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Kingdom of Spain


FLAG: The national flag, adopted in 1785, consists of three horizontal stripes: a yellow oneequal in size to the other two combinedbetween two red ones, with the coat of arms on the yellow stripe.

ANTHEM: Marcha Real Granadera (March of the Royal Grenadier).

MONETARY UNIT: The peseta was replaced by the euro as official currency as of 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. 1 = $1.25475 (or $1 = 0.79697) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; St. Joseph's Day, 19 March; Epiphany, 31 March; Day of St. Joseph the Artisan, 1 May; St. James's Day, 25 July; Assumption, 15 August; National Day and Hispanic Day, 12 October; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Immaculate Conception, 8 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Corpus Christi.

TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.


Occupying the greater part of the Iberian Peninsula, Spain is the third-largest country in Europe, with an area of 504,782 sq km (194,897 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Spain is slightly more than twice the size of the state of Oregon. This total includes the Balearic Islands (Islas Baleares) in the western Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands (Islas Canarias) in the Atlantic Ocean west of Morocco; both island groups are regarded as integral parts of metropolitan Spain. The Spanish mainland extends 1,085 km (674 mi) ew and 950 km (590 mi) ns. Bordered by the Bay of Biscay, France, and Andorra on the n, by the Mediterranean on the e and s, by Gibraltar and the Strait of Gibraltar on the s, by the Gulf of Cádiz on the sw, and by Portugal and the Atlantic on the w, Spain has a total land boundary of 1,918 km (1,192 mi) and a coastline of 4,964 km (3,084 mi). Spain also holds Ceuta, Melilla, and other "places of sovereignty" in the north of Morocco.

Spain has long claimed Gibraltar, a narrow peninsula on the south coast, which was taken by a British-Dutch fleet in 1704 and became a British colony under the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). In 2003, Gibraltar residents voted to remain a British colony and demanded greater participation in talks between the United Kingdom and Spain concerning the future of Gibraltar. The United Kingdom plans to grant Gibraltar greater autonomy, but Spain does not agree with this plan.

Spain's capital city, Madrid, is located in the center of the country.


Continental Spain is divided into five general topographic regions: (1) The northern coastal belt is a mountainous region with fertile valleys and large areas under pasture and covered with forests. (2) The central plateau, or Meseta, with an average altitude of about 670 m (2,200 ft), comprises most of Castilla y León, CastillaLa Mancha, and the city of Madrid. (3) Andalucía, with Sevilla its largest city, covers the whole of southern and southwestern Spain and, except for the flat fertile plain of the Guadalquivir River, is a mountainous region with deep fertile valleys. (4) The Levante is on the Mediterranean coastal belt, with Valencia its chief city. (5) Catalonia (Cataluña) and the Ebro Valley comprise the northeastern region.

Spain has six principal mountain rangesthe Pyrenees, the Cordillera Cantábrica, the Montes de Toledo, the Sierra Morena, the Serranías Penibéticas, and the Sistema Ibérico. The principal peaks are Pico de Aneto (3,404 m/11,168 ft) in the Pyrenees and Mulhacén (3,478 m/11,411 ft) in the Penibéticas. The main rivers are the Tagus (Tajo), Duero, Guadiana, and Guadalquivir, which flow to the Atlantic, and the Ebro, which flows to the Mediterranean. The Duero and the Guadalquivir form broad valleys and alluvial plains and at their mouths deposit saline soils, creating deltas and salt marshes. The coastline has few natural harbors except the estuaries (rías) in the northwest, formed by glaciers, and those in the Levante and the south, created by sandbars during the Quaternary period.

The Canary Islands are a group of 13 volcanic islands, of which 6 are barren. They have a ruggedly mountainous terrain interspersed with some fertile valleys. Spain's highest mountain, Pico de Teide (3,718 m/12,198 ft), is on Tenerife. The Balearic Islands are a picturesque group with sharply indented coastlines; they combine steep mountains with rolling, fertile ranges.


The climate of Spain is extremely varied. The northern coastal regions are cool and humid, with an average annual temperature of 14°c (57°f); temperatures at Bilbao range from an average of 10°c (50°f) in JanuaryMarch to 19°c (66°f) during JulySeptember. The central plateau is cold in the winter and hot in the summer; Madrid has a winter average of about 8°c (46°f) and a summer average of 23°c (73°f). In Andalucía and the Levante, the climate is temperate except in summer, when temperatures sometimes reach above 40°c (104°f) in the shade. The northern coastal regions have an average annual rainfall of 99 cm (39 in); the southern coastal belt has 4179 cm (1631 in); and the interior central plain averages no more than 50 cm (20 in) annually.


Because of its wide variety of climate, Spain has a greater variety of natural vegetation than any other European country; some 8,000 species are cataloged. Nevertheless, vegetation is generally sparse. In the humid areas of the north there are deciduous trees (including oak, chestnut, elm, beech, and poplar), as well as varieties of pine. Pine, juniper, and other evergreens, particularly the ilex and cork oak, and drought-resistant shrubs predominate in the dry southern region. Much of the Meseta and of Andalucía has steppe vegetation. The Canaries, named for the wild dogs (Canariae insulae) once found there, support both Mediterranean and African flora. A small, yellow-tinged finch on the islands has given the name "canary" to a variety of yellow songbirds widely bred as house pets. Animal life in Spain is limited by the pressure of population and few wild species remain. As of 2002, there were at least 82 species of mammals, 281 species of birds, and over 5,000 species of plants throughout the country.


Extensive forests are now limited to the Pyrenees and the Asturias-Galicia area in the north because centuries of unplanned cutting have depleted stands. Fire eliminates 700,000 to 1,000,000 hectares of forestland each year. Government reforestation schemes meet with difficulties where sheep and goats graze freely over large areas. During the 1980s, an average of 92,000 hectares (227,000 acres) were reforested annually. Erosion affects about 18% of the total land mass of Spain.

Air pollution is also a problem in Spain. In 1995 industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 223.2 million metric tons (a per capita level of 5.72 metric tons), ranking Spain 20th compared to the other nations of the world. In 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 282.9 million metric tons. Industrial and agricultural sources contribute to the nation's water pollution problem. Spain is also vulnerable to oil pollution from tankers which travel the shipping routes near the nation's shores. Spain's cities produce about 13.8 million tons of solid waste per year.

Principal environmental responsibility is vested in the Directorate General of the Environment, within the Ministry of Public Works and Urban Affairs. As of 2003, 8.5% of the country's total land area is protected, including 4 natural UNESCO World Heritage sites and 49 Ramsar wetland sites. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 20 types of mammals, 20 species of birds, 8 types of reptiles, 4 species of amphibians, 24 species of fish, 27 types of mollusks, 36 species of other invertebrates, and 14 species of plants. Threatened species included the Spanish lynx, Pyrenean ibex, Mediterranean monk seal, northern bald ibis, Spanish imperial eagle, Cantabrian capercaillie, dusky large blue and Nevada blue butterflies, and on the Canary Islands, the green sea turtle and Hierro giant lizard. The Canarian black oystercatcher and the Canary mouse have become extinct.


The population of Spain in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 43,484,000, which placed it at number 29 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 17% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 15% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 96 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 0.1%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 46,164,000. The population density was 86 per sq km (223 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 76% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.21%. The capital city, Madrid, had a population of 5,103,000 in that year. Other large urban areas and their estimated populations include Barcelona (4,424,000), Valencia (796,549), Sevilla (704,154), Zaragoza (647,373), and Málaga (558,287).


Emigration of Spanish workers to the more industrialized countries of Western Europe, notably to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), France, Switzerland, and Belgium, increased markedly during the 1960s, but since 1973 the number of Spaniards returning to Spain has been greater than the number of those leaving. Nevertheless, more than 1.7 million Spanish citizens were residing outside the country in 1987. In 2001 there were 1,109,060 foreign residents in Spain, 2.5% of total population. There were 234,937 Moroccans, 84,699 Ecuadorians, 80,183 British, 62,506 Germans, 48,710 Colombians, 44,798 French, and 42,634 Portuguese.

Internal migration was 685,966 in 1990. In the past it has been directed toward the more industrialized zones and the great urban centers, and away from the rural areas. Rural-to-urban and urban-to-rural migration is now roughly in balance.

Placed into practice in 2001, Plan Greco was a scheme to regularize the immigration process; it was paralleled by a labor quota system aimed at responding to short and long-term labor shortages. However, both employers and labor unions agreed that the 2002 labor quota was a failure, falling short of the necessary workers. Between 19952004 Spain's legal foreign-born population quadrupled from 500,000 to 2,000,000. All the same, Spain still had an estimated 1.2 million unauthorized migrants at the end of 2004. In 2005, Spain had its fifth and largest legalization program with 690,679 unauthorized foreign workers applying.

A gateway into Europe, Spain receives large numbers of non-European migrants through Ceuta and Melilla. Between 198498, an estimated 8,000 people were granted refugee status. In 2004, 15,675 illegal migrants traveled on 740 boats that were intercepted, and in 2005 a boat with 300 Moroccans attempting to enter southern Spain was seized. In 1998, 6,654 people applied for asylum in Spain, up from 4,730 in 1996, however by 2004 none applied. Also in 2004, 5,635 people were recognized as refugees and there were 14 others of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated 0.99 migrants per 1,000 population. In 2003 worker remittances were $4.7 billion.


Ethnological studies reveal a homogeneous Latin stock in three-fourths of the country. The greatest contrasts are found between those of Celtic, Iberic, and Gothic antecedents in the north and those of southern lineage. The great mobility of the population toward the urban centers, the coast, and the islands has contributed to the diffusion of ethnic characteristics.

Cultural groups, but not properly distinct ethnic groups, include the Castilians of central Spain, the Asturians and the Basques of Vizcaya, Álava, Guipúzcoa, and (in part) Navarra provinces in the north, the Catalans of Catalonia, the Galicians of the far north-west, and the Andalusians of the south. The Basques, Galicians, and Catalans consider themselves separate nations within Spain; they enjoy considerable cultural, economic, and political autonomy. Estimates of the Roma population are usually given as several hundred thousand.


According to the 1978 constitution, Spanish is the national language. Castilian, the dialect of the central and southern regions, is spoken by most Spaniards (74%) and is used in the schools and courts. Regional languagesCatalan (spoken by 17% of the population), Galician (7%), Basque (2%), Bable, and Valencianare also official in the respective autonomous communities, where education is bilingual.

Regional languages are spoken by over 16 million persons in Spain. A majority of those who live in the northeastern provinces and the Balearic Islands spoke Catalan, a neo-Latin tongue. Galician, close to Portuguese, was used in Galicia, in the northwest corner of Spain. The Basques in northern Spain spoke Basque, a pre-Roman language unrelated to any other known tongue and using an ancient script. Bable, a form of Old Castilian was spoken in Asturias (northwest), and Valencian, a dialect of Catalan, was used by inhabitants of the eastern province of Valencia.


In 2003, the Center for Sociological Investigations reported that about 81% of respondents were nominally Catholic, but 42% admitted that they never attend Mass. In the same survey, 11.6% claimed to be agnostics and 4.1% claimed to be atheists. Protestants, numbering about 350,000, are represented by the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities. The Federation of Spanish Islamic Entities (FEERI), located in Córdoba, reports that there are about one million Muslims, including both legal and illegal immigrants. There are about 40,00050,000 Jews in the country. There are also about 9,000 practicing Buddhists.

Roman Catholicism was once the official religion of Spain, but the constitution of 1978 established the principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state. The Roman Catholic Church does, however, continue to maintain certain privileges, as well as monetary support, from the state.


In 2002, Spain had an estimated 346,858 km (215,538 mi) of roadways, of which 343,389 km (213,382 mi) were paved highways, including 9,063 km (5,632 mi) of expressways. The Mediterranean and Cantábrico routes are the most important. In 2003, there were 19,293,263 passenger cars and 4,255,275 commercial vehicles.

In 2004, the National Spanish Railway Network encompassed 14,781 km (9,194 mi) of broad, standard and narrow gauge railways, of which broad gauge was the largest portion at 11,829 km (7,358 mi), followed by narrow gauge at 1,954 km (1,215 mi), and standard gauge at 998 km (621 mi). A total of 7,718 km (4,801 mi) of railway (broad, standard and narrow gauge) were electrified.

Of Spain's 200 ports, 26 are of commercial significance. The largest are Barcelona, Tarragona, and Cartagena on the Mediter-ranean, Algeciras on the Strait of Gibraltar, La Coruña on the Atlantic, and Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canaries. The port of Bilbao, on the Bay of Biscay, can accommodate tankers of up to 500,000 tons. Substantial improvements were made during the 1970s at Gijón, Huelva, and Valencia. Scheduled ferry services connect Spain with neighboring countries and North Africa. In 2005, the merchant fleet was comprised of 182 vessels of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 1,740,974 GRT. As of 2003, Spain had 1,045 km (650 mi) of navigable inland waterways.

Spain had an estimated 156 airports and airfields in 2004. As of 2005, a total of 95 had paved runways, and there were also eight heliports. Principal airports include Alicante, Prat at Barcelona, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria at Las Palmas, Barajas at Madrid, Málaga, Menorca, Son San Juan at Palma Mallorca, and Valencia. The state-owned Iberia Air Lines has regular connections with 50 countries and 89 cities in Europe, Africa, Asia (including the Middle East), and the Western Hemisphere. Other Spanish airlines are Aviaco, Air Europa, Viva Air, Binter Canarias, and Spanair. In 2003, about 42.507 million passengers were carried on domestic and international flights, and 879 million ton-km (546 million ton-mi) of freight.


Archaeological findings indicate that the region now known as Spain has been inhabited for thousands of years. A shrine near Santander, discovered in 1981, is believed to be over 14,000 years old, and the paintings discovered in the nearby caves of Altamira in 1879 are of comparable antiquity. The recorded history of Spain begins about 1000 bc, when the prehistoric Iberian culture was transformed by the invasion of Celtic tribes from the north and the coming of Phoenician and Greek colonists to the Spanish coast. From the 6th to the 2nd century bc, Carthage controlled the Iberian Peninsula up to the Ebro River; from 133 bc, with the fall of Numantia, until the barbarian invasions of the 5th century ad, Rome held Hispania, from which the name Spain is derived. During the Roman period, cities and roads were built, and Christianity and Latin, the language from which Spanish originated, were introduced. In the 5th century, the Visigoths, or western Goths, settled in Spain, dominating the country until 711, when the invading Moors defeated King Roderick. All of Spain, except for a few northern districts, knew Muslim rule for periods ranging from 300 to 800 years. Under Islam, a rich civilization arose, characterized by prosperous cities, industries, and agriculture and by brilliant writers, philosophers, and physicians, including Jews as well as Muslims. Throughout this period (7111492), however, Christian Spain waged intermittent and local war against the Moors. The most prominent figure in this battle was El Cid, who fought for both Christians and Moors in the 11th century. By the 13th century, Muslim rule was restricted to the south of Spain. In 1492, Granada, the last Moorish stronghold on Spanish soil, fell, and Spain was unified under Ferdinand II of Aragón and Isabella I of Castile, the "Catholic Sovereigns." Until then, Aragón (consisting of Aragón, Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands) had been an independent kingdom, which had expanded toward the eastern Mediterranean, incorporating Sicily and Naples, and had competed with Genoa and Venice. In order to strengthen the unity of the new state, Moors and Jews were expelled from Spain; Catholic converts who chose to stay were subject to the terrors of the Inquisition if suspected of practicing their former religions. The year 1492 also witnessed the official European discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, sailing under the Castilian flag. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese in the service of Spain, began the first circumnavigation of the world, completed in 1522 by Juan Sebastián Elcano.

