Galicia covers exactly 29,574 km2 of Europe’s horizon. One cannot say that Galicia is small before one has explored it.
It is possible to sail along its 1,195 kilometres of coast, more than three hundred of which is composed of beaches, between the Ría de Ribadeo and the mouth of the Miño. The flooding of the river valleys forms part of the typical Galician landscape of the estuaries and gives a marine look to areas which would otherwise be part of the inland region.
From sea level we climb up more than 2,000 m to the highest peak of the region, Pena Trevinca (2,127 m), and the Altos de Os Ancares. Inland Galicia is a land of valleys and gentle slopes, such as the so-called Dorsal de Galicia which runs through the centre of Galicia from north to south. But above all it is the land of a thousand rivers, a necessary rounded-off number due to the difficulty involved in calculating all the region’s rivers and streams. The main hydrographic basin is that of the Miño-Sil.
We mustn’t forget the landscape as a human creation. Almost half of the existing settlements in Spain are Galician. A land of bridges and water mills, lighthouses and ports, chestnut groves and vineyards, Galician crosses and hórreos (raised granaries), castros (Iron-Age settlements, hill-forts) and pazos (country houses), and churches and monasteries, mostly in the Romanesque or Baroque style.
All this would be impossible without Galicia’s privileged geographical position, with wide transition areas between the Euro- Siberian and Mediterranean regions. Currently, Galicia has a total of 56 different types of habitat declared as being of community interest by the EU. Approximately 12% of the region is subject to some form of protection and this percentage will increase in coming years.
The underwater and coastal ecosystems of the southern coast of Galicia’s four archipelagos enjoy maximum levels of government recognition. Its designation as Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas de Galicia has made it the flagship of our natural heritage.
Currently, the Galician Network of Protected Spaces includes six Natural Parks, where improvements in the reception of visitors and in the infrastructure for environmental conservation and diffusion of information about it are constantly being made.
Together with the well-known Lugares of Importancia Comunitaria (LIC) (Sites of Community Importance [SCI]); the reader will see the new regional denomination, the Zona de Especial Protección de los Valores Naturales (ZEPVN) [Zone of Special Protection of Natural Assets]. This is a new group created in Galicia, associated to the widespread Red Natura 2000 of the European Union.
On the other hand, we have five wetlands, declared to be of international importance by the RAMSAR convention.
And we have left to the end the five Reserves of the Biosphere in Galicia, which are under the protection of the UNESCO.
Get to know Galicia.