The Kingdom of Spain or Spain (Spanish and Galician: Reino de Espa񡧧 or Espa񡧧; Catalan: Regne d'Espanya; Basque: Espainiako Erresuma) is a country located in the southwest of Europe. It shares the Iberian Peninsula with Portugal, Gibraltar and Andorra. To the northeast, along the Pyrenees mountain range, it borders France and the tiny principality of Andorra. It is adjacent to the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the cities of Ceuta and Melilla in north Africa, and a number of uninhabited islands on the Mediterranean side of the strait of Gibraltar, known as [[Plazas de soberan�], such as the Chafarine islands, the "rocks" (es: pe񯮥s) of V鬥z and Alhucemas, and the tiny Parsley Island (disputed). Due to the Spanish colonisation of the Americas, the Spanish language remains widely spoken outside of the country, and is the official language of nearly all Central and South American countries.

Reino de Espa񡠼 common_name = Spain
Flag of {{{common_name}}} Missing image
Coat of Arms of {{{common_name}}}

([[Flag of {{{common_name}}}|Flag]]) ([[Coat of Arms of {{{common_name}}}|Coat of Arms]])
Motto: Plus Ultra
(Latin: "Further Beyond")
Anthem: Marcha Real
Location of {{{common_name}}}
Capital Madrid
Template:Coor dm
[[Demographics of {{{common_name}}}|Largest city]] Madrid
Official languages Spanish1
Government Parliamentary monarchy
Juan Carlos I
Jos頌uis Rguez. Zapatero
 • Total
 • Water (%)
504,782 km² (50th)
 • July 2005 est.
 • 2001 census
 • Density
43,209,511 (27th)
85/km² (84th)
 • Total
 • Per capita
2005 estimate
$1,026,340 million (14th)
$24,803 (29th)
Currency Euro (€)2 (EUR)
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
CET3 (UTC+1)
Internet TLD .es
Calling code +34
1 In some autonomous communities, Catalan, Basque, and Galician are co-official; in the Val d'Aran, the Aranese dialect of Occitan is co-official
2 Prior to 1999: Spanish Peseta
3 Except in the Canary Islands, which are in the GMT time zone ( UTC = +0, UTC = +1 in summer).


Main article: History of Spain


The original peoples of the Iberian peninsula (in the sense that they are not known to have come from elsewhere), consisting of a number of separate tribes, are given the generic name of Iberians. This may have included the Basques, the only pre-Celtic people in Iberia surviving to the present day as a separate ethnic group. The most important culture of this period is that of the city of Tartessos. Beginning in the 9th century BC, Celtic tribes entered the Iberian peninsula through the Pyrenees and settled throughout the peninsula, becoming the Celt-Iberians.

The seafaring Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians successively settled along the Mediterranean coast and founded trading colonies there over a period of several centuries.

Around 1,100 BC Phoenician merchants founded the trading colony of Gadir or Gades (modern day Cᤩz) near Tartessos. In the 8th century BC the first Greek colonies, such as Emporion (modern Emp?), were founded along the Mediterranean coast on the East, leaving the south coast to the Phoenicians. The Greeks are responsible for the name Iberia, after the river Iber (Ebro in Spanish). In the 6th century BC the Carthaginians arrived in Iberia while struggling with the Greeks for control of the Western Mediterranean. Their most important colony was Carthago Nova (Latin name of modern day Cartagena).

Roman Empire

The Romans arrived in the Iberian peninsula during the Second Punic war in the 2nd century BC, and annexed it under Augustus after two centuries of war with the Celtic and Iberian tribes and the Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian colonies becoming the province of Hispania. It was divided in Hispania Ulterior and Hispania Citerior during the late Roman Republic; and, during the Roman Empire, Hispania Taraconensis in the northeast, Hispania Baetica in the south and Lusitania in the southwest.

Hispania supplied the Roman Empire with food, olive oil, wine and metal. The emperors Trajan, Hadrian and Theodosius I, the philosopher Seneca and the poets Martial and Lucan were born in Spain. The Spanish Bishops held the Council at Elvira in 306.