The 16th century, particularly under Charles I, who was also Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, was the golden age of Spain: its empire in the Americas produced vast wealth; its arts flourished; its fleet ruled the high seas; and its armies were the strongest in Europe. By the latter part of the 16th century, however, under Philip II, the toll of religious wars in Europe and the flow of people and resources to the New World had drained the strength of the Spanish nation; in 1588, the "invincible" Spanish Armada was defeated by England. Spain's continental power was ended by wars with England, the Netherlands, and France in the 17th century and by the War of the Spanish Succession (170114), which also established the Bourbon (Borbón) dynasty in Spain. In 1808, the enfeebled Spanish monarchy was temporarily ended, and Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Joseph was proclaimed king of Spain. On 2 May 1808, however, the Spanish people revolted and, later assisted by the British, drove the French from Spain. In the post-Napoleonic period, the Bourbons were restored to the Spanish throne, but a spirit of liberalism, symbolized by the 1812 Constitution of Cádiz, remained strong.

Much of the 19th and early 20th centuries were consumed in passionate struggles between radical republicanism and absolute monarchy. Abroad, imperial Spain lost most of its dominions in the Western Hemisphere as a result of colonial rebellions in the first half of the 19th century; Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were lost as a result of the Spanish-American War in 1898. Spain remained neutral in World War I but in the postwar period engaged in extensive military action to maintain its colonial possessions in Morocco. Early defeats in the Moroccan campaign paved the way in 1923 for the benevolent dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, who successfully ended the war in 1927 and remained in power under the monarchy until 1930. In 1931, after municipal elections indicated a large urban vote in favor of a republic, Alfonso XIII left Spain and a republic was established.

The constitution of December 1931 defined Spain as a "democratic republic of workers," with "no official religion," respecting the "rules of international law renouncing war as an instrument of national policy and recognizing the principle of regional autonomy." Neither right nor left had a parliamentary majority, and on the whole the coalition governments were ineffective. On 17 July 1936, an army revolt against the republic took place in Spanish Morocco. On the following day, Gen. Francisco Franco landed in Spain, and for the next two and a half years, until 31 March 1939, Spain was ravaged by civil war. The two contending parties were the Republicans, made up partly of democrats and partly of antidemocratic left-wing groups, and the rebels (Nationalists), who favored the establishment of a right-wing dictatorship. Almost from the beginning, a number of foreign countries intervened. Germany and Italy furnished manpower and armaments to the Nationalists, while the USSR, Czechoslovakia, and Mexico supported the Republicans. Finally the Republicans were defeated, and General Franco formed a corporative state. Under the Franco regime, Spain gave aid to the Axis powers in World War II but was itself a nonbelligerent.

The Postwar Years

Diplomatically isolated following the end of World War II, Spain in succeeding decades improved its international standing, in part by signing economic and military agreements with the United States in 1953 and 1963. Spain was admitted to the UN in 1955. While relations with its European neighbors approached normality, the repressive nature of the Franco regime kept Spain apart from the main social, political, and economic currents of postwar Western Europe.

On 22 July 1969, Juan Carlos de Borbón y Borbón was officially designated by Franco as his successor, to rule with the title of king; formally, Franco had been ruling as regent for the prince since 1947. On 20 November 1975, Gen. Franco died at the age of 82, thus ending a career that had dominated nearly four decades of Spanish history. Two days later, Juan Carlos I was sworn in as king. He reconfirmed Carlos Arias Navarro as prime minister on 5 December. Despite Juan Carlos I's announcement, in early 1976, of a program of moderate political and social reform, the new government was received with widespread demonstrations by labor groups and Catalan and Basque separatists. Continued political unrest, coupled with a sharp rise in living costs, led ultimately to the king's dismissal of Arias Navarro, who was replaced, on 7 July, by Adolfo Suárez González.

On 15 June 1977, the first democratic elections in Spain in 40 years took place, with the Union of the Democratic Center (Unión de Centro DemocráticoUCD), headed by Suárez, winning a majority in the new Cortes. The Cortes prepared a new constitution (in many respects similar to that of 1931), which was approved by popular referendum and sanctioned by the king in December 1978. In the elections of March 1979, the UCD was again the victor, and in the April local elections it captured more than 75% of the municipalities.

When Suárez announced his resignation in January 1981, the king named Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo y Bustelo to the premiership. As the Cortes wavered over the appointment, a group of armed civil guards stormed parliament on 23 February and held more than 300 deputies hostage for 17 hours. The attempted coup was swiftly neutralized by the king, who secured the loyalty of other military commanders. The plotters were arrested, and Sotelo was swiftly confirmed. A year of political wrangling followed; by mid-1982 the UCD was in disarray, and Sotelo called new elections. In October 1982, the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (Partido Socialista Obrero EspañolPSOE), headed by Felipe González Márquez, won absolute majorities in both houses of parliament. The new government was characterized by its relative youthfulnessthe average age of cabinet ministers was 41and by the fact that its members had no links with the Franco dictatorship. In the 1986 and 1989 elections, the PSOE again won majorities in both houses of parliament. The PSOE failed to win a majority in 1993 but governed with the support of the Basque and Catalan nationalist parties.

A continuing problem since the late 1960s has been political violence, especially in the Basque region. Political murders and kidnappings, mainly perpetrated by the separatist Basque Nation and Liberty (Euzkadi ta Askatasuna), commonly known as ETA, by the Antifascist Resistance Groups (GRAPO), and by several rightwing groups, abated only slightly in recent years. Another uncertainty in Spain's political future was the role of the military. Several army officers were arrested in October 1982 on charges of plotting a pre-election coup, which reportedly had the backing of those involved in the February 1981 attempt. Spain joined NATO in 1982, but the membership question became so controversial that a referendum on it was held in March 1986; about two-thirds of the electorate voted, and 53% chose continued NATO membership. On 1 January of that year, Spain became a full member of the EC (now EU). In January 1988, the United States, acceding to Spain's demands, agreed to withdraw 72 jet fighters based near Madrid.

Spain received considerable recognition with the holding of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, and Expo 92, a world's fair, in Sevilla. Other notable events included the designation of Madrid as the culture capital of Europe in 1992.

Throughout 19952000 Basque terrorists continued their attacks on civilian, police, and military targets and began to target more visible political targets. In August of 1995, the terrorists came close to assassinating King Juan Carlos while he was vacationing on the island of Majorca, off the southeastern coast of Spain. In 1997 Basque terrorists killed an important Socialist official of one of the Basque regions. In 2000, Jose Luis Lopez de la Calle, a Madrid newspaper columnist who was outspoken in his criticism of the Basque group, ETA, was shot to death outside his home. Thousands marched in the streets to protest his killing.

In 1995 information came to light that revealed that from 1983 to 1987 government officials in cooperation with the Civil Guard (Spain's national police force) formed death squads to hunt down and kill Basque terrorists living in France. The squads were disbanded after France agreed to greater cooperation with Spanish authorities, but not before 27 suspected Basque terrorists had been killed. The existence of the death squads may have remained a secret, but two death squad members were caught in the course of an attack and prosecuted for murder. At first government officials secured the silence of these two men by agreeing to make yearly payments to their wives, but by 1994 they felt that the story should no longer be hidden and revealed it to the world from their jail cells. Initially, Prime Minister Gonzalez had been charged with having knowledge of the attacks but an official inquiry into the charges concluded that they were groundless and he was completely exonerated.

Although French and Spanish security officials worked together to combat terrorism, violence attributed to the Basque terrorists continued into the 2000s. However, public support for Basque terrorists had waned nearly completely. A 1996 Basque execution of a kidnapped university professor brought out almost a half-million protesters in Madrid alone denouncing the Basque terrorists. A year later and again in 2000, assassinations allegedly carried out by Basque terrorists triggered large protests as well. The ETA was suspected of being behind bombings in several tourist resorts in June 2002 as an EU summit was held in Seville. In February 2003, Basque Socialist Party activist Joseba Pagazaurtundua was assassinated; the shooting was attributed to the ETA. Batasuna, the separatist Basque political party believed to be the political arm of the ETA, was banned by the Supreme Court in 2003. This ban prevented Batasuna candidates from running in municipal elections that year. In February 2005, a car bomb exploded in Madrid, injuring about 40 people: ETA was suspected of being responsible for the attack. In May 2005, the government offered to hold peace talks with the ETA if the group disarmed.

As Spain attempts to hold itself together against regional separatism, it joined with seven other nations in 1995 to create a passport-free zone that allowed much greater mobility between them. Spain also rejoined the NATO Military Command in the mid-1990s, making it once again a full member of the alliance. The adjustments to Spain's economy carried out in the mid- and late-1990s were successful. As a result, Spain was one of the 11 countries that joined together in launching the euro, the European Union's single currency, on 1 January 1999. (Greece joined shortly thereafter, bringing the number of countries in the euro zone to 12.)

On 11 July 2002, 12 Moroccan frontier guards landed on the island of Perejil, which is claimed by Spain, and claimed it as Moroccan territory. Spain's Prime Minister José María Aznar opposed the occupation, and sent troops to evacuate the Moroccan guards. Diplomatic relations between Spain and Morocco improved in December 2002, when plans were made for the return of each state's ambassadors.

During 2002 and into 2003, Aznar affirmed Spain's support for the United States and British position on the use of military force to force Iraq to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction. Over 90% of Spain's citizens were against a war in Iraq, which began on 19 March 2003. Spain's pro-US stance alienated France and Germany, among other nations opposing the use of military force. Spain did not commit combat troops to fight alongside US and British forces, but it sent 900 troops trained in medical support and anti-mine specialties to assist the coalition forces.

On 11 March 2004, Madrid suffered a major terrorist attack as four rush-hour trains were bombed simultaneously in 10 explosions, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,400. An Islamic group with links to the al-Qaeda organization was later blamed for the attacks. The attacks took place three days prior to general elections. On 12 March, massive demonstrations in many Spanish cities were held (some 11.4 million people took part, more than a fourth of the Spanish population), which denounced terrorism, and in part the Aznar administration for its support of the war in Iraq and the presence of Spanish troops there. In the general elections held on 14 March, the Socialists, led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, defied earlier public opinion polls and won nearly 43% of the vote for a gain of 39 seats in the Congress of Deputies. When Zapatero was sworn in as president of the government and prime minister in April, he ordered the withdrawal of all Spanish troops from Iraq. The next presidential elections were scheduled for March 2008.

In February 2005, Spanish voters approved the EU constitution in a referendum by 77%. However, the French and Dutch rejections of the constitution in May and June 2005 indefinitely shelved plans for the EU to adopt such a document for itself.

In June 2005, the Spanish parliament defied the Roman Catholic Church by legalizing gay marriage and granting homosexual couples the same adoption and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples. As of late 2005, four countries in the worldSpain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Canadahad legalized same-sex marriages.


Between 1966 and 1978, Spain was governed under the Organic Law of the Spanish State. A new constitution, approved by the Cortes on 31 October 1978 and by the electorate in a national referendum on 6 December, and ratified by King Juan Carlos I on 27 December 1978, repealed all the laws of the Franco regime and confirmed Spain as a parliamentary monarchy. It also guaranteed the democratic functioning of all political parties, disestablished the Roman Catholic Church, and recognized the right to autonomy of distinct nationalities and regions.

According to the constitution, the king is the head of state, symbolizing its unity. Legislative power is vested in the Cortes Generales (General Courts), consisting of two chambers: the Congreso de los Diputados (Congress of Deputies) with 350 members (deputies); and the Senado (Senate) with 259 members (senators). All deputies and 208 of the senators are popularly elected to four-year terms under universal adult suffrage. The remaining senators (51) are chosen by the assemblies in the 17 autonomous regions. The government, which is answerable to the congress, consists of the president (prime minister), vice president, and ministers, all appointed by the king. The supreme consultative organ of government is the Council of State. Also established by the constitution is the function of "defender of the people," inspired by medieval tradition and by the Scandinavian ombudsman. Suffrage is universal at age 18.


The Falange, known officially as the Nationalist Movement, was the only legally functioning party in Spain during the Franco regime. Founded in 1933 by José Antonio Primo de Rivera, it dated in its later form from 1937, when various right-wing groups were united under Gen. Franco. Nationalists, monarchists, and national syndicalists (Fascists) were the leading groups within the Falange. It lost some of its former power and much of its prestige during the last decades of Franco's regime. On 21 December 1974, the Franco government passed a law conferring a limited right of political association. On 9 June 1976, after Franco's death, the Cortes voted to legalize political parties; by the 1977 parliamentary elections, no fewer than 156 political parties were organized into 10 national coalitions and 12 regional alliances.

The Spanish political scene is characterized by changing parties and shifting alliances. The Union of the Democratic Center (Unión de Centro DemocráticoUCD) was formed as an electoral coalition of smaller moderate parties. From 1977 to 1982, the UCD was the governing political body, headed first by Adolfo Suárez González and then by Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo y Bustelo. In late 1981, the UCD began to disintegrate; it won only 8% of the vote in the 1982 elections and was dissolved in February 1983. A new centrist party, the Democratic and Social Center (Centro Democrático y SocialCDS), was created in 1982. The Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (Partido Socialista Obrero EspañolPSOE), which traces its lineage to the late 19th century, won absolute majorities in both chambers of the Cortes in October 1982 and June 1986.

The right is represented by the Popular Party or PP, embracing the Alianza Popular, the Christian Democratic Partido Demócrata Popular, and the Partido Liberal; the coalition took 26% of the 1986 vote. An extreme rightist party, New Force (Fuerza Nueva), lost its only seat in parliament in 1982 and thereupon dissolved. The Communist Party (Partido ComunistaPC), legalized in 1977, was one of the most outspoken "Eurocommunist" parties in the late 1970s, harshly criticizing the former USSR for human rights abuses. In the 1986 election, the PC formed part of the United Left coalition (Izquierda UnidaIU), which included a rival Communist faction and several socialist parties; the IU's share of the vote was 4.6%. Nationalist parties function in Catalonia, Andalucía, the Basque Provinces, and other areas. The most powerful are the Catalan Convergence and Union (CIU), the Basque Nationalists (PNV), and the Canaries Coalition (CC).

Despite charges of corruption and economic mismanagement, the PSOE secured electoral victories in 1989 and 1993; however, the party finished 17 seats short of a parliamentary majority in 1993. A noticeable shift toward the conservative PP was evident with a 34-seat gain between 1989 and 1993. PSOE secretary-general Felipe Gonzalez Marquez received endorsement for a fourth term as prime minister, receiving support from the small Basque and Catalan nationalist parties.

