1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Corunna (province)

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CORUNNA, a maritime province in the extreme north-west of Spain; forming part of Galicia, and bounded on the E. by Lugo, S. by Pontevedra, W. and N. by the Atlantic Ocean. Pop. (1900) 653,556; area, 3051 sq. m. The coast of Corunna is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic; it forms one succession of fantastically shaped promontories, divided by bays and estuaries which often extend for many miles inland, with reefs and small islands in their midst. Though well lighted, this coast is very dangerous to navigation, gales and fogs being frequent in winter and spring. The most conspicuous headlands are Cape Ortegal and Cape de Vares, the most northerly points of the Spanish seaboard, and Capes Finisterre and Toriñana in the extreme west. The principal bays are those of Santa Marta, Ferrol and Corunna, on the north; Corcubion, Muros y Noya and Arosa, on the west. Wild and rugged though this region appears to travellers at sea, the mountains which overspread the interior are covered with forests and pastures, and watered by an abundance of small rivers and streams. The climate is mild and singularly equable, but the rainfall is very heavy. All the fruits and vegetables of northern Europe thrive in the sheltered valleys, and the cultivation of cherries, strawberries, peas and onions, for export, ranks among the most profitable local industries. Heavy crops of wheat, rye, maize and sugar-beet are raised. The wines of Corunna are heady and of inferior flavour. Cattle-breeding, once a flourishing industry, had greatly declined by the beginning of the 20th century, owing to foreign competition. All along the coast there are valuable fisheries of sardines, lobsters, cod, hake and other fish. Copper, tin and gold are procured in small quantities, and other minerals undoubtedly exist. The exports consist chiefly of farm produce and fish; the imports, of coal and textiles from England, petroleum from the United States, marble from Italy, salt fish from Norway and Newfoundland, and hides. The principal towns are Corunna, the capital and chief port (pop. 1900, 43,971); Ferrol (25,281), another seaport; Santiago de Compostela (24,120), famous as a place of pilgrimage; Carballo (13,032); Ortigueira (18,426) and Ribeira (12,218). These are described under separate headings. Along the coast there are numerous trading and fishing stations of minor importance. Railway communication is very defective. From Corunna a line passes south-eastward to Lugo and Madrid, and from Santiago another line goes southward to Vigo and Oporto; but the centre and the north-west of the province are, to a great extent, inaccessible except by road; and many, even of the main highways, are ill-constructed and ill-kept. Very few Spanish provinces have so high a birthrate, but the population increases very slowly owing to emigration. For a description of the peasantry, who are distinguished in may respects from those inhabiting other parts of Spain, see Galicia.