There is a lack of reliable data on the statistics of occupations and professions in Spain, but this is not far from the truth, considering that the active population is around a little more than 1/3 of the total (37.2% in 1920). Agriculture, forests and fishing absorb more than half of the residents (57% in 1920); one quarter the industries (including the extractive ones) and less than 1/10 (according to official data 8.1%; 6.1%) trade and trafficking.
Of the total area of the country, however, only 44% is cultivated; an even higher percentage, about half of the national territory (48%), belongs to meadows, pastures, scrubs and forests; less than 1/10 (8%) is completely unproductive.
A line that from Tarragona to Huesca and Logroño ends in León and from there goes down to Huelva, running not far from the Portuguese border, separates the wetlands (in the North and West) from the arid ones, where the most profitable crops require artificial irrigation. Therefore, wanting to escape from forms of extensive exploitation, the basic problem for Spain, except for Galicia and part of the Basque-Cantabrian provinces, is to compensate in some way for the lack of water reserves, at the most critical moment for crops. But the irrigated territory (regadio) does not cover even a tenth (1.6-1.8 million ha.) Of the agricultural area, compared to 16.5-18 million ha. of the so-called secano, and it is also limited, in essence, to the peripheral regions: some of the Pyrenean valleys, the Ebro basin, the Levantine coast and Andalusia. And since it seems unlikely that that territory could be greatly increased (according to the most reasonable estimates up to 2.5-2.8 million ha at most), there is no doubt that the conservation of extensive practices, which characterize the history of Spanish agriculture responds to a need that is difficult to derogate. On the other hand, the distribution of land ownership, in which large estates still dominate (according to reliable sources, more than half of the land is in the hands of an aristocracy that barely represents the i% of agricultural workers, while 40% of these have nothing), makes the chances of a further conquest of the land and a decisive increase in agricultural production very difficult, through the expansion of intensive crops. However, this branch of activity has marked steady progress over the last thirty years, both in the expansion of sativas, as well as in unit income and product value.
The latter was valued for 1932 at 10.5 billion pesetas, of which 5.2 made up of cereals and legumes, 1.2 of roots, tubercles and bulbs; 770 million from horticultural plantations; 285 from industrial plants; 878 from fruit trees; 760 from vineyards; 580 from olive groves; 350 from meadows and 510 from pastures and scrubs.
The basis of Spanish agriculture are therefore cereal crops, which occupy more than half of the arable land, and are usually associated with legumes (to which about 1/8 of the sativas are reserved). That of wheat (4.5 million ha. In 1933 against 3.8 in the decade 1900-09, 4.1 in 1910-9 and 4.3 in the five-year period 1925-29, without taking into account the fallow area) it is the most widespread (especially in the two Castles, Andalusia and Extremadura), but since the average yield remains one of the lowest (8-9 q. per ha.; 9.2 in the five-year period 1925-9; from a maximum of 10.3 has often fallen to a minimum of 7, 1 in the last thirty years), not always enough for domestic consumption, despite the low population. The same happens with maize (450 thousand ha .;theto 3 million quintals a year. On the other hand, an excess, albeit slight, is barley (1.9 million ha. 1.8 in the five-year period 1925-29; mostly in New Castile), whose production has grown regularly in the last twenty years (from 15 to 22 million quintals between 1913 and 1933), rye (590 thousand ha. in 1933 against 695 in the five-year period 1925-9; Galicia), which replaces corn in the mountainous regions; oats (766 thousand ha. in 1933, and 758 in the five-year period 1925-1929; New Castile, Extremadura), which should tend to decrease, due to the increasingly large substitution of animal traction with mechanical traction. The production of rice (47 thousand ha.) Is anything but negligible, two thirds of which come from the Valenza region, not only for the relatively high unit yield (60-65 quintals per ha.
Among the food plants, the first place belongs to the potato (the surface of which has grown from 170 to about 400 thousand ha. In the last thirty years), widespread above all in Galicia, Catalonia and Asturias: we should mention the cultivation of early potatoes (Matarò, Malaga), intended for export. Potatoes, onions and garlic entered this for over 47 million pesetas in 1932; and leguminous plants and vegetables (especially tomatoes from the Canaries and the Levantine region) contributed to it, and usually contribute to it with considerable amounts.
Numerous and varied industrial plants; of these, however, neither cotton (5.3 thousand ha. in the five-year period 1925-29, but 18.4 in 1930-31 and 7.5 in 1933-34; about 40 thousand quintals of raw cotton and 12.5 thousand of fiber in the five-year period 1925-29), neither hemp (about 40 thousand quintals per year), nor flax (one thousand hectares in the five-year period 1925-29; about 3 thousand quintals a year on average) cover the national needs. Much more important is sugar beet, whose cultivation (85 thousand ha. In 1932, 66 in the five-year period 1925-29, of which more than 1/3 in Aragon; unitary production 235-250 quintals per ha.) via that of the cane (from 7 thousand ha. in 1910 and 3.4 currently), which still continues in the hoyaspenibetics from Malaga to Almería. In recent years, the area devoted to sugar beet has fluctuated within very ȧmpî limits (112 thousand ha. In 1931, but 78 in 1933), given the contrast of interests existing between farmers and the sugar industry.
