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Coordinates: 40°N 4°W / 40°N 4°W / 40; -4

Kingdom of Spain
Reino de España
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Plus Ultra" Latin
"Further Beyond"
Anthem: "Marcha Real" Spanish
"Royal March"
Location of  Spain  dark green

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

and largest city
40°26′N 3°42′W / 40433°N 3700°W / 40433; -3700
Official language
and national language
Recognised regional
  • Aragonese
  • Astur-Leonese
  • Basque
  • Catalan
  • Galician
  • Occitan
Ethnic groups 2015
  • 899% Spanish
  • 101% others
  • Spanish
  • Spaniard
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
 •  Monarch Felipe VI
 •  Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
Legislature Cortes Generales
 •  Upper house Senate
 •  Lower house Congress of Deputies
 •  Dynastic 20 January 1479 
 •  De facto 23 January 1516 
 •  De jure 9 June 1715 
 •  First constitution 19 March 1812 
 •  Current democracy 29 December 1978 
 •  EEC accession 1 January 1986 
 •  Total 505,990 km2 51st
195,364 sq mi
 •  Water % 104
 •  2015 census 46,423,064 30th
 •  Density 92/km2 112th
240/sq mi
GDP PPP 2015 estimate
 •  Total $1674 trillion 16th
 •  Per capita $36,143 33rd
GDP nominal 2016 estimate
 •  Total $1242 trillion 12th
 •  Per capita $26,823 29th
Gini 2013 337
HDI 2014  0876
very high · 26th
Currency Euro € EUR
Time zone CET UTC+1
 •  Summer DST CEST UTC+2
Note: Spain observes CET/CEST, except the Canary Islands which observe WET/WEST
Date format dd/mm/yyyy CE
Drives on the right
Calling code +34
ISO 3166 code ES
Internet TLD es

Spain i/ˈspeɪn/; Spanish: España , officially the Kingdom of Spain Spanish: Reino de España, is a sovereign state largely located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe, with archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, and several small territories on and near the North African coast 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 Extending to 1,214 km 754 mi, the Portugal–Spain border is the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union

Spanish territory includes two archipelagos: the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast It also includes two major exclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, in continental North Africa; and the islands and peñones rocks of Alborán, Alhucemas, Chafarinas and Vélez de la Gomera With an area of 505,990 km2 195,360 sq mi, Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the European continent By population, Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and the fifth in the European Union, after Italy Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid, other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao and Málaga

Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago Iberian cultures along with ancient Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian settlements developed on the peninsula until it came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania, based on the earlier Phoenician name Span or Spania In the Middle Ages, the area was conquered by Germanic tribes and later by the Moors 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, after Chinese and before English

Spain is a democracy organised in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy It is a middle power and a developed country with the world's fourteenth largest economy by nominal GDP and sixteenth largest by purchasing power parity It is a member of the United Nations UN, the European Union EU, the Council of Europe CoE, the Organization of Ibero-American States OEI, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD, the World Trade Organization WTO and many other international organisations


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
    • 21 Prehistory and pre-Roman peoples
    • 22 Roman Empire and the Gothic Kingdom
    • 23 Middle Ages: Muslim invasion and Reconquista
    • 24 Imperial Spain
    • 25 Liberalism and nation state
    • 26 Spanish Civil War and dictatorship
    • 27 Restoration of democracy
  • 3 Geography
    • 31 Islands
    • 32 Mountains and rivers
    • 33 Climate
    • 34 Fauna and flora
  • 4 Politics
    • 41 Government
    • 42 Human rights
    • 43 Administrative divisions
      • 431 Autonomous regions
      • 432 Provinces and municipalities
    • 44 Foreign relations
    • 45 Military
  • 5 Economy
    • 51 Agriculture
    • 52 Tourism
    • 53 Energy
    • 54 Transport
    • 55 Science and technology
    • 56 Water supply and sanitation
  • 6 Demographics
  • 7 Urbanisation
    • 71 Metropolitan areas and Functional urban areas
    • 72 Peoples
    • 73 Minority groups
    • 74 Immigration
    • 75 Languages
    • 76 Education
    • 77 Religion
  • 8 Culture
    • 81 Monuments and World Heritage Sites
    • 82 Literature
    • 83 Art
    • 84 Sculpture
    • 85 Cinema
    • 86 Architecture
    • 87 Music and dance
    • 88 Cuisine
    • 89 Sport
    • 810 Public holidays and festivals
  • 9 See also
  • 10 Notes
  • 11 References
  • 12 Further reading
  • 13 External links


