Almería history article

Distribution of the Almeria population by altitude bands. Comparison 1900-2019.

The article here on the La Voz de Almería site is the third in the series.

Here is some information about the author of the articles:

Rodolfo Caparrós (Almería, 1957), author of ‘Virado a jibia’, is a geographer, urban planner and landscaper, as well as a territorial development consultant. Cultural promoter, he is especially interested in popular culture and in the geographical dimension of cultural processes. His favorite theme is the construction of the gaze, from modernity to postmodernity.

Read More for a Google translation of the article.


Almeria stories about the landscape (III): A model of human sedimentation

A series that aspires to intervene in the perception of geographical and territorial reality

The changes in the geographical distribution of the Almeria population in the last century have been of such depth that it can well be said that we are "emigrants from ourselves."

We babyboomers of the 1950s who were born in the city of Almería had immediate rural backgrounds. In my case, my father from Vera and my maternal grandmother from Uleila del Campo. The explosive growth of the city of Almería in the mid-20th century can only be explained by the correlative emptying of the interior of the province, known at the time as "rural exodus".

In the period that we analyze (1900-2019) the province of Almería has practically doubled its population. It is evident that these rates of demographic growth cannot be attributed solely to the natural movements of the population, which we call vegetative growth, but rather has a strong migratory component, of troops that join the Almeria population from other provinces, regions or nations. This migratory incorporation explains the intensity of the process, but not its geographical distribution. The model of redistribution of the provincial population was already under way before the change of sign of the migratory balance of the province accelerated, from the '70s, demographic growth.

Overlapping processes

In reality, two processes overlap: the "turning towards the coast" of the provincial population and the increase in the population due to migratory reception, which accentuates the first process, by going, in a very large percentage, to coastal municipalities, headquarters of the new economic dynamism, and increasingly equipped and connected

Today we are going to focus on the changes in the geographical distribution of the local population, which represents a real change in the territorial model.

Almería history

Heat maps of the distribution of the Almeria population

In the publication that served as the catalog for the exhibition ‘50 Years of Territorial Transformations in Almería. 1957-2006. IEA.2008 ’, of which I was the promoter and coordinator, advanced one of the most striking characteristics of this process: the coincidence with the models that describe erosive behavior in arid zones.

An erosive model

The demographic losses accumulate in the areas of higher altitude, in those of greater slope and in those of lower density. Different “sediment traps” retain part of these losses in the municipal and county seats. But the bulk of the demographic sediments continue to move through the valleys and go to the coast, where the coastal dynamics redistribute them.

The model that explains the shift of the population towards the coast is the same that describes the erosive and sedimentary mechanisms. That is why we speak of a human sedimentation process.

Almería history

Distribution of the Almeria population by altitude zones. Comparison 1900-2019.

Like any complex territorial element, it can be observed at very different scales. If we look at it at a local scale, we can see that in a large part of the inland mountain municipalities, demographic losses occur in the dispersed habitat of farmhouses and farmhouses, being much more moderate in the head towns of the municipalities. In reality, the change in model especially attacks the organic-based settlement pattern that explains the structural and multiscale dispersion of the Almeria population in its geographic space. Instead, it stimulates the concentration of population in nuclei, also at different scales.

The elements of a physical-environmental base that explained a peculiar low-density settlement model that adapted to aridity and slopes, are replaced by economies of scale, by urban accumulation mechanisms and by the connectivity that sedimentary plains allow. that host a growing population.

The economic activities that attract population are coastal: intensive agriculture and tourist-recreational occupation of the coast, due to a thermal issue. The new models of commercial distribution and mobility, due to the topographic facilities of coastal terraces and sedimentary deposit areas.

Process data

In 1900, the population that settled in the coastal and pre-coastal areas of the province was 51%, while 49% lived in the interior mountain areas. In 2019, the coastal population is 84%, and the inland mountain population is 16%.

Almería history

Sediments in Viator's founding core.

This data summarizes the change in model, a framework in which it is possible to interpret numerous territorial phenomena that will be the object of attention in this collection: the great void of the southeast ('Virado a jibia' 6), the urban region Almería-Poniente (VJ9), bases of a dual society: estrangement (VJ10), bases of a dual society: emptied Almería (VJ14), overflow and alienation (VJ16).


The new Almeria society, increasingly urbanized and littoral, preserves the memory of the mountain and low-density Almería, a rural and cortijera Almería. This family memory lives in the recipes, in the aromas of the mountain, it is manifested in the rituals of patron saint festivities, in summer and holiday reunions and, ultimately, in a worldview that combines urban experience as a space of opportunities with a rural identity sentimental, increasingly nostalgic and weakened by the passage of time.

It will be difficult to return to a population distribution like the one that existed at the beginning of the 20th century, which is why the rebalancing that spatial planning theorists speak of can be interpreted as the need to redefine the relationships and links between the coastal population and the empty space of your memory.

Next week, we will analyze the provincial territory as a Mediterranean leeward.