Galicia is the region of Spain that consists of the corner of the peninsula that is just to the north of Portugal. It consists of four provinces: A Coruña, Ourense, Lugo and Pontevedra. Galicia is one of the more culturally independent regions of Spain: they are proud of their long history of regionalist movements and prefer their own language, Galician, to Castilian Spanish.
Galicia has a long history. A Celtic kingdom before the arrival of the Romans, the region fell to the Suevi and Visigoths before being conquered by the Moors. The Moors did not last long, however, as they were driven out after only about 20 years be Christian forces from neighboring Asturias. The Galicians also had to contend with Vikings from the north, who frequently raided settlements and cities along the coast. Although it was a part of Spain during the Golden Age, it was always a difficult, regional province. Independence and regionalist movements continued through the twentieth century and are still alive today.
Like neighboring Asturias, Galicia is known for rugged natural beauty. The coast features rocky estuaries called rías, which are crucial for Galicia’s important fishing industry. The industry suffered a huge blow in 2002, when the oil tanker Prestige sank off the coast, spilling millions of gallons of oil.
Galicia does not currently have the tourist facilities that other regions boast, but it is a growing industry in the area. There is a ski resort in the mountains, and the regional capital, Santiago de Compostela, is an important pilgrimage site, attracting thousands of pilgrims every year. It is alleged that the church in Santiago de Compostela contains relics of St. James, one of Jesus’ original disciples. In A Coruña you will find the Tower of Hercules, a lighthouse which has been in continuous operation since Roman times.