Vilviestre del Pinar is a municipality located in the southeast of the province of Burgos, Castile, and León, about 216 km from Madrid. Being part of what has been called “empty Spain” and facing a notable depopulation, especially in the last 20 years, Vilviestre has a promising outlook toward rural repopulation.
It is a town that already lived off precarious agriculture, livestock, and especially wood in the twentieth century. As a result of the First World War, the price of the wood went up together with the value of the pines. These boom years were reflected in the growth of the population until the sixties approximately. However, from the 1960s to the end of the 1970s, urban take-off and industrial development absorbed significant labor from rural areas. Vilviestre del Pinar was not the exception and saw many of its inhabitants emigrate to cities such as Barcelona, the Basque Country, or abroad. The effects aren’t positive at all for the town. As the amount of young people decreases, there is less wealth, and the economy isn’t easily revived as desired.
Nowadays, 77% of municipalities are at risk of depopulation. It is real that there is still a shortage of young people and especially children, perhaps the basis of a better future for these communities. Nevertheless, there is a factor that might change the ordinary course of things and it is called “Fiber optics”, also known as the “internet”. This is precisely the case in Vilviestre and several other municipalities, which began to enjoy this service at the beginning of 2021. To the surprise of many inhabitants who today are over 70 years old, a small growth in younger people choosing to live there can be appreciated.
The ages of these new settlers range from 30 to 60 years old, who for different personal reasons have emigrated from their big cities to this Spanish rural area. They have something in common and it is what we have already mentioned: internet access. It is the main tool for the development of their jobs and the promising outlook of repopulating the “empty towns”.
This story tries to bring to light the town of Vilviestre del Pinar, which is being rebuilt, incorporating young inhabitants, and trying to improve essential services for its proper functioning.