Elentir / CC BY-SA 2.0

Want to invest in paradise? Local leaders in Galicia are looking to sell as many as 400 villages abandoned during waves of emigration that began over 60 years ago.

Spanish governments and entrepreneurs behind the effort say they want to repopulate areas long-degraded by economic decline. The prospects of profit or new revenue are inevitably factors, and if the areas were repopulated, concerns about a return to a system of fiefdoms controlled by private interests rather than representative governments would not be unfounded.

The last residents of O Penso left about a decade ago. Now for sale, the village features “a bread-making hearth, several barns, and stone and wood horreos, the raised granaries typical in this part of the country,” The Christian Science Monitor reports.

It would be the stuff of dreams were it not also the symptom of a problem clouding Galicia’s future: The area is essentially dying. The Galician statistics institute warned recently that this region of northwest Spain could lose 1 million residents in the next 35 years, or roughly a third of its population.

All of Europe is rapidly aging, as women choose to have fewer children, or none at all, and immigration – despite the shrill news about a flood of migrants into Europe – has failed to reach the corners of the Continent where populations are the oldest. …

Here in this corner of the Iberian Peninsula, the business of selling abandoned villages has even become something of a policy tool. One mayor is trying to give away an abandoned village in his district for free, so long as “buyers” promise to restore it and add back value – ideally drawing young people while they do so.

If Galicia cannot turn back its demographic trends, says Xoaquin Fernandez Leiceaga, a former lawmaker and professor of economics at the University of Santiago de Compostela, parts of it could quickly turn into wildland.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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