restoration and Conservation, the Environment, and Sports.


Besides the dominant Castilian Spanish, three other regional languages figure in the linguistic patrimony of Castile and León. Two of these are recognized explicitly in the Statute of Autonomy. The Leonese language, according to the Statute, "will be the object of specific protection […] for its particular value in the linguistic patrimony of the Community". The Galician language, according to the statute, "merits respect and protection in the places where it is habitually used, which is effectively to say the portions of the comarcas of El Bierzo and Sanabria bordering Galicia. In addition, although unmentioned in the Statute, in the comarca of El Rebollar in the province of Salamanca, people speak a variety of Extremaduran known as Habla del Rebollar ("the speech of Rebollar").




Historic union of the Kingdoms of Castile and León

Castile and León traces back to the historic kingdoms (or Crowns) of Leónmarker and Castile. Together with other Christian Iberianmarker kingdoms, the separate monarchies of Castile and León participated in the Reconquista, the reconquest of Iberia from the so-called Moors, its medieval Muslim rulers. Other kingdoms participating in the Reconquista were, first, Galicia, and later other kingdoms carved out of lands won back to Christendom over the centuries: the Kingdoms of Toledo, Badajoz, Seville and others.

The first dynastic union of León and Castile came about in 1037, when Ferdinand, the 20-year-old Count of Castile, defeated his brother-in-law Bermudo III of León in battle and claimed the Crown of León through the rights of his own wife, Sancha, Bermudo's sister. Although he declared himself Emperor of All Spain in 1056, the union ended with Ferdinand's death in 1065, when Castile, León, and Galicia each passed to a different one of Ferdinand's sons and certain cities to his daughters, with a further division of spheres of influence in the Muslim taifas. The arrangement did not hold. The sons soon fought; eventually one son, Alfonso VI of León again created an effective union and in 1077 again claimed the title of Emperor of All Spain. However, his death in 1109 left the kingdoms again disunited.

Alfonso VII managed another personal dynastic union from 1126 until his death in 1157. Finally, Ferdinand III of Castile, later canonized, achieved the definitive union of the two Crowns. After Ferdinand's father Alfonso IX of León died in 1230, Ferdinand, already ruler of Castile, conquered León from his own half-sisters Sancha and Dulce, much against the desires of the Leonese clergy and nobility. His son and successor Alfonso X, unusually highly educated for a monarch of that era, established Castilian as a language of learning and culture, beginning the process by which the Castilian language would become the dominant language of much of Spain, with other languages—including Leonese—increasingly seen as local dialects.

Parliamentary traditions

Although the theory and spirit of absolutism remained strong in Spain into living memory, the medieval Cortes of León is one of the earliest ancestors of Europe's parliaments. The remote origins of the Cortes dates back to the early 12th century. The Cortes of León of 1188 called by Alfonso IX is one of the earliest documented gatherings of the estates in which commoners of the cities and towns are represented beside the clergy and nobility as counselors to the monarch. Alfonso gathered similar assemblies in 1202 in Benavente and 1208 in León.

In the kingdom of Castile, the first curia—a large assembly to address the affairs of the kingdom—appears to have been convoked by Alfonso VIII in 1187 at San Esteban de Gormazmarker, with the leading men of fifty cities in attendance. In his capacity as king of Castile, Ferdinand III received the homage of large delegations at Valladolid in 1217 and convoked a curia in 1219 at Burgos.

The comparatively early date of these assemblies results directly from the relative autonomy granted to towns and cities in the north Iberian regions as the Reconquista moved forward and these places were repopulated. Another factor was the application of Roman law, which contributed a theory for the convening of municipalities and for their participation in governance.

These 12th and 13th century assemblies continued through the following centuries, forming the most remote ancestry of today's Cortes of Castile and León and constituting part of the European tradition of parliamentarianism.

As is clearly evident, these medieval Cortes had little resemblance to present-day parliamentary assemblies. They were not democratic in any modern sense of the term, because there was no direct representation of the populace. There was little in them of the slow rise of constitutionalism in the Parliament of England, the vast, independent power gained by the nobles of the Polish sejm, nor, even more clearly, the broad suffrage first seen on a large scale at the time of the French Revolution.

Antecedents to the autonomous community

Spain has alternated between regionalism and centralization several times in the last century and a half. In 1869, the republicans of the present Castile and León plus the provinces of Santander (now Cantabriamarker) and Logroño (now La Riojamarker) had drafted the Castilian Federal Pact (Pacto Federal Castellano), which projected the creation of a federated state under the name Castilla la Vieja (Old Castile) in these eleven provinces. During the First Republic (1873–1874), the Republican Democratic Federal Party (Partido Republicano Democrático Federal) intended to make this a reality. However, the fall of the Republic at the beginning of 1874 put an end to this initiative.

