The great void of the southeast. Population of urban entities.
The article here on the La Voz de Almería site is the sixth in the series.
Read More for a Google translation of the article.
Almeria stories about the landscape (VI): The great void of the southeast
A series that aspires to intervene in the perception of geographical and territorial reality
Seen from the outside, Almeria's identity often raises the dichotomy between Andalusian and Levantine (or Murcian). Seen from within, this dichotomy is absurd: our identity is to be from Almeria. However, it is an identity often defined by an "appearance", rather than a "being". The cinema shows us how North Africa, the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, the West of the United States of America (especially its southern part), but it rarely frames our own history. Our least imposing cinematic appearance came in the movie 'Patton', where we lend our urban scene to Sicily, a Mediterranean island after all.
Our identity has a "weak ontology": a sentimental region, which is verified in family memories, in the aromas and flavors of childhood; an almost mythical region, from whose hardships we have fled by building a shelter of density (the urban region Almería-Poniente, in VJ7), at the cost of further weakening the interior and mountain Almería from which we all come, and where a increasingly blurred collective memory.
When our supposed discomfort for being administratively Andalusian becomes a recurring theme, we must remember that the way to be Andalusian, Spanish or European that corresponds to us is to be from Almeria. The main assault on our identity does not come from imported identities or exogenous influences, but from the flight from ourselves to which history has forced us. The healthy way to be in the contemporary world is to be open to all influences, from a solid anchor with your own identity. It is the weakening of that anchor that makes our being in the global world problematic and conflictive.
The geographical framework of our identity must consider the southeast as a space of opportunities and problems. The keys to the southeast are easy to trace. El Yelmo, in the Sierra de Segura (Jaén), where the Atlantic and Mediterranean basins separate, is its interior key. The reef of the Sirens of Cabo de Gata (Nijar) is its outer key. On both sides of this axis our “region” extends, whose delimitation always supposes a cartographic exercise that is as fun as it is debatable.
This mountainous, arid and Mediterranean “region” has a differential characteristic that will be definitive in the reeling of this story: it is a demographic vacuum. The great void of the southeast. This is a fact of enormous importance for the territorial dynamics affected, and yet it is not present in our conscience, in our worldview, which threatens to place our strategic initiatives in the field of fiction.
Responsible for the insularity and the exporting vocation of the Almeria territory (we export because we lack a local market), the great emptiness of the southeast, increasingly emptiness, is one of the two points where “empty Spain” contacts the Mediterranean , as can be seen in the density map of urban systems.
Heat map of the density of Spanish urban systems.
This great void warns us that we cannot base our development strategies on combating isolation through land transport infrastructure. These infrastructures, necessary for connecting with the outside world, can accentuate the insularity, as has already been shown after the entry into service of the Highways.
Our development strategies must be based on understanding who we are, and what our territory is like. The persistent claim to normality, a consequence of complex pasts, will not improve our competitive position. If the maximum we aspire to is to have the same endowments as our neighbors, our geographical position, our insularity and the great emptiness of the southeast will penalize us: it is the law of the map.
How to turn that void that constitutes us into a competitive advantage is our challenge, which requires us to do things better than our neighbors, strengthening our awareness of being, internal cohesion, and future projects as fundamental elements in which to forge an identity operational.
Balates on the hillside.
In the next installment of Virado a Jibia, we will get closer to understanding the urban region Almería-Poniente, the authentic island.