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Updated:Monday 13th October 2014

Spain ?

Spain Definition

Remains of Stone Age populations dating back some 35,000 years have been found throughout Spain. Celtic peoples arrived in the 9th century BC, followed by the Romans, who dominated Spain from 200 BC until the Visigoth invasion in the early 5th century AD. In the early 8th century most of the peninsula fell to Muslims (Moors) from North Africa, and it remained under their control until it was gradually reconquered by the Christian kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, and Portugal. Spain was reunited in 1479 following the marriage of Ferdinand II (of Aragon) and Isabella I (of Castile). The last Muslim kingdom, Granada, was reconquered in 1492, and about this time Spain established a colonial empire in the Americas. In 1516 the throne passed to the Habsburgs, whose rule ended in 1700 when Philip V became the first Bourbon king of Spain. His ascendancy caused the War of the Spanish Succession, which resulted in the loss of numerous European possessions and sparked revolution within most of Spain's American colonies. Spain lost its remaining overseas possessions to the U.S. in the Spanish-American War (1898). (Cuba; Guam; Philippines; Puerto Rico.) Spain became a republic in 1931. The Spanish Civil War (1936–39) ended in victory for the Nationalists under Gen. Francisco Franco, who ruled as a dictator until his death in 1975. His successor as head of state, Juan Carlos I, restored the monarchy with his accession to the throne; a new constitution in 1978 established a constitutional monarchy. (Wikipedia) - Spain For other uses, see Spain (disambiguation) and España (disambiguation). Kingdom of Spain Reino de España Demonym Government Legislature Formation Area Population Currency Time zone Date format Drives on the Calling code ISO 3166 code Internet TLD
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Plus Ultra" (Latin) "Further Beyond"
Anthem: "Marcha Real"Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player. You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
Location of  Spain  (dark green)

– in Europe  (green & dark grey) – in the European Union  (green)  – 

Capital and largest city Madrid 40°26′N 3°42′W / 40.433°N 3.700°W / 40.433; -3.700
Official written language Spanish
Co-official languages
  • Basque
  • Catalan
  • Galician
Regional languages
  • Occitan
  • Aragonese
  • Asturian
Ethnic groups (2011)
  • 87.8% Spanish
  • 12.2% others
  • Spanish
  • Spaniard
Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Felipe VI
 -  Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
General Courts
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house Congress of Deputies
 -  Dynastic 1479 
 -  De facto 1516 
 -  De jure 1715 
 -  Nation state 1812 
 -  Constitutional democracy 1931 
 -  Current democracy 1978 
 -  Joined the EEC (now the European Union) 1 January 1986 
 -  Total 504,645 km2 (52nd) 195,364 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 1.04
 -  2013 estimate 46,704,314 (28th)
 -  2011 census 46,815,916
 -  Density 92/km2 (106th) 240/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $1.425 trillion (14th)
 -  Per capita $30,637 (33rd)
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $1.415 trillion (13th)
 -  Per capita $30,432 (28th)
Gini (2013) 33.7 medium · high
HDI (2013)  0.869 very high · 27th
Euro (€) (EUR)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2a) (Spanish; CE)
a. Except the Canary Islands, which observe UTC+0 (WET) and UTC+1 during summer time.

Spain (i/ˈspeɪn/; Spanish: España  ( listen)), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España), is a sovereign state located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. Its mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. Along with France and Morocco, it is one of only three countries to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. Spain''s 1,214 km (754 mi) border with Portugal is the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union.

Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, three exclaves in North Africa, Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera that border Morocco, and the islands and peñones (rocks) of Alborán, Chafarinas, Alhucemas, and Perejil. (The Spanish Empire with its peak in the 1600s had included much more territory - see world map.) With an area of 505,992 km2 (195,365 sq mi), Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fifth largest country in Europe.

Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. It came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania. In the Middle Ages, the area was conquered by Germanic tribes and later by the Moors to the south. Spain emerged as a unified country in the 15th century, following the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs and the completion of the centuries-long reconquest, or Reconquista, of the peninsula from the Moors in 1492. In the early modern period, Spain became one of history''s first global colonial empires, leaving a vast cultural and linguistic legacy that includes over 500 million Spanish speakers, making Spanish the world''s second most spoken first language.

Modern Spain is a democracy organized in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy. It is a developed country with the 13th largest economy in the world. It is a member of the United Nations, NATO, OECD, and WTO.

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 Prehistory and pre-Roman peoples
    • 2.2 Roman Empire and the Gothic Kingdom
    • 2.3 Middle Ages
    • 2.4 Imperial Spain
    • 2.5 Liberalism and nation state
    • 2.6 Spanish Civil War and dictatorship
    • 2.7 Democratic restoration
  • 3 Geography
    • 3.1 Islands
    • 3.2 Mountains and rivers
    • 3.3 Climate
  • 4 Governance
    • 4.1 Branches of government
    • 4.2 Administrative divisions
      • 4.2.1 Autonomous communities and autonomous cities
      • 4.2.2 Provinces and municipalities
    • 4.3 Foreign relations
      • 4.3.1 Territorial disputes
    • 4.4 Military
  • 5 Economy
    • 5.1 Recent background
    • 5.2 Property boom and bust
    • 5.3 Quality of life
    • 5.4 Agriculture
    • 5.5 Tourism
    • 5.6 Energy
    • 5.7 Transport
  • 6 Demographics
    • 6.1 Urbanization
    • 6.2 Peoples
    • 6.3 Minority groups
    • 6.4 Immigration
    • 6.5 Languages
    • 6.6 Education
    • 6.7 Religion
  • 7 Culture
    • 7.1 Monuments and World Heritage Sites
    • 7.2 Literature
    • 7.3 Art
    • 7.4 Cinema
    • 7.5 Architecture
    • 7.6 Music and dance
    • 7.7 Cuisine
    • 7.8 Science and technology
    • 7.9 Sport
    • 7.10 Public holidays and festivals
  • 8 See also
  • 9 Notes
  • 10 References
  • 11 External links

EtymologyTreasure of Villena, a Bronze Age treasure hoard.

The origins of the Roman name Hispania, from which the modern name España was derived, are uncertain and are possibly unknown due to inadequate evidence. Down the centuries there have been a number of accounts and hypotheses:

The Renaissance scholar Antonio de Nebrija proposed that the word Hispania evolved from the Iberian word Hispalis, meaning "city of the western world".

Jesús Luis Cunchillos argues that the root of the term span is the Phoenecian word spy, meaning "to forge metals". Therefore i-spn-ya would mean "the land where metals are forged". It may be a derivation of the Phoenician I-Shpania, meaning "island of rabbits", "land of rabbits" or "edge", a reference to Spain''s location at the end of the Mediterranean; Roman coins struck in the region from the reign of Hadrian show a female figure with a coney at her feet, and Strabo called it the "land of the rabbits".

Hispania may derive from the poetic use of the term Hesperia, reflecting the Greek perception of Italy as a "western land" or "land of the setting sun" (Hesperia, Ἑσπερία in Greek) and Spain, being still further west, as Hesperia ultima.

There is the claim that "Hispania" derives from the Basque word Ezpanna meaning "edge" or "border", another reference to the fact that the Iberian Peninsula constitutes the southwest corner of the European continent.

Two 15th-century Spanish Jewish scholars, Don Isaac Abrabanel and Solomon ibn Verga, gave an explanation now considered folkloric. Both men wrote in two different published works that the first Jews to reach Spain were brought by ship by Phiros who was confederate with the king of Babylon when he laid siege to Jerusalem. This man was a Grecian by birth, but who had been given a kingdom in Spain. He became related by marriage to Espan, the nephew of king Heracles, who also ruled over a kingdom in Spain. Heracles later renounced his throne in preference for his native Greece, leaving his kingdom to his nephew, Espan, from whom the country of España (Spain) took its name. Based upon their testimonies, this eponym would have already been in use in Spain by c. 350 BCE.

History Main article: History of SpainAltamira Cave paintings, in Cantabria.

Iberia enters written records as a land populated largely by the Iberians, Basques and Celts. After an arduous conquest, the peninsula came under the rule of Rome. During the early Middle Ages it came under Germanic rule but later, much of it was conquered by Moorish invaders from North Africa. In a process that took centuries, the small Christian kingdoms in the north gradually regained control of the peninsula. The last Moorish kingdom fell in the same year Columbus reached the Americas. A global empire began which saw Spain become the strongest kingdom in Europe, the leading world power for a century and a half, and the largest overseas empire for three centuries.

Continued wars and other problems eventually led to a diminished status. The Napoleonic invasions of Spain led to chaos, triggering independence movements that tore apart most of the empire and left the country politically unstable. Prior to the Second World War, Spain suffered a devastating civil war and came under the rule of an authoritarian government, whose rule oversaw a period of stagnation but that finished with a powerful economic surge. Eventually democracy was peacefully restored in the form of a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Spain joined the European Union, experiencing a cultural renaissance and steady economic growth.

Prehistory and pre-Roman peoples Main article: Prehistoric IberiaCeltic castro in A Guarda, Galicia.

Archaeological research at Atapuerca indicates the Iberian Peninsula was populated by hominids 1.2 million years ago. In Atapuerca there have been found fossils of the earliest known hominins in Europe, the Homo antecessor. Modern humans first arrived in Iberia, from the north on foot, about 35,000 years ago. The best known artifacts of these prehistoric human settlements are the famous paintings in the Altamira cave of Cantabria in northern Iberia, which were created from 35,600 to 13,500 BCE by Cro-Magnon. Archaeological and genetic evidence suggests that the Iberian Peninsula acted as one of several major refugia from which northern Europe was repopulated following the end of the last ice age.

The largest groups inhabiting the Iberian Peninsula before the Roman conquest were the Iberians and the Celts. The Iberians inhabited the Mediterranean side of the peninsula, from the northeast to the southeast. The Celts inhabited much of the inner and Atlantic sides of the peninsula, from the northwest to the southwest. Basques occupied the western area of the Pyrenees mountain range and adjacent areas, the Tartessians were in the southwest and the Lusitanians and Vettones occupied areas in the central west.

Roman Empire and the Gothic Kingdom Main articles: Hispania and Visigothic KingdomRoman Theatre, Mérida

During the Second Punic War, an expanding Roman Republic captured Carthaginian trading colonies along the Mediterranean coast from roughly 210 to 205 BCE. It took the Romans nearly two centuries to complete the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, though they had control of it for over six centuries. Roman rule was bound together by law, language, and the Roman road.

