Spain

Spain Destinations Travel Guide

Flag of Spain

Language: Spanish

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Calling Code: 34

 

Description of Spain

Spain, also called Kingdom of Spain, is a transcontinental country, member of the European Union, constituted as a social and democratic State of law and whose form of government is the parliamentary monarchy. Its territory, with capital in Madrid, is organized into seventeen autonomous communities and two autonomous cities, these formed, in turn, by fifty provinces.

Spain is located as much to the south of Western Europe as in the north of Africa. In Europe, it occupies most of the Iberian peninsula, known as mainland Spain, and the Balearic Islands (in the western Mediterranean Sea); in Africa there are the cities of Ceuta (in the Tingitana peninsula) and Melilla (in the cape of Tres Forcas), the Canary Islands (in the North-East Atlantic Ocean), the Chafarinas Islands (Mediterranean Sea), the Vélez Peñón de la Gomera (Mediterranean Sea), the Alhucemas Islands (Gulf of the Al Hoceima Islands) and the Alboran Island (Alboran Sea). The municipality of Llivia, in the Pyrenees, constitutes an enclave entirely surrounded by French territory. Complete the set of territories a series of islands and islets in front of the own peninsular coasts.

Spain covers an area of 505 370 km², being the fourth largest country in the continent, after Russia, Ukraine and France. With an average altitude of 650 meters above sea level it is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. Its population is 46 659 302 inhabitants (2018) The peninsular territory shares land borders with France and with Andorra to the north, with Portugal to the west and with the British territory of Gibraltar to the south. In its African territories, it shares land and sea borders with Morocco.

 

Travel Destinations in Spain

Madrid

Castillo de los Mendoza-Mendoza Castle

El Escorial

Madrid

 

Green Spain

Galicia

Baiona

Castro de Santa Tecla Celtic Settlement

Monasterio de Oseira

Monasterio de Ribas de Sil

Santiago de Compostela

 

Northern Spain-Pyrenees

Aragon

Aljafería Palace

Alquézar Castle

Loarre Castle

Monzón Castle

Ordesa Valley

 

Eastern Spain

Valencian Community

Coves de Sant Josep

Dénia Castle

Monasterio de El Puig

 

Catalonia

Aiguestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici

Barcelona

Montserrat Monastery

Tarragona

 

Andalucia

Andalucia

La Calahorra Castle

 

Central Spain

Castile and León

Alcazar at Segovia

Avila

Las Médulas

Ponferrada Castle

Puebla de Sanabria

Salamanca

Segovia

 

Castile-La Mancha

Calatrava la Nueva

Calatrava la Vieja

Monasterio de Ucles

Toledo

 

Origin of the word Hispania

The name of Spain derives from Hispania, name with which the Romans designated geographically the whole of the Iberian peninsula, an alternative term to the name Iberia, preferred by the Greek authors to refer to the same space. However, the fact that the term Hispania is not of Latin origin has led to the formulation of several theories about its origin, some of them controversial.

Hispania comes from the Phoenician "i-spn-ya", a term whose use is documented from the second millennium BC, in Ugaritic inscriptions. The Phoenicians constituted the first non-Iberian civilization that arrived in the peninsula to expand its trade and founded, among others, Gadir, the current Cádiz, the oldest inhabited city in Western Europe.The Romans took the name of the defeated Carthaginians, interpreting the prefix "i" as 'coast', 'island' or 'land', with the meaning of a 'region'. The spn lexeme, which in Phoenician and also in Hebrew can be read as saphan, was translated as 'rabbits' (actually 'damans', some animals the size of the rabbit spread across Africa and the Fertile Crescent). The Romans, therefore, gave Hispania the meaning of 'land abundant in rabbits', a use picked up by Cicero, Caesar, Pliny the Elder, Cato, Livy and, in particular, Catullus, who refers to Hispania as a peninsula cuniculosa (in some coins minted in the time of Hadrian figured personifications of Hispania as a lady sitting and with a rabbit at his feet), referring to the time he lived in Hispania.

On the Phoenician origin of the term, the historian and Hebraist Cándido María Trigueros proposed in the Royal Academy of Good Letters of Barcelona in 1767 a different theory, based on the fact that the Phoenician alphabet (like the Hebrew) lacked vowels. Thus "spn" (sphan in Hebrew and Aramaic) would mean in Phoenician 'the north', a name that would have taken the Phoenicians when arriving at the Iberian peninsula bordering the African coast, seeing it to the north of its route, reason why "i-spn-ya" it would be the 'land of the north'. On the other hand, according to Jesús Luis Cunchillos in his Grammatical phoenician grammar (2000), the root of the term span is spy, which means 'to forge or beat metals'. Thus, "i-spn-ya" would be the 'earth in which metals are forged'.

Apart from the theory of Phoenician origin, which is the most accepted despite the fact that the precise meaning of the term remains the subject of discussions, various hypotheses have been proposed throughout history, based on apparent similarities and more or less related meanings. At the beginning of the Modern Age, Antonio de Nebrija, in the line of Isidoro of Seville, proposed his autochthonous origin as deformation of the Iberian word Hispalis, which would mean 'the city of the West' and that, being Hispalis the main city of the peninsula, the Phoenicians and then the Romans gave their name to their entire territory, and later, Juan Antonio Moguel proposed in the 19th century that the term Hispania could come from the word éuscara Izpania, which would mean 'part of the sea' being composed of the voices iz and pania or bania which means 'to divide' or 'to depart' In this respect, Miguel de Unamuno declared in 1902: "The only difficulty I find [...] is that, according to some countrymen Mine, the name Spain derives from the Basque 'ezpaña', lip, alluding to the position that our peninsula has in Europe." Other hypotheses implied that both Hispalis and Hispania were derivations of the names of Hispalo and his son Hispan or Hispano, son and grandson, respectively, of Hercules.

 

Evolution from the word Hispania to Spain

From the Visigoth period, the term Hispania, until then used geographically, began to be used also with a political connotation, as shown by the use of the expression Laus Hispaniae to describe the history of the peoples of the peninsula in the chronicles of Isidoro de Sevilla .

You are, oh Spain, sacred and always happy mother of princes and peoples, the most beautiful of all the lands that extend from the West to India. You, by right, are now the queen of all the provinces, from whom you receive your lights not only the sunset, but also the East. You are the honor and ornament of the orb and the most illustrious portion of the earth, in which the glorious fecundity of the Goth nation is greatly enjoyed and splendidly flourished. With justice it enriched you and nature was more indulgent with the abundance of all created things, you are rich in fruits, in copious grapes, in happy harvests ... You are located in the most pleasant region of the world, nor are you Burning in the tropical heat of the sun, you do not get numbed by glacial rigors, but, clinging to a temperate zone of the sky, you nourish yourself with happy and soft zephyrs ... And for that reason, a long time ago, the Golden Rome, head of the people, he wished you and, although the same Roman power, first winner, has possessed you, however, at last, the flourishing nation of the Goths, after innumerable victories all over the world, with hard work you conquered and loved you and So far you enjoy safe between regal and very powerful treasures in safety and happiness of empire.
Isidoro de Sevilla, Santo (6th-7th century). History of Regibus Gothorum, Vandalorum et Suevorum [History of the kings of the Goths, Vandals and Swabians].

The word Spain derives phonetically from Hĭspanĭa, on a regular basis through the palatalization of the / n / en / ñ / ante Latin iod-ĭa, the loss of the initial H- (which occurs in late Latin) and the opening of ĭ in initial position a / e /. However, Spain can not be considered the translation into Spanish of the Latin word Hispania, since modern usage designates a different extension.

