The primary sector, traditionally the protagonist of the Spanish economy, since the eighties of the century. XX records a significant decrease both in the number of employees and in the percentage contribution to the formation of the country’s wealth. Spanish agriculture as a whole is anchored to traditional schemes and modern technical progress has so far only been able to affect them to a limited extent. However, together with the loss of importance of the sector, always from the eighties of the century. XX new impulses came from the government’s agricultural policy, committed to extending the mechanization of crops, to favoring the settlement of settlers to curb the growing exodus from the countryside, to carry out impressive irrigation works, to facilitate the peasant cooperatives, while the contributions paid by the EEC first and then by the EU for the improvement of the sector proved to be sensitive. The fundamental division into humid and arid Spain is no less decisive as regards agricultural activities; even more to this distribution correspond not only particular crops, but real regions with an unmistakable agricultural landscape.
According to Ethnicityology, Arid Spain in turn includes both areas with crops that do not require irrigation (secano) and areas with irrigated crops (regadío). The aridocolture proper to the Meseta, Ebro and the Mediterranean coast depressions non-irrigated, where cereals alternate with woody crops (olive groves, vineyards). The large estates with naturally low yields and a not very diversified range of crops . with naturally low yields and a not very diversified range of crops. The areas with intensive irrigation, inheritance of the ancient Arab rulers (who introduced new plants in Spain such as orange, almond, rice, sugar cane, mulberry), in the past generally limited to the small coastal plains of the Levant and to the area of Granada (areas famous for their huertas) have also spread to the plateau, thanks to the construction of major works of damming the river courses and canalization (a splendid huerta extends for example along the banks of the Ebro from Logroño in Zaragoza). Overall, however, the areas a regadío, although they lend themselves to the most varied crops, especially fruit and vegetables and industrial crops (beet and sugar cane, cotton, tobacco), they still have a rather limited extension. Finally, in humid Spain, corresponding to the Atlantic belt from Galicia to Navarre, intensive polyculture is practiced associated with cattle breeding (this is in fact “bovine” Spain par excellence) favored by rich meadows and pastures, and the exploitation of luxuriant woods. Small ownership prevails; the microfound reaches its extreme points in Galicia. Cereal farming, with an ancient tradition, has its most important areas in Aragon, Castile (Tierras de Campos) and Andalusia. The contribution of barley, widely used for livestock, is significant; wheat and maize follow in importance. The rice cultivation, typical of the areas a, has good prospects regadío of Andalusia and the Levant, as well as the marshy areas of the lower Guadalquivir; on the other hand, oats and rye are mainly grown in the North. Among the widely consumed food products we should also mention potatoes, which find their most suitable areas along the southern limits of the Meseta and Extremadura and fruit and vegetables (Eastern Andalusia, Tarragona, Málaga, Balearic Islands).
Woody crops are of great importance, especially vines, olives and citrus fruits. Viticulture extends from the southern provinces to León, thanks to the warm and dry climate and the grapes are largely at the service of a rich and prestigious wine industry. Spain is also one of the world’s largest producers of olive oil; olive growing is mainly represented in Andalusia. regadío del Levante fruit crops are concentrated, primarily citrus fruit; the good production of oranges, mandarins and lemons, mostly coming from the huertas of Valencia and Castellón de la Plana, allows Spain an excellent position on the world market. High yields also give figs, almonds, apples, pears, apricots, bananas, dates which, unique in Europe, are obtained from the palm groves of Elche. In the huertas there are also substantial harvests of horticultural products, such as tomatoes, onions, beans, broad beans, etc. The range of industrial crops is equally vast, among which sugar beet (in the provinces of Valladolid, Burgos, León and Zaragoza) and cotton stand out; they also grow tobacco, sugar cane, hops and various oil crops (sunflower, peanut, soy, rapeseed, etc.). The forests, the most luxuriant of which extend in the Cantabrian and Pyrenean areas, occupy 28.8% of the territorial surface; the essence of great value is cork, frequent in western Andalusia, Extremadura and Catalonia and which feeds almost exclusively Catalan industries and of which Spain is the world’s largest producer together with Portugal. Livestock farming is a sector in which Spain boasts an ancient tradition, but – as for agriculture – there remain large pockets of backwardness in production structures. Sheep predominates numerically, famous in the world for the fine wool of the merino species. Goat farming, a significant time, at the beginning of the century. XXI is decidedly marginal, while cattle have assumed great importance, sufficient to cover the national needs of meat, milk and dairy products, and pork, in which Spain is one of the first countries in the world for number of heads.. Fishing, a modernly organized sector, whose income is significant for the national economy is of moderate importance: tuna, cuttlefish, hake, anchovies, sardines and molluscs are present in abundance in the Spanish seas, from which corals and sponges are also fished. Among the most important fishing centers are Ceuta, Melilla, the Balearics and the Canaries, while the main ports are Vigo, Pasajes, La Coruña, Huelva, Algeciras and Cádiz.