Most of Spain's present languages, religion, and laws originate from this Roman period.

Muslim Spain

From the 8th to the 15th centuries, the Iberian peninsula was ruled by Muslims who had crossed over from North Africa. Much of Spain's distinctive art originates from this seven-hundred-year period, and many Arabic words made their way into Spanish.

Renaissance in Spain

By 1512, most of the kingdoms of present-day Spain were politically unified, although not as a modern centralized state. The grandson of Isabel and Fernando, Carlos I, extended his crown to other places in Europe and the rest of the world. The unification of Iberia was complete when Carlos I's son, Felipe II, became King of Portugal in 1580, as well as of the other Iberian Kingdoms (collectively known as "Spain" since this moment).

During the 16th century,with Carlos I and Felipe II, Spain became the most powerful European nation, its territory covering most of South and Central America, Asia - Pacific, the Iberian peninsula, southern Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries. This was later known as the Spanish Empire.

It was also the wealthiest nation but the uncontrolled influx of goods and minerals from Spanish colonisation of the Americas resulted in rampant inflation and economic depression.

In 1640, under Felipe IV, the centralist policy of the Count-Duke of Olivares provoked wars in Portugal and Catalonia. Portugal became an independent kingdom again and Catalonia enjoyed some years of French-supported independence but was quickly returned to the Spanish Crown, except Rosellon.

A series of long and costly wars and revolts followed in the 17th century, beginning a steady decline of Spanish power in Europe. Controversy over succession to the throne consumed the country during the first years of the 18th century (see War of the Spanish Succession). It was only after this war ended and a new dynasty was installed — the French Bourbons (see House of Bourbon) — that a centralized Spanish state was established and the first Borbon king Philip V of Spain in 1707 cancelled the Aragon court and changed the title of king of Castilla and Aragon for the current king of Spain.

French occupation

Spain was occupied by Napoleon in the early 1800s, but the Spaniards rose in arms. After the War of Independence (18081814), a series of revolts and armed conflicts between Liberals and supporters of the ancien r駩me lasted throughout much of the 19th century, complicated by a dispute over dynastic succession by the Carlists which led to three civil wars. After that, Spain was briefly a Republic, from 1871 to 1873, a year in which a series of coups reinstalled the monarchy.

In the meantime, Spain lost all of its colonies in the Caribbean region and Asia-Pacific region during the 19th century, a trend which ended with the loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines and Guam to the United States after the Spanish-American War of 1898.

20th century

The 20th century initially brought little peace; colonisation of Western Sahara, Spanish Morocco and Equatorial Guinea was attempted. A period of dictatorial rule (19231931) ended with the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic. The Republic offered political autonomy to the Basque Country and Catalonia and gave voting rights to women. However, with increasing political polarisation, anti-clericalism and pressure from all sides, coupled with growing and unchecked political violence, the Republic ended with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936. Following the victory of the nationalist forces in 1939, General Francisco Franco ruled a nation exhausted politically and economically.

After World War II, being one of few surviving fascist regimes in Europe, Spain was politically and economically isolated and was kept out of the United Nations until 1955, when it became strategically important for U.S. president Eisenhower to establish a military presence in the Iberian peninsula. This opening to Spain was aided by Franco's rabid anti-communism. In the 1960s, more than a decade later than other western European countries, Spain began to enjoy economic growth and gradually transformed into a modern industrial economy with a thriving tourism sector. Growth continued well into the 1970s, with Franco's government going to great lengths to shield the Spanish people from the effects of the oil crisis.

Upon the death of the dictator General Franco in November 1975, his personally-designated heir Prince Juan Carlos assumed the position of king and head of state. With the approval of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 and the arrival of democracy, the old historic nationalities — Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia and Andalusia— were given far-reaching autonomy, which was then soon extended to all Spanish regions, resulting in one of the most decentralized territorial organizations in Western Europe. However, ETA's terrorism continues being one of the most important problems facing Spain.