Woody plants occupy a very important place in the agricultural economy of Spain. Taking into account mixed crops, it can be calculated that they absorb no less than 3.5 million ha., That is, 17.5% of the cultivated area. The olive tree prevails, widespread in 38 of the 50 Spanish provinces: the relative surface area (over half in Andalusia, and a third in the Levant and Catalonia) has gone from 1.2 to 1.9 million ha. (of which 1.6 destined for specialized cultivation) in the last thirty years. Most of the harvest is transformed into oil which the Spaniards consume a lot and which is therefore largely absorbed by the domestic market. For oil, Spain is at the top of world production, of which it alone accounts for more than half. About two thirds of the national quantity is obtained from Andalusia (Jaén, Cordoba, Seville), but the finest oils come from Catalonia (Lérida, Tarragona) and the Ebro valley. Oil production has fluctuated in the last thirty years between 0.6 (1912) and 4.3 (1917) million quintals, with an average of over 4 million quintals in the period 1925-29. For Spain 2008, please check payhelpcenter.com.
Slightly less than that of the olive tree, is the area destined for vineyards, which has nevertheless reduced from 1.75 to 1.41 million ha. between 1900 and 1930. It is a complex of young vineyards, reconstituted after the middle of the last century and in relatively good condition. Widespread throughout Spain, it is concentrated mainly in La Mancha, Catalonia, the Levant and New Castile. About 90% of the grapes are destined for vinification; on the other hand, the harvest in the provinces of Jaén and Almería consists almost entirely of table grapes. In the production of wine, Spain is immediately behind France and Italy, one with a quantity significantly lower than the Italian one (from 10, 1 million hl. In 1915 to 26.8 in 1920; on average about 20 in the last thirty years). Great progress has been made by Spanish oenology, to which we owe qualities of world renown; however, exports essentially consist of current wines (especially reds), the quantity of which reached 1.8 million hl in 1933. The value of this export was around 60 million pesetas in the same year, plus another 7 million for the export of raisins.
Much greater is the benefit that the Spanish economy derives from the cultivation of citrus fruits: for the production of oranges, the republic ranks second in the world, after the United States. The orange groves extend over an area of over 75,000 hectares. (26.5 million plants; 61 thousand ha. In the five-year period 1925-29) and are distributed almost all in the Levant (Valenza, Castellón): production yielded 11.7 million quintals of oranges and mandarins in 1932-33, and just over 1.5 million quintals of lemons. Given the weak demand from the domestic market, slightly less than the entire quantity is destined for export, the importance of which has become increasingly evident in the last fifty years. In 1850, just 68.6 thousand quintals of oranges were shipped abroad; in 1900 it was already 2.5 million quintals,
Different and valuable qualities of fruit contribute to increase the volume of Spanish agricultural production; among those that have greater importance for export, at least the almond tree (145 thousand hectares; 30 million plants; the harvest is kept just under 1 million quintals), which brings a benefit to the Spanish economy approximately 100 million pesetas; Canarian bananas (2 million quintals), also a source of good income for the trade balance.
Of the uncultivated production, which occupies such a large area in Spain, the maquis (monte bajo), which certainly represents the largest part (4.5 million ha.); however, despite its limited area (2.29 million ha.), the real wood is discreet, for about 2/3 consisting of the beautiful pine forests of the Pyrenean mountain range and Andalusia. More than the production of wood for work, which Spain is forced to supply abroad, or the resin extracted from maritime pine (26 million kg. In 1930-1931), it should be remembered that of cork, which grows abundantly in Andalusia (Cadiz, Serrania di Ronda) and, although in much smaller proportions, also in Extremadura and in the Levantine region. The production of cork, which in 1932 allowed a harvest of 315 thousand quintals, is one of the oldest Spanish records. The export, which had allowed a profit of 155 million pesetas in 1928,
With the 1922 figures equal to 100, the agricultural production index rose to 105.9 in 1929, dropped to 98.9 in 1930 and climbed back to 104.3 in 1931, to reach 113.6 in 1932, thereafter. especially to the increased volume of cereals and legumes. With all this, Spanish agriculture is going through an acute crisis: the cost of the means of production and existence has grown at a faster rate than that of agricultural products, on which, on the one hand, overproduction acts as a cause of depreciation., and on the other, state interventions aimed at limiting the rise at least for some products indispensable to the less well-off classes. Finally, it must be borne in mind that at the attempted relocation of the large estate the laws still proved insufficient.