Galicia, an old province, now a captaincy general, of N.W. Spain, comprising the modern provinces of Corunna, Lugo, Orense, and Ponte-vedra, bounded N. and W. by the Atlantic, S. by Portugal, and E. by Asturias and Leon; area, 11,344 sq. m.; pop. about 2,000,000. It is intersected by numerous narrow valleys, and is mostly mountainous, as the western continua-tion of the Cantabrian range spreads over the greatest part of the province, and watered by numerous torrents, streams, and rivers. The most remarkable of the latter are the Mifio or Minho, with its affluents the Sil and the Tea, the Ulla, and the Tambre, which all become navigable in their lower course and empty into the Atlantic, forming there wide estuaries, or rias, and safe harbors. The coast, being rugged and more broken than those of Asturias and Biscay, owing to the violent currents of the Atlantic in these latitudes, presents many deep inlets and lofty promontories. Among its excellent harbors are those of Ferrol, said to be the best in Europe, and Vigo, the principal port on the W. coast, which is connected by rail with Corunna. The climate is cold in the interior and the more elevated regions, temperate in the lower country and along the coast. The proportion of arable land is very limited.
The soil produces flax, maize, barley, wheat. and an abundance of fruits, which constitute the main food of the population; the best oranges and wine are found in the S. part. Fishing and navigation form a principal part of the industry of the people, who also manufacture linen for domestic use. The inhabitants, called Gallegos, are hardy and robust, and speak a dialect greatly differing from the common Spanish. About 100,000 of them yearly leave their country, supplying the larger cities of Spain and Portugal with porters and servants, and the neighboring provinces with hands for the harvest, their wives performing the work in the house and the labor in the field during their absence. The chief towns are Corunna, the capital, Ferrol, Pontevedra, Vigo, Lugo, Santiago de Compostela (the ancient capital), and Orense.-Galicia was in antiquity the country of the Artabri and a section of Gallajcia. After the invasion of Spain by the barbarians, in the commencement of the 5th century, it was successively conquered by the Suevi, Visigoths, and Saracens. Ferdinand I. of Castile, about the middle of the 11th century, erected it into a kingdom for one of his sons, who was soon deprived of his throne and estates by his brother Alfonso, king of Castile. Galicia was subsequently often held by the younger sons of the kings of Castile as an apanage, became independent in the course of time, and was finally annexed to his dominions by Ferdinand the Catholic.