The need to know the city and the characteristics of the parts of its territory led already at the end of the 19th century to the Municipal Administration to establish a division of districts and obtain data from these districts. If we refer to the statistical yearbooks of Barcelona at the beginning of the 20th century, we already find a multitude of data by districts and neighborhoods (División en diez Distritos Municipales con carácter interino, aprobada por el Consistorio de 24 de abril de 1897, con motivo de la agregación a Barcelona de los pueblos del llano).

In 1984 the new territorial division (Consell Plenari of 18-1-1984) of the city of Barcelona was approved, after the 60s and 70s of great social and urban transformations. This approval culminated a process of elaboration carried out by a citizen commission in which different institutions and official institutions participated, as well as expert professionals. From this moment the city of Barcelona is divided into 10 Municipal Districts.

The current territorial division of the City is based on the same division of 10 municipal districts of the year 1984. The approval of the new division of 73 Neighborhoods was on December 22, 2006 in the Plenari del Consell Municipal, at point 21 of the order of the day. The approval of the delimitation and the denomination of the neighborhoods was made under article 21 of the Municipal Charter of Barcelona and commits to the reorganization / modification of the regulations of organization and operation of the districts, and also the procedures for updating the sectioning from the city.

The current territorial division consists of:

  • 10 Municipal Districts
  • 73 Neighborhoods
  • 233 Basic Statistical Areas (AEB)
  • 1.068 Census Sections, until 12-31-2013 1061 Census Sections


The Municipal Districts are the largest territorial unit within the municipality of Barcelona. They have official numerical and nominal denomination.


The project The Barcelona of the Neighborhoods began in 2004 with the objective of establishing a delimitation of the City in significant neighborhoods from the urban and social point of view, as a territorial framework for the development of urban actions and the provision of certain levels of municipal equipment and services ( proximity services).

Criteria or conditions for the delimitation of the 73 Neighborhoods

  • Internal delimitation to the districts, without altering its limits.
  • Historical and / or consolidated identity in citizen perception.
  • Important degree of internal homogeneity and differentiation from others from the urban and social points of view.
  • No fragmentation of very cohesive and homogeneous neighborhoods, except when their dimensions make it necessary (e.g. Dreta de l’Eixample with 90,000 inhabitants).
  • Population between 5,000 and 50,000 inhabitants (with some exceptions), to avoid very large differences between them, and at the same time guarantee the viability as spaces of coexistence and provision of services, urban endowments and equipment.
  • Similar territorial extension.
  • Forecast of new growths already planned.

To identify, delimit and formalize the neighborhoods of the City, the Barcelona City Council convened a presentation of 22 people, including experts (sociologists, lawyers, journalists, geographers, urban planners, university professors, economists and architects, among others), in addition of representatives of political groups, management teams of districts and municipal technicians.

A time of citizen participation was also opened, so that everyone could give their opinion, so that the most representative citizen agents, especially neighborhood associations, expressed their opinions and demands in this regard.

At the same time as the 73 Neighborhoods, two areas of special interest were created: Montjuic and Zona Franca. Due to their characteristics of having a very small population and a large area, they receive special treatment: for statistical data they are included in the neighborhood to which they belong - Montjuic within Poble Sec and the Free Zone within the Marina del Prat Vermell; but territorially they can be broken down and considered independently.

The criteria recommended by the Institut d’Estudis Catalans were followed for the denomination of the neighborhoods. The denomination, like that of the districts, is numerical and nominal.

As of 2007, statistical data began to be available in the 73 Neighborhoods.

Basic Statistical Areas (AEB)

It is the territorial level between the Neighborhoods and the census sections. In the preparation the guideline of the entire territorial system was followed: each territorial level must be contained in the immediately superior.

In the definition of these areas, the Commission of Experts worked, which made a proposal, which has been maintained with some modifications.

Criteria that were followed for the preparation of the AEB:

  • They would have to be in total between 200 and 250 zones.
  • Purely statistical purpose. They do not correspond to neighborhoods. Very useful for studies, with the same function as the previous zoning of 248 ZRP.
  • Do not breakblock of houses
  • A minimum of 500 voters, also following the Electoral Law.
  • Uniform areas within the districts (population, urban and sociological)

The denomination is numerical, followed by 1 to 233.

Census sections / The change of sectioning

The Census Sections are regulated by the maintenance criteria established in Organic Law 5/1985 on the General Electoral System (article 23.2, on the distribution of the electors of a municipality by census sections). This sectioning is variable in time depending on population changes. Since 1991 the Census Sections had undergone several modifications, as a result of the Electoral Census revisions.

With effect as of January 1, 2014, the census section of the city of Barcelona has been modified to adapt it to the sectional maintenance criteria set by the Law.

The approval of the delimitation of the 73 Neighborhoods implied “the update of the census and census section of the City”. With this objective the Statistical Zoning Commission was created, its functions were:

  • Implement in the municipal databases the delimitations of the 73 Neighborhoods and the derived statistical areas.
  • Define the new section of the city adapted to the Neighborhoods and the statistical areas mentioned.
  • Agree with the INE on the new section and obtain its approval.
  • Implement the new section and the new territorial division in general in the municipal databases.

The Commission was made up of different representatives and municipal technicians of the Municipal Institute of Informatics (Population, Cartography), of Urbanism, of the Cadastre of the Municipal Institute of Hénenda and of the Technical and Programming Department and of the Department of Statistics.

Another reason for the modification of the sectioning was the necessary revision of many of the sections to meet the criteria established by law as for the number of voters, and also, rationalize the process of organizing elections. The modification of the sectioning was made under Article 24.1 of the Electoral Law that deals with the bodies that have competence in the determination of the census sections.

In the BOE of 11-4-1997 the Resolution of 9-4-1997 of the President of the INE and the General Director of Territorial Cooperation is published by which technical instructions are issued to the town councils on management and revision of the register; in it, the general criteria of the census sections and the sectional reviews within each municipal term are specified.

The criteria to delimit the census sections have been: Define sections as homogeneous as possible, in regular ways and with an approximate number of electors of 1.000.

Finally, some adjustments were made and errors were corrected in the boundaries of some district, which had been modified by recent infrastructure works or that included specific delimitation errors.

The Mayor's Office adopted the motion for a resolution to “propose to the Provincial Delegation of the Electoral Census Office of Barcelona the new section and ordered compliance on December 31, 2008; which was ratified in the Consell Plenari of April 2009 and that began to be applied in 2009 both in statistics and in the electoral issue.

The denomination of the 1.061 census sections is numerical: nº District nº Census section; starting in each district the numbering of the sections from number 1.

The current section was in force since January 2009 and had 1.061 census sections. On January 1, 2014 the sectioning was modified, having 1.068 census sections.