Spain is a country of Southwest Europe. It occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula and also includes the Balearic (Mediterranean Sea) and Canary (Atlantic Ocean) archipelagos and the Ceuta and Melilla enclaves (North Africa, Morocco). It covers a total area of 504 782 km2. Spain is bordered by France and Andorra, to the northeast, and Portugal, to the west; the country is bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, to the north, northwest and southwest, and by the Mediterranean Sea, to the east and south. It is formed by the autonomous communities of Andalusia, Aragon, Principality of Asturias, Cantabria, Castile and Leon, Castilla-La Mancha (or Castile-La Mancha), Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra, Basque Country, Rioja, Valencia , Balearic Islands and Canary Islands. The most important cities are Madrid, the capital, with 3 290 900 residents (2004), and with an urban area of 5 179 900 residents, Barcelona (1 541 100 residents), Valencia (742 300 residents), Seville (676 200 residents) and Zaragoza (646 100 residents). Most of the interior of Spain is a plateau (the Iberian Meseta) surrounded by mountain ranges.
The climate is Mediterranean in the coastal regions of the South and East and is tempered with maritime characteristics in the North; inland, the climate is continental temperate with great annual thermal amplitude and relatively little rainfall.
Spain has a developed economy, based on services, industry and agriculture. Agriculture accounts for 5% of GDP and is dominated by the production of barley, beet, wheat, potatoes, tomatoes, orange, corn and wine. Mining includes the extraction of iron, mercury, pyrite, potassium and coal. The industry produces industrial equipment, transport equipment, food products, electrical equipment, paper, chemicals, textiles, footwear and toys. In the tertiary sector, tourism, financial services and trade deserve mention. Exports include transport equipment, machinery and agricultural products. Imports consist of machinery, fuels, transport equipment and agricultural products. The biggest trading partners are France and Germany.
Environmental indicator: the value of carbon dioxide emissions, per capita (metric tons, 1999), is 6.8.
The population is 40 397 842 residents (2006), which corresponds to a population density of 79.92 residents/km2. The birth and death rates are respectively 10.06% and 9.72%. Average life expectancy is 79.65 years. The value of the Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.918 and the value of the Gender-adjusted Development Index (IDG) is 0.912 (2001). In the population as a whole, Spanish Castilians represent 74% of the population, Catalans 17%, Galicians 7%, and Basques 2%. The religion with the greatest expression is Catholic. The official languages are Castilian, Catalan, Galician and Basque, in the respective regions.
Art and culture
In architecture, the Romanesque period can be found in several churches or in the Portico da Glória, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. From the Gothic, the most significant examples are the cathedrals of Burgos, Leão and Toledo, all of them from the 13th century. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the so-called Elizabethan style emerged. The Renaissance in Spain was marked, especially, in the architectural examples of Salamanca. Subsequently, architecture evolved into the Herrerian style that is expressed in the Escorial Monastery in Madrid. The greatest Baroque architects were Churriguera and Pedro de Ribera. At the same time, sculptors Manuel Pereira, J. Martínez Montañes and Alonso Cano stood out. In the painting, Diego Velásquez, Ribera and Murillo stood out. In the neoclassical period, it was Goya who stood out the most, being the initiator of modern painting. In the 20th century, the names of A. Gaudi appeared in architecture; Pablo Picasso, J. Gris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, in painting.
In the field of philosophy and theology, Spain is represented by Seneca, a defender of stoicism; by Averroes, Aristotle’s commentator; by Maimonides, who sought to reconcile the Jewish faith with Greek rationalism; Francisco de Vitória and Francisco Suárez, the founders of scholasticism; Friar Luís León, Sta. Teresa d’Ávila and S. João da Cruz, mystics of the 16th century; and by J. Ortega y Gasset, who founded the school in Madrid.
At the literary level, the first major work is the Cantar de Mio Cid , composed in about 1140. King Afonso X developed the lyric, in Galician-Portuguese, and the prose, in Castilian. The work La Celestinait marked the entrance of the literary Renaissance in Spain. The 16th and 17th centuries represented one of the golden times in Spanish letters. The mystical poets Frei Luís de León and S. João da Cruz stood out; the classic prose of Sta. Teresa de Ávila, who wrote the picaresque novel El Lazarillo de Tormes , and Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote the picaresque novel D. Quixote (work) ; cultist poets Luís de Gôngora and Francisco de Quevedo; playwrights Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina and Calderón de la Barca, author of La Vida es Sueño. In the 20th century, the names of Miguel de Unamuno, Azorín, M. Machado, Federico García Lorca and those who received the Nobel Prize, J. Echegaray and Eizaguirre, J. Benevente, Ramón Jiménez, V. Aleixandre and Camilo José Cela.