In 1996, however, Gonzalez was turned out of power by José María Aznar, a young conservative leader with little international visibility. Aznar, as leader of PP, won reelection as prime minister in the March 2000 election, the first in which a center-right party won majority control of the government outright. In the March 2004 election, which was held three days after the 11 March Madrid train bombings, Aznar's PP lost 39 seats in the Congress of Deputies and the PSOE gained 35 seats to hold 164 seats in the chamber. The PSOE victory was seen to have been a reaction to the train bombings, which were blamed in part on the Aznar administration for its support of the US-led war in Iraq. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of the PSOE became prime minister.

The distribution of seats in the Congress of Deputies following the March 2004 election was as follows: PSOE, 164; PP, 148; CIU, 10; ERC (a Catalan party), 8; PNV, 7; CC, 3; IU, 2; and others, 8. Election results for the Senate were as follows: PP, 102; PSOE, 81; Entesa Catalona de Progress, 12; PNV, 6; CIU, 4; and CC, 3. The next elections for the Congress of Deputies and the Senate were scheduled for March 2008.


Spain is divided into 17 autonomous regions, each of which has an elected assembly and a governor appointed by the central government. Municipalities are gradually becoming consolidated; their number had declined to about 8,000 by the early 2000s. Each municipality has a mayor (alcalde ) and councilmen (concejales ); the councilmen, directly elected by the people, elect the mayors. Fifty-one of the 259 members of the Senate are chosen by the regional assemblies.

The statutes governing the Basque and Catalan autonomous communities, providing for regional high courts and legislative assemblies, were approved by referendum in October 1979; the statutes for Galicia in December 1980; and those for Andalucía in October 1981. Autonomy statutes for the other 11 historic regions of continental Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands were subsequently approved and a regular electoral process begun.


According to the 1978 constitution, the judiciary is independent and subject only to the rule of law. The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo ), the president of which is nominated by the 20 judges of the General Council of the Judiciary and appointed by the king.

Territorial high courts (audiencias ) are the courts of last appeal in the 17 regions of the country; provincial audiencias serve as appellate courts in civil matters and as courts of first instance in criminal cases. On the lowest level are the judges of the first instance and instruction, district judges, and justices of the peace.

The National High Court (Audiencia Nacional ), created in 1977, has jurisdiction over criminal cases that transgress regional boundaries and over civil cases involving the central state administration. The constitution of 1978 also established the 12-member Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional ), with competence to judge the constitutionality of laws and decide disputes between the central government and the autonomous regions. The European Court of Human Rights is the final arbiter in cases concerning human rights.

Defendants in criminal cases have the right to counsel at state expense if indigent. The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. Suspects may be held for no more than three days without a judicial hearing.

A jury system was established in 1995, and a new penal code was enacted in 1996.

The constitution provides for the right to a fair public trial and the government respects this provision in practice.


In 2005, Spain's active armed forces totaled 147,255 active personnel. Reservists numbered 319,000 for all three services. The 95,600-member Army was armed with 323 main battle tanks, 270 reconnaissance vehicles, 144 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 2,022 armored personnel carriers, and 2,013 artillery pieces. The Navy had 19,455 active personnel, including 814 naval aviation personnel and 5,300 Marines. Major naval units included one aircraft carrier, 12 frigates, 5 tactical submarines, 36 coastal and patrol vessels, in addition to various mine warfare, amphibious and transport vessels. The Spanish Air Force had 22,750 personnel and 177 combat capable aircraft, including 75 fighters and 91 fighter ground attack aircraft. Spain in 2005 had a paramilitary force of 73,360 personnel, of which 72,600 were members of the Guardia Civil. Another 760 comprised the Guardia Civil del Mar. Spain provided troops to UN peacekeeping and other European Union and NATO military missions in eight regions or countries. In 2005 Spain's defense budget totaled spent $8.8 billion.


Spain joined the United Nations on 14 December 1955; it participates in ECE, ECLAC, and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, ILO, the World Bank, and the WHO. Spain is also a member of the Council of Europe, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, NATO, OECD, the WTO, OSCE, the Paris Club, the Western European Union, and the European Union. The nation holds observer status in the OAS and the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA).

Spain has supported UN missions and operations in Kosovo (est. 1999), Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), Burundi (est. 2004), Haiti (est. 2004), and the DROC (est. 1999). The nation is part of the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), and the Nuclear Energy Agency. In environmental cooperation, Spain is part of the Antarctic Treaty; the Basel Convention; Conventions on Biological Diversity, Whaling, and Air Pollution; Ramsar; CITES; the London Convention; International Tropical Timber Agreements; the Kyoto Protocol; the Montréal Protocol; MARPOL; the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Agriculture, livestock, and miningthe traditional economic mainstaysno longer occupy the greater part of the labor force or provide most of the exports. In order to offset the damage suffered by the industrial sector during the Civil War and to cope with the problems created by Spain's post-World War II isolation, the Franco regime concentrated its efforts on industrial expansion. Especially after 1953, the industrial sector expanded rapidly. In terms of per capita income, Spain's economy stands at 80% of the four largest West European economies, with an estimated GDP (purchasing power parity) of $23,300 per person in 2004.

From 1974 through the early 1980s, the Spanish economy was adversely affected by international factors, especially oil price increases. Tourism is a major source of foreign exchange, and in 2000 was generating 10% of GDP (up from 3.3% in 1995) and employing, directly or indirectly, one eighth of the labor force. Spain is the world's second most popular tourist destination, after France. Spain had 53.6 million tourists in 2004, a 3.4% increase over 2003, despite the terrorist attacks on Spain's commuter trains on 11 March 2004, which killed 191 people and injured 1,500. The annual GDP growth rate during 197477 was 3%, higher than that in other OECD countries, but the inflation rate reached 24% in 1977. Real GDP growth slowed to about 1.6% during 198085, averaged 3.5% between 1985 and 1992, but slowed to a yearly average of 1.3% between 199395. By 1998, however, it had increased to 3.5%, and in 1999 and 2000, averaged over 4%. The global economic slowdown after 2001 helped reduce GDP growth to 2.5% in 2001 and to 2.3% in 2002. Real GDP growth averaged 3.3% over the period 200004. Spanish economic growth was expected to be 3.1% in 2005, due to strong momentum in the domestic economy, and then was forecast to gradually slow to 2.4% by 2007. This slowdown was forecast to stabilize the large current account deficit, which was estimated at 5.9% of GDP in 2005.

Consumer prices rose 37% between 1989 and 1995, and unemployment rose from 17.3% to 21.3%, the highest in the EU. Macroeconomic improvements from 1995 to 1998, however, were sufficient for Spain to be included in the first group of EU members to enter the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999. By 1998 inflation had been reduced to 1.8%. From 1999 to 2002, inflation was held to between 2% and 4%. Unemployment fell to 18.7% in 1998 and then to 15.7% in 1999. Although still quite high, unemployment continued to fallto 13.9% in 2000 and 10.5% in 2001before registering an increase to 11.2% in 2002. The inflation rate averaged 3.3% from 200004. Inflation was predicted to fall from the rate of 3.4% in 2005, as was unemployment; the unemployment rate in 2004 stood at 10.4%. The Rodriguez Zapatero government pursued job creation upon coming into power in April 2004; joblessness is among the highest in the EU, and profound changes to labor market regulations have been called for to reduce unemployment further.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Spain's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $1.0 trillion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $25,100. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.3%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 3.4%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 3.4% of GDP, industry 28.7%, and services 67.9%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $6.068 billion or about $148 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.7% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $672 million and accounted for approximately 3.7% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Spain totaled $485.78 billion or about $11,819 per capita based on a GDP of $838.7 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.6%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 33% of household consumption was spent on food, 11% on fuel, 3% on health care, and 5% on education.


In 2005, Spain's labor force totaled an estimated 20.67 million. As of 2004, the workforce was distributed as follows: services 64.6%; manufacturing, mining and construction 30.1%; and agriculture 5.3%. Employment in agriculture has been in steady decline; many farm workers have been absorbed by construction and industry. Unemployment averaged about 22% during 1997, but had fallen to 11% by 2002. As of 2005, Spain's unemployment rate was estimated at 10.1%.

The constitution of 1978 guarantees the freedom to form unions and the right to strike. The law provides for the right to bargain collectively, and unions exercise this right in practice. In the private sector, as of 2005, 8590% of workers were covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Discrimination against union activity is illegal. In 2005, approximately 15% of the workforce was unionized.

The monthly minimum wage was $620 in 2005. This wage provides a decent standard of living for a family. The regular work-week was 40 hours, with a mandated 36-hour rest period. In addition, workers receive 12 paid holidays per year and one month's paid vacation. The legal minimum age for employment was 16 years, and this is enforced by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.


During 19702003, the proportion of the GDP from agriculture fell from 11.3% to 3%, and the proportion of workers employed in agriculture decreased from 26% to about 7%. Arable cropland in 2003 covered 18,715,000 hectares (46,245,000 acres), of which 67% was used for field crops, and 33% planted with olive trees, vineyards, and orchards.

In 2003, Spain's crop output was valued third highest among the EU nations, at over 27.1 billion. Agricultural commodities harvested in 2004 (in thousands of tons) included wheat, 7,108; barley, 10,609; corn, 4,748; rice, 900; beans, 19; sugar beets, 6,997; sunflower seeds, 785; grapes, 7,148; peaches, 1,107; potatoes, 2,570; and tomatoes, 4,367. Grapes are cultivated in every region; the most important olive groves are in Andalucía. After France and Italy, Spain is the world's leading wine producer, with an estimated 421 million liters produced in 2004. Within the domestic market, the use of sunflower oil and soybean oil has grown considerably.

Agricultural mechanization has been increasing steadily. In 2003 there were 943,653 tractors and 50,454 harvester-threshers. The use of fertilizers has also increased. The Institute for Agrarian Development and Reform directly or indirectly regulates some 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of land, promoting intensive cultivation and irrigation to improve productivity.


Spain's pastures cover about 23% of the total area. Because much of Spain is arid or semiarid, sheep are by far the most important domestic animals. In 2005, Spain's livestock population (in millions) included sheep, 22.5; hogs, 25.2; and cattle, 6.7. There also were 2.8 million goats, 240,000 horses, 142,000 asses, and 110,000 mules in 2005. Meat production that year included (in thousands of tons): pork, 3,310; poultry, 1,341; beef and veal, 715; and lamb and mutton, 235. In 2005, milk production was 7.4 million tons (12% from sheep and goats); 725,000 tons of eggs were also produced.


Fishing is important, especially along the northern coastline. The Spanish fishing fleet is the largest within the European Union (EU). As of 2004, the fleet had a capacity of 491,246 gross tons, 26% of EU total and about 6% of the world's fishing fleet capacity.

In 2004, the total quantity of fish caught by Spanish vessels and landed in Spanish ports amounted to 875,000 tons (including nonedible fish). The main species landed in 2003 were (in thousands of tons): sardines, 55.8; yellow-fin tuna, 108.7; skipjack tuna, 155.4; and Atlantic mackerel, 23.6.

The most common species processed by the Spanish canning industry are: tuna, mussels, sardines, white tuna, cephalopod, mackerel, and anchovy. In 2003, Spain exported 95.9 million tons of canned fish, valued at $385 million. Exports of seafood that year amounted to 529.6 million tons, worth $1,105 million.

The main aqua-cultural commodities are mussels, trout, oysters, clams, and gilthead bream. Mussel production began in 1940 in northwestern Spain, and today there are thousands of floating mollusk beds found in many Spanish bays. Trout farming began in 1960, and is located in the north and northwest. In 2003, aquacultural production included 248,827 tons of mussels and 33,113 tons of trout. Spain is the world's second leading producer of mussels after China.


Spain's forested area in 2004 was estimated at 15 million hectares (37 million acres), of which 7.5 million hectares (18.5 million acres) was commercial forest (73% softwood, 27% temperate hardwood). The northern Cantabrian range accounts for about one-third of the timberland. In addition, Spain has 2.5 million hectares (6.2 million acres) of woodlots typically comprised of oaks and cork trees, located mostly in the west (especially in Estremadura and Salamanca). During 19992003, the annual average area reforested was 75,000 hectares (185,000 acres).

Round wood production in 2004 was 16.3 million cu m (575 million cu ft), with about 13% used as fuel wood. Spain is one of the largest producers of cork, its most important commercial forest product. Spain's annual production of cork amounts to about 110,000 tons, or 32% of world production. Scotch and maritime pine, as well as radiata pine, are the main softwood lumber species produced in Spain; eucalyptus and poplar are the principal hardwood species. In 2004, Spain imported $4.9 billion in forest products, primarily lumber ($989.4 million) and wood-based panels ($699 million).


Spain had some of the most mineralized territory in Western Europe, including the volcanic-hosted massive sulfide (VMS) deposits of the Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB) of southern Spain. The IPB alone was estimated to have yielded 1.7 billion tons of sulfides, and more than 80 VMS deposits have been recorded in which individual tonnages were in excess of one million tons. Spain had the largest known reserves of celestite (Europe's sole producer, ranking second in world production, behind Mexico); was home to the richest mercury deposit in the world and one of the biggest open-pit zinc mines in Europe; and remained the leading producer of sepiolite, with 70% of world reserves (around Madrid). Spain was the largest EU producer of mine lead and zinc, and a major producer of pyrites, among other nonferrous and precious metals. Production far exceeded domestic consumption for most nonmetallic minerals, and Spain was a net exporter to other EU countries of lead, mercury, nonmetallic-mineral manufactured products, slate, other crude industrial minerals, and zinc. In terms of value, Spain was one of the leading EU countries, with one of its highest levels of self-sufficiency in mineral raw materials. Almost all known minerals were found in Spain, and mining was still a notable, though much diminished, factor in the economy. Of the 100 minerals mined, 18 were produced in large quantitiesbentonite, copper, fluorspar, glauberite, gold, iron, lead, magnetite, mercury, potash, pyrites, quartz, refractory argillite, sea and rock salt, sepiolitic salts, tin, tungsten, and zinc. Metals and chemicals were leading industries in 2002. The output of lead, zinc, and copper ores, all once important to the Spanish economy, has been declining. The number of active operations has halved in recent years, with copper production a notable casualty. Quarried mineral products, particularly quarried stone, accounted for a significant share of the value of all minerals produced.

Lead mine output was 1,765 metric tons in 2003, down from 6,171 metric tons in 2002 and 36,000 metric tons in 2001. Zinc mine output totaled 44,600 metric tons in 2003, down from 69,926 metric tons in 2002 and from 164,900 metric tons in 2001. Copper mine production in 2003 was estimated at 643 metric tons, down from 1,248 metric tons in 2002 and from 9,748 metric tons in 2001. Gold mine output in 2003 totaled 5,362 kg, up from 5,158 kg in 2002 and from 3,720 kg in 2001. Silver mine output in 2003 totaled 2,246 kg in 2003, down from 3,409 kg in 2002, and from 54,836 kg in 2001. Germanium oxide, tin, titanium dioxide, and uranium also were mined. Because of market conditions, iron mining was halted in 1997, after 588,000 tons (metal content) was produced in 1996. Iron ore was one of Spain's principal mineral assets, with 6 million tons of total reserves in the north (Basque provinces, Asturias, León) and in Andalucía; the Alquife mine, in Granada, which was closed for maintenance, had a capacity of 4 million tons per year.