The origins of the Roman name Hispania, from which the modern name España was derived, are uncertain due to inadequate evidence, although it is documented that the Phoenicians and Carthaginians referred to the region as Spania, the most widely accepted etymology is a Semitic - Phoenician Down the centuries there have been a number of accounts and hypotheses:

Lady of Elche

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 Phoenician 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 rabbit 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


Main article: History of Spain Reproduction of Altamira 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 the Roman Empire 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, which oversaw a period of stagnation that was followed by a surge in the growth of the economy 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 Iberia Celtic castro in A Guarda, Galicia

Archaeological research at Atapuerca indicates the Iberian Peninsula was populated by hominids 12 million years ago In Atapuerca fossils have been found 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 artefacts 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 A number of trading settlements of Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians developed on the Mediterranean coast

Roman Empire and the Gothic Kingdom

Main articles: Hispania and Visigothic Kingdom Roman Theatre, Mérida

During the Second Punic War, an expanding Roman Republic captured Carthaginian trading colonies along the Mediterranean coast from roughly 210 to 205 BC 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

Conversion of Reccared to Chalcedonian Christianity

The cultures of the Celtic and Iberian populations were gradually Romanised Latinised 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 AD and it became popular in the cities in the 2nd century AD 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 and assimilation to the evolving Roman culture

The Alans' allies, the Hasdingi Vandals, established a kingdom in Gallaecia, too, occupying largely the same region but extending farther south to the Douro 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 was much 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: Muslim invasion and Reconquista

Main articles: Al-Andalus and Reconquista The death of the Frankish leader Roland defeated by a Basque and Muslim-Muladi Banu Qasi alliance at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass 778 originated the Kingdom of Navarre led by Íñigo Arista

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 comprised 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

Hypostyle hall in the Great Mosque of Córdoba

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 at the time were Averroes, Ibn Arabi and Maimonides The Romanised 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

Petronilla of Aragon and Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, dynastic union of the Crown of Aragon

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

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 session in Europe was held in León Cortes of León The Kingdom of Castile, formed from Leonese territory, was its successor as strongest kingdom The kings and the nobility fought for power and influence in this period The example of the Roman emperors influenced the political objective of the Crown, while the nobles benefited from 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 and Aragon For several centuries, the fluctuating frontier between the Muslim and Christian controlled areas of Iberia was along the Ebro and Douro valleys

Ramon Llull, prominent franciscan philosopher of science, teology and mysticism

The County of Barcelona and the Kingdom of Aragon entered in a dynastic union and gained territory and power in the mediterranean In 1229 Mallorca was conquered, so was Valencia in 1238

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 The last Nasrid sultanate of Granada, a Muslim tributary state would finally surrender in 1492 to the Catholic monarchs Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon

Alfonso X, pretendant of the Holy Roman Empire crown and king of the Crown of Castile

From the mid 13th century, 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, Ancient Greek, and Ancient Hebrew The Islamic transmission of the classics is the main Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe The Castilian language—more commonly known especially later in history and at present as "Spanish" after becoming the national language and lingua franca of Spain—evolved from Vulgar Latin, as did other Romance languages of Spain like the Catalan, Asturian and Galician languages, as well as other Romance languages in Latin Europe Basque, the only non-Romance language in Spain, continued evolving from Early Basque to Medieval The Glosas Emilianenses founded in the monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla contain the first written words in both Basque and Spanish, having the first become an influence in the formation of the second as an evolution of Latin

Alhambra Granada was the last Taifa in the Peninsula

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

Imperial Spain

Main article: Spanish Empire Salamanca is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites The School of Salamanca was the intellectual origin of modern international law

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 towards Muslims, and although the tolerance was only partial, it was not until the beginning of the 17th century, following the Revolt of the Alpujarras, that Muslims were finally expelled

The year 1492 also marked the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World, during a voyage funded by Isabella Columbus's first voyage crossed the Atlantic and reached the Caribbean Islands, beginning the European exploration and conquest of the Americas, although he remained convinced that he had reached the Orient The colonisation of the Americas started, with conquistadores like Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro Miscegenation was the rule between the native and the European cultures and people

Christopher Columbus meets Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in the Alhambra

As Renaissance New Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand centralised 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

There were two big revolts against the new Habsburg monarch and the more authoritarian and imperial-style crown: Revolt of the Comuneros in Castile and Revolt of the Brotherhoods in Mallorca and Valencia After years of combat, Comuneros Juan López de Padilla, Juan Bravo and Francisco Maldonado were executed and Maria Pacheco went into exile Germana de Foix also finished with the revolt in the mediterranean

