Local entities

Our Constitution establishes the unity of Spain and recognises the autonomy of the autonomous communities (regions) and local administrations.

Spain is one of the most decentralised states in the world with 17 autonomous communities, two cities with statutes of autonomy, Ceuta and Melilla, and 8125 local entities.

Entities that make up the local administration

We all live in a municipality, which is the administration closest to citizens. They provide essential services.

In Spain local administrations have administrative and financial autonomy. Within their area of competence, they approve regulations and conduct specific actions.

The local entities are:

  • Provinces: 50 provinces; 43 with provincial councils. (seven of these councils are integrated or merged with the autonomous community, as the autonomous communities have only one province, such as Navarra).
  • Municipalities: Municipalities are the basic entity of the State's regional organisation and the city councils run them.
  • Islands: There are 11 islands: Four are part of the Balearic Islands and seven the Canary Islands. They have both councils and island councils (cabildos).
  • Smaller local entities that are included in the municipalities: 3,719 that have a range of different names: borough (pedanía) and parishes are common for example in Galicia.
  • Local entities higher than the municipality: They are formed by the association of several municipalities. They are: 81 counties (comarcas); 3 metropolitan areas and 1008 groupings of municipalities (mancomunidades).

Which are their competences?

The State establishes the general legal framework for local entities and their competences. From this framework, the State and autonomous communities, when approving regulations on every matter, specify the local administrations' competences in these matters.

How are they financed?

Their income depends on the Spanish state, the autonomous communities and part of their resources is generated from local taxes. Their financial autonomy is less than that of the autonomous communities.

They work with the General state administration and administrations of the autonomous communities via different bodies, on financial affairs and actions plans for example.

Conflicts of competences are resolved by the courts. They can turn to the Constitutional Court to protect their local autonomy

More information