In 1921, on the fourth centenary of the Battle of Villalar, the municipal government of Santander, Cantabriamarker advocated for the establishment of a Castilian commonwealth of these same eleven provinces. In late 1931 and early 1932, the priest Eugenio Merino, in León, wrote a piece for the Diario de León stating a basis for Castilian-Leonese regionalism.

During the Second Republic, especially in 1936, there was a great deal of regionalist activity favorable to a region of eleven provinces, including the elaboration of the basis of a statute of autonomy. The Diario de León advocated for the formalization of this initiative and the constitution of an autonomous region as follows: "to unite in one personality León and Old Castile around the great basin of the Douro, without falling now into simple village rivalries." The establishment of a centralising regime after the Spanish Civil War brought an end to these aspirations for regional autonomy.

After the death of the dictator Francisco Franco unleashed the Spanish transition to democracy, there was an upwelling of Castilian-Leonese regionalist, autonomist and nationalist organizations, such as Alianza Regional de Castilla y León (1975), Instituto Regional de Castilla y León (1976) and the Autonomic Nationalist Party of Castile and León (Partido Autonómico Nacionalista de Castilla y León, PANCAL, 1977). None of these survive today, but similar sentiments are now represented by Unidad Regionalista de Castilla y León (1993).

In parallel there was a rise of groups advocating Leonesismo, Leonese particularism. Among these were the Grupo Autonómico Leonés (1978) and the Partido Regionalista del País Leonés (PREPAL, 1980), which proposed the creation of a Leonese autonomous community composed of the provinces of León, Salamanca and Zamora. Support for this option was particularly strong in the city of León.

Forming the autonomous community

Castile and León obtained a "pre-autonomic" regime by the Royal Decree Ley 20/1978, June 13, 1978. This set the region on the course toward establishing an autonomous community, a path that had been offered first to Cataloniamarker toward the end of 1977 and would eventually be granted to every part of Spain. Five years later, in 1983, the autonomous community of Castile and León was made concrete by the Statute of Autonomy accepted by both the community and the Spanish state.

The Provincial Deputation of León agreed on April 16, 1980 to endorse the Castilian-Leonese process, but then revoked that support January 13, 1983, just as the proposed Organic Law was before the Spanish parliament. The Constitutional Court of Spain upheld the first of these two contradictory Leonese resolutions. The court's decision was met by demonstrations in León and elsewhere in the Leonese territories in favor of a policy of León solo ("León alone"). The roughly 90,000 people who gathered in León at that time constituted the largest demonstration in that city between the revival of democracy and the demonstrations after the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

On July 31, 1981, the Provincial Deputation of Segovia initiated a process by which that province would have become, like the provinces of Santander (now Cantabriamarker) and Logroño (now La Riojamarker) a "uniprovincial" autonomous community in its own right. The municipalities of the province were almost exactly equally divided between this uniprovincial solution and membership in an autonomous Castile and León. The municipal government of Cuéllarmarker adopted a resolution favoring the uniprovincial solution on October 5, 1981; then, less than two months later on December 3 they reversed themselves, tipping the balance among the municipalities in favor of integration with Castile and León. Segovia ultimately became part of Castile and León under the Ley Orgánica 5/1983, which asserted that "for reasons of national interest," as foreseen by Article 144 c) of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, Segovia had abrogated its right to uniprovincial autonomy by failing to develop a concrete proposal in a timely manner.

The autonomous community

Castile and León consists of nine provinces: León, Salamanca and Zamora, which had constituted the Region of León since the territorial division of 1833, plus six of the eight provinces of Old Castile. The Old Castilian provinces of Santander and Logroño were omitted from the new entity of Castile and León.

At the same time as the formation of Castile and León, Santander and Logroño each became a uniprovincial autonomous community. Santander is now the autonomous community of Cantabria and Logroño the autonomous community of La Rioja. The separation of Cantabria was motivated by historical, cultural, and geographic differences from the rest of Old Castile. The separation of La Rioja was more a matter of compromise. In principle, looking at history and culture, La Rioja could have been united either with Castile and León, united in a Basque-Navarresemarker region, or left as a separate region of its own. The center-right UCD favored the former course of action, the center-left PSOE, and leftist CPE the second, but the populace preferred the third option.

El Bierzo is the only comarca whose juridical identity is explicitly recognized by the Castilian-Leonese Statute of Autonomy, although many other comarcas have been established. There are some groups in El Bierzo that wish to increase its autonomy, either by enhancing the powers of its Comarcal Council, recuperating the status it had in the 1820s as a province in its own right, gaining the status of a separate autonomous community, or removing all or part of El Bierzo from Castile and León and forming a new union with Galicia.