Maria Pacheco, last leader of the comuneros

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

Anachronous map of the Spanish Empire including territorial claims

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 on 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 Spanish explorers brought back precious metals, spices, luxuries, and previously unknown plants, and played a leading part in transforming the European understanding of the globe The cultural efflorescence witnessed during this period 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 indigenous 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 the renewed threat of an Islamic invasion This was at a time when Spain was often at war with France

The Protestant Reformation 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 the 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, Spanish–American War, and Anarchism in Spain The Third of May 1808 by Francisco de Goya depicts an episode of the Spanish Independence War

In 1793, Spain went to war against the revolutionary new French Republic as a member of the first Coalition The subsequent War of the Pyrenees polarised the country in a reaction against the gallicised elites and following defeat in the field, peace was made with France in 1795 at the Peace of Basel in which Spain lost control over two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola The Prime Minister, Manuel Godoy, then ensured that Spain allied herself with France in the brief War of the Third Coalition which ended with the British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 In 1807, a secret treaty between Napoleon and the unpopular prime minister led to a new 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

Spain's conquest by France benefited Latin American anti-colonialists who resented the Imperial Spanish government's policies that favoured Spanish-born citizens Peninsulars over those born overseas Criollos and demanded retroversion of the sovereignty to the people Starting in 1809 Spain's American colonies began a series of revolutions and declared independence, leading to the Spanish American wars of independence that ended Spanish control over its mainland colonies in the Americas 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

The Napoleonic War left Spain economically ruined, deeply divided and politically unstable In the 1830s and 1840s 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 of 1868 and the short-lived First Spanish Republic, a more stable monarchic period began characterised by the practice of turnismo the rotation of government control between progressive and conservative liberals within the Spanish government

Spanish general Juan Prim, Prime Minister of Spain, with his government after the Glorious Revolution, 1869 Proclamation of the First Spanish Republic in Barcelona, 1873 Francesc Pi i Margall, was president and intellectual theoric of federalism and libertarian socialism

In the late 19th century nationalist movements arose in the Philippines and Cuba In 1895 and 1896 the Cuban War of Independence and the Philippine Revolution broke out and eventually the United States became involved The Spanish–American War was fought in the spring of 1898 and resulted in Spain losing the last of its once vast colonial empire outside of North Africa 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 linguistically distinct regions of Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia and gave voting rights to women Clara Campoamor suffragette leader, Victoria Kent or Dolores Ibarruri were some of the first female deputies and Federica Montseny one of the first femlae ministers in the world In the worsening economic situation of the Great Depression, Spanish politics became increasingly chaotic and violent

Spanish Civil War and dictatorship

Main articles: Spanish Civil War, Spanish Revolution of 1936, and Francoist Spain They shall not pass!, Madrid graveyard of fascism" Fascism was on rise in Europe during Spanish Civil War

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 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 In 1939, General Franco emerged victorious and became a dictator

Francisco Franco and Dwight D Eisenhower Madrid 1959 in the context of the Cold War Spain entered in United Nations in 1955

The state as established under 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 emphasised falangism, a form of fascism that emphasised anti-communism, nationalism and Roman Catholicism 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 which was propelled by industrialisation, a mass internal migration from rural areas to cities and the creation of a mass tourism industry Franco's rule was also characterised by authoritarianism, promotion of a unitary national identity, the favouring of a very conservative form of Roman Catholicism known as National Catholicism, and discriminatory language policies

Restoration of democracy

See also: Spanish transition to democracy and Spanish society after the democratic transition Federica Montseny speaks at the meeting of the CNT in Barcelona on 1977 after 36 years of exile 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

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 members of the opposition to 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

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 franquist 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 organisation based on autonomous communities Spanish 1977 Amnesty Law let people of Franco´s regime continue inside institutions without consequences, even responsibles of some crimes during transition to democracy like the Massacre of 3 March 1976 in Vitoria or 1977 Massacre of Atocha

In the Basque Country, moderate Basque nationalism has coexisted with a radical nationalist movement led by the armed terrorist organisation 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 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 and a culture of human rights arose with Gregorio Peces-Barba On 30 May 1982 Spain joined NATO, following a referendum after a strong social opposition 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 Economic Community, which later became the European Union The PSOE was replaced in government by the Partido Popular PP in 1996 after scandals around participation of the government of Felipe González in the Dirty war against ETA; at that point the PSOE had served almost 14 consecutive years in office

Spain has been a member of the European Union since 1986

On 1 January 2002, Spain fully adopted the euro, and Spain experienced strong economic growth, well above the EU average during the early 2000s However, well publicised concerns issued by many economic commentators at the height of the boom warned that extraordinary property prices and a high foreign trade deficit were likely to lead to a painful economic collapse

