Sabadell is the capital of the county of Vallès Occidental (Catalonia), a title shared with Terrassa since 1990. With
The city represents an important communications point and has its own airport which is one of the top seven airports in Spain in terms of traffic for non-commercial passenger aviation. Sabadell pioneered the Industrial Revolution in Catalonia with its textile mills, together with Terrassa. Thus, in the mid 19th century, it became the most important wool city in Spain, being nicknamed the Catalan Manchester. Even today many mills from that period can still be seen, with most of them having been refurbished as residential buildings or other services.
Sabadell is the largest city in the county of Vallès Occidental in Catalonia. It is in the south of the county, on the River Ripoll, aproximately 20 km north-west from Barcelona. Sabadell is located 190 metres above sea level and covers an area of 37,79 km².
The first human settlements in the Sabadell area date from the prehistoric period. Farming and stock-breeding community found the Vallès plain to be a good place for crops, pasture and communications. In Roman times a little village called “Arragone” existed near where the church of La Salut now stands, on the left bank of the River Ripoll. This grew into the town called “Arraona” or “Arrahona” in the Middle Ages. Another little village was built just on the other side of the river. This second village, called Sabadell, located on a plain, began to grow and its population was about 600 people (152 houses) in 1378. Sabadell was enclosed by a wall, but due to population growth in the 16th century, some houses were built outside the wall. At that time the first textile industries appeared in town, devoted especially to wool clothing. The wool industry grew over the next centuries, and in 1800 the town’s population was about 2000 people. The 19th century brought two important developments to the town: in 1856 the railroad arrived, and in 1877 Sabadell was awarded the title of city. Specialization in the production of woollen fabrics made Sabadell into the leading wool textile centre in Spain. In the 1897 census the population of the city was 23.044 people. Due to this industrial activity, Sabadell got massive waves of immigration in the 50s, 60s and early 70s leading to an uncontrolled urban expansion and the creation of some new neighborhoods. In this period, the population was multiplied by eight.
During the 20th century Sabadell gained major industrial momentum, specially in the textile and metallurgy industries, and modernised its economy with services.
The 1973 oil crisis and Franco’s death in 1975 meant an important change in Spain and, of course, in Sabadell. The economic crisis compelled the city to diversify its economic activities. New commercial and leisure areas (such as the Eix Macià) appeared next to the traditional industries, leading to important economic development for the city. Nowadays, the three principal activities in terms of services are retail trade, financial institutions and wholesale trade.
Sabadell is working to enable the development of nearly 660.000 square metres of industrial and tertiary facilities in several parts of the city. Can Gambús, Can Roqueta, Sant Pau de Riu-Sec and the airport area are the leading locations in this commitment to the productive economy in the city. More specifically, the transformation of the Sant Pau de Riu-Sec zone will provide the finest supply of the industrial land in the entire Barcelona conurbation. This will be one of the driving forces that will make it possible to increase Sabadell’s industrial facilities and create new jobs in forthcoming years. Economic activity in the city has grown in recent years. In 1991 it had 5.366 companies with 46.439 employees whereas at the end of 2008 there were 6.380 companies and 55.536 employees. Sabadell has a diversified economy. About 71,2% of companies and 76,2% of jobs are in the services sector. Even though the city is a major commerce and services centre, it still holds onto its industrial past: about 14,4% of companies and 14,4% of jobs are directly related to manufacturing. In addition there are many workplaces and jobs which are classified as being in the tertiary sector but which owe their existence to industrial activity. In terms of big industrial sectors, the metallurgy ranks first ahead of other traditional industries such as textiles and garment. The number of self-employed people has also increased significantly in recent years. Sabadell’s business structure is dominated by small and medium sized companies.
Sabadell is moving towards the society of the future, a society in which information and knowledge will be the leading players. The area where the city of Sabadell is located, is an educational hot spot with the presence of important university campuses such as the University’s Advanced Design School (ESDI), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). In Sabadell there are already three universities and two university-linked foundations. The Illa Municipal Art School of Sabadell is a municipal centre for teaching art and design which is highly regarded in the state education sector. The Municipal School of Music and Intermediate Conservatory is a music education institution for students aged 6 years and up located in our city.
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