Tres Cantos

Tres Cantos

Tres Cantos is a township and municipality located in the autonomous community of Madrid, Spain, some 22 km north of the capital city, Madrid. As a "satellite city" of Madrid which was conceived by urban planners as recently as the 1970s, it is the youngest incorporated municipality in Spain, with a population (2004 National Statistics figures) of approximately 39,000.


Tres Cantos is a 'new community' or planned township, which was first commissioned by the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in 1971 to be established on rural land ceded by the city of Colmenar Viejo. Residential occupation began from 1982, and in 1991 it was incorporated as a separate municipality, the newest in all of Spain. Infrastructure development has continued apace, with a current (2005) 5-year development plan by local government authorities allowing for expansion of up to 60,000 inhabitants.


Tres Cantos was built on former rural lands, about halfway from the northern outskirts of suburban Madrid to the Guadarrama mountain range, which are frequently snow-capped in winter. It lies in a slight valley formed with two eastwards-flowing creeks, bounded to the south by a higher plateau leading to Madrid, and to the west and north by more hilly terrain, which separates the area from the watershed of the Manzanares River. General elevation of the township is around 680 m, with a highest elevation within the municipality's borders of 730 m. The terrain rises towards the foothills of the Guadarrama range to the north and northwest, reaching elevations in excess of 800 m across the border in Colmenar Viejo. Within the urban area the terrain is gently undulating.


The township is designed around a central artificial lake and parklands, with designated areas ("sectores") assigned for residential, municipal, and industrial purposes. It has many parks, green pedestrian zones, fountains, and several municipal services such as a community library, cultural centre and town hall.

There are two large Catholic parishes in Tres Cantos, one Baptist church (approximately 80 adherents) and one Pentecostal.

The main expressway ("autovia") which runs north from Madrid, the M-607, passes close by Tres Cantos on its western side.


In 2004 the residential population of Tres Cantos was 38,882 according to National Institute of Statistics ("Instituto Nacional de Estadística", or INE) figures; however later estimates put the figure at around 45,000. Population growth has been in decline since the peak of the initial influx of residents in the early 1990s, however future plans for expansion are designed to cater for an eventual population of around 60,000.

A striking feature of Tres Cantos' demographic profile is the large proportion of young professionals (aged 45 and under) with children, compared to Madrid and the national average. This population structure reflects the nucleus of those who left the crowded confines of Madrid to settle in the new community of Tres Cantos in the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in a predominance of young, double-income and home-owning families of 2 to 3 children. Some 40% of the town's population are under 20 (almost double the national average), and less than 6% are over the age of 65 (considerably less than half the national average). The birth rate is also double the national average.

Some 10% of the population are foreign-born ("extranjeros"), with those from Latin American countries representing over half of these, and those from other European countries a further 33%. Again, many of the immigrant population are professionals employed by multinational companies in fields such as technology, who have settled in Spain after first arriving on work assignment, many of whom are married to Spanish nationals.

Educational accreditation among Tres Cantos inhabitants is also above the national average, with some 60% of prime income earners holding a tertiary qualification or higher. Average income levels reflect these education levels and professional employment opportunities, with over 55% having salaries in the upper-middle or higher income range. Many households have dual-incomes. Approximately 15% of households are classified as lower-middle and low-income households.

An overwhelming majority of the employed work in the services sector, either in Madrid or in Tres Cantos itself. A majority of working residents regularly commute to Madrid for work, with only about a quarter of the workforce having employment in Tres Cantos itself. Those who remain behind are joined by a daily influx of approximately 20,000 who commute from Madrid and its environs to Tres Cantos for work. Light and medium industries account for some 20% of employment in Tres Cantos, the construction sector providing a further 7.4%; a bare handful (0.2%) are employed in agriculture.

Economy and Industry

Tres Cantos' main economic activity is derived from the existence of various high-tech factories and headquarters in designated zones,including from the pharmaceutical, aerospace and computing industries.

Approximately 20,000 employees from outside of Tres Cantos (predominanty Madrid) commute daily to work in its industrial zones its "Technological Park," home of cutting-edge companies in the aerospace industry. Other multinational corporations with offices and/or production in Tres Cantos are: Lucent Technologies, BP Solar, BDF Nivea, Nokia Siemens Networks, Samsonite, Siemens, Dannon. Most recently, the largest cable provider in Spain, SOGECABLE, relocated here. The headquarters of both the Real Automóvil Club de España and the Spanish Metrology Centre are located in Tres Cantos.

Sister cities

Tres Cantos is a sister city to the planned cities of Columbia, Maryland, United States, Cergy-Pontoise, France and Nejapa, El Salvador

External links

* [ Official web page of the Tres Cantos municipal government (in Spanish)]
* [ map of the municipal region]
* [ Portal de información local de Tres Cantos]

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