The cultures of the Celtic and Iberian populations were gradually Romanized (Latinized) at differing rates in different parts of Hispania. Local leaders were admitted into the Roman aristocratic class Hispania served as a granary for the Roman market, and its harbours exported gold, wool, olive oil, and wine. Agricultural production increased with the introduction of irrigation projects, some of which remain in use. Emperors Hadrian, Trajan, Theodosius I, and the philosopher Seneca were born in Hispania. Christianity was introduced into Hispania in the 1st century CE and it became popular in the cities in the 2nd century CE. Most of Spain''s present languages and religion, and the basis of its laws, originate from this period.

Toledo, capital of the Visigothic Kingdom.

The weakening of the Western Roman Empire''s jurisdiction in Hispania began in 409, when the Germanic Suebi and Vandals, together with the Sarmatian Alans crossed the Rhine and ravaged Gaul until the Visigoths drove them into Iberia that same year. The Suebi established a kingdom in what is today modern Galicia and northern Portugal. As the western empire disintegrated, the social and economic base became greatly simplified: but even in modified form, the successor regimes maintained many of the institutions and laws of the late empire, including Christianity.

The Alans'' allies, the Hasdingi Vandals, established a kingdom in Gallaecia, too, occupying largely the same region but extending farther south to the Duero river. The Silingi Vandals occupied the region that still bears a form of their name –Vandalusia, modern Andalusia, in Spain. The Byzantines established an enclave, Spania, in the south, with the intention of reviving the Roman empire throughout Iberia. Eventually, however, Hispania was reunited under Visigothic rule.

Isidore of Seville, archbishop of Seville, was an influential philosopher and very studied in the Middle Ages in Europe. Also his theories were vital to the conversion of the Visigothic Kingdom to a catholic one, in the Councils of Toledo. This gothic kingdom was the first Christian kingdom ruling in the Iberian Peninsula, and in the Reconquista it was the referent for the different kingdoms fighting against the Muslim rule.

Middle Ages Main articles: Al-Andalus and ReconquistaHypostyle hall in the Great Mosque of Córdoba.

In the 8th century, nearly all of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered (711–718) by largely Moorish Muslim armies from North Africa. These conquests were part of the expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate. Only a small area in the mountainous north-west of the peninsula managed to resist the initial invasion.

Under Islamic law, Christians and Jews were given the subordinate status of dhimmi. This status permitted Christians and Jews to practice their religions as People of the Book but they were required to pay a special tax and had legal and social rights inferior to those of Muslims.

Conversion to Islam proceeded at an increasing pace. The muladíes (Muslims of ethnic Iberian origin) are believed to have comprized the majority of the population of Al-Andalus by the end of the 10th century.

The Muslim community in the Iberian Peninsula was itself diverse and beset by social tensions. The Berber people of North Africa, who had provided the bulk of the invading armies, clashed with the Arab leadership from the Middle East. Over time, large Moorish populations became established, especially in the Guadalquivir River valley, the coastal plain of Valencia, the Ebro River valley and (towards the end of this period) in the mountainous region of Granada.

The death of the Frankish leader Roland at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (778)

Córdoba, the capital of the caliphate since Abd-ar-Rahman III, was the largest, richest and most sophisticated city in western Europe. Mediterranean trade and cultural exchange flourished. Muslims imported a rich intellectual tradition from the Middle East and North Africa. Muslim and Jewish scholars played an important part in reviving and expanding classical Greek learning in Western Europe. Some important philosophers for the time are Averroes, Ibn Arabi and Maimonides. The Romanized cultures of the Iberian Peninsula interacted with Muslim and Jewish cultures in complex ways, giving the region a distinctive culture. Outside the cities, where the vast majority lived, the land ownership system from Roman times remained largely intact as Muslim leaders rarely dispossessed landowners and the introduction of new crops and techniques led to an expansion of agriculture.

In the 11th century, the Muslim holdings fractured into rival Taifa kingdoms, allowing the small Christian states the opportunity to greatly enlarge their territories. The arrival from North Africa of the Islamic ruling sects of the Almoravids and the Almohads restored unity upon the Muslim holdings, with a stricter, less tolerant application of Islam, and saw a revival in Muslim fortunes. This re-united Islamic state experienced more than a century of successes that partially reversed Christian gains.

Aljafería Royal Palace of the Taifa of Zaragoza and the Aragonese kings after Alfonso the Battler.Basilica of San Isidoro, León.

The Reconquista (Reconquest) was the centuries-long period in which Christian rule was re-established over the Iberian Peninsula. The Reconquista is viewed as beginning with the Battle of Covadonga won by Don Pelayo in 722 and was concurrent with the period of Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula. The Christian army''s victory over Muslim forces led to the creation of the Christian Kingdom of Asturias along the northwestern coastal mountains. Shortly after, in 739, Muslim forces were driven from Galicia, which was to eventually host one of medieval Europe''s holiest sites, Santiago de Compostela and was incorporated into the new Christian kingdom. The Kingdom of León was the strongest Christian kingdom for centuries. In 1188 the first modern parliamentary season in Europe were hold in León (Cortes of León). The Kingdom of Castile, borned from leonese territory, was its successor as strongest kingdom. The kings and the nobility fought for power and influence in this peryod. The example of the roman emperors was the political objective of the Crown, while the nobles benefited of feudalism.

Muslim armies had also moved north of the Pyrenees but they were defeated by Frankish forces at the Battle of Poitiers, Frankia. Later, Frankish forces established Christian counties on the southern side of the Pyrenees. These areas were to grow into the kingdoms of Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia. For several centuries, the fluctuating frontier between the Muslim and Christian controlled areas of Iberia was along the Ebro and Duero valleys.

The break-up of Al-Andalus into the competing taifa kingdoms helped the long embattled Iberian Christian kingdoms gain the initiative. The capture of the strategically central city of Toledo in 1085 marked a significant shift in the balance of power in favour of the Christian kingdoms. Following a great Muslim resurgence in the 12th century, the great Moorish strongholds in the south fell to Christian Spain in the 13th century—Córdoba in 1236 and Seville in 1248—leaving only the Muslim enclave of Granada as a tributary state in the south.

Alfonso X, Libro de los juegos.

In this period literature and philosophy started to flourish again in the Christian peninsular kingdoms, based on Roman and gothic traditions. An important philosopher from this time is Ramon Llull. Abraham Cresques was a prominent Jewish cartographer. Roman law and its institutions were the model for the legislators. The king Alfonso X of Castile focused on strengthening this Roman and Gothic past, and also on linking the Iberian Christian kingdoms with the rest of medieval European Christendom. He worked for being elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and published the Siete Partidas code. The Toledo School of Translators is the name that commonly describes the group of scholars who worked together in the city of Toledo during the 12th and 13th centuries, to translate many of the philosophical and scientific works from classical Arabic, classical Greek, and ancient Hebrew. The Islamic transmission of the classics is the main Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe. The Spanish language evolved from Latin, as did other related Romance languages, and the first grammar was published (Cantar de Mio Cid and Antonio de Nebrija).

In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Marinid Muslim sect based in North Africa invaded and established some enclaves on the southern coast but failed in their attempt to re-establish Muslim rule in Iberia and were soon driven out. The 13th century also witnessed the Crown of Aragon, centred in Spain''s north east, expand its reach across islands in the Mediterranean, to Sicily and even Athens. Around this time the universities of Palencia (1212/1263) and Salamanca (1218/1254) were established. The Black Death of 1348 and 1349 devastated Spain.

In 1469, the crowns of the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were united by the marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. 1478 commenced the completion of the conquest of the Canary Islands and in 1492, the combined forces of Castile and Aragon captured the Emirate of Granada, ending the last remnant of a 781-year presence of Islamic rule in Iberia. That same year, Spain''s Jews were ordered to convert to Catholicism or face expulsion from Spanish territories during the Spanish Inquisition. The Treaty of Granada guaranteed religious tolerance toward Muslims, and although the toleration was only partial, it was not until the beginning of the 17th century, following the Revolt of the Alpujarras, that Muslims were finally expelled.

Imperial Spain Main article: Spanish EmpirePhilip II''s realms circa 1598.

The year 1492 also marked the arrival in the New World of Christopher Columbus, during a voyage funded by Isabella. Christopher Columbus first voyage crossed the Atlantic and reached the Caribbean Islands, beginning the European exploration and conquest of the Americas, although he remained convinced he had reached the Orient.

Christopher Columbus meets the Catholic monarchs in the Alhambra.

As Renaissance New Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand centralized royal power at the expense of local nobility, and the word España, whose root is the ancient name Hispania, began to be commonly used to designate the whole of the two kingdoms. With their wide-ranging political, legal, religious and military reforms, Spain emerged as the first world power.

The unification of the crowns of Aragon and Castile by the marriage of their sovereigns laid the basis for modern Spain and the Spanish Empire, although each kingdom of Spain remained a separate country, in social, political, laws, currency and language.

Casa de Contratación, Seville.San Pablo Church and San Gregorio College, Valladolid.

Spain was Europe''s leading power throughout the 16th century and most of the 17th century, a position reinforced by trade and wealth from colonial possessions and became the world''s leading maritime power. It reached its apogee during the reigns of the first two Spanish Habsburgs – Charles I (1516–1556) and Philip II (1556–1598). This period saw the Italian Wars, the Revolt of the Comuneros, the Dutch Revolt, the Morisco Revolt, clashes with the Ottomans, the Anglo-Spanish War and wars with France.

Through exploration and conquest or royal marriage alliances and inheritance, the Spanish Empire expanded to include vast areas in the Americas, islands in the Asia-Pacific area, areas of Italy, cities in Northern Africa, as well as parts of what are now France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The first circumnavigation of the world was carried out in 1519-1521. It was the first empire of which it was said that the sun never set. This was an age of discovery, with daring explorations by sea and by land, the opening-up of new trade routes across oceans, conquests and the beginnings of European colonialism. Along with the arrival of precious metals, spices, luxuries, and new agricultural plants, Spanish explorers brought back knowledge from the New World, and played a leading part in transforming the European understanding of the globe. The cultural efflorescence witnessed is now referred to as the Spanish Golden Age. The expansion of the empire caused immense upheaval in the Americas as the collapse of societies and empires and new diseases from Europe devastated American populations. The rise of humanism, the Counter-Reformation and new geographical discoveries and conquests raised issues that were addressed by the intellectual movement now known as the School of Salamanca, which developed the first modern theories of what are now known as international law and human rights.

Philip II and Charles V, Habsburg Spain. Charles was also Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

In the late 16th century and first half of the 17th century, Spain was confronted by unrelenting challenges from all sides. Barbary pirates, under the aegis of the rapidly growing Ottoman Empire, disrupted life in many coastal areas through their slave raids and renewed the threat of an Islamic invasion. This was at a time when Spain was often at war with France.