Among industrial minerals, Spain in 2003 produced an estimated: 10 million tons of marl; 12 million tons of dolomite; 5 million tons of ornamental marble; 2.48 million tons of limestone; 690,395 metric tons (reported) of meerschaum sepiolite; 594,355 metric tons of potash (reported); and 150,000 metric tons of calcined magnesite (from deposits in Navarra and Lugo), unchanged from 2002. Spain also produced barite, bromine, calcium carbonate, hydraulic cement, clays (including attapulgite, bentonite, and washed kaolin), diatomite, tripoli, feldspar, fluorspar (acid-grade and metallurgical grade), gypsum, anhydrite, andalusite kyanite, hydrated lime and quicklime, mica, nitrogen, mineral pigments (ocher and red iron oxide), pumice, salt (including rock, marine, and by-product from potash), silica sand (including as by-product of feldspar and kaolin production), soda ash, natural sulfate (including glauberite and thenardite), large quantities of all stone (including basalt, chalk, ornamental granite, ophite, phonolite, porphyry, quartz, quartzite, sandstone, serpentine, slate), strontium minerals, sulfur, talc, and steatite.

Historically, minerals belonged to the state, with the industry comprising a mix of state-owned, state-and-privately owned, and privately owned companies. However, the Spanish government has been moving rapidly toward privatization and continued to do so in 2003. In mid-2002, legislation was passed that would abolish state and private monopolies. The economic development of certain areas, such as the Asturias and the Basque regions, was based on their mineral wealth, and mining continued to be an important current and potential source of income in these and other mineral-rich areas. The independent government of Andalucía completed its first mining development plan (19962000). Several old and new prospects were being evaluated, and exploration activity was high, particularly for feldspar (in Badajoz, Toledo, and Salamanca), garnet (Galicia), pyrites (Badajoz), and rutile and zircon (Cuidad Real). The main polymetallic deposits included Tharsis, Scotiel, Rio Tinto, and Aznalcollar.


Spain has only small reserves of oil and natural gas, with coal being the country's most abundant energy source.

As of 1 January 2002, Spain's proven reserves of oil and natural gas came to 10.5 million barrels and 254.9 million cu m, respectively. In 2004, Spain's production of oil averaged 5,980 barrels per day in 2004 (7,099 barrels per day in 2001), while consumption in that year averaged 1.5687 million barrels per day. As a result, Spain had to rely heavily on imports to meet its petroleum needs. Spain has seven active oil fields all of them operated by Repsol-YPF. Spain's refining sector has a combined capacity of 1.27 million barrels and is spread among seven refineries, of which the largest is the Cadiz plant operated by Cepsa, with a capacity of 240,000 barrels per day. However, Repsol-YPF has the largest total capacity at 520,000 barrels per day.

As with oil, Spain relies heavily on imports to meet its natural gas needs. In 2003, Spain produced 7.3 billion cu ft of natural gas, but demand that year totaled 822 billion cu ft. Spanish demand for natural gas rose sharply between 1993 and 2003, increasing by 266%, and was driven in large part by the introduction of gasfired power plants. In 2002, of the 1,073.7 billion cu ft of natural gas imported by Spain, Algeria was the main source, providing 627.7 billion cu ft, followed by Norway at 116.0 cu ft and Qatar at 107.2 billion cu ft. Nigeria, Oman and other countries accounted for the remainder.

Spain's most abundant energy source is coal. In 2003, Spain had reserves of 584 million short tons, with production in that year at 22.7 million short tons. However, as with oil and natural gas, demand for coal in 2003 outstripped supply, with consumption at 45.6 million short tons, thus necessitating imports to fill the gap.

Spain is the European Union's fifth-largest electricity market. Production of electricity in 2002 reached 230.082 billion kWh, of which fossil fuels accounted for 134.834 billion kWh, hydropower at nuclear at 59.865 billion kWh, hydropower at 22.807 billion kWh and geothermal/other sources at 12.576 billion kWh. Demand for electric power in 2002 totaled 219.305 billion kWh. Electric power capacity in 2002 totaled 50.591 million kW, of which conventional thermal capacity accounted for 26.359 million kW, hydroelectric at 12.744 million kW, nuclear at 7.519 million kW, and geothermal/other at 3.969 million kW. Spain, as of July 2005, had nine nuclear reactors in operation. However, the Jose Cabrera nuclear plant is slated for closure in April 2006.


Industrial production grew by 3% in 2004, and industry accounted for 28.5% of GDP. The chief industrial sectors are food and beverages, textiles and footwear, energy, and transport materials. Chemical production, particularly of superphosphates, sulfuric acid, dyestuffs, and pharmaceutical products, is also significant. Of the heavy industries, iron and steel, centered mainly in Bilbao and Avilés, is the most important. Petroleum refinery production capacity at Spain's nine refineries was 1.27 million barrels per day in 2004. Approximately three million automobiles were produced in Spain in 2004; automobiles are Spain's leading manufacturing industry, accounting for about 5% of GDP and exporting more than 80% of output.

Prior to the 1990s wave of privatization, government participation in industry was through the National Industrial Institute (INI), which owned mining enterprises, oil refineries, steel and chemical plants, shipbuilding yards, and artificial fiber factories, or through Patrimonio. As of 2005, Telefónica, Gas Natural, and the petrochemical company Repsol had been privatized. A wave of consolidations was taking place in the energy industry, as Gas Natural launched a $28.1 billion unsolicited bid for Endesa, a Spanish electricity company, mirroring a series of energy deals taking place across Europe in 2005. In the Spanish mobile-phone market, which was growing strongly in 2005, France Télécom bought an 80% stake in Amena, Spain's third-largest mobile phone operator, behind Telefónica and Britain's Vodafone.

Industries demonstrating significant growth in the early 2000s were metalworking industries, due to increased production in shipbuilding, data-processing equipment, and other transportation equipment. Other growth sectors included food processing, medical products and services, chemicals, computer equipment, electronics, footwear, construction and security equipment, cosmetics and jewelry, and industrial machinery. In the early 2000s, the construction industry was aided by such public works projects as a high-speed train link between Madrid and Barcelona, and an increase in property development on the Mediterranean coast.

Foreign competition has cut into the Spanish textile industry. Following the expiration of the World Trade Organization's longstanding system of textile quotas at the beginning of 2005, the EU signed an agreement with China in June 2005, imposing new quotas on 10 categories of textile goods, limiting growth in those categories to between 8% and 12.5% a year. The agreement runs until 2007, and was designed to give European textile manufacturers time to adjust to a world of unfettered competition. Nevertheless, barely a month after the EU-China agreement was signed, China reached its quotas for sweaters, followed soon after by blouses, bras, T-shirts, and flax yarn. Tens of millions of garments piled up in warehouses and customs checkpoints, which affected both retailers and consumers.


The Council for Scientific Research, founded in 1940, coordinates research in science and technology and operates numerous constituent research institutes in a wide variety of disciplines. The Royal Academy of Exact, Physical, and Natural Sciences, founded in 1916, is the nation's chief scientific academy. The National Science Museum and the National Railway Museum are located in Madrid, and two geology museums are located in Barcelona. Spain has 32 universities, colleges, and polytechnics offering courses in basic and applied sciences.

In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 31% of university enrollment. In 2002, of all bachelor's degrees awarded, 23.8% were for the sciences (natural, mathematics and computers, engineering). In 2002, total expenditures on research and development (R&D) amounted to $9,101.393 million, or 1.04% if GDP. Of that amount, the business sector accounted for the largest portion at 48.9%, followed by the government at 39.1%. Higher education and foreign sources accounted for 5.2% and 6.8%, respectively. In that same year, there were 742 technicians and 2,036 scientists and engineers engaged in R&D per one million people. High technology exports in 2002 were valued at $6.777 billion, or 7% of the country's manufactured exports.


Madrid and Barcelona are the primary commercial hubs for distribution of goods throughout the country. Spain has no free ports, but free-zone privileges are granted at Barcelona, Bilbao, Cádiz, Vigo, and the Canary Islands. There are bonded warehouses at the larger ports. The government has established a market distribution program to regulate the flow of goods to and from the producing and consuming areas. Since 1972, wholesale market networks have been established in cities with more than 150,000 inhabitants. The National Consumption Institute promotes consumer cooperatives and credit unions.

A wide variety of shops are available in Spain, from small specialty boutiques to large department stores, shopping centers, and outlet stores. Franchises are becoming more popular throughout the country. As of 2003, there were about 960 franchise firms with over 48,000 franchised units represented in the country, with national companies holding ownership of 82% of them. Direct marketing and sales, particularly through mail order and television sales, are also gaining in popularity. A 16% value-added tax applies to most goods and services. This rate is reduced for some products, such as food, books, and medical supplies. Advertising is largely through newspapers, magazines, radio, and motion picture theaters.

Usual business hours are from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday. Banks are open from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, Monday through Friday, and to 1 pm on Saturday. Department stores are often open from 10 am to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday. Many small shops and businesses are often closed in the afternoons, from 2 pm to 4 or 5 pm.


Traditionally, exports consisted mainly of agricultural products (chiefly wine, citrus fruits, olives and olive oil, and cork) and minerals. While agricultural products and minerals remain important, they have, since the 1960s, been overtaken by industrial exports. Imports habitually exceed exports by a large margin.

Of Spain's export commodities, transport-related items make up more than 20% of the total. Fruits, nuts, and vegetables are also exported in sizable amounts. Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil; the country supplies about one-third of the olive oil in the world. Footwear and chemicals (chiefly pharmaceuticals) are other important exports.

The liberalization of product markets and more effective antitrust mechanisms have been called for as ways to boost Spain's economic growth potential. Merchandise exports rose to $184.1 billion in 2004. Strong domestic demand resulted in a larger increase in imports, causing the trade deficit to widen from $45.1 billion in 2003 to $65.8 billion in 2004. Spain's leading markets in 2004 were France (19.4% of all exports), Germany (11.7%), and Portugal and Italy (each with 9% of Spain's total exports). In all, the EU accounted for 73.9% of Spain's total exports. Leading suppliers in 2004 were Germany (16.1% of Spanish imports), France (15.2%), Italy (9.1%), and the United Kingdom (6.1%). The EU made up 65.6% of all imports that year.


Tourism, remittances from Spaniards living abroad, investment income, and loans to the private sector have been the principal factors that help to offset recurrent trade deficits, especially deficits in merchandise trade and net investment income. Between 1992 and 1995 exports grew by 70% and imports grew by approximately the same amount. In 2000, Spain experienced a large increase in its trade deficit due in large measure to increased petroleum prices, the weakness of the euro, and decreased competitiveness. The current account deficit widened considerably in 2004 to 5.3% of GDP, up from 3.6% in 2003, largely due to the large trade deficit of $65.8 billion, which was caused by strong domestic demand and an increase in imports. In 2004, the current account balance stood at -$30.89 billion.


The banking and credit structure centers on the Bank of Spain, the government's national bank of issue since 1874. The bank acts as the government depository as well as a banker's bank for discount and other operations. The European Central Bank determines monetary policy for the EU. Other "official" but privately owned banks are the Mortgage Bank of Spain, the Local Credit Bank of Spain, the Industrial Credit Bank, the Agricultural Credit Bank, and the External Credit Bank.

In 2002, the private banking system consisted of 146 banks, comprising national banks, industrial banks, regional banks, local banks, and foreign banks. The liberalization of the banking system and Spain's entry into the EC raised the number and presence of foreign banks. During the process of financial liberalization required by the EU, the government tried to promote a series of mergers within the banking industry, which it hoped could enable the banks to compete more effectively. As a result, there were two major mergers: Banco de Vizcaya and Banco de Bilbao formed Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBV), and Banco Central and Banco Hispanoamericano merged to form Banco Central Hispanoamercano (BCH). The government also brought together all the state-owned banking institutions to form Corporación Bancaria de España, better known by its trade name Argentaria, whose most important component is Banco Exterior (BEX). The government subsequently privatized a 50% stake in Argentaria in 1993 and a further 25% in early 1996. Ultimately, the state sold its remaining 25% share in Argentaria, thereby leaving the banking sector entirely in private hands. In October 1999, BBV took over Argentaria to create Spain's largest banking group. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $193.7 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits,

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 158,213.2 210,860.5 -52,647.3
France-Monaco 30,394.1 34,079.9 -3,685.8
Germany 19,008.0 34,551.5 -15,543.5
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 15,486.4 19,348.6 -3,862.2
Portugal 15,262.4 6,778.4 8,484.0
United States 6,478.9 7,639.6 -1,160.7
Netherlands 5,318.6 8,525.6 -3,207.0
Belgium 4,756.3 6,423.4 -1,667.1
Mexico 2,508.1 1,646.0 862.1
Morocco 2,133.4 1,812.7 320.7
Turkey 1,989.8 2,029.4 -39.6
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -23,676.0
   Balance on goods -42,923.0
      Imports -202,468.0
      Exports 159,545.0
   Balance on services 30,922.0
   Balance on income -11,919.0
   Current transfers -56.0
Capital Account 9,982.0
Financial Account 4,444.0
   Direct investment abroad -23,350.0
   Direct investment in Spain 25,513.0
   Portfolio investment assets -91,061.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities 40,908.0
   Financial derivatives -369,947.0
   Other investment assets -14,437.0
   Other investment liabilities 70,570.0
Net Errors and Omissions -6,237.0
Reserves and Related Items 15,487.0
() data not available or not significant.

its, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $548.2 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 4.36%.

Spain has major stock exchanges in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia. These exchanges are open for a few hours a day, Tuesday through Friday. Since 1961, foreign investment in these exchanges has increased rapidly. The major commercial banks invest in the equity and debt securities of private firms and carry on brokerage businesses as well. Latibex, a Madrid-based stock exchange providing a market for the trading (in euros) of Latin American stocks, opened in late 1999. The exchange lists companies based in Latin American nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, and Venezuela. As of 2004, there were 3,272 companies listed on the BME Spanish Exchanges, which had a market capitalization of $940.673 billion.


Insurance companies are supervised by the government through the Direccion General de Seguros. The Spanish insurance market is characterized by a relatively large number of insurers with one organization dominating the industry. Latest information available indicates an insurance market in Spain with moderate penetration when compared to North America and Europe, especially for life products. Recently, however, Spanish insurance firms such as Euroseguros are taking advantage of linguistic, cultural, and historical ties and are expanding operations to Latin America. Compulsory insurance includes third-party automobile liability, workers' compensation, hunters', nuclear and professional liability, and personal injury insurance. Workers' compensation and property insurance can only be obtained through the government. Spain's insurance market is made up of both local and foreign insurers, with the local insurers often owned by Spanish banks. In 2003, the value of all direct insurance premiums written totaled $47.014 billion, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $26.972 billion. In that same year, the top nonlife insurer was MAPFRE Mutualidad, which had gross written nonlife premiums of $2,088.2 million, while the country's leading life insurer was Mapfre Vida, which had gross written life insurance premiums of $1,808.6 million.