 

Historical use of the term Spain

Use of the term Spain until the Middle Ages

The evolution of the word Spain is in accordance with other cultural uses. Until the Renaissance, names referring to national and regional territories were relatively unstable, both from the semantic point of view and from their precise geographical delimitation. Thus, in the time of the Romans Hispania corresponded to the territory they occupied in the peninsula, the Balearic Islands and, in the third century, part of North Africa - Mauritania Tingitana, which was included in the year 285 in the Diocesis Hispaniarum.

 

With the Muslim invasion, the name Spania or Spain was transformed into اسبانيا, Isbāniyā. The use of the word Spain continues to be unstable, depending on who uses it and under what circumstances. Some chronicles and other documents of the High Middle Ages designate exclusively with that name (Spain or Spania) the territory dominated by the Muslims. Thus, Alfonso I of Aragon, «the Battler», says in his documents that «He reigns in Pamplona, Aragon, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza» and, when in 1126 he makes an expedition to Malaga, he tells us «he went to the lands of Spain » But as of the last years of the twelfth century, the use of the name of Spain for the entire Peninsula, whether of Muslims or Christians, became widespread again. This name covered five kingdoms of Spain: Granada (Muslim), Leon with Castile, Navarre, Portugal and the Crown of Aragon (Christians).

 

Identification with the Crowns of Castilla y Aragón

As the Reconquista progressed, several kings proclaimed themselves princes of Spain, trying to reflect the importance of their kingdoms in the Peninsula. After the dynastic union of Castile and Aragon, the name of Spain was used in these two kingdoms to refer to both. This name appeared in the documents of the years 1124 and 1125, on the occasion of the military expedition by Andalusia of Alfonso the Battler, they referred to this one -that had unified the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon after his marriage with Magpie I of León- with the terms "reigning in Spain" or reigning "in all the land of Christians and Saracens of Spain."

 

History

On the southwestern coast of Iberia, a culture arose in the Bronze Age, from which, at the end of the 3rd millennium BC the Tartessian civilization is formed, trading metal with the Phoenicians. After the depletion of the mines, Tartessus falls into decay.

Along the east coast of Spain in the 2nd millennium BC. Iberian tribes appeared; some hypotheses link their ancestral home to North Africa. Later, the Iberians were assimilated by the Celts. From the Iberians comes the ancient name of the peninsula - Iberian. The Phoenicians called the land of the Iberians Spain. In the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. e. Iberians began to settle in fortified villages on the territory of modern Castile. The Iberians were mainly engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding and hunting, they knew how to make tools from copper and bronze. The Iberians used the Paleo-Spanish script created earlier by the Tartessians. The Iberian language was not related to Tartessian.

There is Roman evidence that Ligures previously lived in Spain, but nothing is known of their existence in the historical period.

In the late Bronze Age, the urn-field culture (of which the Lusitanians were probably a remnant in the historical period) penetrated into Iberia, and at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC most of Iberia is colonized by Celtic tribes. Part of the Celts, who lived next to the Iberians, fell under their influence and created the Celtiberian culture; the Celts, who lived in the western part, maintained a relatively conservative way of life, were unliterate. The Celts of Iberia became famous as warriors. It was they who invented the double-edged sword, which later became the standard weapon of the Roman army and used against their own inventors.

Roman Spain
During the Second Punic War, between 210 and 205 BC the expanding Roman Empire took over the Carthaginian colonies in the Mediterranean. It took almost two centuries for the Roman conquest of Spain, and then for about six centuries Spain was part of the Roman Empire. The emperors Hadrian, Trajan, Theodosius I, and also the philosopher Seneca were born in Roman Spain. Christianity came to Spain in the 1st century AD and became popular in cities in the 2nd century.

Gothic Spain
The weakening of Roman jurisdiction in Spain began in 409, when the Germanic tribes of the Suevs and Vandals, together with the Sarmatian tribes of the Alans, entered the peninsula with the permission of the Roman usurper. The Suebi established a state in present-day Galicia and northern Portugal, while the Vandals settled in southern Spain by 420, crossed into northern Africa in 429, and captured Carthage in 439.

The Visigoths came to the Iberian Peninsula in 414-415 under the leadership of Ataulf, and later settled almost throughout Spain. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the kingdom of the Visigoths gains full independence. The Visigoths, like other Gothic tribes, professed Arianism. However, a significant part of the population of Spain was still made up of the descendants of the Ibero-Romans, who professed orthodox Christianity.

The Byzantine emperor Justinian the Great considered it his duty to restore the Roman Empire to its former borders under the principle of "One state, one faith, one law." As a result of the Vandal War, the Vandal kingdom was defeated and incorporated into the Roman Empire up to Ceuta. In the spring of 552, Justinian sent an expedition to Spain and conquered the south of Spain from the Visigoths, which became the "Province of Spain". However, Byzantium was unable to send troops to Spain, and the Visigothic king Leovigild returned most of the conquests. The Visigothic kings Sisebut and his son Svintila expelled the Byzantines from the peninsula.

Under King Leovigild, under the influence of his wife Goisvinta, in 580 the first last Arian council was held in Toledo, as opposed to ecumenical councils, as a result of which the Visigothic Arians persecuted orthodox Christians. However, in 589, under King Reccared I, as a result of the 3rd Council of Toledo, the Visigoths converted to orthodox Christianity, which subsequently lost the Gothic language in which Arian liturgies were held. Also, the Third Council of Toledo obliged the Jews to release Christian slaves. The Third Council of Toledo made it possible to unite society, as a result of which the Goths and the Ibero-Romans began to profess one religion, marking the beginning of the formation of the Spanish nation.

 

Muslim Spain and the Reconquista

In 711, the troops of Tariq ibn Ziyad of the Umayyad Caliphate landed in Gibraltar. In a short period, the Umayyad Caliphate captured a large territory of Spain and defeated the state of the Visigoths. By 714, the Moors had established control over most of the peninsula, in 717 they began an attack on the south of France, and in 719 they reached Toulouse. Al-Andalus was founded on the territory of Spain, and then in 756 the Emirate of Cordoba. Cordoba becomes one of the largest cities in the world, an important cultural, scientific and economic center. In the 9th century, the palace city of Madina al-Zahra was built in Cordoba. With the arrival of Muslims in Spain, the dawn of Jewish culture begins.

The first minor victory of the Christians was won in 718 at Covadonga, which is considered the beginning of the Reconquista, the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula by the Spaniards and the Portuguese from the Muslims. The Battle of Poitiers in 732 in France prevented the further spread of Islam in Europe. However, the real pushing back of the Muslims from Spain took several centuries and was completed only with the fall of the Emirate of Granada in 1492.

spanish empire
The completion of the Reconquista and the unification of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile in 1492 marked the beginning of the Spanish Empire. In the same year, Christopher Columbus made the first expedition to America, which was the beginning of the Spanish colonization of America, which had a predominantly male type - men moved to new lands who married local women of Indian or African origin. Spain became a pioneer of colonization, having begun to colonize America before other European states. At the same time, the Mediterranean cities of Spain were practically depopulated to the point that they could not resist the Barbary pirates.

Spain became the first global empire, owning vast territories on different continents. The colonization of America was also of a religious nature. While the conflict between Catholics and Protestants raged in Europe, the natives of America were converting to Catholic Christianity. Since the Spaniards were shocked by the customs of human sacrifice among the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas, it was decided to evangelize the natives by military force, who were "mired in sin." Huge territories were captured by the Spaniards - Mexico, the Philippines, New Andalusia, Chile, Peru, and many others - Spain began to be called an empire on which the sun never sets.

The period of the Spanish Habsburgs is called the "Golden Age of Spain". After the end of the Habsburg dynasty in Spain, the War of the Spanish Succession began. By the 19th century, the decline of the Spanish Empire begins - the war for the independence of the Spanish colonies in America begins.