The Protestant Reformation schism from the Catholic Church dragged the kingdom ever more deeply into the mire of religiously charged wars. The result was a country forced into ever expanding military efforts across Europe and in the Mediterranean.

By the middle decades of a war and plague-ridden 17th-century Europe, the Spanish Habsburgs had enmeshed the country in continent-wide religious-political conflicts. These conflicts drained it of resources and undermined the economy generally. Spain managed to hold on to most of the scattered Habsburg empire, and help the imperial forces of the Holy Roman Empire reverse a large part of the advances made by Protestant forces, but it was finally forced to recognise the separation of Portugal (with whom it had been united in a personal union of the crowns from 1580 to 1640) and the Netherlands, and eventually suffered some serious military reverses to France in the latter stages of the immensely destructive, Europe-wide Thirty Years War.

The Family of Philip V (1743). During the Enlightenment in Spain a new royal family reigned, the House of Bourbon.

In the latter half of the 17th century, Spain went into a gradual decline, during which it surrendered several small territories to France and the Netherlands; however, it maintained and enlarged its vast overseas empire, which remained intact until the beginning of the 19th century.

The decline culminated in a controversy over succession to the throne which consumed the first years of the 18th century. The War of Spanish Succession was a wide-ranging international conflict combined with a civil war, and was to cost the kingdom its European possessions and its position as one of the leading powers on the Continent. During this war, a new dynasty originating in France, the Bourbons, was installed. Long united only by the Crown, a true Spanish state was established when the first Bourbon king, Philip V, united the crowns of Castile and Aragon into a single state, abolishing many of the old regional privileges and laws.

The 18th century saw a gradual recovery and an increase in prosperity through much of the empire. The new Bourbon monarchy drew on the French system of modernising the administration and the economy. Enlightenment ideas began to gain ground among some of the kingdom''s elite and monarchy. Military assistance for the rebellious British colonies in the American War of Independence improved the kingdom''s international standing.

Liberalism and nation state Main articles: Mid-19th-century Spain, Spanish American wars of independence and Spanish–American WarThe Third of May 1808 by Francisco de Goya, episode of the Spanish Independence War.

In 1793, Spain went to war against the revolutionary new French Republic as a member of the Coalition. The war polarized the country in a reaction against the gallicized elites. Defeated in the field, peace was made with France in 1795. In 1807, a secret treaty between Napoleon and the unpopular prime minister led to a declaration of war against Britain and Portugal. Napoleon''s troops entered the country to invade Portugal but instead occupied Spain''s major fortresses. The ridiculed Spanish king abdicated in favour of Napoleon''s brother, Joseph Bonaparte.

Joseph Bonaparte was seen as a puppet monarch and was regarded with scorn by the Spanish. The 2 May 1808 revolt was one of many nationalist uprisings across the country against the Bonapartist regime. These revolts marked the beginning of a devastating war of independence against the Napoleonic regime. Napoleon was forced to intervene personally, defeating several Spanish armies and forcing a British army to retreat. However, further military action by Spanish armies, guerrillas and Wellington''s British-Portuguese forces, combined with Napoleon''s disastrous invasion of Russia, led to the ousting of the French imperial armies from Spain in 1814, and the return of King Ferdinand VII.

During the war, in 1810, a revolutionary body, the Cortes of Cádiz, was assembled to co-ordinate the effort against the Bonapartist regime and to prepare a constitution. It met as one body, and its members represented the entire Spanish empire. In 1812 a constitution for universal representation under a constitutional monarchy was declared but after the fall of the Bonapartist regime Ferdinand VII dismissed the Cortes Generales and was determined to rule as an absolute monarch. These events foreshadowed the conflict between conservatives and liberals in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Proclamation of the Spanish Constitution of 1812 in Cádiz.

Anti-liberal forces known as Carlists fought against liberals in the Carlist Wars. Liberal forces won, but the conflict between progressive and conservative liberals ended in a weak early constitutional period. After the Glorious Revolution and the short First Spanish Republic, a more stable monarchic period came alongside with a bipartisanship between progressive and conservative liberals.

The Napoleonic War left Spain economically ruined, deeply divided and politically unstable. In the chaos, Spain''s American colonies declared independence, leading to wars of independence that ended Spanish control of its mainland colonies in the Americas. The Constitution of 1812 was considered too liberal by conservatives in the colonies and precipitated the decision of many to join the effort for independence. King Ferdinand VII''s attempt to re-assert control proved futile as he faced opposition not only in the colonies but also in Spain and army revolts followed, led by liberal officers. By the end of 1826, the only American colonies Spain held were Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Spanish general Juan Prim, Prime Minister of Spain, with his government after the Glorious Revolution, 1869.

In the instability and economic crisis that afflicted Spain in the 19th century there arose nationalist movements in the Philippines and Cuba. Wars of independence ensued in those colonies and eventually the United States became involved. The war fought in the spring of 1898 did not last long. El Desastre (the Disaster), as the war became known in Spain, gave added impetus to the Generation of 98 who were conducting an analysis of the country.

Although the period around the turn of the century was one of increasing prosperity, the 20th century brought little peace; Spain played a minor part in the scramble for Africa, with the colonisation of Western Sahara, Spanish Morocco and Equatorial Guinea. It remained neutral during World War I (see Spain in World War I). The heavy losses suffered during the Rif War in Morocco brought discredit to the government and undermined the monarchy.

A period of authoritarian rule under General Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923–1931) ended with the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic. The Republic offered political autonomy to the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia and gave voting rights to women and was increasingly dominated by left wing radicals. In the worsening economic situation of the Great Depression, Spanish politics became increasingly radicalized and violent.

Spanish Civil War and dictatorship Main articles: Spanish Civil War and Spain under FrancoGuernica by Pablo Picasso, episode of a bombing during the Spanish Civil War (Reina Sofía Museum).

The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936. For three years the Nationalist forces led by General Francisco Franco and supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy fought the Republican side, which was supported by the Soviet Union, Mexico and International Brigades but it was not supported by the Western powers due to the British-led policy of Non-Intervention. In 1939, General Franco emerged victorious and became a dictator.

The civil war was viciously fought and there were many atrocities committed by all sides. The war claimed the lives of over 500,000 people and caused the flight of up to a half-million citizens from the country.

Francisco Franco and US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Madrid in 1959

The state as established under Francisco Franco was nominally neutral in the Second World War, although sympathetic to the Axis. The only legal party under Franco''s post civil war regime was the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS, formed in 1937; the party emphasized anti-Communism, Catholicism and nationalism. Given Franco''s opposition to competing political parties, the party was renamed the National Movement (Movimiento Nacional) in 1949.

After World War II Spain was politically and economically isolated, and was kept out of the United Nations. This changed in 1955, during the Cold War period, when it became strategically important for the US to establish a military presence on the Iberian Peninsula as a counter to any possible move by the Soviet Union into the Mediterranean basin. In the 1960s, Spain registered an unprecedented rate of economic growth in what became known as the Spanish miracle, which resumed the much interrupted transition towards a modern economy.

In 1962, Salvador de Madariaga, founder of the Liberal International and the College of Europe, met in the congress of the European Movement in Munich with the oppositors of Franco´s regime inside the country and in the exile. There were 118 politicians from all factions. At the end of the meetings a resolution in favour of democracy was made.

Posters of the first elections under Spanish Constitution of 1978, showing political leaders including Adolfo Suárez (first president), Manuel Fraga, Felipe González and Santiago Carrillo.Democratic restoration Further information: Spanish society after the democratic transition

With Franco''s death in November 1975, Juan Carlos succeeded to the position of King of Spain and head of state in accordance with the law. With the approval of the new Spanish Constitution of 1978 and the restoration of democracy, the State devolved much authority to the regions and created an internal organization based on autonomous communities.

In the Basque Country, moderate Basque nationalism has coexisted with a radical nationalist movement led by the armed organization ETA. The group was formed in 1959 during Franco''s rule but has continued to wage its violent campaign even after the restoration of democracy and the return of a large measure of regional autonomy.

Spain has been a member of the European Union since 1986Europride festival 2007, Madrid.2011–12 Spanish protests in Madrid, during the 2008–2013 Spanish financial crisis.

On 23 February 1981, rebel elements among the security forces seized the Cortes in an attempt to impose a military backed government. King Juan Carlos took personal command of the military and successfully ordered the coup plotters, via national television, to surrender.

During the 1980s the democratic restoration made possible a growing open society. New cultural movements based on freedom appeared, like La Movida Madrileña. On 30 May 1982 Spain joined NATO, following a referendum. That year the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) came to power, the first left-wing government in 43 years. In 1986 Spain joined the European Community, which later became the European Union. The PSOE was replaced in government by the Partido Popular (PP) after the latter won the 1996 General Elections; at that point the PSOE had served almost 14 consecutive years in office.

On 1 January 2002, Spain ceased to use the peseta as currency replacing it with the euro, which it shares with 16 other countries in the Eurozone.

Spain has also seen strong economic growth, well above the EU average; however, well publicized concerns issued by many economic commentators at the height of the boom that the extraordinary property prices and high foreign trade deficits of the boom were likely to lead to a painful economic collapse were confirmed by a severe property-led recession that struck the country in 2008/9.

A series of bombs exploded in commuter trains in Madrid, Spain on 11 March 2004. After a five-month trial in 2007 it was concluded the bombings were perpetrated by a local Islamist militant group inspired by al-Qaeda. The bombings killed 191 people and wounded more than 1800, and the intention of the perpetrators may have been to influence the outcome of the Spanish general election, held three days later.

Though initial suspicions focused on the Basque group ETA, evidence soon emerged indicating possible Islamist involvement. Because of the proximity of the election, the issue of responsibility quickly became a political controversy, with the main competing parties PP and PSOE exchanging accusations over the handling of the aftermath. At 14 March elections, PSOE, led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, obtained a plurality, enough to form a new cabinet with Rodríguez Zapatero as the new Presidente del Gobierno or Prime Minister of Spain, thus succeeding the former PP administration.

At the time, Spain had become one of the most secular societies in Europe, being one of the first in the world to allow same sex marriage.

The bursting of the Spanish property bubble in 2008 led to the 2008–2013 Spanish financial crisis.

On 19 June 2014, Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of his son, who became Felipe VI.

Geography Main article: Geography of SpainSan Sebastián with Santa Clara Island in Gipuzkoa.