In 2002 Prestige oil spill happened with big ecological consequences in the Spanish atlantic coastline In 2003 Jose Maria Aznar supported US president George W Bush in its preventive war against Sadam Hussein´s Iraq A strong movement against war rose in Spanish society On 11 March 2004 a local Islamist terrorist group inspired by Al-Qaeda carried out the largest terrorist attack in Spanish history when they killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800 others by bombing commuter trains in Madrid Though initial suspicions focused on the Basque terrorist group ETA, evidence soon emerged indicating Islamist involvement Because of the proximity of the 2004 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 incident At 14 March elections, PSOE, led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero won the elections

Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, shown here on 20 May 2011, became a focal point and a symbol during the protests

The proportion of Spain's foreign born population increased rapidly from around 1 in 50 in 2000 to almost 1 in 8 in 2010 but has since declined In 2005 the Spanish government legalised same sex marriage Decentralatation was supported with much resistance of Constitutional Court and conservative opposition, so did gender politics like cuotas or the law against gender violence Government talks with ETA happened, and the band announced its permanent cease of violence in 2010

The bursting of the Spanish property bubble in 2008 led to the 2008–15 Spanish financial crisis and high levels of unemployment, cuts in government spending and corruption in Royal family and People's Party served as a backdrop to the 2011–12 Spanish protests Catalan independentism was also on rise In 2011 Mariano Rajoy's conservative People's Party won elections with 446% of votes and Rajoy became the Spanish Prime Minister after having been the leader of the opposition from 2004 to 2011 with a program of cutting social spends On 19 June 2014, the monarch, Juan Carlos, abdicated in favour of his son, who became Felipe VI Bipartidism in Spanish politcs got to an end with the entrance of new forces in representative institutions In 2015, left-wing mayors got control of biggest cities in the country as former judge and former co-founder of the labor law office where the 1977 Massacre of Atocha took place Manuela Carmena in Madrid, cofounder and spokesperson of the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages Ada Colau in Barcelona, Valencia or Zaragoza, the first time that happens since the Spanish Second Republic Even though, in general election of the same year, conservative People´s Party revalidated its majority in the parliament


Main article: Geography of Spain Topographic map of Spain

At 505,992 km2 195,365 sq mi, Spain is the world's fifty-second largest country and Europe's fourth 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 is bordered by Portugal; on the south, it is bordered by Gibraltar a British overseas territory and Morocco, through its exclaves in North Africa Ceuta and Melilla, and the peninsula of Vélez de la Gomera On the northeast, along the Pyrenees mountain range, it is bordered by France and the Principality of Andorra Along the Pyrenees in Girona, a small exclave town called Llívia is surrounded by France


Main article: List of islands of Spain

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 "places of sovereignty", or territories under sovereignty, such as the Chafarinas Islands and Alhucemas The peninsula of Vélez de la Gomera is also regarded as a plaza de soberanía 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

Largest inhabited islands of Spain:

Mt Teide, Tenerife, Canary Islands

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


Main article: Climate of Spain Official climatic map of the Iberian Peninsula maded by AEMET

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

  • The Mediterranean climate, characterised by warm/hot and dry summers It is dominant in the peninsula, with two varieties: Csa and Csb according to the Köppen climate classification The Csb Zone has warm rather than hot summers, and extends to additional cool-winter areas not typically associated with a Mediterranean climate, such as much of central and northern-central of Spain eg Léon, or Ávila and into much ranier areas, notably Galicia
  • The semi-arid climate Bsh, Bsk, located in the southeastern quarter of the country, especially in the region of Murcia and in the Ebro valley 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 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 desert climate in the zone of Almería, Murcia and in most of the Canary Islands Low-lying areas of the Canary Islands average above 180 °C 644 °F during their coldest month, thus having a tropical climate

The below-listed list covers the average temperatures of the largest cities in three different parts of Spain; Madrid central peninsula, Barcelona Mediterranean coast, and Bilbao north coast Santa Cruz de Tenerife which has a significantly different climates to the predominant climate in Spain More information regarding temperature can be found in city articles and the main article about the Spanish climate

Human rights

Main articles: Human rights in Spain and LGBT rights in Spain Europride festival 2007 in Madrid

The Government respects the human rights of its citizens; although there are a few problems in some areas, the law and judiciary provide effective means of addressing individual instances of abuse There are allegations that a few members of the security forces abused detainees and mistreated foreigners and illegal immigrants According to Amnesty International AI, government investigations of such alleged abuses are often lengthy and punishments were light Violence against women was a problem, which the Government took steps to address