20th century
In 1923, the military dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera was established. The king already during this period did not have any power in the country. In January 1930, after losing support in the army, unable to rectify the situation after the acute economic crisis of the previous year, the dictator leaves the country. On April 14, 1931, the last of the Bourbons, Alfonso XIII, left the country, but did not abdicate - the parties supporting him suffered a crushing defeat in the municipal elections. The government was formed by adherents of the regime change. Soon Niceto Alcala Zamora y Torres became the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Spain. Thus began the Republican period.

The radical policy of the new government towards the landowners, the church, the army, the extreme liberalism towards the separatist-minded regions of the north and east met with ardent support from one part of the population and a burning feeling of hatred from the other. Local uprisings succeeded each other. Despite all the radical measures, in 2 years the government has not achieved any success in the economy. In the elections in November 1933, the conservatives returned to the government, the reforms were stopped. Now pogroms and rebellions across the country have already begun to be carried out by their opponents - liberals and anarchists. In the next elections in January 1936, again, as in 1931, the radicals won - the "People's Front" with the participation of the Communist Party. The new composition of the Cortes (Spain's parliament) resumed the implementation of radical policies, hoping to start solving the deepest problems in the country's economy with extreme measures.

 

In July of the same year, conservative generals led by J. Sanjurho raised a well-prepared rebellion. In the very first days of the uprising, after the death of the old leader in a plane crash, F. Franco became the new head of the conspiracy. The nationalists turned to Germany and Italy for help, the communists received help from the USSR and many left-wing parties in Europe and the world. The civil war began. Republicans in their zone expropriated land, businesses, banks, organized the persecution of priests and monks. On the "nationalist" territory, all traditional institutions were restored, power was concentrated in the hands of Franco. The front of armed confrontation stretched across the country. For 3 years of slow victorious advance in battles, all the provinces supporting the Republicans were conquered. From the first to the last weeks of the war, the capital, Madrid, was under siege. During these years, Spain was the main diplomatic problem of all the developed countries of the world.

In 1939, after the victory of the military, the dictatorship was extended to the whole country, political parties were banned, except for the fascist "phalanx" that supported Franco. Spain remained neutral during World War II, although it sent a volunteer Blue Division to the Eastern Front.

In 1947, Spain was again declared a kingdom (however, the throne remained unoccupied under the regency of Franco's caudillo).

In November 1975, after the death of Franco, Juan Carlos I was proclaimed king, who appointed A. Suarez as prime minister in July 1976, the dismantling of the fascist regime and democratic reforms began. In October 1977, the country's main political forces signed the so-called "Moncloa Pact" (after the seat of government in Madrid), which provided for a set of political and economic measures to complete the country's transition to democracy. The pact provided for parliamentary control over the media, the reorganization of law enforcement forces, the liberalization of legislation on rallies and assemblies, the democratization of the social security system and the education sector, the implementation of tax reform, etc. The Moncloa Pact became a classic example of a compromise between different parties based on a national consensus for implementation of common tasks in a "transitional" society. In December 1978, a new constitution came into force.

In 1986 Spain joined the European Union. The Basque country and Catalonia, according to the constitution, received significant autonomy in 1978, but separatist movements still exist in them (the Basque terrorist organization ETA is especially intransigent).

XXI Century
In March 2004, there were 13 explosions at the railway station in Madrid, as a result of which 191 people were killed and 2,050 people were injured, the attack was organized by the Islamists. The explosions took place three days before the parliamentary elections, which resulted in the loss of the March 14, 2004 elections by the People's Party, led by Prime Minister Aznar, who sent Spanish troops to support the US and Britain in Iraq unilaterally, without the consent of parliament.

In early 2004, the new socialist government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero made a sharp turn in Spanish foreign policy: from support for the US course to solidarity with most of the EU countries. After winning the elections on March 14, 2004, the socialist government withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq, thus fulfilling an important item in the electoral program of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE).

In 2005, same-sex marriage was legalized in Spain. Thus, Spain became the third state in the world, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to recognize the legal equality of marriage unions, regardless of the sex of the spouses.

On March 9, 2008, parliamentary elections were held in Spain. The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party won the election. In accordance with the results of the elections, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party won 168 seats in parliament, its main rival, the conservative People's Party, received 154 seats. The remaining seats (a total of 350 seats in parliament) were divided among another 8 parties, mostly regional ones. The Communists and the Greens of the United Left Coalition reduced their presence in parliament from five to three deputies. In the elections, where candidates from 92 parties ran, 75% of voters took part.

On November 20, 2011, early parliamentary elections were held, where the People's Party headed by M. Rahoy won, receiving 186 out of 350 seats in the lower house. In December, Rajoy took office as Prime Minister of Spain. The main goal of the new government is to lead Spain out of a protracted financial crisis.

One of the problems of modern Spain is the problem of immigration. Mostly residents of the Maghreb countries and Latin America come to Spain. At the beginning of the new century, according to rough estimates, there were 2.5 million Latin Americans in the EU countries, 800 thousand of which were in Spain. However, after the terrorist attacks of 2004, the attitude of the Spaniards towards immigrants has changed significantly.

 

Physical and geographical characteristics

Relief

The relief of Spain is predominantly mountainous. The center of the country is located at a distance of 300 km from the sea. The relief is dominated by systems of mountain ranges and high plateaus.

Plateaus and mountains make up about 90% of its territory. Almost half of the country's surface is occupied by the vast, highest in Europe high - with an average height of 660 m - the Meseta plateau. It is distinguished by the alternation of plateaus, fold-block ridges and mountain basins. The Central Cordillera divides it into two parts: northern and southern.

In the north, Meseta is bordered by the powerful Cantabrian Mountains, which stretch along the coast of the Bay of Biscay for 600 km, isolating the hinterland from the influence of the sea. In their central part is the Picos de Europa massif (from Spanish - Peaks of Europe) with heights up to 2648 m. These mountains of the Alpine type are composed mainly of deposits of the Carboniferous period - limestone, quartzite, sandstone. The Cantabrian Mountains are an orographic and tectonic continuation of Spain's most powerful mountain system, the Pyrenees.

The Pyrenees are several parallel ranges stretching from west to east for 450 km. This is one of the most inaccessible mountainous countries in Europe. Although on average their height is not very high (a little over 2500 m), they have only a few conveniently located passes. All passes are at an altitude of 1500-2000 m. Therefore, only four railways go from Spain to France: two of them bypass the Pyrenees along the coast from the northwest and southeast, and two more railways cross the Pyrenees in the Aerbe-Oloron- Saintes Marie and Ripoll - Prades, through a system of tunnels. The widest and highest part of the mountains is the central one. Here is their main peak - Aneto Peak, reaching 3404 m.

From the northeast, the system of the Iberian mountains adjoins the Meseta, the highest point of which is the San Miguel peak in the Moncayo mountain range, which, according to various sources, has a height of 2314 to 2316 m.

Between the eastern Pyrenees and the Iberian mountains stretch the low Catalan Mountains, the southern slopes of which break off in ledges to the Mediterranean Sea. The Catalan Mountains (average heights 900-1200 m, peak - Mount Caro, 1447 m) follow for 400 km almost parallel to the Mediterranean coast and actually separate the Aragonese plateau from it. The areas of coastal plains developed in Murcia, Valencia and Catalonia north of Cape Palos to the border with France are highly fertile.

The entire southeast of the Iberian Peninsula is occupied by the Cordillera Betica, which is a system of massifs and ridges. The mountains of the Sierra Nevada serve as its crystalline axis. In height, they are second only to the Alps in Europe. Their peak, Mount Mulasen, reaching 3478 m, is the highest point in peninsular Spain. However, the highest mountain peak in Spain is located on the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands) - this is the Teide volcano, whose height reaches 3718 m.

Most of the territory of Spain is located at an altitude of about 700 m above sea level. It is the second highest country in Europe after Switzerland.

