Review of Higher Education Institutions in Regional Development 2008-10: Andalusia in brief


The region under review:
boundaries, geography and population

The Autonomous Region of Andalusia is located in the South of the Iberian Peninsula. It is the southernmost point of Europe and the doorway to Africa.

50% of Andalusia is mountainous terrain. Its northern frontier is marked by the Sierra Morena Mountains, which separate the Castilian plain in the north from the fertile Guadalquivir River basin in the south. The Guadiana River marks the border between Andalusia and Portugal. In the southwest, the region boarders the Atlantic Ocean and in the southeast lies the Mediterranean Sea with a 945 km long coastline.

The autonomous region consists of 8 provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Jaén, Huelva, Málaga, and Seville. It is further divided into 770 municipalities.

The region represents 17% of the Spanish territory and nearly 18% of the population. 8.2 million people live in Andalusia. It is of major demographic and territorial importance within Spain: it has the largest population, and ranks second in terms of surface with about 87 600

Traditionally a rural region, Andalusia is more densely settled today. There are more than ten metropolitan areas with over 100 000 inhabitants and a great number of medium-sized cities with a population between 10 000 and 100 000 people. The cities are spread across the 8 provinces. The largest city is Seville with about 700 000 inhabitants.



Spain is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature. The country consists of 17 autonomous regions which are further divided into provinces. The Central Government has a representation in every region.

Three different levels of administration – central, regional and local – co-exist and interact in the regions. The constitution and the autonomy statutes regulate the responsibilities of the three levels. 

The regional government has the executive power, while the parliament exercises the legislative power in the autonomous regions. In Andalusia, the parliament's principal functions are to legislate, to control the regional government and to approve the budget.

Local administration is structured around municipal and provincial councils.

The General Conference for University Policy and the Council of Universities bring together representatives from universities, regional governments, the parliament, and the central government. Most proposals related to higher education have to be reported to the two boards, but their recommendations are not binding.

The responsibility for higher education is divided between the central (Ministry of Education and Ministry of Science and Innovation) and the regional level. More on HE governance in Spain



Andalusia's real GDP per capita (2000 prices: 17 936 Euro in 2005) is the second lowest in Spain. It is one of the 84 regions in the EU-25 which range below 75% of the average regional GDP in the European Union. At the same time, the economic growth rate between 2000 and 2005 was 3.1% the second highest in Spain.

The regional economy is based on:

  • Agriculture:  About 10% of the population are employed in this sector and it represents about the same share of the regional Gross Value Added (GVA). The intensive agricultural sector uses genetically engineered seeds and plants, integral water cycle technologies, hydroponic cultivation (without soil), and greenhouse equipment.
  • Industrial sector: It employs nearly 11% of the population and accounts for about 15% of the GVA. The sector makes an important contribution to the region's exports.
  • Construction:  The sector represents 15% of the employment and accounts for 12% of the regional GVA. It is boosted by tourism and linked to the urban development.
  • Service sector: It accounts for more than 60% of the regional employment as well as the production. Tourism plays the most important role.

Andalusia administers 36 ports. The seaport of Algeciras at the Strait of Gibraltar hosts 25% of the Spanish water transit.

The following sectors are the focus of regional economic development policy: Agro-industrial sector, biotechnology, aeronautical, and ICT. Another strategic sector is the renewable energy sector. Andalusia offers the suitable geographic and climatic environment for the energy generation from photovoltaic, wind, thermal, and biomass plants.


Andalusia start page | Higher education and research: Andalusia | Further reading and useful links

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