Cities with diversity, which share their commitment to intercultural coexistence.
On the coast, on the plateaux or on an island, there is no territory free from rumours!
Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital and headquarters for the Union of the Mediterranean, is Spain’s second largest municipality in terms of population (1,620,943 inhabitants as of January 1st, 2012). The city is divided into ten districts which have slowly been incorporated across centuries, each one encompassing diverse neighbourhoods, each with a distinct character and long tradition, administered in a decentralized manner, working closely with its citizens.
Catalan is Catalonia’s official language, as is Spanish, Spain’s official language. Both languages coexist in Barcelona, where the majority of the population can understand, read, write and speak both of these adequately. The city, with a foreign population of 282,178 (2012), 17.4% of its total population, is an open door to coexistence and dialogue between people of different backgrounds, languages and cultures.
Its cosmopolitan nature is undoubtedly one of the city’s most salient characteristics. Barcelona is recognized as a world-class city, not only due to its diverse population but also as a result of its cultural, financial, commercial and touristic importance. Its economy is very diverse, with goods and services, industry, commerce and transport at the forefront. Exporting one-fifth of Spain’s exports, Barcelona remains one of the European Union’s richest cities, despite the negative impact of the current financial climate directly affecting the Catalonian economy.
Barcelona currently confronts recent challenges arising from the last decade’s local and global shifts. Its goal as a leading financial hub focuses on maintaining its role as a centre for the mobilization of public enterprises as well as for foreign investment and relocation. With regards to social development, policies seek to place Barcelona as a leading intercultural community of citizens through the recognition of its diversity, its backing of equality and the promotion of positive interaction between people as part of a common urban integration project, comprehensive and a reference for other regional cities.
City Hall website: www.bcn.cat
Xarxa BCN Antirumors website: www.bcnantirumors.cat
Fuenlabrada, a municipality south of Madrid, sits on the outskirts of the capital’s metropolitan area. It is the fourth biggest urban centre in the Community of Madrid and has a surface are of 39.21 square km. For the past fifty years, Fuenlabrada has grown from being an agricultural village with a population of 2,908 in 1960 into a large city with 202,266 citizens today.
Its main economic activity is industry as well as goods and services, equipped with several important industrial zones throughout the city, including the Cobo Calleja industrial zone, famed for being the main import and distribution centre in Spain for Chinese-made products. It is also one of the largest in Europe, with a surface area of 160 hectares, and over 300 warehouses supplying some 16,000 general stores operating throughout Spain.
In January 2013, according to local registers, Fuenlabrada had 202,266 citizens of which 29,762 originate from other countries (14.7% of the total population), of whom 30% are EU citizens, with the rest hailing from elsewhere. The countries, by nationality, with the greatest representation in the municipality are: Romania (6,041) some 20% of the total immigrant population; Morocco, 4,687 (15,7%), Nigeria 2,516 (8,4%), China 1,889 (6,3%), followed by Ecuador and Colombia, together some 5,7% of the total immigrant population. By country of origin (bearing in mind their nationalities) the order would be: Romania, Morocco, Ecuador, Colombia, Nigeria, and Peru, with China in seventh place.
Fuenlabrada has a younger demographic than the rest of Spain (six years younger than the national average, and five years younger than the Community of Madrid’s average). More than one-fifth of its population is younger than 20 years of age, while only 7.5% is older than 65 years of age. Immigrants tend to be younger than the Spaniards, with an average age of 31, as opposed to 37 among locals.
Town Hall website: www.ayto-fuenlabrada.es
Getxo is a coastal town in the metropolitan area of Bilbao (Euskadi/Basque Country), and has a population of 80,598 (01/01/13). It is generally residential. The local economy is based on services and it has developed an important commercial and restaurant element, with great focus placed on its touristic potential.
There are two official languages; Spanish and Euskera, Euskadi’s local language. 30% of the municipality’s population is bilingual, 27% understands Euskera, while 43% neither understands nor speaks it. Getxo is currently undergoing a hopeful recovery and promotion process with regards to Euskera, and is eager to include all foreign population deciding to relocate to the municipality. Euskera is essentially being recovered at a grass-roots level through education, but there are several resources for adults.
Until 2003 there was a notable presence of European Union residents (Germany, Italy, France, Great Britain). People from beyond the European Union began to arrive in 2003 and cannot be considered apart from migratory movements affecting the rest of the country. Growth has hence been gradual but constant till now. Around 7% of the population is of foreign nationality, and some 10% were born abroad. Foreign immigrants residing in Getxo are generally from outside the EU, generally from Latin America, with significant pockets of Filipinos, Romanian and Morocco. It is worth noting that a majority of them are women (60%) and youths. The district and area distribution is balanced and correlates with general statistics.
The Unit for Immigration and Interculturalism was created in 2003 with the aim of providing generalised municipal intervention and counselling regarding immigration and the management of diversity. This task is carried out via specific and tailored actions, as well as work in cooperation with other services and municipalities.
The Getxo Town Council has participated in the Municipal Network for the Protection of Foreigners since 2004, backed by the Basque Governorship’s Immigration Directorate, and in Intercultural cities since 2011 with the national framework.
The 2012/15 Legislative Plan includes a mission, vision and values in accordance Getxo’s 21st Century interculturality and aims to “consolidate a strategy for an intercultural city, based on the recognition of diversity, the promotion of interaction, contact between locals and foreigners, political and social participation and, the prevention of discrimination in all aspects of the town.”