The only large lowland - Andalusian - is located in the south of the country. In the northeast of Spain, in the valley of the Ebro River, lies the Aragonese plain. Smaller lowlands stretch along the Mediterranean Sea. One of the main rivers of Spain (and the only navigable one in the lower reaches) flows through the Andalusian lowland - the Guadalquivir. The rest of the rivers, including the largest ones: Tajo and Duero, the lower reaches of which are located on the territory of neighboring Portugal, the Ebro, Guadiana, are distinguished by sharp seasonal level fluctuations and rapids.

Significant areas of the country suffer from lack of water. Related to this is the problem of deflation - millions of tons of topsoil are blown out every year.

The capital of Spain Madrid is located in the geographical center of the country and is the "highest" capital in Europe.

There are more than 2,000 beaches on the coast of Spain: Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, Costa del Azahar, Costa de Almeria, Costa Blanca, Mar Menor, Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz, Rias- Bahas, Rias Altas, Costa Cantabrica, Canary and Balearic Islands.

 

Climate

Spain is one of the warmest countries in Southern Europe. The average number of sunny days is 260-285. The average annual temperature on the Mediterranean coast is +20 °C. In winter, the temperature drops below zero, usually only in the central and northern regions of the country. In summer, the temperature rises to +40 ° C and above (from the central part to the southern coast). On the northern coast, the temperature is not so high - about +25 °C.

Spain is characterized by very deep internal climatic differences, and it can only conditionally be attributed entirely to the Mediterranean climatic region. These differences are manifested both in temperature and in annual amounts and precipitation patterns.

In the far northwest, the climate is mild and humid with little temperature variation throughout the year and high rainfall. Constant winds from the Atlantic bring a lot of moisture, mainly in winter, when foggy and cloudy weather prevails with drizzling rain, almost without frost and snow. The average temperature of the coldest month is the same as in the northwest of France. Summers are hot and humid, with average temperatures rarely below +16°C. Annual rainfall exceeds 1070 mm, and in some places reaches 2000 mm.

Completely different conditions in the interior of the country - on the plateau of Old and New Castile and the Aragonese plain. In these areas, the influence of the plateau-mountain-hollow relief, considerable height, and local continental air is felt. They are characterized by relatively low precipitation (no more than 500 mm per year) and sharp temperature fluctuations by season. In Old Castile and the Plain of Aragon there are rather cold winters, with frosts and strong, harsh winds; summers are hot and rather dry, although the maximum precipitation falls on this season of the year. In Nueva Castile, the climate is slightly milder, with warmer winters but also low rainfall. Agriculture in all these areas needs artificial irrigation.

The climate of Spain is a diverse set of climatic zones. The predominant climate is Mediterranean, which is distinguished by poor rainfall and is divided into 3 types: Mediterranean maritime, Mediterranean continental and arid.

Mediterranean Sea: occupies the Mediterranean coast (excluding the southeast), the south-Atlantic, the Balearic archipelago, Ceuta and Melia. Average temperatures vary between 13 and 16 °C. In summer the temperature rises to 22 °C, due to the influence of the sea it is not too hot. The temperature in winter does not fall below 10 °C.

Mediterranean continental: covers the interior of the peninsula (except for the middle zone of the Ebro Valley). It is characterized by its isolation from maritime influence, which gives this climatic type a continental character. According to thermal characteristics, three subtypes of the continental Mediterranean climate are distinguished:
Subtype of the northern sub-meset and uplands of Teruel and Cuenca. Represents cool summers (temperatures below 22 °C) and cold winters (average temperature of the coldest month between 6 and -3 °C).
A subtype of the southern sub-meset and dividing line of the Ebro Valley with hot summers (temperatures above 22 °C) and cold winters.
Subtype of Extremadura and central Andalusia with very hot summers and moderate winters (6-10°C, coldest month).

Mediterranean arid (steppe): occupies the southeast of the peninsula and the middle zone of the Ebro Valley. The average annual precipitation is below 300 mm, which determines this climate as steppe. Temperatures can vary between the warm steppe of the coastal zone of the southeast (average temperature is 17–18 °C and does not fall below 10 °C in winter) and the cold steppe of the interior of the southeast with average temperatures no more than 17 °C in summer, in winter - between − 3 and 8 °C.

 

Soils

In the north-west of Spain, brown forest soils are developed on the coastal plains and windward slopes of the mountains. The interior of the country - Old and New Castile, the Iberian mountains and the Aragonese plateau - are characterized by brown soils; in areas rich in limestone, terra dew is found - eluvial soil; in the driest treeless areas thin calcareous gray-brown soils with areas of solonchaks in relief depressions are presented. Serozems are developed in the arid landscapes of Murcia. They are non-gypsum-bearing and not saline; when irrigated, they give high yields of fruit and other crops. Heavy clay barros soils stand out on flat alluvial plains, especially favorable for rice cultivation.

 

Flora and fauna

A variety of climatic conditions - from humid in the north to arid in the south - determines the heterogeneity of the flora and vegetation of Spain. In the north, similarities with Central Europe appear, and in the south - with Africa. Traces of forest vegetation in Murcia, La Mancha and Granada indicate that in the past a significant part of the territory of Spain was afforested, but now forests and light forests occupy only 30% of the country's area, and only 5% falls on full-fledged closed forest stands.

Evergreen oak forests grow in the northwest of the country. In the mountain forests, there are more deciduous oak species, along with beech, ash, birch and chestnut, which is typical for Central Europe. In the interior of Spain, in some places, small tracts of dry evergreen forests with a predominance of oak, interspersed with pine forests and shrubs, have been preserved. In the most arid areas of New Castile, the Aragonese plateau and Murcia, there are fragments of semi-deserts (usually on salt marshes).

In areas of southern Spain where there is more rainfall, especially along the coast, typical Mediterranean shrub-grass communities such as garigi and tomillar are present. Gariga is characterized by the participation of local species of gorse and cornflowers, for tomillar - the presence of aromatic labiales (shrub species of thyme, rosemary, etc.), as well as rockrose. A special variety of garriga is made up of scattered thickets of the dwarf fan palm, very characteristic of Andalusia, as well as communities dominated by tall alpha grass, or esparto, a hardy xerophyte that gives strong fiber.

In the fauna of Spain, Central European and African connections are obvious. Among European species, two varieties of the brown bear deserve mention (a large Asturian and a smaller, black suit found in the Pyrenees), a lynx, a wolf, a fox, a forest cat. There are deer, hares, squirrels and moles. The Imperial Eagle is found in Spain and North Africa, and the blue magpie found in the Iberian Peninsula is also found in East Asia. On both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, there are genets, Egyptian mongooses and one species of chameleon.

 

Minerals

The bowels of Spain abound in minerals. Especially significant are the reserves of metal ores, the deposits of which are associated with outcrops of the folded base of the Meseta or with volcanic rocks of mountain structures. Along the northwestern outskirts of the Meseta, within the Gallic massif, in the Caledonian and Proterozoic granite intrusions, there are tin, tungsten, and uranium ores. A strip of lead-zinc-silver deposits stretches along the southern outskirts of Meseta. There is also a large mercury deposit of global importance - Almaden. Iron ores are found in the north and south of Spain. They are confined to the structures of the Mesozoic and Alpine magmatic cycles. These are the well-known deposits of the Bilbao region on the northern slope of the Biscay Mountains and in Almeria on the southern slope of the Cordillera Beta. In the north, in the Carboniferous deposits that fill the foothill depression of the Asturian Mountains, there is the largest coal basin in the country. In addition, there are small deposits of coal on the southern slopes of the mountains and in some other areas. The Cenozoic deposits of intermountain and intramountain depressions contain strata of salts and brown coal. Significant reserves of potash salts are located within the Ebro plain.