At 505,992 km2 (195,365 sq mi), Spain is the world''s 52nd-largest country. It is some 47,000 km2 (18,000 sq mi) smaller than France and 81,000 km2 (31,000 sq mi) larger than the US state of California. Mount Teide (Tenerife) is the highest mountain peak in Spain and is the third largest volcano in the world from its base.

Spain lies between latitudes 26° and 44° N, and longitudes 19° W and 5° E.

On the west, Spain borders Portugal; on the south, it borders Gibraltar (a British overseas territory) and Morocco, through its exclaves in North Africa (Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera). On the northeast, along the Pyrenees mountain range, it borders France and the tiny Principality of Andorra. Along the Pyrenees in Girona, a small exclave town called Llívia is surrounded by France.

IslandsMt Teide, Tenerife, Canary Islands.

Spain also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and a number of uninhabited islands on the Mediterranean side of the Strait of Gibraltar, known as plazas de soberanía (territories under Spanish sovereignty), such as the Chafarinas Islands, Alhucemas, and the tiny Perejil islet. The isle of Alborán, located in the Mediterranean between Spain and North Africa, is also administered by Spain, specifically by the municipality of Almería, Andalusia. The little Pheasant Island in the River Bidasoa is a Spanish-French condominium.

Island Population
Tenerife 899,833
Majorca (Mallorca) 862,397
Gran Canaria 838,397
Lanzarote 141,938
Ibiza 125,053
Fuerteventura 103,107
Minorca (Menorca) 92,434
La Palma 85,933
La Gomera 22,259
El Hierro 10,558
Formentera 7,957
Arousa 4,889
La Graciosa 658
Tabarca 105
Ons 61
Mountains and riversOrdesa y Monte Perdido National Park, World Heritage Site in the Pyrenees.

Mainland Spain is a mountainous country, dominated by high plateaus and mountain chains. After the Pyrenees, the main mountain ranges are the Cordillera Cantábrica, Sistema Ibérico, Sistema Central, Montes de Toledo, Sierra Morena and the Sistema Penibético whose highest peak, the 3,478 m high Mulhacén, located in Sierra Nevada, is the highest elevation in the Iberian Peninsula. The highest point in Spain is the Teide, a 3,718-metre (12,198 ft) active volcano in the Canary Islands. The Meseta Central is a vast plateau in the heart of peninsular Spain.

There are several major rivers in Spain such as the Tagus, Ebro, Guadiana, Douro, Guadalquivir, Júcar, Segura, Turia and Minho. Alluvial plains are found along the coast, the largest of which is that of the Guadalquivir in Andalusia.

ClimateBeech forest of Teja Nega in Guadalajara. Roe deer, Iberian wolf, Golden eagle or Griffon vulture are found here.Main article: Climate of Spain

Three main climatic zones can be separated, according to geographical situation and orographic conditions:

  • The Mediterranean climate, characterized by warm and dry summers. It is dominant in the peninsula, with two varieties: Csa and Csb according to the Köppen climate classification. The Csb Zone, with a more extreme climate, hotter in summer and colder in winter, extends to additional areas not typically associated with a Mediterranean climate, such as much of central and northern-central of Spain (e.g. Valladolid, Burgos, León).
  • The semiarid climate (Bsh, Bsk), located in the southeastern quarter of the country, especially in the region of Murcia and in the Ebro valley. In contrast with the Mediterranean climate, the dry season extends beyond the summer.
  • The oceanic climate (Cfb), located in the northern quarter of the country, especially in the region of Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and partly Galicia. In contrary to the Mediterranean climate, winter and summer temperatures are influenced by the ocean, and have no seasonal drought.

Apart from these main types, other sub-types can be found, like the alpine climate in the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada, and a typical subtropical climate in the Canary Islands.

Governance Main articles: Politics of Spain and Spanish Constitution of 1978The Royal Palace and Santa María la Real de La Almudena in Madrid

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 is the culmination of the Spanish transition to democracy. The constitutional history of Spain dates back to the constitution of 1812. Impatient with the slow pace of democratic political reforms in 1976 and 1977, Spain''s new King Juan Carlos, known for his formidable personality, dismissed Carlos Arias Navarro and appointed the reformer Adolfo Suárez as Prime Minister. The resulting general election in 1977 convened the Constituent Cortes (the Spanish Parliament, in its capacity as a constitutional assembly) for the purpose of drafting and approving the constitution of 1978. After a national referendum on 6 December 1978, 88% of voters approved of the new constitution.

As a result, Spain is now composed of 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities with varying degrees of autonomy thanks to its Constitution, which nevertheless explicitly states the indivisible unity of the Spanish nation. The constitution also specifies that Spain has no state religion and that all are free to practice and believe as they wish.

As of November 2009, the government of Spain keeps a balanced gender equality ratio. Nine out of the 18 members of the government are women. Under the administration of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain has been described as being "at the vanguard" in gender equality issues and also that "o other modern, democratic, administration outside Scandinavia has taken more steps to place gender issues at the centre of government".

The Spanish administration has also promoted gender-based positive discrimination by approving gender equality legislation in 2007 aimed at providing equality between genders in Spanish political and economic life (Gender Equality Act). However, in the legislative branch, as of July 2010 only 128 of the 350 members of the Congress are women (36.3%). It places Spain 13th on a list of countries ranked by proportion of women in the lower house. In the Senate, the ratio is even lower, since there are only 79 women out of 263 (30.0%). The Gender Empowerment Measure of Spain in the United Nations Human Development Report is 0.794, 12th in the world.

Branches of government

Spain is a constitutional monarchy, with a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament, the Cortes Generales (General Courts). The executive branch consists of a Council of Ministers of Spain presided over by the Prime Minister, nominated and appointed by the monarch and confirmed by the Congress of Deputies following legislative elections. By political custom established by King Juan Carlos since the ratification of the 1978 Constitution, the king''s nominees have all been from parties who maintain a plurality of seats in the Congress.

Congress of Deputies.

The legislative branch is made up of the Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados) with 350 members, elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation to serve four-year terms, and a Senate (Senado) with 259 seats of which 208 are directly elected by popular vote and the other 51 appointed by the regional legislatures to also serve four-year terms.

  • Head of State
    • King Felipe VI, since 19 June 2014
  • Head of Government
    • Prime Minister of Spain (Presidente del Gobierno, literally President of the Government): Mariano Rajoy Brey, elected 20 November 2011.
      • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Presidency: Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.
  • Cabinet
    • Council of Ministers (Consejo de Ministros) designated by the Prime Minister.

Spain is organizationally structured as a so-called Estado de las Autonomías ("State of Autonomies"); it is one of the most decentralized countries in Europe, along with Switzerland, Germany and Belgium; for example, all Autonomous Communities have their own elected parliaments, governments, public administrations, budgets, and resources. Health and education systems among others are managed regionally, and in addition, the Basque Country and Navarre also manage their own public finances based on foral provisions. In Catalonia and the Basque Country, a full-fledged autonomous police corps replaces some of the State police functions (see Mossos d''Esquadra, Ertzaintza, Policía Foral and Policía Canaria).

See also: List of Spanish monarchs and Monarchs of Spain family tree Administrative divisions Main article: Political divisions of Spain

The Spanish State is integrated by 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities, both groups being the highest or first-order administrative division in the country. Autonomous communities are integrated by provinces, of which there are 50 in total, and in turn, provinces are integrated by municipalities. In Catalonia, two additional divisions exist, the comarques (sing. comarca) and the vegueries (sing. vegueria) both of which have administrative powers; comarques being aggregations of municipalities, and the vegueries being aggregations of comarques. The concept of a comarca exists in all autonomous communities, however, unlike Catalonia, these are merely historical or geographical subdivisions.

Autonomous communities and autonomous cities Main article: Autonomous communities of Spain See also: Nationalities and regions of SpainGaliciaNavarreMadridLa RiojaAragonCataloniaValenciaCastile– La ManchaExtremaduraPortugalCastile and LeónAsturiasCantabriaBasque CountryMurciaAndalusiaCeutaMelillaFranceBalearic IslandsCanary IslandsMediterranean SeaBay of BiscayAtlantic OceanAndorraAtlantic OceanGibraltar (UK)

Autonomous communities are the first level administrative division in the country. These were created after the 1979 and current constitution came into effect in recognition of the right to self-government to the "nationalities and regions of Spain". Autonomous communities were to be integrated by adjacent provinces with common historical, cultural, and economical traits. This territorial organization, based on devolution, is known in Spain as the "State of Autonomies".

The basic institutional law of each autonomous community is the Statute of Autonomy. The Statutes of Autonomy establish the name of the community according to its historical identity, the limits of their territories, the name and organization of the institutions of government and the rights they enjoy according the constitution.

The government of all autonomous communities must be based on a division of powers comprising:

  • a Legislative Assembly whose members must be elected by universal suffrage according to the system of proportional representation and in which all areas that integrate the territory are fairly represented;
  • a Government Council, with executive and administrative functions headed by a president, elected by the Legislative Assembly and nominated by the King of Spain;
  • a Supreme Court of Justice, under the Supreme Court of the State, which head the judicial organization within the autonomous community.

Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country, which identified themselves as "nationalities" were granted self-government through a rapid process. Andalusia also took that denomination in its first Statute of Autonomy, even though it followed the longer process stipulated in the constitution for the rest of the country. Progressively, other communities in revisions to their Statutes of Autonomy have also taken that denomination in accordance to their historical regional identity, such as the Valencian Community, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, and Aragon.

The autonomous communities have wide legislative and executive autonomy, with their own parliaments and regional governments. The distribution of powers may be different for every community, as laid out in their Statutes of Autonomy, since devolution was intended to be asymmetrical. Only two communities—the Basque Country and Navarre—have full fiscal autonomy. Aside of fiscal autonomy, the "historical" nationalities—Andalusia, the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Galicia—were devolved more powers than the rest of the communities, among them the ability of the regional president to dissolve the parliament and call for elections at any time. In addition, the Basque Country, Catalonia and Navarre have police corps of their own: Ertzaintza, Mossos d''Esquadra and the Policía Foral respectively. Other communities have more limited forces or none at all, like the Policía Autónoma Andaluza in Andalusia or the BESCAM in Madrid.

Hall of the Consell de Cent, local body of Barcelona between the 13th and 18th centuries.

Nonetheless, recent amendments to existing Statutes of Autonomy or the promulgation of new Statutes altogether, have reduced the asymmetry between the powers originally granted to the "historical nationalities" and the rest of the regions.

Finally, along with the 17 autonomous communities, two autonomous cities are also part of the State of Autonomies and are first-order territorial divisions: Ceuta and Melilla. These are two exclaves located in the northern African coast.

