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Spain Wikipedia



For other uses, see Spain (disambiguation) and España (disambiguation).
Kingdom of Spain
Reino de España
FlagCoat of arms
Motto: "Plus Ultra" (Latin)


"Further Beyond"
Anthem: "Marcha Real"


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Location of  Spain  (dark green)– in Europe  (green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (green)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Spain  (dark green)
– in Europe  (green & dark grey)

– in the European Union  (green)  –  [Legend]
Capital


and largest city
Madrid


40°26′N 3°42′W / 40.433°N 3.700°W / 40.433; -3.700
Official languagesSpanish[a]
Recognised regional languages
  • Basque
  • Catalan
  • Galician
  • Occitan
Partially recognised


languages
  • Aragonese
  • Asturian
Ethnic groups (2011)
  • 87.8% Spanish
  • 12.2% others [b]
Demonym
  • Spanish
  • Spaniard
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
 - KingFelipe VI
 - Prime MinisterMariano Rajoy
LegislatureGeneral Courts
 - Upper houseSenate
 - Lower houseCongress of Deputies
Formation
 - Dynastic1479 
 - De facto1516 
 - De jure1715 
 - Nation state1812 
 - Constitutional democracy1931 
 - Current democracy1978 
Area
 - Total504,645 km2 (52nd)


195,364 sq mi
 - Water (%)1.04
Population
 - 2013 estimate46,704,314 (28th)
 - 2011 census46,815,916
 - Density92/km2 (106th)


240/sq mi
GDP (PPP)2014 estimate
 - Total$1.425 trillion (14th)
 - Per capita$30,637 (33rd)
GDP (nominal)2014 estimate
 - Total$1.415 trillion (13th)
 - Per capita$30,432 (28th)
Gini (2011)34.0


medium
HDI (2013)Increase 0.885


very high · 23rd
CurrencyEuro (€) (EUR)
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2a)
Date formatdd.mm.yyyy (Spanish; CE)
Drives on theright
Calling code+34
ISO 3166 codeES
Internet TLD.es[c]
a.Except the Canary Islands, which observe UTC+0 (WET) and UTC+1 during summer time.
Spain (Listeni/ˈspeɪn/; Spanish: España [esˈpaɲa] ( listen)), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España),[d][e] is a sovereign state and a member state of the European Union. It is located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. Its mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and north east by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of three countries—France and Morocco are the other two—to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. Spain's 1,214 km (754 mi) border with Portugal is the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union.

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

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

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

Contents

                Etymology




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

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

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

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

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

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

                History

                Main article: History of Spain



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

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

                Prehistory and pre-Roman peoples

                Main article: Prehistoric Iberia



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

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

                Roman Empire and the Gothic Kingdom

                Main article: Hispania



                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 BCE. It took the Romans nearly two centuries to complete the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, though they had control of it for over six centuries. Roman rule was bound together by law, language, and the Roman road.

                The cultures of the Celtic and Iberian populations were gradually Romanised (Latinised) at differing rates in different parts of Hispania. Local leaders were admitted into the Roman aristocratic class[f] 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.[g] Christianity was introduced into Hispania in the 1st century CE and it became popular in the cities in the 2nd century CE. Most of Spain's present languages and religion, and the basis of its laws, originate from this period.



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

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

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

                Middle Ages

                Main articles: Al-Andalus and Reconquista



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

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

                Conversion to Islam proceeded at a steadily 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.[h] Over time, large Moorish populations became established, especially in the Guadalquivir River valley, the coastal plain of Valencia, the Ebro River valley and (towards the end of this period) in the mountainous region of Granada.



                The death of Roland at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (778)
                Córdoba, the capital of the caliphate, 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. Two important philosophers for the time are Averroes and Maimonides. The Romanised cultures of the Iberian Peninsula interacted with Muslim and Jewish cultures in complex ways, thus giving the region a distinctive culture. Outside the cities, where the vast majority lived, the land ownership system from Roman times remained largely intact as Muslim leaders rarely dispossessed landowners, and the introduction of new crops and techniques led to an expansion of agriculture.

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



                Petronilla of Aragon and Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona
                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 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.

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

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

                In this period literature and philosophy started to flourish again in the Christian peninsular kingdoms, based on Roman and gothic traditions. An important philosopher from this time is Ramon Llull. The king Alfonso X of Castile focused on strengthening this Roman and Gothic past, and also on linking also the Iberian Christian kingdoms with the rest of medieval European Christendom. He worked for being elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The Spanish language started to develop at this time from Latin, as did other related Romance languages, and the first grammars were published (Cantar de Mio Cid and Antonio de Nebrija).