Most of the mineral deposits in the country are very modest in size and rather heavily depleted, like many deposits in other European regions, which makes Spain dependent on mineral imports, mainly from North Africa.

 

Population

Population dynamics:
1 year - 3 million people;
150 - 7 million people;
500 - 3 million people;
1000 - 6 million people;
1200 - 10 million people;
1300 - 14 million people;
1450 - 20 million people;
1800 - 11.6 million people;
1850 - 11.3 million people;
1900 - 18.6 million people;
1932 - 24.1 million people;
1959 - 29.9 million people;
1977 - 36.3 million people;
2009 - 45.9 million people;
2011 - 46.7 million people;
2013 - 46.7 million people;
2014 - 46.5 million people;
2015 - 46.4 million people;
2016 - 45.9 million people;
2017 - 46.57 million people;
2018 - 46.72 million people
2019 - 45.71 million people
2020 - 47.5 million people

In modern Spain (1492-1860) there was a negative natural increase: in the XV-XVIII centuries in Spain there were an average of 1.79 children per family, with immigration to the colonies.

The population of Spain as of 2021, according to the Institute of State Statistics (Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE)) was 47,344,649 people. Among them, 40,051,756 people were born in Spain, 7,292,893 people were born abroad, of which 3,260,185 people were born in America, 2,185,627 people in Europe, 1,318,133 people in Africa, 520,208 people in Asia, and Oceania 8740 people.

As of 2021, the urban population is 81.1%. Population density - 94 people / km².

The official language is Spanish; in the autonomous regions, along with Castilian (Spanish), other languages ​​\u200b\u200bare also official (Catalan-Valencian-Balearic in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, Basque in the Basque Country and Navarre, Galician in Galicia, Aran in Catalonia). Some of the native Spaniards also speak non-official Aragonese, Extremaduran, Occitan and Fala de Shalima.

More than 2.7 million Spaniards live outside the country, including 1.7 million in the countries of North and South America, over 1 million in Western Europe (mainly in France and Germany).

As of 2020, 7.2 million immigrants lived in Spain, or 15.22% of the country's population.

Cities
The largest cities in Spain are:
Madrid;
Barcelona;
Valencia;
Seville;
Zaragoza;
Malaga.

 

Languages

The official language of Spain is Spanish, belonging to the Indo-European family of languages ​​(Romance group, Ibero-Romance subgroup).

Spain is a multi-ethnic country. In addition to the Castilians, Catalans, Galicians, Basques, Occitans, Asturians, Aragonese live in Spain, speaking their own languages ​​​​(Catalan, Galician, Basque, Occitan, Asturian and Aragonese, respectively). A dialect of Catalan is spoken by the Valencians (officially it is considered the Valencian language). Catalan is also spoken by the inhabitants of the Balearic Islands.

During the Franco regime, ethnic minorities were subjected to forced assimilation, but despite this, the languages ​​of these peoples did not disappear and have experienced a real revival in recent decades.

However, the Aragonese language is disappearing, which was widely spoken in former times, and now survives only in a few rural settlements. The Basques experienced strong assimilation in the province of Navarre, but in the Basque Country the Basque language has a strong position.

The Asturian language is also being revived (variant names depending on the locality: Asturleone, Asturian, Leonese, Extremaduran), which is found in the autonomous communities of Asturias, Castile-Leon, Extremadura, Cantabria.

 

Religious composition

The composition of the population of Spain by religion as of 2021: non-practicing Catholics - 39%, practicing Catholics - 18.4%, atheists - 14.6%, agnostics - 12.9%, non-believers / indifferent to religion - 11.4% , believers in another religion or confession - 2.5%, did not answer - 1.3%.

The first Protestant communities in Spain arose in the 16th century, but were completely destroyed by the Spanish Inquisition. Protestants began preaching again in Spain in ser. XIX century. At the moment, 567 thousand representatives of this direction of Christianity live in the country, most of which are Pentecostals (312 thousand).

Since the end of the 19th century, Greek merchants professing Orthodoxy have settled in the coastal cities of the country. In connection with mass labor migration from the countries of Eastern Europe, the number of Orthodox grew noticeably by the end of the 20th century. There are currently 900,000 Orthodox Christians living in Spain (mostly Romanians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Greeks, and Serbs).

Since the end of the 19th century, Muslims have been massively resettled in Spain, primarily workers from Morocco. In the second half of the 20th century, the flow of immigrants increases and includes refugees from other countries of North Africa. By 2010, there were already 1 million Muslims in the country (Islamic leaders talk about 2 million Muslims). The predominant branch of Islam is Sunnism.

Religious Jews (15,000) represent a small but influential group in the country. Among the migrants there are also Buddhists (47,000), Hindus (45,000), Sikhs, supporters of the Chinese folk religion and the Afro-Brazilian Macumba religion.

During the life of the last generation in Spain, the number of non-religious people increased markedly. At present, 19% of the country's population are unbelievers. According to some polls, the number is even higher. In a survey by the Center for Sociological Research in June 2015, 25.4% of respondents declared their non-religiousness (among them, 9.5% are staunch atheists and 15.9% are non-believers).

 

Administrative division

The administrative division of Spain is regulated by the constitution and current legislation. The main administrative-territorial unit in Spain is the autonomous community (autonomous region). There are currently 17 autonomous communities in the country, with the Basque Country, Catalonia, Navarre, Galicia and Andalusia having extended autonomies.

The autonomous communities, in turn, are divided into 50 provinces. Also within Spain are two so-called autonomous cities in Africa - Ceuta and Melilla - and the sovereign territories of Spain.

The provinces are divided into comarcas, of which there are currently 324. The comarcas, in turn, are divided into municipalities, of which there are more than 8 thousand.

Autonomous communities of Spain:
Andalusia;
Aragon;
Asturias;
Balearic Islands;
The Basque Country is the capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz;
Valencia is the capital of Valencia;
Galicia;
Canary Islands;
Cantabria;
Castile-La Mancha;
Castile-Leon;
Catalonia - the capital is Barcelona;
Madrid (as an autonomous region);
Murcia;
Navarre;
Rioja;
Extremadura.

 

State structure

Spain is a constitutional monarchy. The basic law of the state is the constitution adopted in 1978. The head of state is the king, currently Philip VI.

The executive power is headed by the prime minister, the leader of the party that won the majority of votes in parliamentary elections.

The legislative body is a bicameral parliament - the Cortes Generales (Congress of Deputies and the Senate). It consists of the Senate (259 seats - some deputies are elected by direct universal suffrage, others are appointed by provincial legislatures; all senators are elected for a 4-year term) and the Congress of Deputies (350 seats - elected by party lists for a 4-year term).

The body of constitutional supervision is the Constitutional Court, the highest judicial instance is the Supreme Court, the highest judicial instances of the Autonomous Communities are the highest courts of justice, the courts of appeal are the Provincial Audiences, the district courts are the courts of first instance and investigation, the lowest level of the judicial system is the justices of the peace, the court of cases of impeachment - the National Audience, the supreme control body - the Court of Accounts, the governing body of the courts - the General Council of the Judiciary.

In total, more than 500 political parties and public organizations are officially registered in Spain.

parties
People's Party;
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE);
Citizens - Civic Party;
Communist Party;
Podemos;
Major regional parties include the Catalan Convergence and Union bloc, the Left Republican Party of Catalonia, the Basque Nationalist Party, the Canary Coalition.

Developments
After the parliamentary elections on December 20, 2015, Spain found itself in a situation of government crisis. The People's Party, which won first place, received 28.7% of the vote and 123 seats in the Congress of Deputies, and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party - 22% (90 seats). It was not possible to form a government that would receive a majority in the Congress of Deputies. On June 26, early parliamentary elections were held in Spain, the People's Party remained the largest, added a little and achieved 137 mandates, but this did not allow it to form a government alone. From December 2015 to October 2016 Spain was ruled by a technical government led by Acting Prime Minister Rajoy.