The public sector deficit in 1996 was equivalent to 4.3% of GDP (compared to 3.8% in 1993 and 4.4% in 1992). Because of Spain's desire to enter the European Monetary Union, it had to meet stringent limits on its public debt and finances, including a 3% debt-to-GDP ratio. The government trimmed the budget by reducing the civil service payroll and limiting transfers to government-owned companies.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Spain's central government took in revenues of approximately $440.9 billion and had expenditures of $448.4 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$7.5 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 48.5% of GDP. Total external debt was $1.249 trillion.

Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 28.6%; defense, 3.7%; public order and safety, 3.8%; economic affairs, 6.2%; environmental protection, 0.2%; housing and community amenities, 0.1%; health, 15.3%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.2%; education, 1.6%; and social protection, 39.3%.

Revenue and Grants 212,571 100.0%
   Tax revenue 105,530 49.6%
   Social contributions 87,146 41.0%
   Grants 8,088 3.8%
   Other revenue 11,807 5.6%
Expenditures 211,539 100.0%
   General public services 60,492 28.6%
   Defense 7,821 3.7%
   Public order and safety 8,104 3.8%
   Economic affairs 13,011 6.2%
   Environmental protection 516 0.2%
   Housing and community amenities 263 0.1%
   Health 32,308 15.3%
   Recreational, culture, and religion 2,530 1.2%
   Education 3,442 1.6%
   Social protection 83,052 39.3%
() data not available or not significant.


As of 2005, Spain had a basic corporation tax rate of 35%. A reduced rate of 30% is applied to companies with annual turnover of less than 6 million in the preceding tax year on initial profits of 90,151. Generally, capital gains are taxed at the corporate rate, while dividends, interest and royalties are subject to withholding taxes of 15%, 15% and 25%, respectively.

Spain, as of 2005, had a progressive individual income tax with a top rate of 45%. The tax is imposed on aggregate income and includes dividends, interest and royalties received. However, dividends received from a resident company may be subject to an imputation credit. There is also a wealth tax with a maximum rate of 2.5%.

The main indirect tax is Spain's value-added tax (VAT), introduced 1 January 1986 as a condition for membership in the European Union (EU). As of 2005, the VAT had a standard rate of 16%, with two reduced rates: 4% on basic necessities; and 7% on food, dwellings, tourism and certain transport services. Indirect taxes include levies on inheritances, documents, sales, special products (alcohol, petroleum, and others), luxury items, and fiscal monopolies.


Spain, a member of the European Union and the World Trade Organization, adheres to EU and GATT trading rules. Spain determines customs duties based on cost, insurance, and freight (CIF), and applies the EU Common External Tariff to non-EU imports. Most customs costs amount to 2030% of CIF (cost, insurance, freight), including the duty, the VAT, and customs agent and handling fees.


In keeping with the rest of the European Union, in recent years the Spanish government has instituted a wholesale revision of its previously restrictive foreign investment laws. With the exception of strategic sectors, up to 100% foreign investment is permitted in all sectors of the Spanish economy. The corporation tax is levied at a standard rate of 35% and at 30% on the first 90,151 for companies with a turnover of less than 5 million.

In 1998, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow was nearly $12 billion, up from $7.7 billion in 1997, and peaking at $37.5 billion in 2000. In 2001, FDI inflow fell to $21.8 billion. From 1998 to 2001 FDI inflow averaged about $19 billion a year, and in 2001 cumulative FDI stock totaled approximately $157 billion. Outward FDI from Spain from 1998 to 2001 averaged about $31.1 billion, and in 2001 cumulative foreign stock held by Spaniards totaled about $184 billion.

In 2004, new investment in Spain totaled $18.4 billion. Spanish FDI outflows totaled $54.5 billion. In 2004, cumulative FDI stock in Spain totaled $346.7 billion. Cumulative outward FDI stock totaled $332.6 billion. In 2003, most new FDI in Spain came from (in order): the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Luxembourg, Italy, Germany, France, and Sweden. From 200004, FDI inflows as a percentage of GDP averaged 4%. In 2004, Spain was the 11th most attractive country in the world for US investors, up from 17th place, according to the FDI Confidence Index. In 2004, Spain was the largest net EU-25 investor, while the United Kingdom was the largest net recipient of FDI.


After 1939, Spanish economic policy was characterized by the attempt to achieve economic self-sufficiency. This policy, largely imposed by Spain's position during World War II and the isolation to which Spain was subjected in the decade following 1945, was also favored by many Spanish political and business leaders. In 1959, following two decades of little or no overall growth, the Spanish government acceded to reforms suggested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), OECD, and IBRD, and encouraged by the promise of foreign financial assistance, announced its acceptance of the so-called Stabilization Plan, intended to curb domestic inflation and adverse foreign payment balances.

Long-range planning began with Spain's first four-year development plan (196467), providing a total investment of p355 billion. The second four-year plan (196871) called for an investment of p553 billion, with an average annual growth of 5.5% in GNP. The third plan (197275) called for investments of p871 billion; drastic readjustments had to be made in 1975 to compensate for an economic slump brought on by increased petroleum costs, a tourist slowdown, and a surge in imports. A fifth plan (197679) focused on development of energy resources, with investments to increase annually by 9% increments. A stabilization program introduced in 1977 included devaluation of the peseta and tightening of monetary policy. The economic plan of 197982 committed Spain to a market economy and rejected protectionism.

Accession to the EU generated increased foreign investment but also turned Spain's former trade surplus with the EU into a growing deficit: the lowering of tariffs boosted imports, but exports did not keep pace. The government responded by pursuing market liberalization and deregulation, in hopes of boosting productivity and efficiency to respond to EU competition. A number of projects, such as the construction of airports, highways, and a highspeed rail line between Madrid and Seville, received EU funding. To prepare Spain for European economic and monetary union, the government in 1992 planned to cut public spending. The currency was devalued three times in 199293. Additionally, Spain was a principal beneficiary of the EU's "harmonization fund." This fund provides financial support to poorer EU nations to attempt to reduce the disparities in economic development.

After an economic downturn in the early and mid-1990s, the Spanish economy turned around to register a new dynamism characterized by strong growth rates and a rise in foreign investment sparked by increased liberalization. Moreover, unemployment dropped and inflation remained in check. Spain capped its success by entering the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999. Reducing the public sector deficit, decreasing unemployment, reforming labor laws, lowering inflation, and raising per capita gross domestic product (GDP) were all goals in the early 2000s. Economic growth was forecast at 3.1% in 2005. The construction sector was thriving, driven by higher levels of investment and public infrastructure projects.

Spain cushioned the effects of the 200103 global economic slowdown on its economy through effective management of fiscal policy, but the constraints of the European Stability and Growth Pactwhich requires EU members to keep their budget deficits within 3% of GDPcontinues to limit freedom to maneuver. After coming to power in April 2004, the Socialist government made little change in economic policy. Despite a decline in unemployment in the early 2000s, the jobless rate remains one of the highest in the EU. Expansion of the services sector, including retailing, tourism, banking, and telecommunications, has led to recent economic growth. Spain has developed a greenhouse industry in the southeast region of the country, which has become one of the most competitive suppliers of fresh produce to the main European markets. Fishing remains a growth industry as well.


The social insurance system provides pensions for employees in industry and services, with a special system for the self-employed, farmers, domestic workers, seamen and coal miners. The system is funded through employee and employer contributions, and an annual government subsidy. The fund provides for health and maternity benefits, old age and incapacity insurance, a widow and widower pension, orphan pension, a family subsidy, workers' compensation, job-related disability payments, unemployment insurance and a funeral grant. Retirement is set at age 65, but is allowed at age 64 under certain conditions. Maternity benefits are payable for 16 weeks, and is applicable to adoption as well. Fathers may also take parental leave. Work injury legislation was first instituted in 1900 and covers all employed persons. It is funded solely by the employer.

Discrimination against women in the workplace persists although it is prohibited by law. The female rate of unemployment is about twice that for men, and the median salary for women was lower than that of men. There are a growing number of women entering the medical and legal professions. Women take an active role in politics. The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace but it is not effectively enforced. The government takes steps to address the problems of domestic abuse and violence against women. The Integral Law Against Gender Violence enacted in 2005 provides harsher penalties to those convicted of domestic violence. The government is strongly committed to children's welfare and rights.

Roma minorities suffer from housing, education, and employment discrimination. The government provides mechanisms for legal redress for discrimination and harassment for Roma and other minorities. In addition, a growing number of right-wing extremist attacks against minorities have been reported in recent years. Human rights abuses have been committed by both the government and Basque (ETA) separatist groups. The ETA has carried out killings and kidnapping, while the government has failed to prevent the mistreatment of prisoners.


Following the adoption of the country's constitution, Spain's health care system underwent major reforms in the 1980s and 1990s. Instead of being organized directly as part of the social security system, it was transformed to the more decentralized National Health System. Coverage was extended further than before and the primary care network was reorganized. Spanish officials say that public contributions to the cost of health care must be limited in the face of potentially unlimited demand. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 7% of GDP.

The public sector in health care is the largest and continues to grow. There are 354 public hospitals, 149 private hospitals, and 312 private business hospitals. The public health sector contracts a significant number of beds from both types of private hospitals. As of 2004, there were an estimated 320 physicians, 362 nurses, 43 dentists, 77 pharmacists per 100,000 people. Recent programs have created special residences for elderly and retired people, eye clinics, a network of government health centers in the principal cities, and more than a dozen human tissue and organ banks for transplantation and research.

As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 9.3 and 9.2 per 1,000 people. About 59% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception. Average life expectancy in 2005 was 78 years. That year the infant mortality rate was 4.42 per 1,000 live births, down from 38 in 1965. Immunization rates for children up to one year old were: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 88%; polio, 88%; and measles, 90%.

Leading causes of death were communicable diseases and maternal/perinatal causes, noncommunicable diseases, and injuries. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.70 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 140,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 1,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

The smoking rates for both men and women in Spain are above the average of "high human development" countries as defined by the World Bank. Approximately 58% of men and 27% of women were smokers. However, the likelihood of dying after the age of 65 of heart disease was below the highly industrialized country average at 235 (male) and 277 (female) per 1,000 people.


A housing boom beginning around 1998-2001 saw the creation of over two million new houses with about 600,000 new houses built in 2000. In 2000, about 2025% of the housing market was attributed to those building second homes/vacation homes. At the 2001 census, there were about 20,946,554 dwellings nationwide. About 31.9% were single-family dwellings; 35% were dwellings in multi-family buildings. About 16% of the existing stock was built in the period 19912001; with an average of about 307,000 units per year. Some 52% of all dwellings were owned by private individuals; 46% were owned by communities. Nearly 90% of all dwellings were listed in good condition; 195,910 dwellings were listed as in ruin.


Since 1990, schooling has been compulsory for ten years, including six years of primary school and four years of secondary school. Many students continue on for an additional two years of higher secondary school. Vocational programs are available at the secondary level. The academic year runs from October to July.

Most children between the ages of three and five are enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 100% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 96% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 14:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 11:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 33% of primary school enrollment and 29% of secondary enrollment.

The Pontifical University of Salamanca, founded in 1254, is the oldest university, while the University of Madrid has the largest student body. In 2003, it was estimated that about 62% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in tertiary education programs; 57% for men and 67% for women. The adult literacy rate for 2003 was estimated at about 97.9%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.5% of GDP, or 11.3% of total government expenditures.


The National Library in Madrid (four million volumes), the Library of Catalonia in Barcelona (one million volumes), the university libraries of Santiago de Compostela (one million volumes), Salamanca (906,000 volumes), Barcelona (two million volumes), and Sevilla (777,000 volumes), Valladolid (500,000 volumes), and the public library in Toledo (with many imprints from the 15th to the 18th centuries) are among the most important collections. Spain also has 61 historical archives, among them the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla, with 60,000 volumes and files, and the archives of Simancas, with 86,000 volumes and files. In total, Spain's public library collection holds more than 32.8 million volumes. There are over 2,500 public libraries nationwide. In the province of Barcelona there are about 143 public libraries and 8 mobile services.

The Prado, in Madrid, with its extensive collection of Spanish art, is the most famous museum of Spain and one of the best in the world, featuring Picasso's world-famous Guernica. The National Archaeological Museum, also in Madrid, contains the prehistoric cave paintings of Altamira. The Museum of Modern Art, in Barcelona, houses excellent cubist and surrealist collections. There are also important art collections in the Escorial and Aranjuez palaces, near Madrid. Also in Madrid are the Museum of America, withartifacts from Spain's colonial holdings; the African Museum, with exhibits of many African cultures, especially Makonde art from Mozambique; and the Antiquities Collection of the Academy of History, founded in 1738, which houses Iberian and Visigoth artifacts, Islamic art, 4th century relics, including the Silver Dish of Theodosius, general European art, and 11th century documents. Barcelona also has the Museum of Ceramics, the Museum of Decorative Arts, a Picasso museum, the National Museum of Catalonian Art, and the Museum of Perfume. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by American architect Frank Gehry, opened in 1997 as a joint project of the Guggenheim Foundation and the Basque regional government. The innovative design of the 24,000-sq-m (257,000 sq-ft) metal-and-stone structure has won world-wide attention and acclaim.


The government owns, operates, or supervises all internal telephone, telegraph, and radio and television service. Postal and telegraph facilities are provided by the Mail and Telecommunications Service. The National Telephone Co. is an autonomous enterprise. In 2003, there were an estimated 434 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 909 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radio Television Espanola operates public radio and television broadcasts. There are hundreds of privately owned stations as well. In 2003, there were an estimated 330 radios and 564 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 24.3 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 196 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 239 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 2,837 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

There are about 100 daily papers published in Spain, but very few have a circulation exceeding 100,000. Sunday newspaper editions have become increasingly common, with circulations often double the weekday runs. English-language papers are now printed in Madrid and Palma de Mallorca. There are also over 3,000 magazines, bulletins, and journals. Formerly, the Falange published the newspapers in all provincial capitals and controlled some 35% of the total national circulation; censorship was obligatory. In 1966, a new press law abolished censorship but established stiff penalties for editors who published news "contrary to the principles of the national interest"; offending newspapers could be seized.

The leading Spanish dailies, with 2005 weekday circulations, include: El País (Madrid), 458,000; El Mundo (Madrid), 310,000; ABC (Madrid and Sevilla), 277,000; La Vanguardia (Barcelona), 202,000; El Periódico de Cataluña (Barcelona, published in both Spanish and Catalan), 172,000; El Correo (Bilbao), 126,000; and El Diario Vasco (San Sebastian), 90,000. Marca, a sports daily, was believed to be the most widely read paper in the country.

The 1978 constitution guarantees freedom of the press and the government is said to uphold this freedom in practice.


Under the Falangist system of corporate organization, all branches of society were required to participate in business and in agricultural or professional syndicates. Despite this system, cooperatives emerged in various sectors of Spanish society, among them agricultural, consumer, credit, industrial, maritime, fishing, rural, housing, and educational organizations. Chambers of commerce function in all provincial capitals, and there are numerous industrial and trade associations. The Association of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry is based in Barcelona. Trade and professional associations exist representing a broad range of occupations.