                El Cid, the Castilian hero of the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula from Muslim rule.
                The kings, emulating Roman law and institutions, wanted more authoritarian regimes, fighting for power against the nobility. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Marinid Muslim sect based in North Africa invaded and established some enclaves on the southern coast but failed in their attempt to re-establish Muslim rule in Iberia and were soon driven out. The 13th century also witnessed the Crown of Aragon, centred in Spain's north east, expand its reach across islands in the Mediterranean, to Sicily and even Athens. Around this time the universities of Palencia (1212/1263) and Salamanca (1218/1254) were established. The Black Death of 1348 and 1349 devastated Spain.

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

                Imperial Spain

                Main article: Spanish Empire



                Christopher Colombus landing in the islands of Central America
                The year 1492 also marked the arrival in the New World of Christopher Columbus, during a voyage funded by Isabella. Although Christopher Columbus did make it to the Central American islands he never did discover the continent itself, whilst believing himself to be in the heart of the Orient. 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.



                Philip II's overseas realms (in red) during the period of the Iberian Union, 1598.
                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.

                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. 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.

                The Spanish Empire expanded to include great parts of 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. It was the first empire of which it was said that the sun never set. This was an age of discovery, with daring explorations by sea and by land, the opening-up of new trade routes across oceans, conquests and the beginnings of European colonialism. Along with the arrival of precious metals, spices, luxuries, and new agricultural plants, Spanish explorers brought back knowledge from the New World, and played a leading part in transforming the European understanding of the globe. The cultural efflorescence witnessed is now referred to as the Spanish Golden Age. The rise of humanism, the Protestant Reformation and new geographical discoveries raised issues addressed by the influential intellectual movement now known as the School of Salamanca.
                Philip II and Charles V, Habsburg Spain. Charles was also Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
                In the late 16th century and first half of the 17th century, Spain was confronted by unrelenting challenges from all sides. Barbary pirates, under the aegis of the rapidly growing Ottoman Empire, disrupted life in many coastal areas through their slave raids and renewed the threat of an Islamic invasion. This was at a time when Spain was often at war with France.

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

                The Black Legend or anti-Spanish propaganda was started in the 16th century when Spain was at its height of political power, by propagandists from rival European powers, namely the Protestant countries of England and the Netherlands, as a means to morally disqualify the country and its Spanish people. The Black Legend particularly exaggerates the extent of the activities of the Inquisition, or the treatment of American indigenous subjects in the territories of the Spanish Empire, and non-Catholics such as Protestants and Jews in its European territories.

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



                The Family of Philip V (1743). During the Enlightenment in Spain a new royal family reigned, the House of Bourbon.
                In the latter half of the 17th century, Spain went into a gradual decline, during which it surrendered several small territories to France and the Netherlands; however, it maintained and enlarged its vast overseas empire, which remained intact until the beginning of the 19th century.

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

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

                Liberalism and nation state

                Main articles: Mid-19th-century Spain, Spanish American wars of independence and Spanish–American War



                The Third of May 1808 by Francisco de Goya, episode of the Spanish Independence War.
                In 1793, Spain went to war against the revolutionary new French Republic as a member of the Coalition. The war polarised the country in a reaction against the gallicised elites. Defeated in the field, peace was made with France in 1795. In 1807, a secret treaty between Napoleon and the unpopular prime minister led to a declaration of war against Britain and Portugal. Napoleon's troops entered the country to invade Portugal but instead occupied Spain's major fortresses. The ridiculed Spanish king abdicated in favour of Napoleon's brother, Joseph Bonaparte.

                Joseph Bonaparte was seen as a puppet monarch and was regarded with scorn by the Spanish. The 2 May 1808 revolt was one of many nationalist uprisings across the country against the Bonapartist regime. These revolts marked the beginning of a devastating war of independence against the Napoleonic regime. Napoleon was forced to intervene personally, defeating several Spanish armies and forcing a British army to retreat. However, further military action by Spanish armies, guerrillas and Wellington's British-Portuguese forces, combined with Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia, led to the ousting of the French imperial armies from the 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
                Anti-liberal forces known as Carlists fought against liberals in the Carlist Wars. Liberal forces won, but the conflict between progressive and conservative liberals ended in a weak early constitutional period. After the Glorious Revolution and the short First Spanish Republic, a more stable monarchic period came alongside with a bipartisanship between progressive and conservative liberals.

