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Geography of Agulo PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 02 March 2009 13:12

With its 27,5 km² of surface area, Agulo is the smallest municipality of La Gomera, located between the valleys and municipalities of Hermigua and Vallehermoso in the north of the island. Its municipal district extends around the river basins of Sobreagulo and Las Rosas, in the form of a strip from southwest to the northeast, where it limits with the sea in a generally steep coast. Of similar form to the rest of La Gomera, the erosion has acted intensely in the territory of Agulo. The north-western sector emphasizes the magnitude of these erosive processes, as it is one of the few places in the Archipelago where igneous plutonic rocks of the basal complex are exposed.

The climatic and biogeographic characteristics of Agulo are typical ones to the northern insular slopes. The existence of an escarpment between highlands and coast causes that the change from the low zones, with precipitations below 300 mm, to the higher zones, with rainfall superior in average to 500 mm, takes place without continuity. The plant formations are considerably affected by anthropic action in the river basins and at the coast. Nevertheless, there are remarkable examples of savin clumps, mainly towards the limit with Vallehermoso, and towards the island summit, of laurel forests, already within the National Park of Garajonay.

In terms of physiography, two different sectors can be distinguished in the municipality. The lower zone, of the village centre and the district of Lepe, is delimited by a rocky enclosure in the form of an amphitheater, which as a step clearly separates it of the highlands, which are formed around the river basins of Sobreagulo and Las Rosas. Unlike in the majority of population entities on La Gomera, the constructions in Agulo centre are concentrated, although divided in three relatively proximate nuclei known as El Charco, Las Casas and La Montañeta. The bearing and the facade of many of these buildings demonstrate an architectonic richness uncommon on the island, partly due to an important emigration to America in the first decades of the 20th century, and partly for having been the habitual residence of stately classes of the surrounding zone.

Adjacent to the municipal limit with Hermigua, and seated on a coastal promontory, is the small hamlet of Lepe, with hardly 22 inhabitants (1991). The highlands, between 600 and 850 m.a.s.l. approximately, are situated on two main river basins, Sobreagulo and Las Rosas, where the population and agrarian activities are also found. The most significant small villages located in these two basins are La Palmita with 145 inhabitants and Las Rosas with 257 inhabitants (1991).

Agulo has traditionally constituted one of the main agricultural municipalities of La Gomera, and its banana production got to be comparable to the one of Hermigua. At present the abandonment of arable land is generalized, and it is one of the main causes of the demographic reduction registered in the recent years. Thus, the surface area for banana cultivation, which at the beginning of the 1980's reached 70 hectares, by the end of the same decade had been reduced to half. The cause of this economic decline has mainly been the maintenance of archaic irrigation systems, with great losses in the conductions, and the lack of wells and galleries. The La Palmita dam, which receives the hydric contribution of the Sobreagulo basin, is directed to solve the serious deficiencies that irrigation on the lower zone of Agulo has suffered.

Agulo is one of the Gomeran municipalities which have suffered the most from population reduction in recent years. Its present population is about 1,220 inhabitants, half of the figure reached in 1960. The village centre, with its 590 inhabitants (1991), has also followed this pattern of demographic reduction, and has seen its population descend considerably. This reduction is justified by an important emigration, which is demonstrated in the structure by age groups, with a noticeable aging - a 29% of the population is over 60 years of age - and lessening of the categories between 20 and 50 years. The age pyramid shows a very strong reduction in natality in recent years, besides the migratory process.