Adolfo SuᲥz Gonzᬥz, Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo Bustelo, after an attempted coup d'鴡t in 1981, Felipe Gonzᬥz MᲱuez (when Spain joined NATO and European Union), Jos頍ar�Aznar L󰥺 and Jos頌uis Rodr�ez Zapatero, after the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks, have been Presidents of Spain.

See also: List of Spanish monarchs, Kings of Spain family tree


Main article: Politics of Spain

Spain is a constitutional monarchy, with a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament, the Cortes Generales or National Assembly. The executive branch consists of a Council of Ministers presided over by the President of Government (comparable to a prime minister), proposed by the monarch and elected by the National Assembly following legislative elections.

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 or 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.

Spain is, at present, what is called a State of Autonomies, formally unitary but, in fact, functioning as a Federation of Autonomous Communities, each one with different powers (for instance, some have their own educational and health systems, others do not) and laws. There are some problems with this system, since some autonomous governments (especially those dominated by nationalist parties) are seeking a more federalist—or even confederate—kind of relationship with Spain, while the Central Government is trying to restrict what some see as excessive autonomy of some autonomous communities (e.g. Basque Country and Catalonia).

The paramilitary group ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom) is trying to achieve Basque independence through violent means, including bombings and killings of politicians and police. Although the Basque Autonomous government does not condone any kind of violence, their different approaches to the separatist movement are a source of tension between the federal and Basque governments. Besides ETA violence, the conflict in the Basque Country is also shaped by the refusal of the Spanish state of the right of Basque people to choose freely their political status. Recently, 2 political parties - which in previous elections had received the support of around 10% of the popular vote- have been banned due to their unwillingness to publicly condemn ETA violence. The lack of a constitutional path towards independence has encouraged many Basques to support ETA.

On May 17, 2005, all the parties in the Congress of Deputies, except the PP, passed the Central Government's motion of beginning peace talks with the ETA with no political concessions and only if it gives up all its weapons. PSOE, CiU, ERC, PNV, IU-ICV, CC and the mixt group -BNG, CHA, EA y NB- supported it with a total of 192 votes, while the 147 PP parliamentaris objected.

On February 20th 2005, Spain became the first country to allow its people to vote on the European Union constitution that was signed in October 2004. The rules states that if any country rejects the constitution then the constitution will be declared void. The final result was very strongly in affirmation of the constitution, making Spain the first and so far only country to approve the constitution via referendum (Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia approved it before Spain, but they did not hold referenda).

Administrative divisions

Administratively, Spain is divided into 50 provinces, grouped into 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities with high degree of autonomy.

Autonomous communities

Autonomous communities of Spain
Autonomous communities of Spain

Main article: Autonomous communities of Spain Spain consists of 17 autonomous communities (comunidades aut󮯭as) and 2 autonomous cities (ciudades aut󮯭as; Ceuta and Melilla).


Main article: Provinces of Spain

The Spanish kingdom is also divided in 50 provinces (provincias). Autonomous communities group provinces (for instance, Extremadura is made of two provinces: Cᣥres and Badajoz). The autonomous communities of Asturias, the Balearic Islands, Cantabria, La Rioja, Navarre, Murcia, and Madrid are each composed of a single province. Traditionally, provinces are usually subdivided into historic regions or comarcas (main article: Comarcas of Spain).

Places of sovereignty

There are also five places of sovereignty ([[plaza de soberan�plazas de soberan�]) on and off the African coast: the cities of Ceuta and Melilla are administered as autonomous cities, an intermediate status between cities and communities; the islands of the Islas Chafarinas, Pe񳮠de Alhucemas, and Pe񳮠de V鬥z de la Gomera are under direct Spanish administration.

The Canary islands, Ceuta and Melilla, although not officially historic communities, enjoy a special status.