In music, the most well-known names are polyphonist TL Victoria and composers Morales, Guerrero, J. Albéniz, E. Granados, M. de Falla, Joaquín Rodrigo and contemporaries Maurice Ohana, Luís Pablo, Cristóbal Halffter, Joan Guinjoan, Tomás Marco, José Luis Turina and Alfredo Aracil, among others. The flamenco guitar continues to accompany the traditional dance of the Andalusian gypsies, in which women dance with tight skirts and frills and cover their heads with lace headdresses supported by high sleepers. One of the Andalusian musicians who, today, has been promoting flamenco the most in the world is Paco de Lucia, the famous “solitary flamenco guitar player”.
At the beginning of the 8th century, Muslims in North Africa conquered much of the Iberian Peninsula. At the end of the 12th century, the Catholic kings of Castile and Aragon regained almost all of the Muslim-dominated territory. In 1469, the two kingdoms were united by the marriage of Fernando II of Aragon with Isabel I of Castile, known as Catholic Kings. Shortly thereafter, they regained Granada, the only kingdom that was still in Muslim possession. In 1492, in the same year that Spain ended its Arab presence in the Iberian Peninsula, Spain began its overseas expansion, when Christopher Columbus discovered America. At the end of the century, Spain asserted itself as a colonial power. The economic growth resulting from precious metals from the New World, and the political stability achieved by the Catholic Kings. For Spain democracy and rights, please check intershippingrates.
In 1516, Charles I, the Habsburg monarch of the Netherlands, succeeded Fernando II and, in 1519, became Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1556, he abdicated in favor of his son Philip II, the most Spanish of all Habsburg monarchs, who was extremely religious and who, therefore, defended the Roman Catholic faith against Protestantism. This religious policy led the country to engage in several costly wars. Some time later, Philip II was succeeded by three Habsburg kings who led Spain to economic ruin.
Habsburg rule in the country ended in 1700, when Philip V became the first Bourbon king of Spain. However, Philip’s accession to the throne led to the Spanish Succession War, between 1701 and 1714, which resulted in the loss of Belgium, Luxembourg, Milan, Sardinia and Naples. In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte appointed his brother, Joseph, king of Spain. But British and Spanish forces defeated Napoleon’s troops and, in 1814, restored the Bourbon monarchy. The success of the war encouraged most American colonies to revolution. In 1898, after the war with the United States of America, Spain lost its remaining overseas possessions.
In 1931, Republicans won municipal elections in all provincial capitals and, consequently, Spain became a republic. The monarchy was abolished and King Afonso XIII was forced into exile in Brazil. The opposition between Republicans and nationalists originated the Civil War in 1936. The nationalist leader, General Francisco Franco, received weapons from Adolf Hitler, from Germany, and from Benito Mussolini, from Italy. Republicans, with domestic and foreign support from socialists, communists and various liberal sympathizers, received weapons only from the Soviet Union. The nationalists achieved victory in 1939 and Franco became head of state, remaining in power until his death in 1975.
Franco established an extremely conservative and repressive regime that violently oppressed the opposition. A moralistic and traditional society was created, in which divorce was illegal and crime was severely punished. In 1969, Franco appointed Juan Carlos de Borbón y Borbón to his successor, who, in 1974, with Franco’s illness, assumed the post of head of state. In 1975, Juan Carlos became king and restored monarchy and democracy.
The new Parliament, elected in 1977, developed a program of democratic reforms at the political and economic level, including the separation of church and state and the guarantee of human and civil rights. The 1982 elections marked the definitive end of Franco’s legacy, with the election of a socialist government, led by Felipe González Márquez. From that time, Spain, which until then had been relatively isolated, approached Western Europe, joining the European Union (EU) in 1986. In the same year, through a referendum, the country showed that it wanted to remain a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The new Spanish society also has its problems, in particular high unemployment and an increasing crime rate. However, Spain is probably one of the nations in Europe that is most aware of its identity.
- Countryaah.com: Offers a full list of airports in the country of Spain, sorted by city location and acronyms.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Provides most commonly used abbreviations and initials containing the country name of Spain. Listed by popularity.
Expedia.com Maps – Spain
Find an interactive image that allows users to view a chosen region of the country by using the scan feature.
Madrid – Softguide
Supplies a metro map as well as an overview map that allows users to enlarge a specific area. Includes links to area attractions.
Spain – Atlapedia Online
Find political and topographical maps of this European nation. Includes links to an overview of the country’s statistical information.
Spain – InfoPlease.com Map
See a well-detailed, color-coded map of this popular destination and historic nation. Locate cities, water bodies and neighboring countries.
Spain – Merriam-Webster Atlas
Presents a clear relief map of this southern European country. Also has diagrams, country facts and an overview.
Spain – National Geographic Map Machine
Supplies an expandable map of the nation, along with a short history and statistics on population and commerce.
Spain – UT Library, Perry-Castaneda Map Collection
See a variety of recent city and country maps for Spain, in addition to a series of historical maps.
Spain – World Sites Atlas
Check out political and physical maps of the Southern European country, plus photos and attractions of many Spanish cities.
Spain – WorldAtlas.com
Comprehensive atlas offers a number of diagrams, maps, country facts and country details.