As of January 1, 2007 Castile and León has 2,528,417 inhabitants: 1,251,082 males and 1,277,335 females, representing 5.69 percent of the population of Spain. As of January 2005 the population of Castile and León, by province, stood as follows: Ávila, 168,638 inhabitants; Burgos, 365,972; León, 497,387; Palencia, 173,281; Salamanca, 351,326; Segovia, 159,322; Soria, 93,593; Valladolid, 521,661; and Zamora, 197,237. The most recent official census by the INE, in 2000, gave a population of 2,479,118, which was 6.12 percent of the national total.

The region is relatively sparsely populated, covering nearly a fifth of Spain's surface area and having (by these various numbers) only 5.69 or 6.12 percent of the national population. The population density, based on the 2009 statistic, is , less than a third of the national average of .

The rate of natural increase is negative, and one of the the lowest in Spain. 25,080 deaths per year versus 17,857 births gives a death rate of 10.12 per thousand and a birth rate of 7.20 per thousand, for a rate of natural increase of -2.92 per thousand or -0.292 percent. Infant mortality stands at 0.33 percent, with 59 annual deaths of infants below the age of one year in 2000.

Despite the negative rate of natural increase, in the last decade or more the population has been increasing due to immigration, reversing a decades-long downward trend. There were 22,910 immigrants in 1999 and 24,340 in 2000.

Life expectancy is above the Spanish national average: 83.24 years for women and 78.30 for men.

In 1999 the distribution by age showed 317,783 people 14 years or younger; 913,618 between 15 and 39 years; 576,183 between 40 and 59 years; and 677,020 60 years or older.

Depopulation in the mid-20th century

Even before the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the the rural areas (and smaller cities) of present-day Castile and León were losing population due to emigration to Spain's large cities (Madridmarker, Barcelonamarker, Bilbaomarker, etc.) and abroad (to Germanymarker, Francemarker, Switzerlandmarker, among others). This trend accelerated in the decade immediately after the Civil War. The growth of a strong industrial center in Valladolidmarker, including Spain's first automobile factory—the Renault plant led by the soldier and engineer Manuel Jiménez Alfaro—mitigated, but did not stop, the emigration. In both the 1960s and 1980s, the urban nuclei and provincial capitals gained population, but the region as a whole still suffered a net loss. To this day, the region has an aging population and a low birth rate contrasted against a merely average death rate by national standards.

The provinces of Valladolid and Segovia have reliably gone against this trend. The province of Valladolid has the region's most dynamic economy and, since 1987, its capital city has increasingly taken on the role of a regional capital. The province of Segovia is near enough to Madridmarker to participate in that city's dynamic growth.

Plaza Mayor (main square) of Valladolid

Present-day population distribution

In 1960 only 20.6 percent of the population of present-day Castile and León was urban; by 1991 that percentage had risen to 42.3 percent. The decline in rural population has apparently been somewhat stemmed, with a 1998 statistic showing 43 percent.

Many rural areas became very sparsely populated in the mid-to-late 20th century. In 1986 there were seven times as many municipalities with less than 100 inhabitants as in 1960.

Notable cities include the nine provincial capitals plus Miranda de Ebromarker and Aranda de Dueromarker in the province of Burgos, Ponferradamarker and San Andrés del Rabanedomarker in León, Béjarmarker in Salamanca, and Medina del Campomarker and Laguna de Dueromarker in Valladolid.

Of the 2,247 municipalities in the autonomous community, the 2000 census shows 1,970 with 1,000 or fewer inhabitants; 234 between 1,001 and 5,000; 20 between 5,001 and 10,000; 10 between 10,001 and 20,000; 6 between 20,001 and 50,000; 3 between 50,001 and 100,000; and 4 with over 100,000 inhabitants. Those last are Valladolid (319,943 in 2007), Burgos (174,075), Salamanca (159,754) and León (135,059). At the other extreme Blasconuño de Matacabrasmarker (Ávila) has a population of 18, Reinosomarker (Burgos) has 24, Villarmentero de Camposmarker (Palencia), has 14, and Gormazmarker (Soria), 17.

INE]], January 1, 2008):
City Population City Population City Population
Valladolidmarker 318,461 Ponferradamarker 66,824 Soriamarker 39,078

Burgosmarker 177,879 Zamoramarker 66,138 Aranda de Dueromarker 32,460

Salamancamarker 155,740 Segoviamarker 56,858 San Andrés del Rabanedomarker 30,217

Leónmarker 135,119 Ávilamarker 56,144 Laguna de Dueromarker 21,483

Palenciamarker 82,626 Miranda de Ebromarker 39,589 Medina del Campomarker 21,256


The regional per capita GDP of Castile and León is 21,244, slightly lower than the Spanish average of €22,152. The two most prosperous and industrialized provinces, Valladolid and Burgos, exceed the national per capita GDP.