Main article: Geography of Spain

Map of Spain

Mainland Spain is dominated by high plateaus and mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees or the Sierra Nevada. Running from these heights are several major rivers such as the Tajo, the Ebro, the Duero, the Guadiana and the Guadalquivir. Alluvial plains are found along the coast, the largest of which is that of the Guadalquivir in Andalusia, in the east there are alluvial plains with medium rivers like Segura, [[J?] and Turia. Spain is bound to the east by Mediterranean Sea (containing the Balearic Islands), to the north by the Bay of Biscay and to its west by the Atlantic Ocean, where the Canary Islands off the African coast are found.

Spain's climate can be divided in four areas:

  • The Mediterranean: mostly temperate in the eastern and southern part of the country; rainy seasons are spring and autumn. Mild summers with pleasant temperatures. Hot records: Murcia 47.2?, Malaga 44.2?, Valencia 42.5?, Alicante 41.4?, Palma of Mallorca 40.6?, Barcelona 39.8?. Low records: Gerona -13.0?, Barcelona -10.0?, Valencia -7.2?, Murcia -6.0?, Alicante -4.6?, Malaga -3.8?.
  • Inner spain: Very cold winters (frequent snow in the north) and hot summers. Hot records: Sevilla 47.0?, Cordoba 46.6?, Badajoz 45.0?, Albacete and Zaragoza 42.6?, Madrid 42.2?, Burgos 41.8?, Valladolid 40.2?. Low records: Albacete -24.0?, Burgos -22.0?, Salamanca -20.0?, Teruel -19.0?, Madrid -14.8?, Sevilla -5.5?.
  • Northern Atlantic coast: precipitations mostly on winter, with mild summers (slightly cold). Hot records: Bilbao 42.0?, La Coru񡠳7.6?, Gij󮠳6.4?. Low records: Bilbao -8.6?, Oviedo -6.0?, Gijon and La Coru񡠭4.8?.
  • The Canary Islands: subtropical weather, with mild temperatures (18? to 24? celsius) throughout the year. Hot records: Santa Cruz de Tenerife 42.6?. Low records: Santa Cruz de Tenerife 8.1?.

Biggest metropolitan areas

  1. Madrid 5,603,285
  2. Barcelona 4,667,136
  3. Valencia 1,465,423
  4. Sevilla 1,294,081
  5. Malaga 1,019,292

For a more complete list, see List of cities in Spain

Territorial disputes

Spain has called for the return of Gibraltar, a tiny British possession on its southern coast. It changed hands during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704. The most recent talks dealt with the idea of "total shared sovereignty" over Gibraltar, subject to a constitutional referendum by Gibraltarians, who have expressed opposition to any form of cession to Spain. The talks have been frozen, after the result of a referendum in Gibraltar where 98% of the people opposed them. See Gibraltar for more information.

Morocco claims the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and the uninhabited V鬥z, Alhucemas, Chafarinas, and Perejil ("Parsley") islands, all on the northern coast of Africa.


Main article: Economy of Spain

Spain's mixed capitalist economy supports a GDP that on a per capita basis is 87% that of the four leading West European economies. The centre-right government of former President Aznar successfully worked to gain admission to the first group of countries launching the European single currency, the euro, on 1 January 1999. The Aznar administration continued to advocate liberalization, privatization, and deregulation of the economy and introduced some tax reforms to that end. Unemployment fell steadily under the Aznar administration but remains high at 11.7%. Growth of 2.4% in 2003 was satisfactory given the background of a faltering European economy. Incoming President Rodr�ez Zapatero, whose party won the election three days after the Madrid train bombings in March 2004, plans to reduce government intervention in business, combat tax fraud, and support innovation, research and development, but also intends to reintroduce labour market regulations that had been scrapped by the Aznar government. Adjusting to the monetary and other economic policies of an integrated Europe - and reducing unemployment - will pose challenges to Spain over the next few years.


Main article: Demographics of Spain

The Spanish Constitution, although affirming the sovereignty of the Spanish Nation, recognises historical nationalities.

The Castilian-derived Spanish (called both Español and Castellano in the language itself) is the official language throughout Spain, but other regional languages are also spoken. Without mentioning them by name, the Spanish Constitution recognizes the possibility of regional languages being co-official in their respective autonomous communities. The following languages are co-official with Spanish according to the appropriate Autonomy Statutes.

