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Spain Travel Guide:

          Facts on Spain

Flag of Spain
History   Geography    People    Economy    Communications    Transportation
 

Map of Spain and its major cities

Map of Spain and its major cities

 

 

History   Top of Page
  Spain's powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II, but suffered through a devastating civil war (1936-39). A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the EU in 1986), have given Spain one of the most dynamic economies in Europe and made it a global champion of freedom. Continuing challenges include Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorism and relatively high unemployment.
 
Geography   Top of Page
Location Southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France  
Geographic Coordinates 40 00 N, 4 00 W  
Area Total: 504,782 sq km
Water: 5,240 sq km
Note: there are 19 autonomous communities including Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, and three small Spanish possessions off the coast of Morocco - Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera
Land: 499,542 sq km
 
Area - Comparative Slightly more than twice the size of Oregon  
Land Boundaries Total: 1,917.8 km
Border countries: Andorra 63.7 km, France 623 km, Gibraltar 1.2 km, Portugal 1,214 km, Morocco (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Morocco (Melilla) 9.6 km
 
Coastline 4,964 km   
Climate Temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast  
Terrain Large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees in north  
Elevation Extremes Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Pico de Teide (Tenerife) on Canary Islands 3,718 m
 
Natural Resources Coal, lignite, iron ore, uranium, mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land  
Geography Note Strategic location along approaches to Strait of Gibraltar  
Natural hazards Periodic droughts

 

 
People   Top of Page
Population 40,397,842 (July 2006 est.)  
Age Structure 0-14 years: 14.4% (male 3,005,818/female 2,826,805)
15-64 years: 67.8% (male 13,758,869/female 13,661,295)
65 years and over: 17.8% (male 3,002,585/female 4,192,819) (2007 est.)
 
Nationality Noun: Spaniard(s)
Adjective: Spanish
 
Ethnic Groups Composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types  
Religions Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%  
Language Castilian Spanish 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%
Note: Castilian is the official language nationwide; the other languages are official regionally
 
Literacy Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 97.9%
 
Government   Top of Page
Country Name Conventional long form: Kingdom of Spain
Conventional short form: Spain
Local short form: Espana
 
Government Type Parliamentary monarchy  
Capital Madrid  
Administrative Divisions 19 autonomous communities (comunidades autonomas, singular - comunidad autonoma); Andalucia, Aragon, Asturias, Baleares (Balearic Islands), Ceuta, Canarias (Canary Islands), Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Cataluna, Communidad Valencian, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Melilla, Murcia, Navarra, Pais Vasco (Basque Country)
Note: three small Spanish possessions are located off the coast of Morocco: Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera; Ceuta and Melilla gained limited autonomous status in 1994
 
Independence The Iberian peninsula was characterized by a variety of independent kingdoms prior to the Moslem occupation that began in the early 8th Century A. D. and lasted nearly seven centuries; the small Christian redoubts of the north began the reconquest almost immediately, culminating in the seizure of Granada in 1492; this event completed the unification of several kingdoms and is traditionally considered the forging of present-day Spain  
Flag Description Three horizontal bands of red (top), yellow (double width), and red with the national coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band; the coat of arms includes the royal seal framed by the Pillars of Hercules, which are the two promontories (Gibraltar and Ceuta) on either side of the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar  
Economy   Top of Page
Overview The Spanish economy boomed from 1986 to 1990, averaging five percent annual growth. After a European-wide recession in the early 1990s, the Spanish economy resumed moderate growth starting in 1994. Spain's mixed capitalist economy supports a GDP that on a per capita basis is 80% that of the four leading West European economies. The center-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 10.1%. Growth of 2.5% in 2003, 2.6% in 2004, and 3.4% in 2005 was satisfactory given the background of a faltering European economy. The Socialist president, RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, has made mixed progress in carrying out key structural reforms, which need to be accelerated and deepened to sustain Spain's strong economic growth. Despite the economy's relative solid footing significant downside risks remain including Spain's continued loss of competitiveness, the potential for a housing market collapse, the country's changing demographic profile, and a decline in EU structural funds.  
Currency Euro  
Currency Code EUR

 

 
Communications   Top of Page
Telephone System General assessment: generally adequate, modern facilities; teledensity is 45 main lines for each 100 persons  
Internet Country Code .es  
Transportation   Top of Page
Railways total: 14,873 km
broad gauge: 11,919 km 1.668-m gauge (6,950 km electrified)
standard gauge: 998 km 1.435-m gauge (998 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 1,928 km 1.000-m gauge (815 km electrified); 28 km 0.914-m gauge (28 km electrified) (2005)
 
Roadways total: 666,292 km
paved: 659,629 km (includes 12,009 km of expressways)
unpaved: 6,663 km (2003)
 
Waterways 1,000 km (of minor economic importance)  
Ports and Terminals Algeciras, Barcelona, Cartagena, Gijon, Huelva, La Coruna, Tarragona, Valencia  
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