Work force

In 2001 the work force was 1,005,200 with 884,200 employed, meaning 12.1 percent of the work force were out of work. 10.9 percent of the employed population work in agriculture, 20.6 percent in industry, 12.7 percent in construction, and 63.1 percent in the service sector.

In 2007, the unemployment rate was down to 6.99 percent, but the late-2000s recession drove that number up to 14.14 percent by July 2009.

Primary sector (agriculture and livestock)

Castile and León has roughly of arable land, more than half of the region's area. The land is generally dry, but fertile; dryland farming, predominates. Nonetheless, there is increasing irrigation in the basins of the Douro, Pisuerga, and Tormes. About 10 percent of the region's farmland is irrigated, allowing intensive farming in those regions. Flat topography and improved communications have facilitated the entry of technical innovations throughout the agricultural production process, above all in areas such as the provinces of Valladolid and Burgos where production per hectare is among Spain's highest. Castile and León's most fertile lands are in the Esla valley of León, in the countryside of Valladolid and in the Tierra de Campos, which intersects the provinces of Zamora, Valladolid, Palencia, and León.

Despite the declining rural population, and despite lower-than-average rural population density today, Castilian-Leonese agricultural production represents some 15 percent of Spain's primary sector.

Castile and León is known as "the granary of Spain" and is among Spain's leaders in production of cereals. Wheat is the most traditional crop, with the importance of barley increasing since the 1960s. The next most important cereals after these two, in terms of acreage devoted to their production are rye and oats. In addition to such legumes as locust beans and chickpeas, sunflower cultivation has spread in the southern plains.

The land devoted to vineyards decreased greatly in the last three decades of the 20th century. Thanks to adoption of more modern techniques, the currently devoted to vineyards are turning out vastly better wines than those the region traditionally produced. Now rivaling in quality the wines of La Rioja, they are increasingly known even beyond the borders of Spain. The region's principal zones of viticulture—each with a mandated Designation of Origin (Denominación de Origen)—are D.O. Ribera del Duero, D.O.marker Ruedamarker, D.O. Toro, D.O. Bierzo, D.O. Arribes, and D.O. Tierra de León.

In the irrigated zones, Castile and León grows sugar beets—a product subsidized by the authorities of the autonomic region—potatoes, alfalfa, and vegetables. The province of León also grows maize, hops, and legumes.

Agricultural work force

Some 92,600 people work in the primary sector in Castile and León, about 10 percent of employment in the region. 2001 data showed 5 percent unemployment in this sector.

Broken down by provinces, approximately 9,400 are employed in this sector in Ávila, 8,100 each in Burgos and Palencia, 18,300 in León, 9,200 in Salamanca, 6,400 in Segovia, 5,600 in Soria, 8,300 in Valladolid, and 14,600 in Zamora. El sector agrícola y ganadero de la región representa el 7,6 % del total en España.


Historically, Castile and León was a land of small livestock operations that proliferated in the major agricultural regions and in the mountainous areas. While the sector is by no means extinct, there is no question that it is undergoing a decline that is part and parcel of the depopulation of rural Castile and León. Nomadic pastoralism remains in some areas: large flocks, mainly of sheep, are drive hundreds of miles each year from the flat land to pasture land of mountains as in El Bierzo, the Cantabrian valleys of León, the Sierra de Gredosmarker or the Picos de Urbión. This migratory husbandry, so historically connected to the region, suffers from a continually greater shortage of manpower.

Nonetheless, livestock accounts for a significant part of Castile and León's agricultural production. Large, modern farms raise cattle, pigs, and sheep for meat and milk. Milk is generally sold through farmer-owned cooperatives that control its subsequent marketing. Castile and León produces over of milk annually, second in Spain after Galicia.

Castile and León has approximately 5,425,000 sheep, 2,800,000 pigs, and 1,200,000 cattle. Far behind these numbers, there 166,200 goats, and 71,700 horses, mules, and donkeys. The greatest production of meat is of pork ( ), beef ( ), and poultry ( ); wool production is Spain's largest, at ( ).


 of Castile and León has been deforested, representing 40 percent of historic forest lands. This deforestation is principally due to human activities over the centuries. However, the decline in rural population is resulting in an increase in forested land in recent decades.

Secondary sector (industry, mining, energy)


As of 2000, industry 18 percent of the work force of Castile and León were engaged in industry, generating 25 percent of regional GDP. The principal industrial centers are the cities of Valladolid (21,054 workers in industry), Burgos (20,217), Aranda de Duero (4,872), León (4,521) and Ponferrada (4,270).