Catalan, Galician, Aranese (Occitan) and Spanish (Castilian) are all descended from Latin and have their own dialects, some championed as separate languages by their speakers (the [[Valenci? of Val讣ia, a dialect of Catalan, is one example).

There are also some other surviving Romance minority languages: Asturian, in Asturias and parts of Leon, Zamora and Salamanca, and the Extremaduran in Caceres and Salamanca, both descendents of the historical Astur-Leonese dialect; the Aragonese or fabla in part of Aragon; the fala, spoken in three villages of Extremadura; and some Portuguese dialectal towns in Extremadura and Castile-Leon. However, unlike Catalan, Galician, and Basque, these do not have any official status.

Berber language is spoken among Muslims in Ceuta and Melilla.

In the touristic areas of the Mediterranean costas and the islands, German and English are spoken by tourists, foreign residents and tourism workers.

Many linguists claim that most of the Spanish language variants spoken in Latin America (Mexican, Argentinian, Colombian, Peruvian, etc. variants) descended from the Spanish spoken in southwestern Spain (Andalusia, Extremadura and Canary Islands).


Spain is considered by some, including a part of Spanish population (aproximately 10% according to the latest surveys), to be a group of nations unified under a single State, much like Belgium, Switzerland or the United Kingdom. Despite this, the common history, the common features of the country and the policy of many Spanish governments has led to a "Spanish nationhood" which is the one people identify with Spain internationally.

The Spanish Constitution of 1978, in its second article, recognizes historic entities ("nationalities", not "nations") and regions, inside the unity of the Spanish nation.

But Spain's identity is sometimes, in fact, an overlap of different national identities, some of them even conflicting.

Castile is considered to be by many the "core" of Spain. However, this may just be a reflection of the fact that the Castilian national identity was the first one to be quashed by the Spanish Empire in the revolt of the Communards (comuneros). Today, Castilians generally consider themselves to be Spanish first, with regional identity being of lesser importance.

The opposite is the case of some Galicians, Catalans and Basques, who quite frequently identify primarily with Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country first, with Spain only second, or even third, after Europe. For example, according to the last CIS survey, 25% of Basques identify themselves only as Basques; 16.8% of Catalans do so with their autonomous community, and 7% Galicians with Galicia.

The situation is even more confusing, since there are regions with ambiguous identities, like Navarre, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, etc. There has been a lot of internal migration (rural exodus) from regions like Galicia, Andalusia and Extremadura to Madrid, Catalonia, Basque Country and the islands.

Spain was the first European country to become a unified nation, between 1492 (union of Castile and Aragon) and 1515 (annexation of Navarre).Until 1714, Spain was a loose confederation of kingdoms and statelets, under the same king, until King Philip V removed the autonomous status of the Aragonese crown. Navarre and the Basque Country, although, kept a high degree of autonomy within their legal and financial system (Fueros). Moreover, the creation of a unified state in the 19th and 20th centuries has lead to the present situation, apparently simple, but sometimes extremely confusing. During the Second Spanish Republic (19311936), the Basque and Catalan were given limited self-government, which was lost after the Spanish Civil War (19361939) and restored in 1978 during the transition to democracy.

Survey of the latest CIS (Centro de Investigaciones Sociol󧩣as) survey from which concrete data of this article have been extracted (

Minority groups

Since the 16th century, the most important minority group in the country have been the Gitanos. Other historical minorities are Mercheros (or Quinquis) and Vaqueiros de alzada. The latter, meaning "Mountain cow-breeders" dwell in mountain ranges in the Principality of Asturias and have kept historically apart from the valley dwellers.

The number of immigrants or foreign residents has tripled to 3.69 million in less than five years, acoccording the latest figures (2005) of National Statics Institute. They currently make up around 8.4 percent of the total population. The rise of population in Spain in recent years was largely due to them. Nearly half of all immigrants have neither residence nor work permits.

