The theme of this article is the application of techniques of exploratory statistics to the study of comprehensive numerical tables consisting of statistics of a spatial nature. The immensity of statistics compiled over a large area, as in the case of a population census, frequently makes it difficult to assimilate all the information contained therein. It is shown that the mentioned techniques of analysis make possible a profound understanding of such statistics without resorting to the inspection of the said tables. The objectives usually pursued are: (1) to emphasize the most outstanding characteristics of the statistics, such as associations andlor contrasts in the elements under study, an objective which is easily fulfilled through methods of descriptive factorial analysis; (2) to group the basic elements of study into a limited number of representative classes, which can likewise be easily achieved through a simple algorithrn of ascendent hierarchical classification. The aplication of this method demonstrates the compatibility of the two results. This normally corresponds to the final stage in the study of statistical tables, in which observations relate to small areas points. The natural desire to make the classes obtained coincide with geographical regions made necessary the introduction of the content relationship within the algorithm of ascendent hierarchical classification. The application undertaken makes it possible to identify improvements in the interpretation of the classes obtained.
The debate on the origins and nature of applied geography and regional planning appears to be stated in analogous terms to the birth of modern urbanism. Not only utopian intellectuals but also “civil servants” have meditated on the rural environment and the possibility of its utilization for economic or socio-political ends. The search for regional balance, and, in general, the quest for spatial order present in agronomical discussion since the eighteenth century can be considered to be the origins of such meditation. New reform policies applied in Spanish agriculture in the nineteenth century mark the beginning of a process of definition of the rural environment as a prerequesite for its control. This process is achieved through the production of statistical, medica1 and legal documents and topographies in which the understanding of spatially organized statistics is closely related to regional planning hypotheses. In nineteenth century Spanish agrarianism, the preocupation with the problem of the distribution of rural population stands out. Jovellano's ideal of “rational settlement” which, as in Rousseau's theory, was associated with an anti-urban focus and regional balance, is replaced, in the second half of the nineteenth century, by Fermin Caballero's ideas on the enouragement of rural settlement. Cabellero's is a much more productive point of view, an attempt to impose homogeneous order in the entire region by means of individual farm units, possesing contiguous properties (“coto redondo acasarado”) and the total dispersion of the rural population. This “regional model” formed part of a project which aimed at the uniform valuing of the rural environment by means of the homogeneous distribution of population, infraestructures and “service” elements.