The good, the bad and the ugly: What are the regional stereotypes across Spain?

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
The good, the bad and the ugly: What are the regional stereotypes across Spain?
Basques, Andalusians, Riojanos, and Catalans all have idiosyncrasies, while remaining fundamentally Spanish in character. Photos: Ander Guillenea, Cristina Quicler, Josep Lago/AFP

Spaniards often deal with stereotypes from abroad which paint them as just party-loving and lazy, but even among the inhabitants of the country’s 17 regions there are clichés that live on to this day.


If you’ve lived in Spain long enough, you may have heard a joke that kicks off with “the curtain rises and an Andalusian, a Catalan and a Basque walk into a bar”. 

The chiste (joke) then proceeds towards a punchline that will mock one or all of the subjects based on regional stereotypes, usually ones that aren't positive. 

It may seem like harmless fun but the last time the Spanish Centre of Social Studies (CIS) decided to carry out a survey among the general population asking them about regional stereotypes was back in 1994, perhaps because not everyone was happy with the outcome of the results. 

This pigeonholing based on people’s region of origin has lived on nonetheless, as is the case in pretty much any country around the world.


The huge box office success of Spanish comedies Ocho Apellidos Vascos (Eight Basque Surnames) and Ocho Apellidos Catalanes (Eight Catalan Surnames), which deal heavily with regional stereotypes, is testament to these enduring clichés.

Sometimes stereotypes used in Spain can be due to admiration or affection, other times it’s light joshing, but on occasions it can be prejudiced and offensive.

stereotypes spain Thousands of people in Gijón (Asturias) try to beat the world record of most people simultaneously pouring cider. But do Asturians really deserve their reputation for being heavy drinkers? Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP

More often than not it’s people from the southern half of Spain who get crossed off as lazy and frivolous, sometimes just because they have a southern Spanish accent, whereas those from the wealthier north may instead be regarded as brutish or rude right off the bat. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that a stereotype is simply a generalisation about how a group of people behaves and although it may be true to some extent, it’s not universally valid and defining of a person’s character.


So without further ado, and with the purpose of our foreign readership in Spain and abroad understanding the idiosyncrasies of Spanish society, here are the main stereotypes Spaniards resort to depending on the region they're talking about.


Andalusian people: happy, funny, party-loving, lazy 


Aragonese people: noble, stubborn, uncouth 


Asturian people: patriotic, heavy drinkers


Balearic people: friendly, reserved, untrusting


Basque people: separatist, strong, honest, stubborn


Canarian people: friendly, happy, lazy 


Cantabrian people: proud, dry character


Castellano-Leonese people: generous, serious, unassuming


Castellano-Manchego people: pure-blooded Spaniards, brutish


Catalan people: stingy, independent-minded, hard-working, proud 


Extremeñan people: village-minded, lazy


Galician people: closed-minded, superstitious, untrusting, affectionate


Madrileño people: cocky, open-minded, proud


Murcian people: fun-loving, crude  


Navarran people: noble, brutish


Riojan people: welcoming, heavy-drinking 


Valencian people: party-loving, well-groomed, corrupt (mainly their politicians)



So overall people from southern regions are considered lazy but friendly and fun by their northern countrymen, whereas southerners see people from colder northern Spain as having a drier character and more uncouth manner. 


However, even though Spain and its people’s characters, priorities and language are clearly diverse, it doesn’t take long to see that in most cases a Basque or Catalan person has more in common with an Andalusian than with a Brit or German, even though they might not always like to admit it.



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