On October 29, the Congress of Deputies, in the second round of voting, by a simple majority supported Rakhoy's candidacy for the post of head of government. Rajoy's minority government has the smallest parliamentary support in modern Spanish history.

 

Foreign policy

The preamble to the Spanish Constitution proclaims the willingness to "cooperate in strengthening peaceful relations and cooperation with all countries of the world." Currently, Spain's foreign policy is mainly based on three directions: Europe (especially the EU), the Ibero-American direction, the countries of the Mediterranean Sea.

To date, Spain has diplomatic relations with all UN countries. Recently, Spain has relations with Bhutan (since October 2010), South Sudan (since independence from Sudan in July 2011) and the state of Kiribati (since September 2011).

In early 2004, in connection with the coming to power of the new socialist government of J. L. Rodriguez Zapatero, there was a sharp turn in Spanish foreign policy from support for the US course to solidarity with the leaders of the European Union, in particular, in the Iraq issue: after winning the elections on March 14, 2004 The new socialist government withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq.

Spain is the largest of the EU countries that did not recognize the independence of Kosovo because of their own similar problems with the Basques and the Catalans.

One of the most important areas of Spanish foreign policy is Latin America. However, there are also critical situations in Ibero-American relations at the present time. The basis of disagreements often became the political life of Cuba. Aznar's government demanded democratic reforms on the island, which led to F. Castro's refusal to attend Iberoamerican summits. Without a doubt, there were more positive moments in the relations between the two regions, and each of the aspects of development is important for further cooperation. At the beginning of the 21st century, Spain is assisting the countries of this region in the development of civil society, democratic foundations, open and free trade, and in solving socio-economic problems. To achieve these goals, the Iberoamerican Community of Nations was created. Summits are held annually, at which the most important issues are resolved. On October 14-15, 2005, the 15th Ibero-American Summit took place in Salamanca. It was prepared by the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and the Secretariat for Ibero-American Cooperation. During the summit, conferences on culture and education, tourism, a meeting of economic ministers, a parliamentary forum, meetings on healthcare and agricultural development were held. The summit attracted the attention of the world community: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Duran Barroso, President of the European Parliament Jose Borrell and other prominent figures took part in its work. The summit discussed specific issues: economic development, immigration and the role of Iberoamerica in the international arena. The final document of the summit was the "Declaration of Salamanca". One of the most important decisions was a document calling for an end to the economic and commercial blockade of Cuba, as well as the repeal of the Helms-Burton Act. In recent years, this region has also become important in terms of the participation of Spanish companies Repsol, Telefónica, BBVA, ENDESA, Iberdrola, Acciona, and others.

An equally important area of ​​Spanish foreign policy is the Mediterranean. Solving problems in this region and maintaining friendly relations and contacts with the Mediterranean countries play an important role for Spain, because it is a matter of its own security, in addition, these countries are neighbors with it, and are also important trading partners. An important project in the field of the Spanish-Mediterranean dialogue is the Barcelona Process, a program designed to strengthen state institutions in the countries of the Mediterranean region, develop the economy, progress in the social field, and resolve acute issues and problems of the region.

Spain is known for being the last country to ratify the Protocol on Montenegro's accession to NATO on May 10, 2017.

Ties to Morocco
In the foreign policy of Spain, Morocco occupies one of the key places, for which the Moroccan kingdom is the most important African partner, if only because of its territorial proximity. The main directions of Spanish policy in Morocco are: issues related to the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the unresolved problem with Western Sahara, problems of illegal migration, issues of stopping drug smuggling, etc.

Relations between Spain and the Maghreb countries began to develop most actively after the Socialist Party came to power in Spain in 1982.

Under the government of the People's Party, led by Prime Minister H.M. Aznar, who were in power from 1996 to 2004, relations could not be called good and were rather characterized by instability, in particular, the conflict over the island of Perejil in 2002 occupies a bright place .

The socialists, who came back to power in April 2004, led by José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, were determined to improve relations with their neighbors, and especially with Morocco. Since the meeting between Mohamed VI and Juan Carlos in 2005, relations between the two monarchs have improved markedly. The conflict in Western Sahara, which arose a long time ago, has always had an adverse effect on relations between the two countries. After the aborted quadripartite conference, Morocco in 1975 authorized the "Green March" to Western Sahara with the aim of "cleansing" Western Sahara from Spain. The result was an agreement between Spain, Mauritania and Morocco on the transfer of temporary control over the Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania.

An important component of relations between the two countries are close economic ties. In 1995, the Moroccan government decides to put everything on foreign investors, the most important of which are Spain and France.

 

Economics and finance

In 2007, Spain ranked 8th in the world in terms of economic development, according to the IMF; in 2014 - 14th place. Traditionally, Spain is an agricultural country, in addition, it is one of the largest producers in Western Europe. Since the mid-1950s, industrial growth has been rapid and quickly assumed a greater weight than agriculture in the country's economy. Development plans launched in 1964 helped expand the economy. However, in the late 1970s, a period of economic recession began due to rising oil prices and increased imports associated with the establishment of democracy and the opening of borders. The development of the steel industry, the development of shipyards, and the textile industry have increased. The income generated from tourism is also quite high.

Since Spain became a full member of the European Union (EU) in 1986, economic policy has evolved depending on this supranational organization. In the 1990s, the country took a leading position in the EU (although it is still a recipient, that is, it receives subsidies to support agriculture and some areas from pan-European funds). There was a construction boom that inflated the "soap bubble" of the real estate market, which later turned into a crisis.

The global economic crisis has also seriously affected Spain. The long-term excess of state spending over income eventually led, by the end of the 2000s, to a state budget deficit of over 11% of GDP; The country's foreign trade deficit was 5% of the total economy. Unemployment began to exceed 25%.

In the 2010s, the recession in the Spanish economy, which began in the spring of 2012, lasted a year and a half. By the end of 2014, the country's economy began to rise, and even the fastest in Europe.

As in neighboring Italy, in Spain there is a rather acute problem of smoothing the economic inequality between the northern (more industrially developed) and backward southern regions with high unemployment.

GDP - $ 1.311 trillion (2017); the increase in the period from 2017 to 2019 amounted to 2.3-3.1%. During the years of the crisis since 2008, in aggregate, it has decreased by 9%.

Major ports: Bilbao, Barcelona; oil - Algeciras, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tarragona, coal - Gijón.

Spain is one of the largest centers of international tourism (81.8 million people in 2017), 1.3 million people are employed in this area. The main tourist centers are Madrid and Barcelona, ​​as well as resorts - Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol; 95% of tourists are from EU countries.

In the country's economy, strong positions are occupied by companies from the USA, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Switzerland. They own more than 50% of machine-building and metallurgy enterprises. About 40% of the share capital falls on the share of 8 largest Spanish financial, industrial and banking groups (Marchey, Fierro, Urquijo, Garrigues, Ruiz-Mateos, etc.).

As of January 1, 2020, the minimum wage in Spain is €1,108. As of 2016, the average wage in Spain is €2,189. The Spanish tax system combines federal, regional and municipal taxes; corporate income tax is 25%.

On April 5, 2020, plans to introduce an unconditional basic income were announced due to the COVID-2019 epidemic.

 

Agriculture

The leading branch of agriculture is plant growing (it provides over 50% of the cost of production). They grow wheat (about 20% of the cultivated area), barley, corn (in the central and southern regions of the country), rice (on the irrigated lands of the Mediterranean coast; its yield in Spain is one of the highest in the world), potatoes and sugar beets, legumes. Also vegetables (occupy 60% of the cultivated area): tomatoes, onions, peppers, eggplants.