Cultural and educational organizations include the Royal Academy of Belles Lettres, the Scientific and Literary and Art Society, the Association of Spanish Artists and Sculptors, The Royal Society of Physics, Institute of Catalan Studies, and the Society of Natural Sciences.

National youth organizations include Christian Democratic Youth of Spain, Socialist Youth, Junior Chamber, a national students' union, the Counting Federation of Spain, Girl Guides, and chapters of YMCA/YWCA. There are sports associations representing a wide variety of pastimes.

National women's organizations include University Women of Spain and the National Council of Women in Spain. International organizations with national chapters include Save the Children, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and the Red Cross.


Many are attracted to the country by its accessibility, warm climate, beaches, and relatively low costs. Among the principal tourist attractions are Madrid, with its museums, the Escorial Palace, and the nearby Valley of the Fallen (dead in the civil war); Toledo, with its churches and its paintings by El Greco; the Emerald Coast around San Sebastián; the Costa Brava on the coast of Catalonia, north of Barcelona; Granada, with the Alhambra and the Generalife; Sevilla, with its cathedral and religious processions; and the Canary and Balearic islands.

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Spain, and many cities have large soccer stadiums; Spain was host to the World Cup competition in 1982. Barcelona was the site of the 1992 Summer Olympics, and in the same year, an International Exposition was held in Sevilla. Among traditional attractions are the bullfights, held in Madrid from April through October, and pelota, an indoor ball game in which spectators bet on the outcome.

Passports are required to enter Spain. Citizens of many countries, including the United States, may stay up to 90 days without a visa.

In 2003, tourist arrivals numbered 51,829,596 with tourist expenditure receipts of $46 billion. There were 740,747 hotel rooms, with 1,451,883 beds and an occupancy rate of 54%. Visitors stayed an average of four nights on their trips to Spain.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Madrid at $330; in Barcelona, $367; and other areas, $262.


The Hispanic-Roman epoch produced the philosopher and dramatist Marcus (or Lucius) Annaeus Seneca (54 bcad 39), while the Gothic period was marked by the encyclopedist Isidore of Seville (560?636), author of the Etymologies. Important Spanish thinkers of the Middle Ages included Averroës (Ibn Rushd, or Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd, 112698), philosopher; Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon, also known as the Rambam, 11351204), the great Jewish physician and philosopher; Benjamin de Tudela (d.1173), geographer and historian; King Alfonso X (the Wise, 1226?84), jurist, historian, musician, and astronomer; Juan Ruiz (1283?1351?), archpriest of Hita, the greatest Spanish medieval poet; and Fernando de Rojas (1475?1538?), a dramatic poet. El Cid (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, 1043?99) has become the national hero of Spain for his fight against the Moors, although he also fought for them at times.

The golden age of Spanish exploration and conquest began with the Catholic Sovereigns, Ferdinand (14521516) and Isabella (14511504), in the late 15th century. The first great explorer for Spain was Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo or Cristóbal Colón, 14511506), a seaman of Genoese birth but possibly of Judeo-Catalán origin, who made four voyages of discovery to the Americas, the first landing occurring on 12 October 1492 on the island of Guanahaní (probably on the island now called San Salvador) in the Bahamas. Among the later explorers, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1490?1557?), Hernando de Soto (d.1542), and Francisco Vázquez de Coronado (151054) became famous for their explorations in the southern and southwestern parts of the present US; Juan Ponce de León (1460?1521), for his travels in Florida; Vasco Núñez de Balboa (14751517), for his European discovery of the Pacific Ocean and claim of it for Spain; Francisco Pizarro (1470?1541), for his conquest of Peru; and Hernán Cortés (14851547) for his conquest of Mexico. Juan de la Costa (1460?1510) was a great cartographer of the period. Spanish power was at its greatest under Charles I (15001558), who was also Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. It began to decline under Philip II (152798).

In Spanish art, architecture, and literature, the great age was the 16th century and the early part of the 17th. Among the painters, El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos, b.Crete, 15411614), Lo Spagnoletto (Jusepe de Ribera, 1589?1652?), Francisco de Zurbarán (1598?1660), Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (15991660), and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (161782) were the leading figures. In architecture, Juan de Herrera (153097), the designer of the royal palace, monastery, and tomb of the Escorial, and the baroque architect José Churriguera (16501723) are among the most important names. In literature, the dramatists Lope Félix de Vega Carpio (15621635) and Pedro Calderón de la Barca (16001681) and the novelist Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra (15471616), author of Don Quixote, are immortal names. Other leading literary figures include the great poet Luis de Góngora y Argote (15611627), the satirist Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Villegas (15801645), and the playwrights Tirso de Molina (Gabriel Téllez, 1571?1648) and Mexican-born Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza (1580?1639). Outstanding personalities in the annals of the Roman Catholic Church are St. Ignatius de Loyola (Iñigo de Oñez y Loyola, 14911556), founder of the Jesuit order; St. Francis Xavier (Francisco Javier, 150652), Jesuit "apostle to the Indies"; and the great mystics St. Teresa of Ávila (Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, 151582) and St. John of the Cross (Juan de Yepes y Álvarez, 154291). The phenomenon of pulmonary blood circulation was discovered by Michael Servetus (Miguel Servet, 151153), a heretical theologian, while he was still a medical student.

The 16th century was also the golden age of Spanish music. Cristóbal de Morales (1500?53) and Tomás Luis de Vittoria (1549?1611) were the greatest Spanish masters of sacred vocal polyphony. Important composers include Luis Milán (1500?1565?), Antonio de Cabezón (151066), Alonso Mudarra (151080), and Miguel de Fuenllana. Juan Bermudo (1510?55?), Francisco de Salinas (151390), and Diego Ortiz (c.1525c.1570) were theorists of note. Two leading 18th-century composers in Spain were the Italians Domenico Scarlatti (16851757) and Luigi Boccherini (17431805). Padre Antonio Soler (172983) was strongly influenced by Scarlatti. Leading modern composers are Isaac Albéniz (18601909), Enrique Granados y Campina (18671916), Manuel du Falla (18761946), and Joaquín Turina (18821949). Worldfamous performers include the cellist and conductor Pablo Casals (18761973), the guitarist Andrés Segovia (18941987), operatic singers Victoria de los Angeles (Victoria Gómez Cima, 19232005), José Carreras (b.1946), and Placido Domingo (b.1941), and the pianist Alicia de Larrocha (b.1923).

Francisco Goya y Lucientes (17461828) was the outstanding Spanish painter and etcher of his time. Pablo Ruiz y Picasso (18811973) was perhaps the most powerful single influence on contemporary art; other major figures include Juan Gris (18871927), Joan Miró (18931983), and Salvador Dali (1904-89), who, like Picasso, spent most of his creative life outside Spain. The sculptor Julio González (18761942) was noted for his work in iron. A leading architect was Antonio Gaudí (18521926); an influential modern architect was José Luis Sert (190283), dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University for 16 years.

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (18641936) and José Ortega y Gasset (18831955) are highly regarded Spanish philosophers. Benito Pérez Galdos (18431920) was one of the greatest 19th-century novelists. Other Spanish novelists include Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (183391), Emilia Pardo Bazán (18521921), Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (18671928), Pío Baroja y Nessi (18721956), Ramón Pérez de Ayala (18801962), and Ramón José Sender (1902-82). Prominent dramatists include José Zorrilla y Moral (181793), José de Echegaray y Eizaguirre (18321916), and Jacinto Benavente y Martínez (18861954). The poets Juan Ramón Jiménez (18811958) and Vicente Aleixandre (190084) were winners of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1956 and 1977, respectively. Other outstanding poets are Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (183670), Antonio Machado Ruiz (18751939), Pedro Salinas (18911951), Jorge Guillén (18931984), Dámaso Alonso (18981990), Federico García Lorca (18991936), Luis Cernuda (190263), and José Angel Valente (19292000). Ramón María del Valle-Inclán (18661936) was a novelist, dramatist, poet, and essayist. A noted novelist, essayist, and critic was Azorín (José Martínez Ruiz, 18761967). Salvador de Madariaga y Rojo (18861978) was an important cultural historian and former diplomat. Luis Buñuel (190083), who also lived in Mexico, was one of the world's leading film directors. Pedro Almodóvar (b.1951) is a contemporary film director, and Antonio Banderas (b.1960) is a Spanish film actor who has had success in Hollywood.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal (18521934), histologist, was awarded the first Nobel Prize for medicine in 1906. The physicians Gregorio Marañón (18871960) and Pedro Laín Entralgo (19082001) were scholars and humanists of distinction. Juan de la Cierva y Codorniu (18961937) invented the autogyro. Severo Ochoa (190593), who lived in the United States, won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1959.

Francisco Franco (18921975), the leader of the right-wing insurgency that led to the Spanish Civil War (193639), was chief of state during 193947 and lifetime regent of the Spanish monarchy after 1947. After Franco's death, King Juan Carlos I (b.1938) guided Spain through the transitional period between dictatorship and democracy.


Spanish "places of sovereignty" on the North African shore, which are part of metropolitan Spain subject to special statutes owing to their location, include Alborán Island (at 35°56 n and 3°2 w), Islas de Alhucemas (at 35°13 n and 3°52 w), Islas Chafarinas (at 35°10 n and 2°26 w), and Perejil (at 35°54 n and 5°25 w). The two major places of sovereignty are Ceuta and Melilla. Ceuta (19 sq km/7.3 sq mi; population 71,403 in 1993) is a fortified port on the Moroccan coast opposite Gibraltar. Melilla (12.3 sq km/4.7 sq mi; resident population 55,613 in 1993), on a rocky promontory on the Rif coast, is connected with the African mainland by a narrow isthmus. Melilla has been Spanish since 1496; Ceuta since 1580. Since 1956, Morocco has repeatedly advanced claims to these areas. Under the 1978 constitution, Ceuta and Melilla are represented in the Cortes by one deputy and two senators each.


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Kingdom of Spain

Major Cities:
Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Bilbao, Valencia, Málaga, Saragossa

Other Cities:
Badajoz, Badalona, Burgos, Cádiz, Cartagena, Castellón de la Plana, Córdoba, Gijón, Granada, La Coruña, León, Logroño, Murcia, Oviedo, Pamplona, Salamanca, San Sebastián, Santander, Toledo, Valladolid, Vigo, Zamora


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated February 1997. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


SPAIN , after nearly four decades of dictatorship, is now enjoying an official parliamentary democracy under the leadership of King Juan Carlos I, who acceded to the long-vacant throne in 1975. Serious political disputes have arisen in the ensuing years, and continuing tension in the Basque region has threatened national stability, but basic freedoms are guaranteed and the general popularity of the government is a recognized fact.

1992 was a banner year for Spain. The summer Olympics were held in Barcelona; Expo '92, a world's fair, took place in Seville, and Madrid was designated the cultural capital of Europe for 1992. Nationwide observances marked the 500th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America and the contributions of Jewish and Arab cultures to Spain were celebrated.

Ernest Hemingway described Spain as "the country I love most, after my own." The timeless beauty of the land is reflected best in its architectural monuments built by the many civilizations that have formed its history. Spain's musical heritage has always been important to its people, from the classical composers to folk music and the distinctive flamenco tradition. Spaniards, despite their centralized government, display great regional diversity, and cling to the customs which have given them a unique quality among their European neighbors.



Madrid, the capital of Spain, is in the center of the Iberian Peninsula at an elevation of 2,150 feet. The city sits on a large plateau bordered by the distant mountain peaks of the Sierras of Guadarrama and Gredos and by the mountains of Toledo. Madrid is located in the northern part of the region of Castile La Mancha (also known as New Castile)the territory of Spain inhabited by the fictional Don Quixote of Miguel de Cervantes. The plateau region is high and dry, and the soil is rocky and sandy. A short distance from Madrid, the topography changes: The valleys become greener and the soil more fertile. The topography of Madrid and its environs resembles the foothill regions of the Rocky Mountains at about the same altitude as Salt Lake City. The current population is almost 2.9 million.

A modern and cosmopolitan city, Madrid is the seat of Spanish culture and tradition. Characterized today by tall, modern buildings and wide, traffic-filled boulevards, the city still retains some of its history in the old buildings and narrow streets of the central section.

For a city of its size, Madrid has few large industries. The Spanish Government is the largest single employer. The trucking industry, local construction companies, and various light manufacturing firms are major local employers.

As the seat of government and the location of the head offices of most of the country's businesses, Madrid has a large number of administrative and clerical workers. The general level of education in the city is high.

Madrid has a large community of foreign residents. About 30,000 Americans are registered with U.S. consulates throughout Spain, the largest group of whom live in Madrid. Most are permanent residents. About 700 American employees and family members comprise the U.S. Mission. A large number of American tourists visit Spain, but most do not register with the U.S. Embassy. April through November is the busiest tourist season.


Fresh food is plentiful and the variety is excellent in Spain. Meat and poultry, fish and shellfish, cheese and other dairy products, and fresh fruits and vegetablesboth domestically grown and importedare of high quality and, in some cases, priced lower than in Washington, D.C. Fresh food markets are scattered around the city. There are large and small supermarkets and small family-run grocery stores everywhere.


As in most capitals of Europe and large, cosmopolitan U.S. cities, public appearance is very important to the Madrilenos, many of whom dress with care even for their daily shopping expeditions. At the same time, casual wear is as varied on the streets of Madrid as in any large city, and tailored jeans are the preferred mode of dress of many Madrilenos, especially young people. Madrilenos are highly fashion conscious, as the abundance of international and local designer shops in Madrid's better shopping areas demonstrates. Both winter and summer office clothing worn in Washington, D.C., is appropriate in Madrid, although dark colors tend to prevail here. In summer, sport shorts are worn primarily at the beach and are rarely seen on the streets.

Good-quality ready-made clothing for the entire family is available locally, but at higher prices than in the U.S. Handsome Spanish-made leather shoes and boots for both women and men are also available in most standard sizes at prices comparable to those in the U.S.

Men: Suits and conservative sports coats and dark slacks are acceptable business attire for men. Men wear dark business suits for evening entertainment.

Women: Women wear tailored suits and dresses interchangeably during the day, both in offices and on the street. Skirt lengths are fashionable and a matter of personal preference. In the evenings, business suits and conservative dresses are worn. Long dresses are uncommon except at a few formal functions. Quality nylon stockings and pantyhose are best purchased in the U.S. Excellent quality women's accessories, such as leather handbags and gloves, can also be purchased locally.

Children: Children's play clothes available in Madrid stores are attractive but prohibitively expensive.

Supplies and Services

A wide variety (and most international brands) of toiletries and cosmetics are sold locally but are more expensive than in the U.S. Individuals who prefer particular brands should bring a good supply of them or be prepared to pay the slightly higher European prices.

Many home medicines and drugs are available in a European or Spanish equivalent in local pharmacies, and in some cases under brand names familiar to Americans as well. Most first-aid necessities and other basic home remedy items (aspirin, vitamins, cold medicines) are sold throughout the city.

Tailoring and dressmaking shops are found in most locations throughout the city. Home service is available. As everywhere, quality is usually commensurate with price. The city has many boutiques where high-fashion clothing for men and women is available. Prices are usually higher than in the U.S.