Spain provides one of the highest degrees of liberty in the world for its LGBT community Among the countries studied by Pew Research Center in 2013, Spain is rated first in acceptance of homosexuality, with an 88% of society supporting the gay community compared to 11% who do not

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 regions

Main article: Autonomous regions of Spain See also: Nationalities and regions of Spain Galicia Navarre Madrid La Rioja Aragon Catalonia Valencia Castile–
La Mancha Extremadura Portugal Castile
and León Asturias Cantabria Basque Country Murcia Andalusia Ceuta Melilla France Balearic
Islands Canary
Islands Mediterranean Sea Bay of Biscay Atlantic
Ocean Andorra Atlantic
Ocean Gibraltar UK

Spain's autonomous regions are the first level administrative divisions of the country They were created after the current constitution came into effect in 1978 in recognition of the right to self-government of the "nationalities and regions of Spain" The autonomous regions were to be integrated into adjacent provinces with common historical, cultural, and economical traits This territorial organisation, based on devolution, is literally known in Spain as the "State of Autonomies"

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

The governments of all autonomous regions 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, under the supreme court of Spain, which heads the judiciary in the autonomous region

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 these cases, the administrative institutions of the province are replaced by the governmental institutions of the community

Foreign relations

Main article: Foreign relations of Spain Mariano Rajoy in a G-20 Summit in Mexico Spain is a permanent guest of the G-20 The 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 co-ordinate its efforts with its EU partners through the European political co-operation mechanisms

Spain has maintained its special relations with Hispanic America and the Philippines Its policy emphasises the concept of an Ibero-American 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 23 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"

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic army According to United Nations, Spain is the administrative power of the Western Sahara de iure

Another claim by Spain is about the Savage Islands, a claim not recognised by Portugal Spain claims that they are rocks rather than islands, therefore claiming that 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 50 mi from Ceuta and 135 kilometres 84 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


Aircraft carrier/assault ship Juan Carlos I L61, multirole fighter Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing CH-47 Chinook, universal tank Leopard 2 Main article: Spanish Armed Forces

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


Main article: Economy of Spain Torre Agbar, Barcelona

Spain's capitalist mixed economy is the 16th 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 76% 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 recommenced 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

Spain is a member of the Schengen Area, the Eurozone and the European Single Market

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 towards 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

The urban transformation of Bilbao has been hailed as an example of "smart city"

In 2005 the Economist Intelligence Unit's quality of life survey placed Spain among the top 10 in the world In 2013 the same survey now called the "Where-to-be-born index", ranked Spain 28th in the world

In 2010, the Basque city of Bilbao was awarded with the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, and its mayor at the time, Iñaki Azkuna, was awarded the World Mayor Prize in 2012 The Basque capital city of Vitoria-Gasteiz received the European Green Capital Award in 2012


Main article: Agriculture in Spain A vineyard growing grapes for Rioja wine, La Rioja An orchard in Region of Murcia

Crop areas were farmed in two highly diverse manners Areas relying on non-irrigated 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 regadío 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 Almería—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


Main article: Tourism in Spain Benidorm, one of Europe's largest coastal tourist destinations

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


Main article: Energy in Spain Wind 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 164% 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


Main article: Transport in Spain

The Spanish road system is mainly centralised, 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 2,17480 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 9854% on-time arrival after the Japanese Shinkansen 99% Should the aims of the ambitious AVE programme 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

Science and technology

Roque 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, Celedonio Calatayud, Juan de la Cierva, Leonardo Torres y Quevedo, Margarita Salas and Severo Ochoa

See also ASCAMM, Associació Catalana d'Empreses constructores de Motlles i Matrius

Water supply and sanitation

Main article: Water supply and sanitation in Spain

Water supply and Sanitation in Spain is characterised by universal access and generally good service quality, while tariffs are among the lowest in the EU Almost half of the population is served by private or mixed private-public water companies, which operate under concession contracts with municipalities The largest of the private water companies, with a market share of about 50% of the private concessions, is Aguas de Barcelona Agbar However, the large cities are all served by public companies except Barcelona and Valencia The largest public company is Canal de Isabel II, which serves the metropolitan area of Madrid

Droughts affect water supply in Southern Spain, which increasingly is turning towards seawater desalination to meet its water needs


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

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 186 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 programme 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


Metropolitan areas and Functional urban areas

Main article: List of metropolitan areas in Spain Geographical distribution of the Spanish population in 2008