The most important sub-sectors are automobiles, paper, chemicals, all centered in Valladolid and Burgos, as well as the food industry including the production of flour, sunflower oil, and wine, found in all the provincial capitals. The Spanish dairy brand Leche Pascual is based in Aranda de Duero. Other industries are textiles in Béjar; tile and bricks in Palencia; sugar processing in León, Valladolid, Toromarker, Miranda de Ebro, and Benaventemarker; pharmaceuticals in León, Valladolid and principally at the GlaxoSmithKline factory in Aranda de Duero; metallurgy and steel en Ponferrada; chemicals in Miranda de Ebro and Valladolid; aeronautics in Valladolidmarker.


Mining has been important in Castile y León since the time of the Roman Empire, when the Roman Via de la Plata (English: "Silver Way", Spanish: Vía de la Plata) from Asturica Augusta (Astorga) to Emerita Augustamarker (Méridamarker) and Hispalismarker (Sevillemarker) was built to transport silver and gold mined from the deposits of las Médulasmarker in El Bierzo.

Centuries later, after the Spanish Civil War, mining was again a factor in the economic development of the region.However, production of iron, tin, and tungsten declined notably from the 1970s onward. Coal mining (including anthracite coal) continued due to local demand for thermal power generation. Numerous Leonese mines closed in the 1980s and 1990s, causing unemployment and poverty, and providing another cause for emigration. Despite investments under the Mining Action Plan of the Junta of Castile and León, coal mining continues to be a troubled industry regionally.


The Douro and Ebro Rivers have numerous hydroelectric plants that make Castile and León one of Spain's leading regions in terms of power generation. Among these are hydroelectric plants Burguillo, Rioscuro, Las Ondinas, Cornatel, Bárcena, Aldeadávila I y II, Saucelle I y II, Castro I y II, Villalcampo I y II, Valparaíso, and Ricobayo I y II.

Installed hydroelectric power total 3,992 megawatts, with an annual product of 5,417 gigawatt hours. Nuclear power generates another 3,483 gigawatts per year. Thermal power from carboniferous fuels remains the region's leading source of energy, contributing 16,956 gigawatt hours for a regional total of 25,856 gigawatt hours from these major facilities. All of the nuclear power comes from the Santa María de Garoña Nuclear Power Plantmarker in the province of Burgos, which is currently (as of 2009) expected to shut down in July 2013. The following are the region's other thermal power stations:

Centrales térmicas en Castilla y León
Name Location Province Proprietor
Anllares Thermal Power Station Páramo del Silmarker León Unión Fenosa, Endesa
Compostilla II Thermal Power Station Cubillos del Silmarker León Endesa
La Robla Thermal Power Station La Roblamarker León Unión Fenosa
Velilla Thermal Power Station Velilla del Río Carriónmarker Palencia Iberdrola

Castile and León also produces wind energy, with more than 100 operating wind energy farms. There are 46 wind energy farms in Burgos with a potential of 1,275 megawatts, with a regional total potential of 3,128 megawatts. Other (non-renewable) energy sources are natural gas (194 megawatts installed) and diesel fuel (69 megawatts).

Tertiary sector (services)

63.1 percent of the work force of Castile and León is deployed in the service sector.


Tourism in Castile and León increased throughout the 1990s, capitalizing on the cultural and historic singnificance of the Castilian-Leonese cities and the attractive natural areas and countryside of the various comarcas. In 2001, Castile and León received roughly 315,000 visitors, of whom 42,000 were from abroad. The region contains six UNESCOmarker World Heritage Sites:

The town of Lermamarker in the province of Burgos, formerly the seat of a duke, is also a prominent tourist destination.

Castile and León has numerous castles, all of which are to some degree tourist destinations:


The leading sectors of internal commerce in Castile and León are food, automobiles, textiles, and footwear. Exports vary by region. The provinces of Ávila, Palencia, and Valladolid are all export vehicles and automobile chassis. Burgos and Vallodolid export tires. León exports steel and objects manufactured from slate. Salamanca exports beef; Segovia exports pork; Zamora exports lamb, mutton, and goat meat. Soria exports rubber products.

Castile and León also exports a great deal of wine. The wines of the Province of Valladolid have the widest distribution abroad, but Zamora is also an important wine region.

Leading imports are vehicles and vehicle parts, such as motors or tires.

The leading sources of foreign imports are Francemarker, Italymarker, the United Kingdommarker, Germanymarker, Portugalmarker and the United Statesmarker. Exports travel throughout the European Union as well as to Turkeymarker, Israelmarker, and the United States.


