MANY people are surprised to find out that the most depopulated region of Europe after Lapland is in Spain, namely the Serrania Celtaiberica. Often referred to as the Lapland of the South it is the subject of a major exhibition by photographer Joan Alvado which has also been running in UK media such as the Guardian newspaper this week.
In an area of 65,000 sq km (twice the size of Belgium), the population density is just 7.34 inhabitants per sq km. Every year more youngsters leave the area for work, social reasons, proximity to services and so on. Nature is already reclaiming the huge isolated spaces and features largely in Alvado’s work, while it is believed that in a few years’ humans may have moved out altogether. The barren, largely mountainous region crosses several territories roughly in the middle of Spain including La Mancha, Zaragoza and even the Valencian Community. Most of the smaller municipalities are now gathered around the handful of larger towns and cities such as Cuenca and Teruel, leaving ever-growing spaces with no-one at all living there.