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The Municipality

The municipality of Santa María la Real de Nieva is in the province of Segovia and is located about 30 km to the northwest of the city of Segovia, at an average altitude of 907 metres above sea level. The municipal area covers 180 km square, of which only four belong to the Villa of Santa María la Real de Nieva, within the area of La Campiña, in the southeast point of the Region of Castilla y León.

Similar to the rest of La Campiña, the topography of the municipality is mainly flat, with altitudes anywhere between 1,002 metres at the peak of “Peña Pinilla” and 870 metres at the bed of the Moros river.

The municipality enjoys a continental climate, with variable rainfall and extreme temperatures, very cold winters and hot summers. The average annual temperature is between 11 and 13° Celsius, and can dip to 10° below zero in the winter, and reach 36° in summer. The average yearly precipitations of 455mm fall mainly in spring and autumn, with a dry period of up to four months. This climate is typical of the Spanish Meseta.

Geological formation has endowed the area of Santa María la Real de la Nieva with many types of rock, which are used in local architecture. The gray-coloured slates, granitic rocks and veined rocks are especially notable. The soils can be rich in calcium, sandy or dune, or the moist dark-brown or southern Mediterranean brown soils where dry-land cereals can be cultivated. Small pine and holm-oak forests dot the somewhat monotonous landscape.

The Moros and Voltoya rivers and the Balisa and Cercos streams run through the municipality, but their water levels are not high enough for them to be used for irrigation purposes. Wells have been dug to supply water and to take advantage of the existing natural hard water springs, high in bicarbonates and calcio-magnesites.

The current population is approximately 1,600 inhabitants spread over 180 square kilometres, putting the population density at about 9 inhabitants per square kilometre. Following recent population trends, the demography of the area is shrinking and ageing, due to the increase in life expectancy rates and a drop in the birth rate.

About 50% of the municipality´s working population is devoted to agriculture, another 13% is active in the services sector, and a very small percentage is in manufacturing. The working population represents 33% of the total population.

Santa María la Real de Nieva is the head of the Municipality and of the judicial district since 1834, and therefore, the town has a Court of First Instance, a Land Registry and a Notary. It is also an important administrative centre, and has regional Offices for Agriculture and for the Environment, a 24-hour medical centre, a pharmacy, a headquarters of the Guardia Civil, the “Catalina de Lancaster” secondary school, the “Santa María de la Real de Nieva” pre-school and primary school, the “La Saleta” small boarding school, and a Teachers and Resource Centre. The town also has a bank and two savings banks: Caja Rural and Caja Segovia. The latter also maintains a community centre at its own cost. There are also two nursing homes, one which is public and the other, “El Fontán,” which is private.