Provinces and municipalities Main articles: Provinces of Spain and Municipalities of Spain

Autonomous communities are subdivided into provinces, which served as their territorial building blocks. In turn, provinces are integrated by municipalities. The existence of both the provinces and the municipalities is guaranteed and protected by the constitution, not necessarily by the Statutes of Autonomy themselves. Municipalities are granted autonomy to manage their internal affairs, and provinces are the territorial divisions designed to carry out the activities of the State.

The current provincial division structure is based—with minor changes—on the 1833 territorial division by Javier de Burgos, and in all, the Spanish territory is divided into 50 provinces. The communities of Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja, the Balearic Islands, Madrid, Murcia and Navarre are the only communities that are integrated by a single province, which is coextensive with the community itself. In this cases, the administrative institutions of the province are replaced by the governmental institutions of the community.

Foreign relations Main article: Foreign relations of SpainThe Ibero-American Summit, in San Salvador, 2008

After the return of democracy following the death of Franco in 1975, Spain''s foreign policy priorities were to break out of the diplomatic isolation of the Franco years and expand diplomatic relations, enter the European Community, and define security relations with the West.

As a member of NATO since 1982, Spain has established itself as a participant in multilateral international security activities. Spain''s EU membership represents an important part of its foreign policy. Even on many international issues beyond western Europe, Spain prefers to coordinate its efforts with its EU partners through the European political cooperation mechanisms.

Spain has maintained its special relation with Hispanic America and the Philippines. Its policy emphasises the concept of an Iberoamerican community, essentially the renewal of the historically liberal concept of "Hispanidad" or "Hispanismo", as it is often referred to in English, which has sought to link the Iberian Peninsula with Hispanic America through language, commerce, history and culture.

Territorial disputes

Spain claims Gibraltar, a 6-square-kilometre (2.3 sq mi) Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom in the southernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula. Then a Spanish town, it was conquered by an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of Archduke Charles, pretender to the Spanish throne.

The legal situation concerning Gibraltar was settled in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht, in which Spain ceded the territory in perpetuity to the British Crown stating that, should the British abandon this post, it would be offered to Spain first. Since the 1940s Spain has called for the return of Gibraltar. The overwhelming majority of Gibraltarians strongly oppose this, along with any proposal of shared sovereignty. UN resolutions call on the United Kingdom and Spain, both EU members, to reach an agreement over the status of Gibraltar.

The Spanish claim makes a distinction between the isthmus that connects the Rock to the Spanish mainland on the one hand, and the Rock and city of Gibraltar on the other. While the Rock and city were ceded by the Treaty of Utrecht, Spain asserts that the "occupation of the isthmus is illegal and against the principles of International Law". The United Kingdom relies on de facto arguments of possession by prescription in relation to the isthmus, as there has been "continuous possession over a long period".

Another claim by Spain is about the Savage Islands, a claim not recognized by Portugal. Spain claims they are rocks and not islands therefore claiming there is no Portuguese territorial waters around the disputed islands, on 5 July 2013 Spain sent a letter to the UN expressing these views.

Spain claims the sovereignty over the Perejil Island, a small, uninhabited rocky islet located in the South shore of the Strait of Gibraltar. The island lies 250 metres (820 ft) just off the coast of Morocco, 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Ceuta and 13.5 kilometres (8.4 mi) from mainland Spain. Its sovereignty is disputed between Spain and Morocco. It was the subject of an armed incident between the two countries in 2002. The incident ended when both countries agreed to return to the status quo ante which existed prior to the Moroccan occupation of the island. The islet is now deserted and without any sign of sovereignty.

Besides the Perejil Island, the Spanish-held territories claimed by other countries are two: Morocco claims the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla and the plazas de soberanía islets off the northern coast of Africa; and Portugal does not recognise Spain''s sovereignty over the territory of Olivenza.

Military Main article: Spanish Armed ForcesExamples of Spain''s military: aircraft carrier/assault ship Juan Carlos I (L61), multirole fighter Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing CH-47 Chinook, universal tank Leopard 2

The armed forces of Spain are known as the Spanish Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Españolas). Their Commander-in-chief is the King of Spain, Felipe VI.

The Spanish Armed Forces are divided into three branches:

  • Army (Ejército de Tierra)
  • Navy (Armada)
  • Air Force (Ejército del Aire)
Economy Main article: Economy of Spain Recent backgroundTorre Agbar, Barcelona

Spain''s capitalist mixed economy is the 14th largest worldwide and the 5th largest in the European Union, as well as the Eurozone''s 4th largest.

The centre-right government of former prime minister José María Aznar worked successfully to gain admission to the group of countries launching the euro in 1999. Unemployment stood at 7.6% in October 2006, a rate that compared favourably to many other European countries, and especially with the early 1990s when it stood at over 20%. Perennial weak points of Spain''s economy include high inflation, a large underground economy, and an education system which OECD reports place among the poorest for developed countries, together with the United States and UK.

By the mid-1990s the economy had recommmenced the growth that had been disrupted by the global recession of the early 1990s. The strong economic growth helped the government to reduce the government debt as a percentage of GDP and Spain''s high unemployment began to drop steadily. With the government budget in balance and inflation under control Spain was admitted into the Eurozone in 1999.

Since the 1990s some Spanish companies have gained multinational status, often expanding their activities in culturally close Latin America. Spain is the second biggest foreign investor there, after the United States. Spanish companies have also expanded into Asia, especially China and India. This early global expansion is a competitive advantage over its competitors and European neighbours. The reason for this early expansion is the booming interest toward Spanish language and culture in Asia and Africa and a corporate culture that learned to take risks in unstable markets.

Spanish companies invested in fields like renewable energy commercialisation (Iberdrola was the world''s largest renewable energy operator), technology companies like Telefónica, Abengoa, Mondragon Corporation, Movistar, Hisdesat, Indra, train manufacturers like CAF, Talgo, global corporations such as the textile company Inditex, petroleum companies like Repsol and infrastructure, with six of the ten biggest international construction firms specialising in transport being Spanish, like Ferrovial, Acciona, ACS, OHL and FCC.

Property boom and bust Main article: Spanish property bubbleCuatro Torres Business Area in Madrid

The adoption of the Euro saw a marked reduction in interest rates to historic lows. The growth in the Spanish property market, which had begun in 1997, accelerated and within a few years had developed into a property bubble, financed largely by the cajas (regional savings banks under the oversight of the regional governments) and fed by the historically low interest rates and a massive growth of immigration. The Spanish economy was credited for having avoided the virtual zero growth rate of some of its largest partners in the EU.

Spain''s economy created more than half of all the new jobs in the European Union over the five years ending 2005. The bubble imploded in 2008, causing the collapse of Spain''s large property related and construction sectors, causing mass layoffs, and a collapsing domestic demand for goods and services. By the end of May 2009, unemployment reached 18.7% (37% for youths).

At first, Spain''s banks and financial services avoided the early crisis of their counterparts in the US and UK. This was particularly the case with Spain''s international banks, Banco Santander and BBVA, that had diversified, international portfolios and had actively limited their exposure to housing mortgage risk. Banco Santander was able to profit from the global financial crisis by taking over distressed British banking firms. However, as the recession deepened and property prices slid, the growing bad debts of the smaller regional savings banks, the cajas, forced the intervention of Spain''s central bank and government through a stabilisation and consolidation program, taking over or consolidating regional cajas and finally receiving a bank bailout from the European Central Bank in 2012.

The urban transformation of Bilbao has been hailed as an example of "smart city" thinking and improved quality of life.Quality of life

Research about quality of life by the Economist Intelligence Unit''s quality of life survey placed Spain among the top 10 in the world for 2005, ahead of other economically advanced countries like France, Germany, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

Agriculture Main article: Agriculture in SpainA vineyard growing grapes for Rioja wine, La RiojaA market garden of Murcia.

Crop areas were farmed in two highly diverse manners. Areas relying on nonirrigated cultivation (secano), which made up 85% of the entire crop area, depended solely on rainfall as a source of water. They included the humid regions of the north and the northwest, as well as vast arid zones that had not been irrigated. The much more productive regions devoted to irrigated cultivation (regadio) accounted for 3 million hectares in 1986, and the government hoped that this area would eventually double, as it already had doubled since 1950. Particularly noteworthy was the development in Almeria — one of the most arid and desolate provinces of Spain — of winter crops of various fruits and vegetables for export to Europe.

Though only about 17% of Spain''s cultivated land was irrigated, it was estimated to be the source of between 40-45% of the gross value of crop production and of 50% of the value of agricultural exports. More than half of the irrigated area was planted in corn, fruit trees, and vegetables. Other agricultural products that benefited from irrigation included grapes, cotton, sugar beets, potatoes, legumes, olive trees, mangos, strawberries, tomatoes, and fodder grasses. Depending on the nature of the crop, it was possible to harvest two successive crops in the same year on about 10% of the country''s irrigated land.

Citrus fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, olive oil, and wine — Spain''s traditional agricultural products — continued to be important in the 1980s. In 1983 they represented 12%, 12%, 8%, 6%, and 4%, respectively, of the country''s agricultural production. Because of the changed diet of an increasingly affluent population, there was a notable increase in the consumption of livestock, poultry, and dairy products. Meat production for domestic consumption became the single most important agricultural activity, accounting for 30% of all farm-related production in 1983. Increased attention to livestock was the reason that Spain became a net importer of grains. Ideal growing conditions, combined with proximity to important north European markets, made citrus fruits Spain''s leading export. Fresh vegetables and fruits produced through intensive irrigation farming also became important export commodities, as did sunflower seed oil that was produced to compete with the more expensive olive oils in oversupply throughout the Mediterranean countries of the EC.

TourismBenidorm, one of Europe''s largest coastal tourist destinationsMain article: Tourism in Spain

The climate of Spain, its geographic location, popular coastlines, diverse landscapes, historical legacy, vibrant culture and excellent infrastructure, has made Spain''s international tourist industry among the largest in the world. In the last five decades, international tourism in Spain has grown to become the second largest in the world in terms of spending, worth approximately 40 billion Euros or about 5% of GDP in 2006.

Energy Main article: Energy in SpainWind turbines in Galicia. Spain is the fourth producer of wind power in the world.

Spain is one of the world''s leading countries in the development and production of renewable energy. In 2010 Spain became the solar power world leader when it overtook the United States with a massive power station plant called La Florida, near Alvarado, Badajoz. Spain is also Europe''s main producer of wind energy. In 2010 its wind turbines generated 42,976 GWh, which accounted for 16.4% of all electrical energy produced in Spain. On 9 November 2010, wind energy reached an instantaneous historic peak covering 53% of mainland electricity demand and generating an amount of energy that is equivalent to that of 14 nuclear reactors. Other renewable energies used in Spain are hydroelectric, biomass and marine (2 power plants under construction).