Local laundries are expensive, and delivery time can be lengthy. Local dry-cleaning is good and available everywhere. Prices are high, about 50% more than in the U.S. Cleaning usually takes 2 or 3 days with an extra charge for express service.

Shoe repair in Madrid is good and reasonably priced. Hairdressers for men and women are numerous and excellent, and, as in big cities everywhere, prices range from reasonable to very expensive.

Religious Activities

Catholic churches are found throughout the city, in almost all neighborhoods. Houses of worship that offer services in English include Catholic churches, several Protestant churches, a Jewish synagogue, and a mosque.


The American School of Madrid (ASM) is a coeducational day school providing instruction in English at preschool, kindergarten, primary, and secondary levels. Spanish language classes are offered at all levels. ASM offers Advanced Placement courses and is currently in the process of becoming affiliated with the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, with the intention of offering the full IB diploma beginning September 1995. ASM is located in Pozuelo de Alarcon, a residential suburb on the west side of Madrid. Morning and afternoon buses transport students. Curriculum and teaching methods follow the American pattern; the school is accredited to the Middle States Association, and transfer credits are readily accepted by U.S. schools.

Many of the 600 students at ASM are children of American business-people in Madrid. Spanish students and students of other nationalities also attend. Boarding facilities are not provided.

ASM requires copies of a prospective student's academic record from the past 3 school years and reports of recent standardized test scores. Once these are received by the school, the final application process can begin. For further information, contact the Office of Admissions, American School of Madrid (international telephone 341-357-2154, fax 341-358-2678). The American School of Madrid's mailing address is Apartado 80, 28020 Madrid.

In addition to ASM, several British-run schools in Madrid offer instruction in English following the British educational system.

Many neighborhood nursery schools are available, including a number of British schools. The International Primary School offers a curriculum based on American and British study programs for children from nursery school through grade 6. Madrid also has a Montessori school and educational opportunities for children with learning disabilities. There are also German, French, and Italian schools in Madrid.

Spanish elementary and secondary education is directed by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. Under the educational reform law of 1970, a more flexible system theoretically gives each student the right to advance according to ability. Primary school, called Educacion General Basica, is obligatory and consists of 8 years of schooling from ages 6 to 13. High school, Bachillerato, is 3 years of schooling from 14 to 16 years of age. Those students desiring a technical education go directly from Educacion General Basica to technical schools. For students going on to universities, 1 year of pre-university education (Curso de Orientacion Universitaria) is required. Public primary and secondary schools are few; many parents send their children to private schools. A number of Catholic religious orders run private schools in Madrid. Both public and private school instruction is in Spanish; American students who are not fully fluent in Spanish may experience difficulties.

Special Educational Opportunities

To make the most of a stay in Spain, knowledge of Spanish is essential. Good private tutoring and language schools are available.

English-language courses in Spanish history and art are available. Most Spanish universities offer Spanish-language summer courses for foreigners in Spanish language, history, literature, and culture. The Complutense University of Madrid offers such courses all year long. Tuition costs are reasonable.


Madrid and its suburbs offer limited opportunities for sports comparable to those of other major cities. Golf, tennis, swimming, shooting, horseback riding, and skiing are available, mostly in private clubs.

A number of clubs provide tennis, squash, golf, and swimming. Most are expensive by U.S. standards. The most exclusive club is the Real Club Puerta de Hierro, which has a 27-hole golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool, riding stables, and a polo field. The attractive clubhouse offers bar and dining service, a large club room, and some living quarters. The club is accessible only by car. The Ciudad Deportiva del Real Madrid Club de Futbol y Tenis offers excellent tennis and swimming facilities. This club also sponsors the Real Madrid soccer team. Monthly dues and hourly rates are substantial. Memberships are individual; family members must pay guest rates.

A small shooting club, the Sociedad Tiro de Pichon, is close to Madrid and is popular with skeet and target shooting enthusiasts. Fees are prohibitive.

The most popular Spanish spectator sports are basketball and soccer. Bullfighting is considered more art and culture than pure sport but is extremely popular throughout Spain. Other spectator sports worthy of note are motor sports and cycling, horse racing, and jai alai, a game held to be Basque in origin.

Running is a sport with a growing number of Spanish enthusiasts, although Madrid's chronic traffic and parking problems do not lend themselves to recreational jogging along city streets.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Commercial sight-seeing tours to nearby places of interest are available daily.

Spain's Royal Automobile Club (RACE) has the best information and maps for motoring trips in Spain. The club provides service to members of the U.S. AAA without payment of additional fees. RACE fees are nominal.

From Madrid there are numerous historic and picturesque towns and villages to visit that make interesting weekend or day trips. Spain also offers Paradors, a chain of state-owned hotels, many housed in historic monasteries, castles, and other enticing settings.

A number of locations on the city's outskirts offer riding. The mountains north of Madrid offer mountain climbing and hiking. Several Spanish clubs organize climbs and maintain mountain huts. Serious climbers should bring equipment.

Excellent facilities can be found for fishing (trout, salmon, black bass, and great northern pike) and hunting (partridge, duck, hare, wild boar, deer, rabbit, and mountain goat). The Spanish fish with wet flies much more than dry and also use spoons and spinners. Suitable equipment can be obtained locally. Nylon filament fly lines are available locally, but bring tapered line from the U.S. European reels are less expensive than in the U.S.

Most shotguns on the local market are double barreled, either side by side or over and under. Good-quality Spanish shotguns are inexpensive. Excellent quality shotguns made by world-famous Spanish gunsmiths are sold but are not available at bargain prices.

Inexpensive bus and train service is available in season to ski areas in the Guadarrama mountains north of Madrid (about an hour's drive). Other excellent ski resorts can be found in Aragon, the Pyrenees, and the Sierra Nevada chain in the south. Ski equipment can be rented at most Spanish resorts, but quality varies. Ski equipment, boots, and clothing can be bought in Madrid, but all good-quality equipment and clothing are imported and expensive.


Madrid movie houses show Spanish, American, and other foreign films. While the majority of foreign films are dubbed with a Spanish soundtrack, many are also shown in the original language, or "version original."

Madrid has a lively theater scene. Productions of the Madrid theaters are quite good, and Spanish literature aficionados will discover a constant reviving and staging of the classics.

During the season, there are several subscription concert series in Madrid's new concert hall complex, including weekly concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra of Spain. Several chamber music groups give concerts during the winter and spring season. The opera season is January through July. Season tickets to the opera are so scarce that, in recent years, they have been distributed through a lottery. Despite the scarcity of tickets and the enormous popularity of opera, the most expensive tickets for individual performances are often available at the box office just before performance time. Madrid is a frequent stop on the tour itineraries of most well-known international performing arts groups, and the calendar is filled throughout the year, especially during the summer and during Madrid's Autumn Festival.

Restaurants are plentiful and varied in every price range. Several restaurant/clubs feature "tablao flamenco" with flamenco dancing and singing.

Historical sights and museums provide almost endless diversion. The world-famous Prado Museum is considered one of the finest painting galleries in the world and features works by the best Spanish painters as well as by artists of the most important foreign schools, particularly Italian and Flemish, from the 14th to 19th centuries. Spanish painting from the 19th century can be seen at Prado Annex, El Cason del Buen Retiro.

The renowned Thyssen-Bornemisza collection of art is now housed in the restored Villahermosa Palace near the Prado. This formerly private collection, now the property of Spain, contains masterpieces from 500 years of Western art, including one of Europe's best sampling of American painting of the 19th and 20th centuries. Nearby is the Reina Sofia Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses a permanent collection of Spain's modern masters, including Picasso's famous work "Guernica."

Other fine museums are the homes of Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and the painter Sorolla; the Archaeological Museum; the Romantic Museum; the Museum of Decorative Art; the Lazaro Galdiano Museum; Cerralbo, the Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan; the Museum Las Descalzas Reales; the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts; the Municipal Museum; and the Royal Tapestry Factory.

Madrid and the surrounding cities make excellent subjects for photographers. Holy Week processions are held in many Spanish towns, but those in Seville are noted for their color, brilliance, and religious enthusiasm. The Spring Fair in Seville in April has festivities that last almost a week. During this period, however, Seville is very crowded, and lodgings are expensive and hard to find.

One of Spain's most popular fiestas is held in Valencia, March 17-19. Large allegorical wood and papier-mache sculptures known as "fallas" are built in the streets. Prizes are awarded to those judged best. At the end of the fair, on the night of March 19, the sculptures are burned in huge bonfires to the accompaniment of spectacular fireworks. The Fair of San Fermin in Pamplona, July 6-12, is famous. It is here that young men run through the streets chased by fighting bulls.

Madrid has a number of "verbenas" (carnivals) held in the open in specially designated locations. The feast of St. Anthony takes place on June 13; others are the Verbena de Paloma and the Verbena de la Carmen. Each carnival is devoted to a different saint and district. The festivals are popular with Spaniards and provide interesting entertainment. Local fairs take place in many towns on special feast days, and most include dances and bull fights.

Social Activities

Social activities in Madrid tend to be defined by fluency in Spanish. Clearly, persons with an ease of fluency will make Spanish friends more easily among their neighbors and professional contacts. Madrid has an American Club composed of resident Americans and Spaniards and third-country business representatives and professionals. The club holds luncheons with speakers, round tables, dances, theater nights, and other events.

As an international city, Madrid is composed of people of all nationalities, so many opportunities are available to meet other foreign nationals. Sporting clubs, cultural and business groups, and various other associations offer opportunities to establish international contacts.


Barcelona was founded by the Carthaginians in about 680 B.C. It is Spain's second largest city, with a population of nearly 1.5 million (it claims first place in terms of metropolitan area population and is one of the world's most densely populated cities). It also is the country's leading industrial trade center, and the largest port. A referendum in 1979 approved Spanish and Catalan as Catalonia's official languages. Most inhabitants of Catalonia understand and speak both languages, but the regional government has been increasing the use of Catalan, which had been banned from official use and in the schools for 40 years under Franco.

Situated on a plain between the Llobregat and Besós Rivers, and lying between the mountains and the sea, Barcelona's climate is temperate and usually pleasant, although relatively high humidity makes the warm summer and cold winter days more pronounced. Winter and early spring months often bring heavy rainfall, but snow and freezing temperatures are rare.

Barcelona is Spain's cultural center. It is a modern, beautiful city, with new buildings, broad avenues, and bustling traffic. The old city has narrow, winding streets, where some Roman walls are still visible. There are many historic landmarks, including the Cathedral of Santa Aulalia (built in the 14th and 15th centuries), the city hall, and the Lonja (exchange).

There are more than 8,000 registered Americans in the district. American tourism is heavy, particularly during summer.


Many good schools are available in the Barcelona area; however, in most of them, instruction is in Spanish and Catalan, and students must be fluent in these languages. In higher grades, a curriculum very different from that in the U.S. is followed. Entry may be complicated by difficulty in validating previous study for acceptance in the Spanish system. Most American children attend the Benjamin Franklin International School, the American School of Barcelona, the Kensington School, the Anglo-American School, or St. Peter's School.

The Benjamin Franklin International School, established in September 1986, provides an American education for students aged three through 18 years. Students are prepared to continue their studies in both Spanish and/or American universities. The current enrollment is 280; one-third are American.

The school is a nonprofit organization governed by a board of trustees and a board of governors and is affiliated with the European Council of International Schools and the State Department Office of Overseas Schools among others. It receives consulting services from the Superintendent of the Unified School District of Carmel, CA, and from the Director or ASM.

The school uses advanced North American educational techniques, modern U.S. textbooks, audiovisual support systems, and special educational materials. The director and most of the teaching staff are American, with the exception of those teaching subjects requiring foreign national teachers. Facilities include a 5,000-volume library, science and computer labs, and an art room. Ninety percent of its graduates go on to attend college.

American School of Barcelona, established in 1962, provides an education from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Incorporated in the State of Delaware, the school is a nonprofit, coeducational institution operated by an elected board of governors. An officer of the U.S. Consulate General here serves on the board. The principal, 50% of the faculty, textbooks, and curriculum are American. An additional 30% of the faculty are native English speakers; the remaining 20% are Spanish nationals who teach selected Spanish curriculum classes. In addition to normal academic subjects, Spanish, Catalan, music, art, and physical education are taught at all levels. Sports include baseball, basketball, soccer, and volleyball. Ceramics, art, choral, and computer classes are offered as extracurricular activities. Students are given yearly achievement tests, and seniors interested in university studies in the U.S. are given the college entrance examination and advanced placement tests. Ninety percent of graduates attend college. The current enrollment is 400. American School's mailing address is: Pasaje Font del Lleo, s/n, Barcelona.

The Kensington School, founded in 1966, is a privately owned, coeducational school which offers a British public school academic program for children aged five through 18. The school administers the college entrance examination and advanced placement tests to students interested in a U.S. university education. French and Spanish are taught as foreign languages, beginning at age 10. Laboratories and athletic facilities are available. Bus service is provided for a fee.

The Anglo-American School, located at Castelldefels, a small coastal resort about 10 miles from Barcelona, is a coeducational, international school which provides instruction in English from kindergarten through the ninth grade. The school, which follows the British educational system, was founded in 1956. Spanish is taught as a foreign language. Bus service is provided. The mailing address is: Paseo de Barbi 152, Castelldefels Playa, Barcelona.

St. Peter's School, a privately owned, coeducational academy established in 1964, provides instruction from the nursery school level through age 14, or the equivalent of ninth grade. Following the British educational system, all classes are taught in English, with instruction in Spanish as a foreign language until age 11. After that time, all classes are in Spanish, with English as a foreign language. Bus service is available; uniforms are compulsory.

In addition, several other schools are popular in the American community, particularly those for younger children, although they do not provide instruction in English. Among them are St. Paul's, and the French, German, and Swiss schools.

Private language lessons in Spanish and Catalan are offered by the Institute of North American Studies and other private schools. The University of Barcelona offers a popular course for foreigners which begins in October and consists of classes in the language, history, and culture of Spain.

Recreation and Entertainment

Barcelona has a broad historic and cultural tradition. Impressive museums and ecclesiastical structures are found throughout the city, particularly in the old town, and the artistic and architectural heritage of Catalonia is distinct. The Jewish quarter of Girona flourishes here. Barcelona and its environs offer many opportunities for an active sports life. Golf, tennis, swimming, water-skiing, sailing, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and winter sports are found in the city or within a few hours' drive.

Many opportunities are available in the area for weekend tours and sight-seeing activities. The area has large amusement parks on Mont-juich and Tibidabo, the hills which cradle the city. Montjuich was the site of the 1929 World's Fair.

Barcelona offers a variety of fine entertainment, including opera, ballet, and many excellent concerts. Local theaters present plays, light opera, and musical comedy. Motion pictures are popular, but most films are dubbed in Spanish. The Institute of North American Studies offers a movie in English occasionally, as well as many other fine artistic and musical presentations. Many interesting local festivals, both religious and secular, are held throughout the year. The Gothic Quarter is well known for its small, narrow, winding streets and picturesque shops.

