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Spain: Maritime Provinces

Last modified: 2016-03-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: maritime province |
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Presentation of the Maritime Provinces

The origin of the Maritime Provinces goes back to King Phillip III's Royal Order of 5 October 1607 that first divided Spain into the three Maritime Provinces of Ferrol, Cádiz and Cartagena, to order the different sea ports and their ships. In 1845, a Royal Decree established 36 Maritime Provinces, six overseas Provinces included. The Maritime Provinces went through many changes, by creation of new ones, merging of former ones, or suppression of former ones.

José Carlos Alegría, 5 November 1999

Flag of the Maritime Provinces

The Royal Decree issued in 1845 assigned a flag for each province, usually known as matricular or register flag, and ordered the merchant ships to fly the flag of their harbour's maritime province at masthead. That way it was possible to identify not only the ship's nation, but her local provenance, where it was registered.
The difference between the European provinces and those from overseas territories are that the first were rectangular flags, while the latter were swallow-tailed.
In 1923, the Register of Ships published the first colour chart with the flags of the Maritime Provinces.

The Maritime Provinces and their flags were presented in different issues of Banderas [ban], as follows;
- No. 7 (1983), by Luis Grávalos and José Luis Calvo (images) [g2c83c];
- No. 11 (1984), by Emil Dreyer [dry84a];
- No. 24-25 (1987), by Sebastián Herreros [hrr87a].

Register flags are the origin of flags of the Autonomous Communities of Galicia (Maritime Province of A Coruña) and of Cantabria (Maritime Province of Santander), of the islands of Gran Canaria (Maritime Province of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) and Tenerife (Maritime Province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife), and of the municipalities of Gijón, San Sebastián, Huelva (former, unofficial flag), Alicante, Bilbao, Vigo and Algeciras.

José Carlos Alegría, 10 November 1999