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

e • d 
Rank Metro area Autonomous
FUA Population
Government data
1 Madrid Madrid 6,530,000 54 – 65 m
2 Barcelona Catalonia 4,891,000 42 – 51 m
3 Valencia Valencia 1,619,000 15 – 23 m
4 Seville Andalusia 1,417,000 12 – 13 m
5 Bilbao Basque Country 1,025,000
6 Malaga Andalusia 851,000
7 Zaragoza Aragon 754,000
8 Palma de Mallorca Balearic Islands 668,000
9 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Canary Islands 636,000
10 Murcia Murcia 618,000
11 Granada Andalusia 549,000
12 Vigo Galicia 544,000
Oviedo–Gijón–Avilés Asturias
Alicante–Elche Valencia


Main articles: Spanish people and Nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain Asturian 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, Andalusians and Valencians, although to some extent all of the 17 Autonomous Communities will claim a distinct historic identity

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 Romanians, Britons, Germans, French and others

Ceuta and Melilla have a big population of North African ancestry

The arrival of the gitanos, a Romani people, began in the 16th century; estimates of the Spanish Gitano population range from 750,000 to over one million 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


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

According to the Spanish government there were 57 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 52 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 25 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 programme had little effect; during its first two months, just 1,400 immigrants took up the offer What the programme 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


Main article: Languages of Spain The languages of Spain simplified

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 recognised 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


Main article: Education in Spain Concepción Arenal, defendant of the right of women to education

State education in Spain is free and compulsory from the age of six to sixteen The current education system was established by the 2006 educational law, LOE Ley Orgánica de Educación, or Fundamental Law for the Education In 2014, the LOE was partially modified by the newer LOMCE law Ley Orgánica para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa, or Fundamental Law for the Improvement of the Education System, commonly called Ley Wert Wert Law Since 1970 to 2014, Spain has had seven different educational laws LGE, LOECE, LODE, LOGSE, LOPEG, LOE and LOMCE

Institución Libre de Enseñanza was an educational project that developed in Spain for the half a century of about 1876–1936 by Francisco Giner de los Ríos and Gumersindo de Azcárate The institute was inspired by the philosophy of Krausism Concepción Arenal in feminism and Santiago Ramón y Cajal in neuroscience were in the movement


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    4%
No Answer    2%
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 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 Recent polls and surveys have revealed that atheists comprise anywhere from 8% to 20% of the Spanish population

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, A Coruña

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 and Francisco Javier In the 60´s of the XX Century, jesuits Pedro Arrupe and Ignacio Ellacuria were inside the movement of Liberation Theology

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

Ignacio de Loyola, Teresa de Jesús and Francisco Javier prominent figures of Counter-Reformation

A study made by the Union of Islamic Communities of Spain 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 014% 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 prior to its expulsion


Main article: Culture of Spain

Culturally, Spain is a Western country Almost every aspect of Spanish life is permeated by its Roman heritage, making Spain one of the major Latin countries of Europe Spanish culture is marked by strong historic ties to Catholicism, which played a pivotal role in the country's formation and subsequent identity Spanish art, architecture, cuisine, and music has been shaped by successive waves of foreign invaders, as well as by the country's Mediterranean climate and geography The centuries-long colonial era globalised Spanish language and culture, with Spain also absorbing the cultural and commercial products of its diverse empire

Monuments and World Heritage Sites

Main article: World Heritage Sites in Spain See also: Castles in Spain and Cathedrals in Spain

It should be noted 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 recognised sites, including the landscape of Monte Perdido in the Pyrenees, which is shared with France, the Prehistoric Rock Art Sites of the Côa Valley and Siega Verde, which is shared with Portugal the Portuguese part being in the Côa Valley, Guarda, and the Heritage of Mercury, shared with Slovenia 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