The largest foreign minorities are Moroccans (365.846), Equadorians (202.294), Colombians (128.367) and British (121.107), followed by other nationalities, as Argentinians, Filipinos, Germans etc.


Missing image
1928 Spanish one-peseta postage stamp pairs Pope Pius XI and Alfonso XIII

Roman Catholicism is, by far, the most popular religion in the country, with four in five Spaniards (80%) self-identifying as Catholics. The next group (one in eight, or 12%) is represented by atheists or agnostics. Minority religions account for one in seventy (1.4%) of all Spaniards.

According to membership [1] (, the second religion of Spain is the organization of the Jehovah's Witnesses with 103,784 active publishers; there are also many Protestant denominations, all of them with less than 50,000 members, and about 20,000 Mormons. Evangelism has been better received among Gypsies than among the general population; pastors have integrated flamenco music in their liturgy. Taken together, all self-described "Evangelicals" slightly surpass Jehovah's Witnesses in number.

The recent waves of immigration have led to an increasing number of Muslims, who have about 800,000 members. Muslims were forcibly converted in 1492 and then expelled in the 16th century. Since the expulsion of the Sephardim in 1492, Judaism was practically nonexistent until the 19th century. There are also many Spaniards (in Spain and abroad) who claim Jewish ancestry to the Conversos, and still practice certain customs. Spain is believed to have been about 8 percent Jewish on the eve of the Spanish Inquisition.

Over the past thirty years, Spain has become a more secularised society. The number of believers has decreased significantly and for those who believe the degree of accordance and practice to their church is quite diverse.

According to the latest official poll (CIS, 2002) (, 80% of Spaniards self-identify as Catholic, 12% as non-believer, and 1% as other (the remaining 7% declined to state). Of the 1.4% identifying as other, 29% identified as Evangelical Christian, 26% as Jehovah's Witnesses and 3% as Muslim (the rest either mentioned smaller religions or declined to state). According to the same poll, 73% believe in God, 14% don't and 12% are unsure (1% declined to state). Additionally, according to this poll, only 41% believe in Heaven. 24% of the Spaniards think that the Bible is just a fable. Only 25% of Catholics go to church at least once a week.

According to the CIA World Factbook, 94% of Spaniards are Roman Catholic. This is consistent with the Catholic Church's practice to claim all baptized as Catholic regardless of self-identification, and with the CIS poll's finding that 91% to 96% of all parents are remembered as being Catholics. While 80% of Spaniards self-describing as Catholics, 94% report having baptized their children but only 79% being inclined to baptize new children. 90% had a religious wedding.


Main article: Culture of Spain

International rankings

Further reading

John Hickman and Chris Little, "Seat/Vote Proportionality in Romanian and Spanish Parliamentary Elections", Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Volume 2, Number 2, November 2000.

Miscellaneous topics

Main article: List of Spain-related topics

External links

  • Spanish Castles ( ( The most complete guide of Spanish Castles and military architecture... (in Spanish)
  • Spain for travellers ( (in Spanish)
  • ( Spain Tourist Information
  • Softguide Spain (English/Spanish) (
  • Spain ( Searches for web pages from Spain only (in Spanish)
  • Spain Guide ( Provides useful information on Spain and Spanish culture
  • ( e-government Portal
  • La ( — Official governmental site
  • Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores ( Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Congreso de los Diputados ( — Official site of the Congress of Deputies
  • El Senado ( – Official site of the Senate
  • Casa Real ( – Official site of the Spanish Royal Family
  • INEBase ( — National Institute of Statistics (Spanish)
  • ExplorerSpain ( — Spain Tourist Information and regional news.
  • ( — Languages of Spain
  • Photographs of Spain ( Barcelona, Girona and Catalonia
  • Spain Maps ( — Maps of Spain and its regions
  • Information on Spain ( — Information On Spain
  • iberianature ( a guide to the environment, geography, climate, wildlife, natural history and landscape of Spain
  • Spanish Airport Guide ( Guide to all Airports in Spain
  • Spain Guide ( guide to Spain - Including tourist information, maps of Spain and more
  • CIA World Factbook Spain Entry (

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