Olives (the world's leading olive grower), citrus and tobacco. In the very south of the country, almonds are grown (the leading export place in Western Europe), dates and sugar cane (in Europe they grow only in Spain), figs, pomegranates, and cotton.
Viticulture - on the Mediterranean coast and in the regions of Castile-La Mancha, Extremadura.

Animal husbandry is developing successfully: goats and sheep are bred in arid regions, and in the north - cattle.

An original industry is the harvesting and export of cork bark.

Fishing
Spain is among the top ten countries in the world in terms of catching fish, seafood and their processing, is a major exporter of fresh fish and canned fish (annually 20-25% of the total catch is processed into canned food). The main part of the fishery is carried out off the coast of Cantabria, the Basque Country and Galicia. The most caught are sardines, hake, mackerel, anchovies and cod.

 

Industry

The oldest industry is mining.

Among the branches of engineering, shipbuilding stands out. There is an automotive industry (SEAT). Developed metalworking and production of industrial equipment.

Of the light industries, the most important are the textile and leather and footwear industries (Spain accounts for 4% of world shoe exports).

In the food industry, winemaking, the production of vegetable oil (Spain is the world leader in the production of olive oil), fruit and vegetable and canned fish stand out.

Fuel and energy complex
In the fuel and energy complex (FEC), the problem lies in the fact that, having one of the highest growth rates in the EU, Spain does not provide itself with energy on its own and is dependent on foreign exporters - the country imports 80% of the consumed energy carriers (almost all gas and oil). Spain ranks 40th in the world in terms of energy resources.

29 companies are engaged in the sale of gas on the Spanish domestic market. At the same time, the leading position in the sector of gas supply and sales of gas to end consumers is maintained by Gas Natural Fenosa and its regional branches. The length of distribution networks owned by the company is more than 45,000 km. Spain's main gas distribution companies also include Endesa, Iberdrola, CEPSA, Naturgas.

The annual oil production is about 30 million tons, and covers less than 10% of the needs.

About 10% accounted for by nuclear power, 6% by hydropower. Also, the Spanish government pays great attention to alternative energy sources (12%), being one of the five countries investing in alternative energy. In 2018, the Spanish government announced a decision to go completely green by 2050.

 

Tourism industry

Spain is one of the largest centers of international tourism. The main tourist centers are Madrid and Barcelona, ​​as well as resorts - Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol, Canary Islands.

1.3 million people are employed in this area.

According to the statistics of the UN World Tourism Organization on the international tourist flow in 2017, Spain with 81.8 million visitors took 2nd place after France.

Banking sector
The Spanish banking system is one of the most stable in Europe. Among its distinctive features, the following can be distinguished: a high degree of concentration of banking capital along with a small number of credit institutions (395), a significant level of foreign exchange reserves (€ 13.9 billion), an extensive network of branches of private banks and state savings banks. The dominant role is played by national banks with 100% Spanish capital. The leader in terms of the value of market assets is the financial group Grupo Santander, which was formed in 1999 as a result of the merger of two large banks.

The internationalization of national financial institutions has a decisive influence on the position of Spain in the world economy. About a quarter of the assets of the Spanish banking system are located abroad, with one half in Latin America and the other half in European countries. The two main Spanish banking groups Santander and BBVA are among the largest banks in the world.

The financial crisis in Spain began to gradually develop into a political one. On the one hand, regions with their extremely weak banks need help from the government. On the other hand, some territories, in particular Catalonia, believe that without the guiding and guiding hand of Madrid, they would feel much better.

 

Transport

The Spanish road network is mostly centralized with 6 highways connecting Madrid with the Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia, Andalusia, Extremadura and Galicia. In addition, highways run along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. The length of motor roads is 328 thousand km. Car park - more than 19 million cars. Roads carry out 90% of passenger and 79% of cargo transportation. Spain intended to have a million electric vehicles by 2014, as part of the government's plan to save energy and improve the environment.

Over the past three decades, a modern transport infrastructure has been created in Spain, and the companies that built and maintain it have become the largest operators in this area of ​​the world economy. Six out of ten enterprises with the largest number of transport infrastructure concessions in the world are Spanish: ACS, Ferrovial, FCC, Abertis, Sacyr, OHL. Spanish technologies are used in railway projects in the UK, the metros of Washington and Mexico, the management of airports in Sydney and Stockholm. Spain is the European leader in air traffic control systems.

The first railway was built in 1848 and had a length of about 30 km. The line is still active, connecting Barcelona and the town of Mataro on the Mediterranean coast. The total track length in 2004 was 14,781 km, of which 8,791 km were electrified. In 2017, the total length of Spanish highways is about 20,000 km, including 100 stations and more than 1,500 km of high-speed AVE lines. In terms of HSR, Spain ranks 1st in Europe and 2nd (after China) in the world. About € 100,000 is allocated annually to maintain 1 km of high-speed lines in Spain.

There are railroad gauges:
broad gauge (1668 mm) 11,829 km (6950 km electrified at 3 kV DC);
standard gauge (1435 mm) 998 km (all electrified with 25 kV alternating current);
narrow gauge (1040 mm) 1926 km (815 km electrified);
narrow gauge (914 mm) 28 km (all electrified).

About 6.5% of all land transport cargo and 6% of passengers are transported by rail. Spain currently has more than 1500 km of high-speed lines connecting Madrid with Malaga, Seville, Valencia, Barcelona, ​​Valladolid, Tarragona, Zaragoza, Alicante, Ferrol. In 2013, a line was built connecting Spain with the French HSR. Night trains run from Spain to Paris, Lisbon, Geneva, Zurich, Milan. If the ambitious Spanish high-speed rail program is carried out, by 2020 Spain should have 7,000 km of high-speed rail lines (according to national practice, these include lines with a speed of 200-250 km / h), allowing you to get from the province to Madrid in less than than 3 hours and to Barcelona within 4 hours. The distance of 630 km from Madrid to Barcelona is covered by a high-speed train in 2 hours 38 minutes; taking into account the tourist passenger traffic, this is the busiest route in Spain. Most of the railway network is owned by the state-owned company "Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias de España", and traffic on the railway is regulated by the state agency RENFE. Regional companies (FEVE, FGC, Euskotren, FGV, SFM) also participate in this market.

The problem of further financing of Spanish railways in the context of the crisis and insufficient passenger traffic is urgent, which calls into question the feasibility of investments: 20 million annual regular trips on high-speed, long-distance and night trains with a total passenger traffic of 200 million people a year.

There is a metro in Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Bilbao, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Seville, Valencia.

About 300 ships with a total displacement of 1.511 million tons are involved in maritime transport. From 30 million tons of foreign trade cargo are transported by ships under Spanish flags annually. 24 seaports control almost 93% of all traffic. Spain was in 4th place in terms of freight traffic in the EU in 2010. Transportation of goods in containers amounted to 112 million tons, which brought Spain to the first place in this indicator. Along with the Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria, Spain is a country with a high proportion of transport traffic outside the EU. In 2010, the Spanish ports of Algeciras and Valencia were included in the rating of 20 major European ports in terms of cargo tonnage. In terms of tourist traffic, the ranking includes the port of Algeciras and the port of Palma de Mallorca.

 

Air transport plays an important role. Of the 41 airports operating in 2017, 34 operate scheduled flights. Airports in Spain are subordinate to the public organization "Spanish Airports and Air Navigation", which in turn is subordinate to the Ministry of Development. Under the Catalan Autonomy Act of 2006, three Catalan airports were placed under the control of the Catalan Generalitat, which manages them jointly with the public organization Aerocat Estatuto de autonomía. With 50.8 million passengers in 2008, Madrid Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. Barcelona Airport handled 30 million passengers in 2008. Less busy airports are in Gran Canaria, Malaga, Valencia, Seville, Mallorca, Alicante and Bilbao.