The city has issued an official public declaration, approved by the town’s sitting legislature unanimously and by all political parties through their representatives, in which the town is recognised as an Intercultural City, adopting as such all the institutional policies in the management of diversity.
Town Council Website: www.getxo.net
Unit for Immigration and Interculturalism website: www.getxo.net/es/inmigracion
Sabadell is a town in Catalonia and is the co-capital of Vallés Occidental region and, according to January 2013 data, has a total of 207,773 counted citizens. Close to the city of Barcelona (some 26 km) it is the fifth biggest city in Catalonia. In recent history, specifically the 19th and 20th centuries, the city spearheaded the industrialisation process in Catalonia, particularly the textile industry, becoming thus Spain’s most important wool centre, acquiring “the Catalan Manchester” as a nickname.
During these years, urban development was at its peak and as such received a large number of new citizens originating from the rest of Spain, especially from Murcia and Andalucía. The first years of democracy saw the strengthening of urban cohesion between all the neighbourhoods that had blossomed as a result of demographic growth, giving way to one the country’s biggest cities. By the end of the 20th century the sector industry acquired greater importance, elevating the importance of commerce, businesses and financial institutions, absorbing a greater number of workers. As a result the urban landscape of the city undergoes a major overhaul, in which the Eix Maciá is established as a service centre which that brings together the city’s commerce and business. By the same token, the city undergoes a transformation as different services and features: civic centres, day-care centres, libraries, parks and gardens. This transformation, and thanks to these features, resulted in an improvement in the citizen’s standard of living.
As a response to 21st realities, the city has begun to tackle the challenges of new information and communication technologies, joining the “Cities of Knowledge” network. In light of this, it boasts a strong economic and social fabric, development in information industries, with a united and dynamic citizenry eager to aid in this development. As a result of hosting the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Tertiary School of Design, it also counts with a considerable student community. With the aim of becoming a reference point for an emerging information and knowledge society, the continuation of future projects necessitates private/public cooperation. Currently Sabadell has a significant degree of social cohesion in a variety of areas (cultural, environment, youth, etc.). Of these, a total of 56 have arisen in recent years. That over eight different religious groups with their 70 plus than associated centres of worship call Sabadell home speaks to the city’s religious diversity (Sabadell religious diversity and convictions map http://mapes.audir.org/sabadell/mapa.htm).
As of 2000, Sabadell has undergone a significant shift in its demographic as a result of the foreign immigration which has affected Spain in general. As such Sabadell has welcomed citizens from countries all over the world, including Latin America, Africa and Asia. This translates into an increase of foreign population from 1% to 11.65%, 13.2% at its peak in 2010 (source: Local Registers, National Statistics Institute). With regards to the counted foreign population profile, and in accordance with Jan 2013 data, 43.6% of the afore mentioned citizens are of Latin American original (mainly Bolivia and Ecuador), 30.9% are of African origin (generally Moroccan) and 7.11% of Asian origin (mainly China and Pakistan).
In light of this new sociodemographic and the challenges this reality poses, the town council established the Intercultural Council in 2006, which in 2007 was renamed the Office for New Citizens, offering welcoming, information and guidance services to newly arrived citizens. This office preceded the consequent Immigrants and Returning Catalan Residents law, approved by Catalonia’s parliament in 2010.
In the current 2012/16 administration immigration and coexistence policies are managed by the Council for Civil Rights and Citizens, which sets out in its Plan Director 2011/15 goals the following with regard to foreign residents: (i) continue the development of necessary tools for the welcoming of recent arrivals, with the help of the local community; (ii) promote associationism while supporting a network of powerful speakers working towards inclusion, diversity and civil rights in a bid to strengthen civil society; (c) citizen education, providing tools to confront prejudices and stereotypes, showing proactiveness in the struggle against perceptions, encouraging critical thinking; (d) encourage association to projects promoting intercultural, inter-personal and inter-generational strategies which promote areas for association, experiences exchange and mutual understanding, placing high value on diversity.
Thanks to its intercultural policies, Sabadell is a member of the Spanish network for Intercultural Cities since 2012.
Town Council Website: http://www.sabadell.cat/es/
Isla de Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest (2,034.36 km2) and most populous (898, 680 citizens, as of1/1/12) island in the Canary Island chain. It is administratively divided into 31 municipalities, with the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (pop. 149,572) as its capital, indicating a strong demographic pattern of urban concentration. Tenerife has undergone significant population shifts since the turn of the century, with a population boom that has only slowed down in recent years. This is largely a result of a slowdown in immigration.
Tenerife’s attractions are evident, as indicated by the recent foreign population swell. These foreigners include Spaniards born in other parts of the country as well as foreigners, despite a slight impoverishment of other islands in the chain. Undoubtedly, the most significant event is the creation of more diverse society as a result of a doubling of its foreign population since 2001. Currently 20,1% of the island’s population is of foreign extract. Of these, 89.3% are European or US citizens.
The island is highly adapted to the tourism industry, reflected in the number of visitors the island receives, some 5 million in 2012. Services provided represent its main source of income, concentrated in three specific geographic locations: the capital, the Valley of Orotava to the north, and the mid-coastal arc. This is where the majority of foreign residents are to be found, highlighting the intercultural nature of their neighbourhoods.
Island Council website: http://www.tenerife.es
Tenerife Immigration Observatory website: http://www.obiten.net