Non-renewable energy sources used in Spain are nuclear (8 operative reactors), gas, coal, and oil. Fossil fuels together generated 58% of Spain''s electricity in 2009, just below the OECD mean of 61%. Nuclear power generated another 19%, and wind and hydro about 12% each.

Transport Main article: Transport in Spain

The Spanish road system is mainly centralized, with six highways connecting Madrid to the Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia, West Andalusia, Extremadura and Galicia. Additionally, there are highways along the Atlantic (Ferrol to Vigo), Cantabrian (Oviedo to San Sebastián) and Mediterranean (Girona to Cádiz) coasts. Spain aims to put one million electric cars on the road by 2014 as part of the government''s plan to save energy and boost energy efficiency. The Minister of Industry Miguel Sebastian said that "the electric vehicle is the future and the engine of an industrial revolution."

AVE high-speed trains.

Spain has the most extensive high-speed rail network in Europe, and the second-most extensive in the world after China. As of October 2010, Spain has a total of 3,500 km (2,174.80 mi) of high-speed tracks linking Málaga, Seville, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Valladolid, with the trains reaching speeds up to 300 km/h (190 mph). On average, the Spanish high-speed train is the fastest one in the world, followed by the Japanese bullet train and the French TGV. Regarding punctuality, it is second in the world (98.54% on-time arrival) after the Japanese Shinkansen (99%). Should the aims of the ambitious AVE program (Spanish high speed trains) be met, by 2020 Spain will have 7,000 km (4,300 mi) of high-speed trains linking almost all provincial cities to Madrid in less than three hours and Barcelona within four hours.

There are 47 public airports in Spain. The busiest one is the airport of Madrid (Barajas), with 50 million passengers in 2011, being the world''s 15th busiest airport, as well as the European Union''s fourth busiest. The airport of Barcelona (El Prat) is also important, with 35 million passengers in 2011, being the world''s 31st-busiest airport. Other main airports are located in Majorca (23 million passengers), Málaga (13 million passengers), Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) (11 million passengers), Alicante (10 million passengers) and smaller, with the number of passengers between 4 and 10 million, for example Tenerife (two airports), Valencia, Seville, Bilbao, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura. Also, more than 30 airports with the number of passengers below 4 million.

DemographicsValencia. The Mediterranean coast is the most densely inhabitated area in Spain.Main article: Demographics of Spain See also: List of Spanish autonomous communities by population

In 2008 the population of Spain officially reached 46 million people, as recorded by the Padrón municipal (Spain''s Municipal Register). Spain''s population density, at 91/km² (235/sq mi), is lower than that of most Western European countries and its distribution across the country is very unequal. With the exception of the region surrounding the capital, Madrid, the most populated areas lie around the coast. The population of Spain more than doubled since 1900, when it stood at 18.6 million, principally due to the spectacular demographic boom in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Native Spaniards make up 88% of the total population of Spain. After the birth rate plunged in the 1980s and Spain''s population growth rate dropped, the population again trended upward, based initially on the return of many Spaniards who had emigrated to other European countries during the 1970s, and more recently, fuelled by large numbers of immigrants who make up 12% of the population. The immigrants originate mainly in Latin America (39%), North Africa (16%), Eastern Europe (15%), and Sub-Saharan Africa (4%). In 2005, Spain instituted a three-month amnesty program through which certain hitherto undocumented aliens were granted legal residency.

In 2008, Spain granted citizenship to 84,170 persons, mostly to people from Ecuador, Colombia and Morocco. A sizeable portion of foreign residents in Spain also comes from other Western and Central European countries. These are mostly British, French, German, Dutch, and Norwegian. They reside primarily on the Mediterranean coast and the Balearic islands, where many choose to live their retirement or telecommute.

Substantial populations descended from Spanish colonists and immigrants exist in other parts of the world, most notably in Latin America. Beginning in the late 15th century, large numbers of Iberian colonists settled in what became Latin America and at present most white Latin Americans (who make up about one-third of Latin America''s population) are of Spanish or Portuguese origin. Around 240,000 Spaniards emigrated in the 16th century, mostly to Peru and Mexico. Another 450,000 left in the 17th century. Between 1846 and 1932 it is estimated that nearly 5 million Spaniards emigrated to the Americas, especially to Argentina and Brazil. Approximately two million Spaniards migrated to other Western European countries between 1960 and 1975. During the same period perhaps 300,000 went to Latin America.

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Largest cities or towns of Spain Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE)Rank Name Autonomous community Pop. Rank Name Autonomous community Pop.
MadridBarcelona 1 Madrid Madrid 3,233,527 11 Alicante Valencia 334,678 ValenciaSeville
2 Barcelona Catalonia 1,620,943 12 Córdoba Andalusia 328,841
3 Valencia Valencia 797,028 13 Valladolid Castile and León 311,501
4 Seville Andalusia 702,355 14 Vigo Galicia 297,355
5 Zaragoza Aragon 679,624 15 Gijón Asturias 277,733
6 Málaga Andalusia 567,433 16 L''Hospitalet Catalonia 257,057
7 Murcia Murcia 441,354 17 A Coruña Galicia 246,146
8 Palma Balearic Islands 407,648 18 Vitoria-Gasteiz Basque Country 242,223
9 Las Palmas Canary Islands 382,296 19 Granada Andalusia 239,017
10 Bilbao Basque Country 351,629 20 Elche Valencia 230,587
Metropolitan areas Main article: List of metropolitan areas in SpainGeographical distribution of the Spanish population in 2008

Source: "Áreas urbanas +50", Ministry of Public Works and Transport (2013)

e • d  Rank Metro area Autonomous community Population Government data Other estimations
1 Madrid Madrid 6,052,247 5.4 – 6.5 m
2 Barcelona Catalonia 5,030,679 4.2 – 5.1 m
3 Valencia Valencia 1,551,585 1.5 – 2.3 m
4 Seville Andalusia 1,294,867 1.2 – 1.3 m
5 Málaga Andalusia 953,251
6 Bilbao Basque Country 910,578
7 Oviedo–Gijón–Avilés Asturias 835,053
8 Zaragoza Aragon 746,152
9 Alicante–Elche Valencia 698,662
10 Murcia Murcia 643,854
Peoples Main articles: Spanish people and Nationalisms and regionalisms of SpainAsturian folk musicians with bagpipes.

The Spanish Constitution of 1978, in its second article, recognises historic entities—nationalities (a carefully chosen word to avoid the more politically charged "nations")—and regions, within the context of the Spanish nation. For some people, Spain''s identity consists more of an overlap of different regional identities than of a sole Spanish identity. Indeed, some of the regional identities may even conflict with the Spanish one. Distinct traditional regional identities within Spain include the Basques, Catalans, Galicians, Cantabrians and Castilians, among others.

It is this last feature of "shared identity" between the more local level or Autonomous Community and the Spanish level which makes the identity question in Spain complex and far from univocal.

Minority groups

Spain has a number of descendants of populations from former colonies, especially Latin America and North Africa. Smaller numbers of immigrants from several Sub-Saharan countries have recently been settling in Spain. There are also sizeable numbers of Asian immigrants, most of whom are of Middle Eastern, South Asian and Chinese origin. The single largest group of immigrants are European; represented by large numbers of Britons, Germans, French and others.

The arrival of the gitanos, a Romani people, began in the 16th century; estimates of the Spanish Gitano population fluctuate around 700,000. There are also the mercheros (also quinquis), a formerly nomadic minority group. Their origin is unclear.

Historically, Sephardi Jews and moriscos are the main minority groups originated in Spain and with a contribution to Spanish culture. The Spanish government is offering Spanish nationality to sephardi Jews.

Immigration Main article: Immigration to SpainMarbella, Málaga, where Britons — who are the third biggest immigrant community in Spain — reside in large numbers.

According to the Spanish government there were 5.7 million foreign residents in Spain in 2011, or 12% of the total population. According to residence permit data for 2011, more than 860,000 were Romanian, about 770,000 were Moroccan, approximately 390,000 were British, and 360,000 were Ecuadorian. Other sizeable foreign communities are Colombian, Bolivian, German, Italian, Bulgarian, and Chinese. There are more than 200,000 migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa living in Spain, principally Senegaleses and Nigerians. Since 2000, Spain has experienced high population growth as a result of immigration flows, despite a birth rate that is only half the replacement level. This sudden and ongoing inflow of immigrants, particularly those arriving illegally by sea, has caused noticeable social tension.

Palma de Mallorca where a large population of Germans live.

Within the EU, Spain had the 2nd highest immigration rate in percentage terms after Cyprus, but by a great margin, the highest in absolute numbers, up to 2008. The number of immigrants in Spain had grown up from 500,000 people in 1996 to 5.2 million in 2008 out of a total population of 46 million. In 2005 alone, a regularisation programme increased the legal immigrant population by 700,000 people. There are a number of reasons for the high level of immigration, including Spain''s cultural ties with Latin America, its geographical position, the porosity of its borders, the large size of its underground economy and the strength of the agricultural and construction sectors, which demand more low cost labour than can be offered by the national workforce.

Another statistically significant factor is the large number of residents of EU origin typically retiring to Spain''s Mediterranean coast. In fact, Spain was Europe''s largest absorber of migrants from 2002 to 2007, with its immigrant population more than doubling as 2.5 million people arrived. In 2008, prior to the onset of the economic crisis, the Financial Times reported that Spain was the most favoured destination for Western Europeans considering a move from their own country and seeking jobs elsewhere in the EU.

In 2008, the government instituted a "Plan of Voluntary Return" which encouraged unemployed immigrants from outside the EU to return to their home countries and receive several incentives, including the right to keep their unemployment benefits and transfer whatever they contributed to the Spanish Social Security. The program had little effect; during its first two months, just 1,400 immigrants took up the offer. What the program failed to do, the sharp and prolonged economic crisis has done from 2010 to 2011 in that tens of thousands of immigrants have left the country due to lack of jobs. In 2011 alone, more than half a million people left Spain. For the first time in decades the net migration rate was expected to be negative, and nine out of 10 emigrants were foreigners.

Languages Main article: Languages of SpainThe languages of Spain (simplified)
  Spanish official and spoken all over the country   Catalan/Valencian, co-official   Basque, co-official   Galician, coofficial   Aranese (a dialect of Occitan), co-official   Asturian, recognized   Aragonese, recognized   Leonese, unofficial   Extremaduran, unofficial   Fala, unofficial

Spain is openly multilingual, and the constitution establishes that the nation will protect "all Spaniards and the peoples of Spain in the exercise of human rights, their cultures and traditions, languages and institutions.