Most major surface routes from northern Spain to the capital, Madrid, and to southern Spain and Portugal, and thence to the rest of Europe and Africa, pass through Castile and León. Portugal's most important route to the east also traverses the region. As a result Castile and León is an important nexus in the transportation network of the Iberian peninsula and Europe. In addition, proximity to Madrid means that a lot of transportation to that capital passes through Castile and León.

The major land routes for merchandise and transport are Autovía A-1 (the Autovía del Norte) which runs from Madrid to the Basquemarker port of Irun on the French border and Autovía A-6, the Autovía del Noroeste, which runs from Madrid to Arteixomarker, A Coruñamarker). Also important is Autovía A-62 (the Autovía de Castilla), which comes out of Portugal through the cities of Salamanca, Valladolid, Palencia, and Burgos and continues east as part of European route E-80. Along those three routes are such important cities as Medina del Campomarker, Aranda de Dueromarker, and Miranda de Ebromarker.

Air travel

Terminal de Burgos-Villafría.
The last years have seen a big improvement in accessibility from the rest of Europe, mainly through the operations of low-cost airlines at the Valladolid airport of Villanublamarker, which handles both domestic and international traffic. The León Airportmarker, also known as Virgen del Camino, currently handles only domestic traffic, but hopes to handle international traffic in the future. Salamanca Airportmarker, also known as Matacán, handles domestic flights and international charter flights. The Burgos Airportmarker, also known as Villafría, opened in July 2008. Madrid's main airport Barajasmarker is nearby as well, although as of 2009 there is no direct connection through public transportation. Matacán and Virgen del Camino are among Europe's leaders in terms of recent growth of air traffic; Villanubla is experiencing lesser growth of about 3 percent annually.


Castile and León has an extensive rail network, including the principal lines from Madrid to Cantabria and Galicia. The line from Parismarker to Lisbonmarker crosses the region, reaching the Portuguese frontier at Fuentes de Oñoromarker in Salamanca. Astorga, Burgos, León, Miranda de Ebro, Palencia, Ponferrada, and Valladolid are all important railway junctions.

Railways operate in several different gauges: Iberian gauge (1,668 mm), UIC gauge (1,435 mm) and Narrow gauge (1,000 mm). Except for some narrow-gauge lines, trains are operated by RENFE on lines maintained by the Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias (ADIF); both of these are national, state-owned companies.

Iberian gauge lines (ADIF/RENFE)

Lines with no current passenger service:

UIC gauge lines (ADIF/RENFE)

  • Madrid - Valladolid

Narrow gauge


As stated above, Castile and León is the land transport hub of northern Spain. It is crossed by International E-roads E80 and E05. These are the main road connections from Portugal and the south of Spain to the rest of Europe.

The region is also crossed by two major ancient routes:
  • The Way of St. James, mentioned above as a World Heritage Site, now a hiking trail and a motorway, from east to west.
  • The Roman Via de la Plata ("Silver Way"), mentioned above in the context of mining, now a main road through the west of the region.

The road network is regulated by the Ley de carreteras 10/2008 de Castilla y León (Highway Law 10/2008 of Castile and León). This law allows for the possibility ofroads financed by the private sector through concessions, as well as the public construction of roads that has long prevailed.

List of Autovías and Autopistas in Castile and León

Rail and bus pass

Since May 1, 2007, certain regions of the provinces of Segovia and Ávila have been included in the Abono Transportes de Madrid, a zone-based system of regional transport in and around Spain's capital. The cities of Segovia and Ávila are included in the outermost zone, C2, as are some other municipalities of their respective provinces. The monthly or yearly pass allows use of all public buses and trains.


Flora and vegetation

The solitary oaksand junipersnow found on the Castilian-Leonese plains are remnants of forests that once covered these lands. Agricultural exploitation—cultivation of cereals and creation of pastures for the vast flocks of the Castilian Meseta—meant the deforestationof these lands during the Middle Ages. The last juniper forests of Castile and León can be found in the provinces of Soria and Burgos. In some of these forest, junipers are mixed with pine—or even with oak or gall oak—but the coniferspredominate.

The Castilian-Leonese slope of the Cantabrian Mountainsmarker and the northern foothills of the Sistema Ibéricomarker both boast rich vegetation.The cool, moist slopes are populated by large beechforests, which can extend as high as altitudes of . The beeches may form mixed forests with yew, rowan(mountain ash), common hawthorne, holly, and birch. The sunny slopes bring forth sessile oak, English oak, ash, common hawthorne, chestnut, birch, and pinar de Lillo(Pinus silvestris), a native pine species of northern León.

