The Andalusian economy

The scarcity of water and the over-exploitation of the land are the principal natural limitations to Andalucia’s economy. Due to the largely arid climate, there are two national parks and 24 naural parks, all with a great ecological and geographical importance. To protect the natural resources that contribute to it and also to retain its attraction as a tourism destination, the maintenance of the environmental is fundamental for the entire region.

It is necessary to guard, of course, against contamination by industrial and urban effluent, above all in the industrialized areas of Huelva, Seville and the the Gibraltar region, energy savings (renewables) and consumption (public transport, recycling) being the most indispensible functions.

And the motor that drives Andalucia’s excellence: tourism. The service sector dedicated to tourism is responsible for a high percentage of job creation and also accounts for a substantial part of the GDP of Andalucia. Whether it is sun and beach tourism, like the

tourism dedicated to golf or, more and more, rural tourism, this has made this economic sector the principal source of income for, again, more and more families. In specific parts of the region such as Marbella, Málaga, Chiclana, Rota, Conil, El Rompido or Isla Canela, the proportion of jobs in the service sector dedicated to tourism and to the tourist can exceed 50 per cent of the total jobs there.

Andalucia comprises three fundamental zones with different levels of economic activity, of population and of income, very well defined and which correspond as well with the defined stages of its geography: the coastal fringe and major urban settlements, the high mountain areas and the large cultivated zones (olives, grapes and cereal crops are the star products).

a) The most dynamic, situated on the coastal fringe and in the major urban settlements. This includes the major internal and external connections, identifying here the 20 major urban centres of Andalucia. Occupying 6 per cent of the territory, they concentrate nearly half the population and generate 70 per cent of regional income.

b) The intermediate zones, with a productive base in rural and urban economies. Their economic structure is diversified, although it has its foundations in agriculture. These zones occupy 40 per cent of the area of Andalucia and support 39 per cent of their population. Basically they are sited in the fertile lowlands and open country of the Guadalquivir valley and in the lower valleys that run between the higher regions (Antequera, Guadix, etc.). The agriculture base has led to the development of a foodstuffs industry closely allied to the production of olive oil, sugars, and grape and wine products.

c) The rural mountain areas and various interior regions. These occupy the middle of the region’s landmass, where they account for 12 per cent of the poulation. By its arid and dramatic character, this landscape is ill-equipped for agricultural development, predominated by the traditional model of extensive agriculture here, namely the monoculture of olive growing. These poorer landscapes are home to an important natural heritage, one which offers the possibility to generate income and work across dry goods and environment services and those of rural tourism and nature tourism. The tools of territorial designation that drive the harmonic growth of the region are the plans for development and infrastructure, such as the Plan de Desarrollo (development) Regional 2000-2006 and the Plan Director de Infraestructuras de Andalucia 1997-2007.

Affecting particularly women and young people, unemployment is the principal problem of our economy; the unemployment rate among them (of some 18 per cent) is eight points higher than in the rest of Spain.

Regional income produced and distributed follows specific guidelines of space, function and sector, with a higher level of concentration in the coastal regions and the provincial capitals, as well as in the service sector, to the detriment of industry. Due to their low level of income, the svings capacity among the people of Andalucia is half the average of the rest of Spain.

Following the integration of Spain in to the Common Market (today, the European Union) in 1986, has seen the effects in three ways:

1º) It has had to taken on obligatorially defined community policies with considerable affect on its functions, such as in the case of the Common Agricultural Policy.

2º) It has seen the benefits of a higher level of aid coming from distinct EU funding sources.

3º) It is embarked on a process of actual convergence, or of a reduction in income differences, with the mediation of the European Union.

Since the integration of Spain into the EU, there has been a levelling of the Andalucian per capita GDP to a cross-European median income. The reduction in differences and the approximation to the European levels produced in the expansive stages of the economy, in which the growth of GDP per person is higher in Andalucia than in the average Spanish household, occurring in totally the opposite manner as in times of depression. It is therefore necessary, although not sufficient, to seek an enduring growth in the medium and long term in which our region can significantly reduce the differences in social and economic benefits between Andalucia and other European regions.


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