Spanish (español)—officially recognized in the constitution as Castilian (castellano)—is the official language of the entire country, and it is the right and duty of every Spaniard to know the language. The constitution also establishes that "all other Spanish languages"—that is, all other languages of Spain—will also be official in their respective autonomous communities in accordance to their Statutes, their organic regional legislations, and that the "richness of the distinct linguistic modalities of Spain represents a patrimony which will be the object of special respect and protection."

The other official languages of Spain, co-official with Spanish are:

  • Basque (euskara) in the Basque Country and Navarre;
  • Catalan (català) in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and in the Valencian Community, where its distinct modality of the language is officially known as Valencian (valencià); and
  • Galician (galego) in Galicia

As a percentage of the general population, Basque is spoken by 2%, Catalan (or Valencian) by 17%, and Galician by 7% of all Spaniards.

In Catalonia, Aranese (aranés), a local variety of the Occitan language, has been declared co-official along with Catalan and Spanish since 2006. It is spoken only in the comarca of Val d''Aran by roughly 6,700 people. Other Romance minority languages, though not official, have special recognition, such as the Astur-Leonese group (Asturian, asturianu; also called "bable", in Asturias and Leonese, llionés, in Castile and León) and Aragonese (aragonés) in Aragon.

In the North African Spanish autonomous city of Melilla, Riff Berber is spoken by a significant part of the population. In the tourist areas of the Mediterranean coast and the islands, English and German are widely spoken by tourists, foreign residents, and tourism workers.

Education Main article: Education in Spain

State education in Spain is free and compulsory from the age of 6 to 16. The current education system was established by an educational law of 2006, LOE (Ley Orgánica de Educación), or Fundamental Law of Education.

Religion Main article: Religion in Spain Further information: History of the Jews in Spain, Bahá''í Faith in Spain, Hinduism in Spain and Islam in Spain Religions in Spain
Catholicism    69%
No religion    26%
Other faith    2%
No answer    3%
Numbers from the following source:

Roman Catholicism has long been the main religion of Spain, and although it no longer has official status by law, in all public schools in Spain students have to choose either a religion or ethics class, and Catholicism is the only religion officially taught. According to an April 2014 study by the Spanish Centre for Sociological Research about 69% of Spaniards self-identify as Catholics, 2% other faith, and about 26% identify with no religion (9.4% of the total are atheists). Most Spaniards do not participate regularly in religious services. This same study shows that of the Spaniards who identify themselves as religious, 59% hardly ever or never go to church, 15% go to church some times a year, 8% some time per month and 14% every Sunday or multiple times per week.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, A Coruña; terminus of the Camino de Santiago

Altogether, about 22% of the entire Spanish population attends religious services at least once per month. Though Spanish society has become considerably more secular in recent decades, the influx of Latin American immigrants, who tend to be strong Catholic practitioners, has helped the Catholic Church to recover.

There have been four Spanish Popes. Damasus I, Calixtus III, Alexander VI and Benedict XIII. Spanish misticism was an important intellectual fight against Protestantism with Teresa of Ávila, a reformist nun, ahead. The Society of Jesus was founded by Ignatius of Loyola.

Protestant churches have about 1,200,000 members. There are about 105,000 Jehovah''s Witnesses. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has approximately 46,000 adherents in 133 congregations in all regions of the country and has a temple in the Moratalaz District of Madrid.

A study made by Unión de Comunidades Islámicas de España demonstrated that there were about 1,700,000 inhabitants of Muslim background living in Spain as of 2012, accounting for 3-4% of the total population of Spain. The vast majority was composed of immigrants and descendants originating from Morocco and other African countries. More than 514,000 (30%) of them had Spanish nationality.

The recent waves of immigration have also led to an increasing number of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Muslims. After the Reconquista in 1492, Muslims did not live in Spain for centuries. Late 19th-century colonial expansion in northwestern Africa gave a number of residents in Spanish Morocco and Western Sahara full citizenship. Their ranks have since been bolstered by recent immigration, especially from Morocco and Algeria.

Judaism was practically non-existent in Spain from the 1492 expulsion until the 19th century, when Jews were again permitted to enter the country. Currently there are around 62,000 Jews in Spain, or 0.14% of the total population. Most are arrivals in the past century, while some are descendants of earlier Spanish Jews. Approximately 80,000 Jews are thought to have lived in Spain on the eve of the Spanish Inquisition.

CultureSalamanca is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The School of Salamanca was the intellectual origin of human rights theories and modern international law.Main article: Culture of Spain

Culturally, Spain is a Western country. Because of the great strength of the Roman heritage in almost every aspect of Spanish life, Spain is often described as a Latin country. Nevertheless, there have been many influences on many aspects of Spanish life, from art and architecture to cuisine and music, from many countries across Europe and from around the Mediterranean, through its long history.

Monuments and World Heritage SitesAqueduct of Segovia, Roman.Santa María del Naranco, pre-romanesque.Sant Climent de Taüll in Vall de Boí, Romanesque.Cathedral of Burgos, Gothic.Santa María de Guadalupe Monastery, Mudéjar.Llotja de la Seda, Renaissance.Main article: World Heritage Sites in Spain See also: Castles in Spain and Cathedrals in Spain

It should be noted tha that after Italy (49) and China (45), Spain is the third country in the world with the most world heritage sites. At the present time it has 44 recognized sites, including Monte Perdido at the Pyrenees, which is shared with France. In addition, Spain has also 14 Intangible cultural heritage, or "Human treasures", Spain ranks first in Europe according to UNESCO''s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, tied with Croatia.

  • 1984 — Obras de Antoni Gaudí (in Spanish) (Barcelona).
  • 1984 — Monasterio y Sitio de El Escorial en Madrid (Community of Madrid).
  • 1984 — Cathedral of Burgos (Burgos).
  • 1984 — Alhambra, Generalife y Albaicín (Granada).
  • 1984 — Historic centre of Córdoba (Córdoba).
  • 1985 — Santa María del Naranco (Principality of Asturias).
  • 1985 — Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain (Cantabria, Principality of Asturias, Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa).
  • 1985 — Segovia''s old town and it''s Aqueduct (Segovia).
  • 1985 — Santiago de Compostela''s old town (La Coruña).
  • 1985 — Ávila''s old town, wall and churches (Ávila).
  • 1986 — Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon (Teruel, Zaragoza).
  • 1986 — Parque nacional de Garajonay (Santa Cruz de Tenerife).
  • 1986 — Ciudad vieja de Cáceres (Cáceres).
  • 1986 — Historic city of Toledo (Toledo).
  • 1987 — Cathedral, alcázar and General Archive of the Indies in Seville (Seville).
  • 1988 — Salamanca''s old town (Salamanca).
  • 1991 — Poblet Monastery (Tarragona).
  • 1993 — Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (Badajoz).
  • 1993 — Santa María de Guadalupe Monastery (Cáceres).
  • 1993 — Camino de Santiago de Compostela (Comunidad Foral de Navarra, Huesca, La Rioja, Burgos, Palencia, León, Lugo and La Coruña).
  • 1994 — Parque nacional de Doñana (Cádiz, Huelva and Seville).
  • 1996 — Historic city of Cuenca (Cuenca).
  • 1996 — Lonja de la seda de Valencia (Valencia).
  • 1997 — Palau de la Música Catalana and hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona (Barcelona).
  • 1997 — Las Médulas (León).
  • 1997 — Ordesa national park and Monte Perdido (Huesca).
  • 1997 — Monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla (La Rioja).
  • 1998 — Rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin (Alicante, Castellón, Valencia, Teruel, Huesca, Zaragoza, Albacete, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Region of Murcia, Jaén, Almería, Granada, Tarragona, Lérida y Barcelona).
  • 1998 — University and historical city of Alcalá de Henares (Community of Madrid).
  • 1999 — Ibiza, biodiversity and culture (Islas Baleares).
  • 1999 — San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Santa Cruz de Tenerife).
  • 2000 — Archaeological Site of Atapuerca (Burgos).
  • 2000 — Palmeral of Elche (Alicante).
  • 2000 — Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí (Lérida).
  • 2000 — Roman Walls of Lugo (Lugo).
  • 2000 — Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco (Tarragona).
  • 2001 — Mistery play of Elche (Alicante).
  • 2001 — Cultural landscape of Aranjuez (Community of Madrid).
  • 2003 — Renaissance monumental sites in Úbeda and Baeza (Jaén).
  • 2006 — Vizcaya Bridge (Vizcaya).
  • 2007 — Teide National Park (Santa Cruz de Tenerife).
  • 2009 — Tower of Hercules (La Coruña).
  • 2010 — Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde Paleolithic Art (Salamanca).
  • 2011 — The Cultural Landscape of Serra de Tramuntana (Islas Baleares).
  • 2012 — Heritage of mercury (Almadén and Idria) (Ciudad Real).

Alhambra in Granada with Sierra Nevada.Literature Main articles: Spanish literature, Royal Spanish Academy and Instituto Cervantes

The earliest recorded examples of vernacular Romance-based literature date from the same time and location, the rich mix of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures in Muslim Spain, in which Maimonides, Averroes, and others worked, the Kharjas (Jarchas).

During the Reconquista, the epic poem Cantar de Mio Cid was written about a real man—his battles, conquests, and daily life.

Bronze statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, with Miguel de Cervantes, in the Plaza de España in Madrid.

Other major plays from the medieval times were Mester de Juglaría, Mester de Clerecía, Coplas por la muerte de su padre or El Libro de buen amor (The Book of Good Love).

During the Renaissance the major plays are La Celestina and El Lazarillo de Tormes, while many religious literature was created with poets as Luis de León, San Juan de la Cruz, Santa Teresa de Jesús, etc.

The Baroque is the most important period for Spanish culture. We are in the times of the Spanish Empire. The famous Don Quijote de La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes was written in this time. Other writers from the period are: Francisco de Quevedo, Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca or Tirso de Molina.

During the Enlightenment we find names such as Leandro Fernández de Moratín, Benito Jerónimo Feijóo, Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos or Leandro Fernández de Moratín.

During the Romanticism, José Zorrilla created one of the most emblematic figures in European literature in Don Juan Tenorio. Other writers from this period are Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, José de Espronceda, Rosalía de Castro or Mariano José de Larra.

In Realism we find names such as Benito Pérez Galdós, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Leopoldo Alas (Clarín) or Vicente Blasco Ibáñez and Menéndez Pelayo. Realism offered depictions of contemporary life and society ''as they were''. In the spirit of general "Realism", Realist authors opted for depictions of everyday and banal activities and experiences, instead of romanticized or stylized presentations.