Wide extensions of oak survive on the lower slopes of the Sistema Central. Higher up, between and altitude, chestnuts are abundant. Yet higher up, Quercus pyrenaica—an oak species now rarely found in the eponymous Pyreneesmarker—predominates.With its strong resistance to cold, it can reach heights of . Nonetheless, many oak forests have disappeared, cut down and replaced by pines. The principal native pine forests are in the Sierra de Guadarrama. The subalpinezones between and are home to shrubs and juniper.

Much of the province of Salamanca, above all in the comarcas of Salices and Ciudad Rodrigomarker, is occupied by dehesas, a type of sparsely wooded land resembling the African savannas, with oak, cork oak, gall oak and Turkish oak.The provinces of Salamanca and Valladolid in the area of Ruedamarker also have olive trees, which do not grow elsewhere in Castile and León.


Castile and León has a great diversity of fauna. Some of these are notable either for being endemic to the region or for their rarity. 418 species of vertebrateshave been identified, constituting 63 percent of the vertebrates that can be found in Spain. Animals adapted to the high mountains, inhabitant of rocky landscapes, river dwellers, lowland species, and forest animals all can be found in Castile and León.

The isolation of the high peaks preserves many endemic animals such as the Western Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae) of which there are only two wild populations in the world, both along the border between Castile and León and Extremaduramarker.The European Snow Vole(Chionomys nivalisor Microtus nivalis) is a species of rodentin the Cricetidaefamily, a small grayish brown mammal with a long tail that lives in open spaces above timberline.

Squirrels, dormice, Spanish moles, sables, martens, foxes, wildcats, and Iberian Wolvesare all abundant in some areas. Wild boars, Roe Deerand other deerspecies can be found in the deciduous forests and to a lesser extent in the coniferous forests. A small population of Brown Bear(Ursus arctos) can be found in forests of the Cantabrian Mountains. The wildcat Felis silvestrisis slightly larger than a domestic cat, with a short, muscular tail, and a grayish brown coat with dark rings. The Iberian lynx(Lynx pardinus), once found in the region, now can only be found in certain regions of southern Spain.

Castile and León is also home to such reptiles as the Ladder Snake(Rhinechis scalaris), the Southern Smooth Snake(Coronella girondica), and the Aesculapian Snake(Elaphe longissimaor Zamenis longissimus). The European Smooth Snake(Coronella austriaca) can be found from sea level up to an altitude of ; in Castile and León it tends to be found at the higher end of its range. Higher still, in the rocky subalpine zones around , is the Iberian Rock Lizard(Iberolacerta monticolaor Lacerta monticola cyreni), one of the few reptiles adapted to these heights.

The mountain rivers provide a habitat for nutriasand Pyrenean Desmans, not to mention trout, freshwater eels, bighead carpand some increasingly rare native freshwater crabs. The nutria (Lutra lutra) and desman (Galemys pyrenaica) are both aquatic or semi-aquatic mammals, and excellent swimmers; the desman is a mole genus. The nutria eats mainly fish, but the desman prefers the invertebrates found along the riverbanks, including insects. In the lower depths of the river are the barbels(Barbus barbus) and carp. Local amphibians include newts, the Almanzor Salamander (Salamandra salamandra almanzoris, a subspecies of Fire Salamander) and the Gredos Toad (Bufo bufo gredosicola, a supspecies of Common Toad); the latter two are endemic to the Sistema Central.

Where the rivers narrow to form gorges and canyons, they form a habitat for birds of preysuch as the Griffon Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagleor Peregrine Falcon. The small Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is black and white with a yellow head. Further downstream, the lush vegetation of the riverbanks makes a home for the Black-crowned Night Heronand Grey Heron, as well as the smaller Goldcrest, European Penduline Tit, Hoopoe, and Common Kingfisher.

Among the birds that populate the open Mediterranean forests are two endangered species: the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) and the Spanish Imperial Eagle(also known as Iberian Imperial Eagle or Adalbert's Eagle, Aquila adalberti). The Black Stork, much rarer than the White Stork(Ciconia ciconia) is a solitary bird that stays far away from humans. The Spanish Imperial Eagle nests in trees and feeds largely on rabbits, but also eats birds, reptiles and carrion.

In the coniferous forests live, among others treecreepers(of the family Certhiidae), the Coal Tit(Periparus ater), and the Eurasian Nuthatch(Sitta europaea), blue-grey above, with a black eyestripe, and distinguished from other populations of this species by its reddish underparts. The Western Capercaillie(Tetrao urogallus) is a large, dark forest grouse, very difficult to observe. Among the raptors in the forests are the Northern Goshawk, the Eurasian Sparrowhawkand members of the true owlfamily, which frequently prey upon such smaller birds as Eurasian Jays, woodpeckers(notably the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dendrocopos major), finchesof the genus Fringilla, and warblersof the genus Sylvia.