Aqueduct of Segovia, Roman Santa María del Naranco, pre-Romanesque Cathedral of Burgos, Gothic Aljafería of Zaragoza, Mudéjar Old Town of Cáceres, Renaissance Abstract Art Museum in Hanging Houses of Cuenca, Vernacular architecture
  • 1984 — Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín Granada, Andalusia
  • 1984 — Burgos Cathedral Burgos, Castile-León
  • 1984 — Historic Centre of Córdoba Córdoba, Andalusia
  • 1984 — Monastery and Royal Site of El Escorial Madrid
  • 1984 — Works of Antoni Gaudí Barcelona, Catalonia
  • 1985 — Cave of Altamira and Palaeolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain Asturias, Basque Country and Cantabria regions
  • 1985 — Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of Asturias Asturias
  • 1985 — Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches Ávila, Castile-León
  • 1985 — Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct Segovia, Castile-León
  • 1985 — Santiago de Compostela Old Town A Coruña, Galicia
  • 1986 — Garajonay National Park La Gomera, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
  • 1986 — Historic City of Toledo Toledo, Castile-La Mancha
  • 1986 — Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon Provinces of Teruel and Zaragoza in Aragon
  • 1986 — Old Town of Cáceres Cáceres, Extremadura
  • 1987 — Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville Seville, Andalusia
  • 1988 — Old City of Salamanca Salamanca, Castile-León
  • 1991 — Poblet Monastery Tarragona, Catalonia
  • 1993 — Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida Badajoz, Extremadura
  • 1993 — Route of Santiago de Compostela Provinces of Burgos, León and Palencia in Castile-León, Provinces of A Coruña and Lugo in Galicia, La Rioja, Navarre, and the Province of Huesca in Aragon
  • 1993 — Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe Cáceres, Extremadura
  • 1994 — Doñana National Park Provinces of Cádiz, Huelva and Seville in Andalusia
  • 1996 — Historic Walled Town of Cuenca Cuenca, Castile-La Mancha
  • 1996 — Silk Exchange of Valencia Valencia
  • 1997 — Las Médulas León, Castile-León
  • 1997 — Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona Barcelona, Catalonia
  • 1997 — Pirineos – Monte Perdido Huesca, Aragon – Spanish part / Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine – French part Shared with France
  • 1997 — San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries La Rioja
  • 1998 2010 — Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley Guarda, Norte Region – Portuguese part and Siega Verde Salamanca, Castile-León – Spanish part Shared with Portugal
  • 1998 — Rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula Andalusia, Aragon, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia, Murcia and Valencia regions
  • 1998 — University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares Madrid
  • 1999 — Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture Ibiza, Balearic Islands
  • 1999 — San Cristóbal de La Laguna Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
  • 2000 — Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco Tarragona, Catalonia
  • 2000 — Archaeological Site of Atapuerca Burgos, Castile-León
  • 2000 — Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí Lleida, Catalonia
  • 2000 — Palmeral of Elche Alicante, Valencia
  • 2000 — Roman Walls of Lugo Lugo, Galicia
  • 2001 — Aranjuez Cultural Landscape Madrid
  • 2003 — Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza Jaén, Andalusia
  • 2006 — Vizcaya Bridge Biscay, Basque Country
  • 2007 — Teide National Park Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
  • 2009 — Tower of Hercules A Coruña, Galicia
  • 2011 — Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana Majorca, Balearic Islands
  • 2012 — Heritage of Mercury Almadén Ciudad Real, Castile-La Mancha – Spanish part and Idrija Slovene Littoral – Slovenian part Shared with Slovenia


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 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, Concepción Arenal, 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 romanticised or stylised 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'

Ramón del Valle-Inclán, María Zambrano 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, Clara Campoamor 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

Miguel Delibes shows Spanish society of its time marked by rural exodus in his novels

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 from Generation of '36 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

The Generation of '50 are also known as the children of the civil war Rosa Chacel, Gloria Fuertes, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Juan Goytisolo, Carmen Martin Gaite, Ana Maria Matute, Juan Marsé, Blas de Otero, Gabriel Celaya, Antonio Gamoneda, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio or Ignacio Aldecoa

See also: Catalan literature, Basque literature, Galician-language literature, and Latin American literature


Main article: Spanish art Las Meninas 1656, Diego Velázquez, Museo del Prado

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, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo 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


The Comb of the Wind of Eduardo Chillida in San Sebastián

The Plateresque style extended from beginnings of the 16th century until the last third of the century and its stylistic influence pervaded the works of all great Spanish artists of the time Alonso Berruguete Valladolid School is called the "Prince of Spanish sculpture" His main works were the upper stalls of the choir of the Cathedral of Toledo, the tomb of Cardinal Tavera in the same Cathedral, and the altarpiece of the Visitation in the church of Santa Úrsula in the same locality Other notable sculptors were Bartolomé Ordóñez, Diego de Siloé, Juan de Juni and Damián Forment

There were two Schools of special flair and talent: the Seville School, to which Juan Martínez Montañés belonged, whose most celebrated works are the Crucifix in the Cathedral of Seville, another in Vergara, and a Saint John; and the Granada School, to which Alonso Cano belonged, to whom an Immaculate Conception and a Virgin of Rosary, are attributed

Other notable Andalusian Baroque sculptors were Pedro de Mena, Pedro Roldán and his daughter Luisa Roldán, Juan de Mesa and Pedro Duque Cornejo In the 20th century the most important Spanish sculptors were Julio González, Pablo Gargallo, Eduardo Chillida and Pablo Serrano