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



                Spanish general Juan Prim, Prime Minister of Spain, with his government after the Glorious Revolution, 1869.
                In the instability and economic crisis that afflicted Spain in the 19th century there arose nationalist movements in the Philippines and Cuba. Wars of independence ensued in those colonies and eventually the United States became involved. The war fought in the spring of 1898 did not last long. El Desastre (the Disaster), as the war became known in Spain, gave added impetus to the Generation of 98 who were conducting an analysis of the country.

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

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

                Spanish Civil War and dictatorship

                Main articles: Spanish Civil War and Spain under Franco



                Guernica by Pablo Picasso, episode of a bombing during the 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. In 1939, General Franco emerged victorious and became a dictator.

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



                Francisco Franco and former US President Eisenhower, Madrid, 1959
                The state as established under Francisco Franco was nominally neutral in the Second World War, although sympathetic to the Axis. The only legal party under Franco's post civil war regime was the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS, formed in 1937; the party emphasised anti-Communism, Catholicism and nationalism. Given Franco's opposition to competing political parties, the party was renamed the National Movement (Movimiento Nacional) in 1949.

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

                Democratic restoration

                Further information: Spanish society after the democratic transition



                Spain has been a member of the European Union since 1986
                With Franco's death in November 1975, Juan Carlos succeeded to the position of King of Spain and head of state in accordance with the law. With the approval of the new Spanish Constitution of 1978 and the restoration of democracy, the State devolved much authority to the regions and created an internal organisation based on autonomous communities.

                In the Basque Country, moderate Basque nationalism has coexisted with a radical nationalist movement led by the armed 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. On 30 May 1982 Spain joined NATO, following a referendum. That year the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) came to power, the first left-wing government in 43 years. In 1986 Spain joined the European Community, which later became the European Union. The PSOE was replaced in government by the Partido Popular (PP) after the latter won the 1996 General Elections; at that point the PSOE had served almost 14 consecutive years in office.

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



                Europride 2007, Madrid.
                Spain has also seen strong economic growth, well above the EU average; however, well publicised concerns issued by many economic commentators at the height of the boom that the extraordinary property prices and high foreign trade deficits of the boom were likely to lead to a painful economic collapse were confirmed by a severe property-led recession that struck the country in 2008/9.

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

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

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

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

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

                Geography

                Main article: Geography of Spain



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

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

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

                Islands

                Spain also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and a number of uninhabited islands on the Mediterranean side of the Strait of Gibraltar, known as plazas de soberanía (territories under Spanish sovereignty), such as the Chafarinas Islands, Alhucemas, and the tiny Perejil islet. The isle of Alborán, located in the Mediterranean between Spain and North Africa, is also administered by Spain, specifically by the municipality of Almería, Andalusia. The little Pheasant Island in the River Bidasoa is a Spanish-French condominium.
                IslandPopulation
                Tenerife899,833
                Majorca (Mallorca)862,397
                Gran Canaria838,397
                Lanzarote141,938
                Ibiza125,053
                Fuerteventura103,107
                Minorca (Menorca)92,434
                La Palma85,933
                La Gomera22,259
                El Hierro10,558
                Formentera7,957
                Arousa4,889
                La Graciosa658
                Tabarca105
                Ons61



                Sant Maurici National Park in the Pyrenees.

                Mountains and rivers

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



                Turia River sources in Montes Universales.
                There are several major rivers in Spain such as the Tajo (Tagus), the Ebro, the Duero (Douro), the Guadiana and the Guadalquivir. Alluvial plains are found along the coast, the largest of which is that of the Guadalquivir in Andalusia.

                Climate

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


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

                Governance

                Main articles: Politics of Spain and Spanish Constitution of 1978



                The Royal Palace and Santa María la Real de La Almudena



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

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

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

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

                Branches of government

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



                Mariano Rajoy, prime minister.
                The legislative branch is made up of the Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados) with 350 members, elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation to serve four-year terms, and a Senate (Senado) with 259 seats of which 208 are directly elected by popular vote and the other 51 appointed by the regional legislatures to also serve four-year terms.
                • Head of State
                  • King Felipe VI, since 19 June 2014
                • Head of Government
                  • Prime Minister of Spain (Presidente del Gobierno, literally President of the Government): Mariano Rajoy Brey, elected 20 November 2011.
                    • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Presidency: Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.
                • Cabinet
                  • Council of Ministers (Consejo de Ministros) designated by the Prime Minister.


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

                Administrative divisions

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

                Autonomous communities and autonomous cities
                Main article: Autonomous communities of Spain
                See also: Nationalities and regions of 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
                Flag of the Balearic Islands.svg
                Flag of Andalucía.svg
                Flag of Castile and León.svg
                Flag of the Valencian Community (2x3).svg
                Bandera Castilla-La Mancha.svg
                Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain )
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