La Great Bustard(Otis tarda) frequents the plains cleared for dryland farming. It is among the heaviest birds capable of flight. It has a grayish head and neck and a brown back. In the winter, the Castilian-Leonese wetlands teem with Greylag Geese(Anser anser), that have flown south from their breeding grounds in Northern Europe.

See also


  1. Resultados autonómicos de Castilla y León (Cinco Días).
  2. "será objeto de protección específica […] por su particular valor dentro del patrimonio lingüístico de la Comunidad"
  3. "gozará de respeto y protección en los lugares en que habitualmente se utilice"
  4. Hablas de Extremadura: Frontera Leonesa.
  5. Artículo 1, Proyecto Constitución Federal de la I República Española, 17 de julio de 1873
  6. Investigaciones históricas. Valladolid: Secretariado de Publicaciones, Universidad de Valladolid, 1979
  7. Juan-Miguel Alvarez Dominguez, " El Catecismo Regionalista de Don Eugenio, un ejemplo de regionalismo castellanoleonés patrocinado desde León (1931)", Argutorio, nº 19 (2º semestre 2007), pp. 32-36.
  8. «unir en una personalidad a León y Castilla la Vieja en torno a la gran cuenca del Duero, sin caer ahora en rivalidades pueblerinas». Diario de León, 22 de mayo de 1936.
  9. Seis grupos políticos se fusionan en un partido regionalista en Castilla y León
  10. Tribunal Constitucional Española, Sentencia 89/1984, fundamento de derecho 5, September 28, 1984.
  11. Diario de León, 5 de mayo de 1984.
  12. Diario de León, 13 de marzo de 2004.
  13. El paro bajó en Castilla y León un 5% frente a un incremento nacional del 6,5, El Mundo, 2008-01-26. Accessed online 2009-11-30.
  14. El paro sube en la Comunidad en 5.000 personas en el segundo trimestre,, 2009-07-24. Accessed online 2009-11-30.
  15. Fichas Municipales - 2008 DATOS ECONÓMICOS Y SOCIALES, Caja España, 2008.
  16. Terra: Iberdrola contrata con Izar mantenimiento central térmica Velilla.
  17. Ha entrado en vigor la nueva Ley de carreteras de Castilla y León que regula la planificación, proyección, construcción, conservación, financiación, uso y explotación de las carreteras con itinerario comprendido íntegramente en el territorio de la Comunidad Autónoma de Castilla y León y que no sean de titularidad del Estado. [1]

External links

Name Route Important cities of Castile and León through which the road passes
Autovía and Autopista del Norte MadridmarkerBurgosmarkerIrunmarker Sepúlveda, Aranda de Dueromarker, Lermamarker, Burgosmarker, Briviescamarker, Miranda de Ebromarker
Autovía del Nordeste MadridmarkerBarcelonamarker Medinacelimarker
Autovía and Autopista del Noroeste MadridmarkerLa Coruñamarker San Rafael, Villacastínmarker, Arévalomarker, Medina del Campomarker, Tordesillasmarker, Villalpandomarker, Benavente, La Bañezamarker, Astorga, Bembibremarker, Ponferradamarker
Autovía del Duero ZamoramarkerTudela de Dueromarker (to be extended) Zamoramarker, Toromarker, Tordesillasmarker, Valladolidmarker , Tudela de Dueromarker, (Peñafiel and Aranda de Dueromarker, by N-122).
Autovía de la Cultura SalamancamarkerÁvilamarker Salamancamarker, Ávilamarker
Conexión Ávila VillacastínmarkerÁvilamarker Villacastínmarker, Ávilamarker
Autovía de las Rías Bajas BenaventeVigomarker Benavente,Puebla de Sanabriamarker
Conexión Segovia San RafaelSegoviamarker San Rafael, Segoviamarker
Autovía de Castilla BurgosmarkerFuentes de Oñoromarker Burgosmarker, Palenciamarker, Valladolidmarker, Tordesillasmarker, Salamancamarker, Ciudad Rodrigomarker
Autovía and autopista de la Plata GijónSevillamarker (incomplete) Salamancamarker, Zamoramarker, Benavente, Leónmarker
Autovía Cantabria-Meseta PalenciamarkerSantandermarker
Palenciamarker, Frómistamarker, Osorno la Mayormarker, Aguilar de Campoomarker
Autopista León-Astorga LeónmarkerAstorga Leónmarker, Astorga
Autovía del Camino de Santiago LeónmarkerBurgosmarker Leónmarker, Sahagúnmarker, Carrión de los Condesmarker, Burgosmarker
A-601 Autovía Valladolid-Segovia Valladolidmarker - Segoviamarker Valladolidmarker, Cuéllarmarker, Segoviamarker

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