Ourense is a medium-sized city of 108,000 people in northwest Spain, near the Portuguese border. Located at the confluence of the Miño and Barbaña rivers, a high-density downtown is surrounded by areas of forest, with mountains covered by chestnut trees, pines and eucalyptus setting the city limits. Because of its location, Ourense is a natural communications route between Galicia and the rest of Spain, a role that will be further emphasised when a high-speed train link with Madrid is completed.
A remarkable feature of the city is its series of thermal springs, providing water ranging from 30 to 65C. Known as the Burgas, the springs were developed by the Romans, some of whose ancient baths have remained.
Like many other areas in Europe, Ourense has been hit hard by recession since 2008. Overall unemployment stands at 36% among the city’s 108,000 residents and youth unemployment is well over 50%. The result has been steady emigration and an ageing population—with the average age now 44. Nearly 80% of those with a job work in the service sector—with retail and various levels of government administration being major employers.
However, the opening of the Tecnópole science park in 1992 has helped created a high-tech environment on the edge of the city. Covering about 100 hectares, the park has nearly 100 companies from several sectors ranging including IT, electronics, energy, the environment, aeronautics, automotive, medicine and biotechnology.
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