The Spanish airlines are: Air Europa, Air Nostrum, Air Pullmantur, Binter Canarias, Iberia LAE, Islas Airways, Vueling Airlines.

 

Armed forces

On November 2, 2004, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced the new doctrine of Spanish national defense 1/2004.

The former military doctrine was adopted in December 2000 by the government of José María Aznar. In particular, it attached great importance to the readiness of the Spanish armed forces to resolve possible internal social or territorial conflicts (the army, according to the Spanish constitution, protects the country not only from an external, but also from an internal enemy). The actions of the army outside of Spain were determined by its NATO membership and transatlantic solidarity with the United States.

In the new doctrine 1/2004, terrorism is declared the main enemy of Spain (both external and internal). It is noted that from now on, Spanish troops will be able to take part in international peacekeeping operations directly approved by the UN or, as was the case in Kosovo, enjoying the obvious support of the world community. In addition, participation in hostilities will require permission from the Spanish Parliament.

In the new military doctrine, the role of the JEMAD Defense General Staff, which is headed by General Felix Sans, has been increased. At the end of October 2004, he made a statement about the need to "balance" the unequal relationship between Spain and the United States that developed after 1953, when Spain and the United States signed a military cooperation agreement in the field of defense, under which the United States received the right to use several large military bases in Spain .

In 2001, Spain abolished conscription and completely switched to a professional army.

There are no laws in Spain banning openly gays and lesbians from serving in the armed forces. On March 4, 2009, Spanish Defense Minister Carme Chacón (the first woman to hold this post) issued a decree repealing a pre-existing law that banned transgender people from serving in the armed forces.

In the ranking of military power, taking into account for 2019, the Spanish army ranks 20th.

 

Crime

After 2008, the proportion of immigrants among Spanish offenders gradually increased. This is due to increased immigration to Spain (including illegal) from African countries, as well as from Latin America. Among the latter, two gangs from the Dominican Republic became particularly active: Dominicans Don't Play (Dominicans do not joke) and Trinitarios (Trinitaria - named after the underground organization La Trinitaria, which fought for the independence of the Dominican Republic from Haiti in 1838).

Drug trafficking in Spain is € 15.7 million per day (2014)

 

Education

Spain has a system of compulsory free secondary education for the population aged 6 to 16 years. About 70% study in public schools, 96.5% in state universities.

The largest universities in the country: Autonomous University of Madrid, Complutense (in Madrid), Barcelona Central and Autonomous, Santiago de Compostela, Polytechnic University of Valencia.

 

Culture and art

Spain is distinguished by a high degree of ethno-cultural diversity. The most important factors in the development of local material and spiritual culture were the successive influence of several religions - Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

Spain's most famous museum, the Prado, is located in Madrid. There are many more unique museums and galleries in Spain: the Picasso Museum and the National Art Museum of Catalonia located in Barcelona, ​​the National Sculpture Museum in Valladolid, the El Greco Museum in Toledo, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art in Cuenca.

The national holiday in Spain - the Day of the Spanish Nation, is celebrated annually on October 12 (the date of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus).

 

Аrt

The period of formation of Spanish painting is the end of the 16th - the first quarter of the 17th century, when local schools (Seville, Valencia, etc.) are actively developing, as well as caravaggism techniques penetrate and actively adapt to Spanish soil.

 

Architecture

The environment in which the art of Spain developed in the Middle Ages was complex. Initially, the Visigoths, a branch of a larger people, the Goths, ruled the Iberian Peninsula. This architectural style is named after them throughout Europe. Spanish Gothic has distinctive features. First, the influence of Moorish art. Secondly, it is characterized by diversity, despite common features. In the period of the XII-XIII centuries, there was a struggle for the return of power with the Moors (Reconquista). Before that, in the XI century, the Romanesque style dominated in Spain, and it was preceded by the Asturian (proto-Romanesque) style. Gothic spread throughout Spain unevenly. In Castile, Gothic works appeared already in the 13th century, in Catalonia - in the 14th-15th centuries, and it penetrated into Andalusia only in the second half of the 15th century.

The interior of the cathedrals also differed from the French. In a hot climate, narrow windows were made, and twilight reigned inside. Where there was usually a choir in cathedrals, a walled chapel was placed here. The altar and retablo (behind the altar image) were placed behind.

Catalonia developed its own version of Gothic. Buildings in Catalonia are distinguished by greater spatial freedom, breadth of plan, and the predominance of calm horizontal lines. Instead of sharp gothic roofs - flat roofs on ledges. Flying buttresses and buttresses do not protrude, but are often hidden inwards.

There are 187 active lighthouses in Spain.

 

Music and dance

Abroad, Spanish music is often associated only with flamenco, a West Andalusian musical genre, which, however, is not widespread outside this area.

Among classical composers, such geniuses as Isaac Albéniz, Manuel de Falla, Enrique Granados originated from Spain.

The most popular musical instrument is the guitar.

 

Mass media

Press
Spain has a well developed media network. 137 newspapers and about 1000 magazines are published. Most read daily newspapers: El País, El Mundo, La Vanguardia, ABC, El Periódico, Marca. Magazines for women Patrones, Labores del HOGAR, Moda.

Broadcasting
Broadcasting in Spain is divided into public and commercial. Public broadcaster - RTVE, includes 1st and 2nd TV channels (La 1 and La 2) and 4 radio stations (Radio Nacional, Radio Clásica, Radio 3, Radio 4). Commercial broadcasters are Antena 3, Cuatro, Telecinco and LaSexta.

Depending on the form of signal distribution, television in Spain is divided into terrestrial, cable, satellite and IPTV. Radio broadcasting in Spain is represented only by terrestrial and Internet radio broadcasting, public radio stations can broadcast in common multiplexes with public television channels through terrestrial, cable, satellite television and IPTV. Over-the-air broadcasting broadcasts in the analogue standard in the VHF band, while Radio Nacional, CERA and COPE also broadcast in the medium wave band.

 

Sport

Football has been the main sport in Spain since the beginning of the 20th century. Basketball, tennis, cycling, handball, motorcycling, skateboarding and, more recently, Formula 1 are also important thanks to the presence of Spanish champions in all these disciplines. Today, Spain is the world's leading sports power, the development of sports in the country in particular was spurred by the summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. In 2008, Spain won the European Football Championship, defeating the German national team with a score of 1:0 in the final match (a goal scored by the Spanish striker Fernando Torres), and in 2010, they won the World Cup, breaking the resistance of the Netherlands national team in the final. with a score of 1:0 (the decisive goal was scored a few minutes before the end of the game by the Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta). In 2012, Spain again won the European Football Championship, defeating Italy 4-0 in the final.

In tennis, Spain is best known for Rafael Nadal, who won 22 Grand Slams, as well as winning the 2008 Beijing singles and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro doubles.

In general, in the 2000s, the Spanish national teams won the World and European Championships in almost all team sports: football, basketball, water polo, field hockey, roller hockey, handball, volleyball and the Davis Cup in tennis.

The Spanish national ice hockey team plays in the second division of the world championship. And in 2011, the team played in the 1st division (5th place). Ice Hockey World Championship Division 1 2011.

Although the climate of Spain is more in line with the development of summer sports, among the representatives of winter sports in Spain there are also outstanding world-class athletes. In particular, the single skater Javier Fernandez is a two-time world champion, and the multiple winner and medalist of the World Cup stages in snowboard cross-country Lucas Egibar took 2nd place in this discipline at the home championship of the planet, which was held in March 2017 in Sierra Nevada .

 

In astronomy

The asteroid (804) Spain is named after Spain, discovered in 1915 by the Spanish astronomer José Comas at the Fabra Observatory, near Barcelona and named after the discoverer's home country.