Main article: Cinema of Spain Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz in Oviedo Princess of Asturias Awards

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 La Movida Madrileña Mario Camus and Pilar Miró worked together in Curro Jiménez

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, Isabel Coixet, Alejandro Amenábar, Icíar Bollaín and brothers David Trueba and Fernando Trueba

Actresses Sara Montiel and Penélope Cruz or actor Antonio Banderas are among those who have become Hollywood stars


Main article: Spanish architecture The 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 Spain Flamenco 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 recognised 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


Main article: Spanish cuisine Paella, 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 fried fish; several cold soups like gazpacho; and many rice-based dishes like paella from Valencia and arròs negre black rice 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 caldo 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


Main article: Sport in Spain 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona

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 CF 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 major 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 articles: Public holidays in Spain, Fiestas of International Tourist Interest of Spain, and Fiestas of National Tourist Interest of Spain San 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

See also

  • Outline of Spain
  • Spain – Wikipedia book


  1. ^ a b The Spanish Constitution does not establish any official name for Spain, even though the terms España Spain, Estado español Spanish State and Nación española Spanish Nation are used throughout the document Nonetheless, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs established in an ordinance published in 1984 that the denominations España Spain and Reino de España Kingdom of Spain are equally valid to designate Spain in international treaties This term, Kingdom of Spain, is widely used by the government in national and international affairs of all kinds, including foreign treaties as well as national official documents, and is therefore recognised as the official name by many international organisations
  2. ^ a b In Spain, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous regional languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages In each of these, Spain's official name Spanish: Reino de España, pronounced: is as follows:
    • Aragonese: Reino d’Espanya, IPA: 
    • Asturian: Reinu d’España, IPA: 
    • Basque: Espainiako Erresuma, IPA: 
    • Catalan: Regne d’Espanya, IPA: 
      • Valencian: 
    • Galician: Reino de España, IPA: 
    • Occitan: Reiaume d’Espanha, IPA: 
  3. ^ a b The official Spanish language of the State is established in the Section 3 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 to be Castilian In some autonomous communities, Catalan, Galician and Basque are co-official languages Aragonese, Asturian, and Occitan locally known as Aranese have some degree of official recognition
  4. ^ European Union EU since 1993
  5. ^ As of July 2015, Spain's population was 46,439,864 In the same month the number of citizens with Spanish citizenship reached 41,996,253 The number of foreigners ie immigrants, ex-pats and refugees permanently living in Spain was estimated to be at 4,426,811 954% in 2015
  6. ^ The Peseta before 2002
  7. ^ The eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states Also, the cat domain is used in Catalan-speaking territories, gal in Galicia and eus in the Basque-speaking area
  8. ^ The latifundia sing, latifundium, large estates controlled by the aristocracy, were superimposed on the existing Iberian landholding system
  9. ^ The poets Martial, Quintilian and Lucan were also born in Hispania
  10. ^ The Berbers soon gave up attempting to settle the harsh lands in the north of the Meseta Central Inner Plateau handed to them by the Arab rulers
  11. ^ For the related expulsions that followed see Morisco


  1. ^ Acuerdo entre el Reino de de España y Nueva Zelanda, Acuerdo entre el reino de España y el reino de Marruecos; licenses permissions Tratado de la Unión Europea Archived 25 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Presidency of the Government 11 October 1997 "Real Decreto 1560/1997, de 10 de octubre, por el que se regula el Himno Nacional" PDF Boletín Oficial del Estado núm 244 in Spanish 
  3. ^ "The Spanish Constitution" Lamoncloagobes Archived from the original on 25 March 2013 Retrieved 26 April 2013 
  4. ^ "Anuario estadístico de España 2008 1ª parte: entorno físico y medio ambiente" PDF Instituto Nacional de Estadística Spain Retrieved 14 April 2015 
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  111. ^ Morning Edition 15 July 2010 "Spain Is World's Leader In Solar Energy" Nprorg Retrieved 4 September 2010 
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Further reading

  • Gates, David 2001 The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War Da Capo Press p 20 ISBN 978-0-306-81083-1 

External links

  • "Spain" The World Factbook Central Intelligence Agency 
  • Spain from UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Spain at DMOZ
  • Spain from the BBC News
  • Key Development Forecasts for Spain from International Futures
  • E-Government portal for Spain
  • Wikimedia Atlas of Spain
  • Geographic data related to Spain at OpenStreetMap
  • Official tourism portal for Spain
  • Spain portal
  • Mediterranean portal
  • Geography portal
  • Europe portal
  • European Union portal
  • NATO portal

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