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17 March 2009: Villanueva de la Concepción becomes municipality 101

    Celebrations on 17 March 2009 in Villanueva de la Concepción.
    Celebrations on 17 March 2009 in Villanueva de la Concepción. / SUR
    • The small town finally gained its independence from Antequera in 2009

    The province of Malaga lost its round number - exactly 100 - of municipalities on 17 March 2009. After years of campaigning, the small town of Villanueva de la Concepción finally gained its independence from Antequera, becoming municipality number 101.

    The segregation was approved that morning at the Junta de Andalucía's cabinet meeting and the locals immediately took to the streets, hooting their horns and letting off fireworks.

    The people of Villanueva de la Concepción, located at the foot of the famous El Torcal nature reserve, had begun their campaign for independence nearly 20 years previously, in 1980.

    The next step came in 1992 when Villanueva earned itself the complicated title of Entidad de Ámbito Territorial Inferior al Municipio (EATIM) which basically recognised its status as an administrative unit, but still governed by Antequera. Under this category, it had its own district mayor, 'alcalde pedáneo', and a residents council which could make decisions in areas such as construction and maintenance of country roads and fountains, among others.

    In 2001 Villanueva de la Concepción was promoted to the title of Entidad Local Autónoma (ELA) which earned it a higher level of self-government.

    Finally, in 2007, the segregation papers went to Malaga for approval and then on to Seville, where the final agreement was signed.

    The small town fulfilled all the requirements to apply to become independent, according to Andalusian law, in terms of population, size, financial sufficiency, identity and distance from the 'mother' town centre.

    Villanueva de la Concepción had a population of 3,417 at the time of its independence (3,304 in 2016). At 5.98 kilometres from Antequera, it covers 63.2 square kilometres, and, as well as Antequera, it borders with Almogía and Casabermeja to the south.

    Often referred to as the 'pueblecillo' by the people of Antequera, the Villanovenses (as the locals are known) considered Antequera as a brother municipality of which they did not feel a part.

    The earliest traces of human presence in the area date back to the Middle Palaeolithic period, and Neolithic stone tools have been found. The Iberians founded the first town, Osqva, which was later referred to by Roman historians Tito Livio and Plinio. The Roman town would have had temples and a theatre, according to historians. It is thought that the town was abandoned after the fall of the Roman Empire.

    In the Nasrid period the area was defended by a belt of five castles, of which one, Xébar, was in what is now the municipality of Villanueva, helping to safeguard the routes down to the coast.

    Villanueva de la Concepción gained importance again in the second half of the 18th century with the construction of the Camino Real to link Malaga and Madrid.

    From then on the village gradually grew up again and was named a 'población rural' in 1880.

    Since 2009 two more villages have gained independence in the province, Montecorto and Serrato, both previously attached to Ronda, taking the total up to 103.