The group that has become known as the Generation of 1898 was marked by the destruction of Spain''s fleet in Cuba by US gunboats in 1898, which provoked a cultural crisis in Spain. The "Disaster" of 1898 led established writers to seek practical political, economic, and social solutions in essays grouped under the literary heading of Regeneracionismo. For a group of younger writers, among them Miguel de Unamuno, Pío Baroja, and José Martínez Ruiz (Azorín), the Disaster and its cultural repercussions inspired a deeper, more radical literary shift that affected both form and content. These writers, along with Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Antonio Machado, Ramiro de Maeztu, and Ángel Ganivet, came to be known as the ''Generation of 98.''

Miguel de Unamuno, José Ortega y Gasset and Federico García Lorca

The Generation of 1914 or Novecentismo. The next supposed “generation” of Spanish writers following those of ´98 already calls into question the value of such terminology. By the year 1914—the year of the outbreak of the First World War and of the publication of the first major work of the generation''s leading voice, José Ortega y Gasset—a number of slightly younger writers had established their own place within the Spanish cultural field.

Leading voices include the poet Juan Ramón Jiménez, the academics and essayists Ramón Menéndez Pidal, Gregorio Marañón, Manuel Azaña, Maria Zambrano, Eugeni d''Ors, and Ortega y Gasset, and the novelists Gabriel Miró, Ramón Pérez de Ayala, and Ramón Gómez de la Serna. While still driven by the national and existential questions that obsessed the writers of ´98, they approached these topics with a greater sense of distance and objectivity. Salvador de Madariaga, another prominent intellectual and writer, was one of the founders of the College of Europe and the composer of the constitutive manifest of the Liberal International.

The Generation of 1927, where poets Pedro Salinas, Jorge Guillén, Federico García Lorca, Vicente Aleixandre, Dámaso Alonso. All were scholars of their national literary heritage, again evidence of the impact of the calls of regeneracionistas and the Generation of 1898 for Spanish intelligence to turn at least partially inwards.

The two main writers in the second half of the 20th century were the Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Camilo José Cela and Miguel Delibes. Spain is one of the countries with the most number of laureates with the Nobel Prize in Literature, and with Latin American laureates they made the Spanish language literature one of the most laureates of all. The Spanish writers are: José Echegaray, Jacinto Benavente, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Vicente Aleixandre and Camilo José Cela. The Portuguese writer José Saramago, also awarded with the prize, lived for many years in Spain and spoke both Portuguese and Spanish. He was also well known by his Iberist ideas.

See also: Catalan literature, Basque literature, Galician-language literature and Latin American literature ArtLas Meninas (1656), Diego Velázquez, Museo del Prado.Main article: Spanish art

Artists from Spain have been highly influential in the development of various European artistic movements. Due to historical, geographical and generational diversity, Spanish art has known a great number of influences. The Moorish heritage in Spain, especially in Andalusia, is still evident today and European influences include Italy, Germany and France, especially during the Baroque and Neoclassical periods.

During the Golden Age we find painters such as El Greco, José de Ribera and Francisco Zurbarán. Also inside Baroque period Diego Velázquez created some of the most famous Spanish portraits, like Las Meninas or Las Hilanderas.

Francisco Goya painted during a historical period that includes the Spanish Independence War, the fights between liberals and absolutists, and the raise of state-nations.

Joaquín Sorolla is a well-known impressionist painter and there are many important Spanish painters belonging to the modernism art movement, including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Juan Gris and Joan Miró.

Cinema Main article: Cinema of SpainPedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz in Cannes.

Spanish cinema has achieved major international success including Oscars for recent films such as Pan''s Labyrinth and Volver. In the long history of Spanish cinema, the great filmmaker Luis Buñuel was the first to achieve world recognition, followed by Pedro Almodóvar in the 1980s. Spanish cinema has also seen international success over the years with films by directors like Segundo de Chomón, Florián Rey, Luis García Berlanga, Carlos Saura, Julio Medem, Alejandro Amenábar, and brothers David Trueba and Fernando Trueba.

Actresses as Sara Montiel or Penélope Cruz are among those who have become Hollywood stars.

Architecture Main article: Spanish architectureThe Sagrada Família by Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona

Due to its historical and geographical diversity, Spanish architecture has drawn from a host of influences. An important provincial city founded by the Romans and with an extensive Roman era infrastructure, Córdoba became the cultural capital, including fine Arabic style architecture, during the time of the Islamic Umayyad dynasty. Later Arab style architecture continued to be developed under successive Islamic dynasties, ending with the Nasrid, which built its famed palace complex in Granada.

Simultaneously, the Christian kingdoms gradually emerged and developed their own styles; developing a pre-Romanesque style when for a while isolated from contemporary mainstream European architectural influences during the earlier Middle Ages, they later integrated the Romanesque and Gothic streams. There was then an extraordinary flowering of the gothic style that resulted in numerous instances being built throughout the entire territory. The Mudéjar style, from the 12th to 17th centuries, was developed by introducing Arab style motifs, patterns and elements into European architecture.

The arrival of Modernism in the academic arena produced much of the architecture of the 20th century. An influential style centred in Barcelona, known as modernisme, produced a number of important architects, of which Gaudí is one. The International style was led by groups like GATEPAC. Spain is currently experiencing a revolution in contemporary architecture and Spanish architects like Rafael Moneo, Santiago Calatrava, Ricardo Bofill as well as many others have gained worldwide renown.

Music and dance Main article: Music of SpainFlamenco is an Andalusian artistic form that evolved from the Seguidilla

Spanish music is often considered abroad to be synonymous with flamenco, a West Andalusian musical genre, which, contrary to popular belief, is not widespread outside that region. Various regional styles of folk music abound in Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, Castile, the Basque Country, Galicia and Asturias. Pop, rock, hip hop and heavy metal are also popular.

In the field of classical music, Spain has produced a number of noted composers such as Isaac Albéniz, Manuel de Falla and Enrique Granados and singers and performers such as Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Montserrat Caballé, Alicia de Larrocha, Alfredo Kraus, Pablo Casals, Ricardo Viñes, José Iturbi, Pablo de Sarasate, Jordi Savall and Teresa Berganza. In Spain there are over forty professional orchestras, including the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona, Orquesta Nacional de España and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid. Major opera houses include the Teatro Real,the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Arriaga and the El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía.

Thousands of music fans also travel to Spain each year for internationally recognized summer music festivals Sónar which often features the top up and coming pop and techno acts, and Benicàssim which tends to feature alternative rock and dance acts. Both festivals mark Spain as an international music presence and reflect the tastes of young people in the country.

The most popular traditional musical instrument, the guitar, originated in Spain. Typical of the north are the traditional bag pipers or gaiteros, mainly in Asturias and Galicia.

Cuisine Main article: Spanish cuisinePaella, a traditional Valencian dish

Spanish cuisine consists of a great variety of dishes which stem from differences in geography, culture and climate. It is heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters that surround the country, and reflects the country''s deep Mediterranean roots. Spain''s extensive history with many cultural influences has led to a unique cuisine. In particular, three main divisions are easily identified:

Mediterranean Spain – all such coastal regions, from Catalonia to Andalusia: heavy use of seafood, such as pescaíto frito; several cold soups like gazpacho; and many rice-based dishes like paella from Valencia and arròs negre (arroz negro) from Catalonia.

Inner Spain – Castile – hot, thick soups such as the bread and garlic-based Castilian soup, along with substantious stews such as cocido madrileño. Food is traditionally conserved by salting, like Spanish ham, or immersed in olive oil, like Manchego cheese.

Atlantic Spain – the whole Northern coast, including Asturian, Basque, Cantabrian and Galician cuisine: vegetable and fish-based stews like pote gallego and marmitako. Also, the lightly cured lacón ham. The best known cuisine of the northern countries often rely on ocean seafood, like the Basque-style cod, albacore or anchovy or the Galician octopus-based polbo á feira and shellfish dishes.

Science and technologyRoque de los Muchachos Observatory, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias.

In the 19th and 20th centuries science in Spain was held back by severe political instability and consequent economic underdevelopment. Despite the conditions, some important scientists and engineers emerged. The most notable were Miguel Servet, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol, Celedonio Calatayud, Juan de la Cierva, Leonardo Torres y Quevedo and Severo Ochoa.

Sport1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.Main article: Sport in Spain

While varieties of football had been played in Spain as far back as Roman times, sport in Spain has been dominated by English style association football since the early 20th century. Real Madrid C.F. and FC Barcelona are two of the most successful football clubs in the world. The country''s national football team won the UEFA European Football Championship in 1964, 2008 and 2012 and the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and is the first team to ever win three back-to-back international tournaments.

Basketball, tennis, cycling, handball, futsal, motorcycling and, lately, Formula One are also important due to the presence of Spanish champions in all these disciplines. Today, Spain is a major world sports powerhouse, especially since the 1992 Summer Olympics that were hosted in Barcelona, which stimulated a great deal of interest in sports in the country. The tourism industry has led to an improvement in sports infrastructure, especially for water sports, golf and skiing.

Rafael Nadal is the leading Spanish tennis player and has won several Grand Slam titles including the Wimbledon 2010 men''s singles. In north Spain, the game of pelota is very popular. Alberto Contador is the leading Spanish cyclist and has won several Grand Tour titles including two Tour de France titles.

Public holidays and festivals Main article: Public holidays in SpainSan Fermín festival, Pamplona

Public holidays celebrated in Spain include a mix of religious (Roman Catholic), national and regional observances. Each municipality is allowed to declare a maximum of 14 public holidays per year; up to nine of these are chosen by the national government and at least two are chosen locally. Spain''s National Day (Fiesta Nacional de España) is 12 October, the anniversary of the Discovery of America and commemorate Our Lady of the Pillar feast, patroness of Aragon and throughout Spain.

There are many festivals and festivities in Spain. Some of them are known worldwide, and every year millions of people from all over the world go to Spain to experience one of these festivals. One of the most famous is San Fermín, in Pamplona. While its most famous event is the encierro, or the running of the bulls, which happens at 8:00 am from 7 to 14 July, the week long celebration involves many other traditional and folkloric events. Its events were central to the plot of The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, which brought it to the general attention of English-speaking people. As a result, it has become one of the most internationally renowned fiestas in Spain, with over 1,000,000 people attending every year.

Other festivals include the carnivals in the Canary Islands, the Falles in Valencia or the Holy Week in Andalusia and Castile and León.

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