Americans can join many clubs in Barcelona. Among the most active is the American Women's Club which sponsors a number of social events. The American Society of Barcelona was founded in 1974. An active Navy League chapter exists here.


Greater Seville (population 701,000) is the largest and most important city in Andalucía, Spain's richest agricultural region. Its history spans many centuries, beginning with colonization by the Phoenicians through occupation by the Romans (third century B.C.), Vandals (fifth century), Visigoths (sixth century), and Arabs (eighth century). The Moorish occupation ended in 1248 when the city was taken for the emerging modern Spanish nation by King Ferdinard II of Castile.

During the colonial period of the Americas, Seville had a monopoly on New World trade and was the center of the intellectual and economic life of Spain. Today, even centuries after the Christian conquest of Seville, the city reflects a harmonious blend of Western European and Middle Eastern cultural patterns and bloodlines.

The central city is characterized by tiny plazas and narrow, winding streets. Some streets in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, a quarter where the Moorish and Jewish residents were forced to live after the reconquest, can be traversed only by foot or horse cart. In that picturesque area, preserved as a national monument, one finds the more "typical" Sevillian atmosphere, where most homes and shops are fitted with elaborate wrought iron gates and windows that look into patios filled with potted flowers and ferns. Elsewhere, public parks and gardens enhance the city's array of massive architectural forms.

Seville lies on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, 35 miles from its mouth on the Atlantic Ocean, and 26 feet above sea level. It has been an important commercial port for centuries, and is the country's only inland harbor for oceangoing vessels.

The city is the site of one of the finest educational institutions in Spain, the University of Seville, whose courses in literature, history, and Spanish-American relations are of special interest.

Seville is not a city of foreign colonies. Practically no American business community exists here, although American firms are well represented by local Spanish agents.

The climate is hot and dry in summer, pleasant in spring and fall, and damp and chilly in winter. From June to September, the temperature often exceeds 100°F and, on winter nights, sometimes fall below freezing. Temperatures can vary as much as 20 degrees between day and night.


Good private schools are available in Seville for Spanish-speaking children from kindergarten through high school. Some children are enrolled in local private schools; however, Americans are experiencing difficulty registering in the better schools as demand for enrollment exceeds space. Some parents have found that Spanish public schools do not provide adequate individual attention, since classes tend to be large (40 to 50 students).

The University of Seville is one of the finest in Spain and offers a wide variety of liberal arts and professional programs. The courses in Spanish literature, history, and Spanish-American history and relations are of particular interest. An American liberal arts junior college, Columbus International, operates in Seville. The city has several English-language reading centers which charge nominal membership fees. English-language books are available in the main bookstores.

Recreation and Entertainment

Among the outstanding buildings in Seville are the great Gothic cathedral, third largest in the Christian world, with its famed Moorish-Spanish bell tower, La Giralda; the Alcázar, Moorish royal palace; the Royal Tobacco Factory, made world famous through Bizet's opera Carmen, and now used to house part of the University of Seville; and the Archives of the Indies, where the most important documents relating to the discovery and colonization of the Americas and the Philippines are preserved.

Southern Spain offers many interesting places to visit on weekends. The beaches along the Atlantic Coast can be reached by car in less than two hours. The internationally popular resorts of the Costa del Sol are about three to four hours away by car. The ski slopes of Granada can be reached by a four-hour car trip. In addition, many small towns and cities of Andalucía are rich with history of the Moorish occupation and the colonization of the New World. Most highways are adequate.

Tennis, swimming, hunting, and horseback riding are the main sports in Seville, but facilities are available only under the auspices of one of the sports clubs.

Seville has many good movie houses offering current U.S. and European films dubbed in Spanish. During winter and spring, cultural events include concerts, plays, and dance recitals. The city sponsors several cultural festivals during the year which offer fine entertainment at reasonable prices. Sevillian cultural life, however, centers on the family and church, and the city can be best described as quiet, charming, and somewhat provincial.

Several discotheques and nightclubs in Seville offer modern and flamenco dancing. Bullfights and soccer (fútbol ) are extremely popular, and the local sporting events are first-quality.

Seville has five radio stations and two television channels. U.S. TV sets must be converted to European standards.

Holy Week processions are held in many Spanish towns, but those in Seville are noted for their color and religious enthusiasm. The Holy Week ceremonies (ferias mayores ) are characterized by processions of robed and hooded members of the city's numerous religious brotherhoods, accompanied by elaborate religious floats carried by teams of stevedores.

During these periods, the city is crowded, lodgings are hard to find, and prices are double or higher.

Within two weeks of Holy Week, the annual April Fair (Feria de Abril ) is celebrated. It consists of six days of festivities, including daily horse parades, a trade fair, a carnival, a number of circuses, a series of bull-fights, and dancing and socializing in casetas (small houses) until early morning.

Seville has an American Women's Club composed of both Spanish and American members. The club devotes itself to fund raising and charitable works as well as to luncheons, tours, and other activities.


Bilbao, capital of the Province of Vizcaya, has a population of 354,000; inclusion of the adjacent metropolitan area brings that figure to almost one million. Bilbao is in the narrow Nervión River valley, about 10 miles inland from the Bay of Biscay. In many ways, it resembles comparable industrial cities in mountainous areas of the U.S., such as Pittsburgh, with the added charm of "old Bilbao" and its crowded, maze-like siete calles.

Bilbao's latitude is roughly that of Boston, but moist winds off the bay bring relatively cool summers and mild winters with mostly above-freezing temperatures. Rainfall averages 55 inches a year. Because of temperature inversion and smoke from the factories, the skies are frequently overcast, and air pollution is recognized as a serious problem.

Bilbao is the largest city in Euzkadi, or Basque, country. Ethnically, culturally, and linguistically, the Basques consider themselves distinct from the rest of Spain. Their origins are unknown and, unlike other Spaniards, they were barely influenced by the Romans, and unconquered by the Moors. It is believed that they may be descendants of a late Paleolithic civilization. They are generally a serious, hard-working, religious people with close family ties. Although only a small portion of the urban population still speaks the ancient tongue, most Basques proudly maintain their individuality.


Bilbao has a number of private colegios (schools providing education through high school) operated by Catholic religious orders. Instruction is in Spanish, which means a difficult adjustment for an American child without a good knowledge of the language. A summer or semester of intensive Spanish tutoring privately, or at the small Berlitz school in Bilbao should prepare an American child for this educational experience. Colegios are not coeducational. The school year follows the U.S. academic schedule.

The American School of Bilbao, in the suburb of Berango, offers an American curriculum in English from kindergarten through eighth grade. Organized by the American community in 1967 as a nonprofit coeducational institution, the school now seeks the majority of its students from the local community, since several large American firms have left the Bilbao area. Currently most of the 266 students are Spanish. The principal is American and teachers are qualified English-speaking instructors. Bus service is provided. A parent-teacher organization organizes activities. The U.S. State Department provides a small subsidy to the school. The mailing address is: Apartado 38, Las Arenas, Vizcaya.

Gaztelueta, near Las Arenas, is one of the better private Spanish-language boys' schools. It offers many extras, such as sports and music, as well as a sound education along lines of the Spanish bachillerato, including instruction in English.

Girls may attend the Irish Nuns School in Lejona. The school offers the Spanish bachillerato and instruction is in Spanish. Normally a waiting list precedes admission.

Students with adequate language preparation may be interested in the French and German schools. The Instituto Francés offers the bachillerato elemental for boys and girls in Spanish and French. The German School, also coeducational, offers a secondary education in German, as well as the Spanish bachillerato in Spanish and German.

The school day in Spanish schools starts about 9 a.m. and ends between 6 and 7 p.m. American textbooks and correspondence study programs can be used to supplement studies at a colegio. Nearly all private schools offer bus transportation and organized athletic programs.

Two universities are located in Bilbao: the prestigious Jesuit-run University of Deusto which has commercial, law, philosophy, and science faculties and an institute of language studies; and the newer (1980) University of the Basque Country, which combines older, well-known faculties of economics and engineering of the former University of Bilbao, with newer faculties on a campus in the suburb of Lejona. To enroll in Spanish universities, students coming from the U.S. will need various documents, some of which should be validated at the Spanish Embassy or a consulate in the U.S.

Interested adults can take lessons in Spanish cooking, decoration, crafts, and literature.

Some universities offer summer courses for foreigners, including the prestigious Summer University of Menendez Pelayo in Santander. Private tutors are available to give Spanish-language classes, but at a high price. Several good art schools and galleries are available for painting enthusiasts.

Recreation and Entertainment

Bilbao has limited sports facilities. Opportunities for golf, tennis, and swimming are available, but the climate does not lend itself easily to a great deal of outdoor activity. The city has a riding stable and boat mooring facilities. Spectator events include soccer, jai alai, and bull-fights in summer.

Skiing is good in the French Pyrenees, and both Spanish and French ski resorts are within a four-to-six hour drive. Candanchu, Formigal, and Baqueira-Beret are Spanish resorts similar to U.S. ski areas. Smaller, less expensive ski areas are within a two-hour drive at La Rioja, Santander, and Burgos.

Hiking and mountain climbing are popular sports with the Basques, and many clubs promote weekend and longer trips.

Inland fishing for trout and salmon is popular, especially in Oviedo and Santander. In season, some hunting is possible for birds, small game, and even an occasional wild boar.

The Bay of Biscay provides opportunities for swimming and boating, although possibilities for sailing and water-skiing are limited. Several beaches may be reached within 15 to 25 miles of Bilbao. Since most, however, are near polluted rivers and streams, few are completely safe for swimming. A favorite swimming spot of resident Americans is the extensive beach area of Laredo in the Province of Cantabria, 75 miles from Bilbao. A number of Bilbao residents have bought new summer condominium apartments on the Laredo shoreline. Sea-fishing enthusiasts can join a yachting club in Legueitio, 37 miles from Bilbao.

Bilbao has many movie theaters. All foreign films are dubbed in Spanish. Spanish plays and musical comedies are presented at fiesta time. Concerts are held during late fall, winter, and early spring. The Bilbao Symphony Orchestra and the new Euskadi Symphony Orchestra, based in San Sebastián, offer regular concert series. The Philharmonic Society, Conciertos Arriaga, and the Bank of Bilbao sponsor top-quality visiting artists.

After the Semana Grande in late August, Bilbao has a brief season of zarzuela (Spanish operetta) and opera. The Opera Society offers a cycle of six operas featuring world-renowned artists. Choral music is a local specialty offering frequent concerts and occasional visits by internationally known choral groups. The Sociedad Coral de Bilbao offers high-quality performances and welcomes foreigners.

The American community in Bilbao is small, and few special activities are organized for Americans. The American International Women's Club meets once each month and organizes charitable, social, and cultural activities. The American School of Bilbao Parent-Teacher Organization sponsors frequent social events.


The picturesque city of Valencia is located in eastern Spain on the Turia River, 175 miles east of Madrid. With a population of about 739,000, Valencia is Spain's third largest city. Situated in a fertile garden region near its busy Mediterranean port of El Grao on the Gulf of Valencia, Valencia is an important industrial and commercial center. Textiles, metal products, chemicals, furniture, and azulejos (colored tiles) are produced here.

Historically, Valencia was a Roman city as early as the second century B.C. It belonged to the Moors from the eighth through the 13th century. The legendary El Cid, Spanish conqueror and national hero, ruled the city from 1094 to 1099. Valencia was taken by James I of Aragón in 1238, and then rose to a cultural and intellectual importance rivaling that of Barcelona. The university was founded in 1501 and, during that century, Valencia achieved scholarly and literary eminence.

Today, Valencia is a popular winter resort, surrounded by fragrant orange groves. The old part of the city features blue-tiled church domes and narrow streets, while the modern section has tree-lined avenues and promenades. Landmarks include La Seo (a cathedral built in the 13th to 15th centuries) and its Gothic bell tower; the Torres de Serranos, 14th-century fortified towers built on Roman foundations; La Lonja, the Gothic silk exchange; and the Renaissance palace of justice. There is also a superb art gallery in the Convento de Pio V.

One of Spain's most popular fiestas is held in Valencia from March 17 through March 19. Large allegorical wood and papier-mâchésculptures known as fallas are built in the streets, with prizes awarded to the best. At the end of the fair, on the night of March 19, the sculptures are burned in huge bonfires to the accompaniment of a stupendous fireworks display.


Málaga, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, lies on the fabulous Costa del Sol in southern Spain. Situated on the Bay of Málaga, it is one of the most important ports on the Spanish Mediterranean; from here, major exports are made of wine, olive oil, and almonds. The sweet Málaga wine produced in the surrounding region is known worldwide. Málaga's mild climate and beautiful beaches, make it one of Andalucía's busiest and most popular resorts.

The city was founded in the 12th century B.C. by the Phoenicians, and later belonged to the Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. It became an important seaport for the kingdom of Granada in the 13th century, falling to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in 1487. Early in the 19th century, the city was briefly under French occupation.

Today, Málaga has a population of 532,000. The city is mostly modern, but also has several historic buildings, including a 16th-century cathedral, a citadel, and the ruins of a Moorish fortified castle.


The leading city of the Aragón region is Saragossa (in Spanish, Zaragoza). Located in northeast Spain, 185 miles from Madrid, Saragossa has a population of 605,000, making it the fifth largest city in the country. Situated in a fertile, irrigated agricultural region, it is an important commercial and communications center that manufactures wood products, foodstuffs, and paper.

An early Roman city, Saragossa was originally named Caesarea Augusta by Emperor Augustus. The Goths conquered the city in the fifth century, and Moorish forces took it in the eighth century. The Moors defeated Charlemagne in his bid to gain control of Saragossa in 778. Alfonso I of Aragón conquered the city in 1118 and made it the capital of his kingdom. Later, in the 19th century, Saragossa played an important role in the Peninsular War.

Today, the city is a cultural center rich in Moorish-influenced art. Its university, founded in 1533, now has nearly 35,000 students. Landmarks include two cathedralsLa Seo, built in the 12th through 16th centuries and formerly a mosque; and El Pilar (built in the 17th century), containing frescoes by Antonio Velazquez (1723-1794) and Francisco Joséde Goya (1746-1828).


Situated in a fertile agricultural region, BADAJOZ has a population of 136,000. Located in southwestern Spain near the Portuguese border, Badajoz is 200 miles from Madrid. Food processing is the main industry here; the city is also actively involved in trade with Portugal. Historically, Badajoz was a fortress city that came to prominence in the 11th century as the seat of the Moorish empire. Badajoz's numerous attacks through the centuries were the reason for its strong fortifications. Landmarks in the city include a 13th-century cathedral and the ruins of a Moorish citadel.

BADALONA is a northeastern suburb of Barcelona, located five miles outside the city on the Mediterranean. This industrial center's estimated 209,000 residents are employed in chemical, textile, leather goods, and liquor manufacture. Limited agricultural processing is also conducted. The 15th-century monastery of San Jerónimo de la Murtra is the city's most striking landmark. A local museum contains Roman relics.

BURGOS , 130 miles north of Madrid, is situated in Old Castile on a mountainous plateau, at an altitude of 2,800 feet. With a population of about 163,000, Burgos is a trade center with a large tourist industry. As one of the ancient capitals of Castile, Burgos is known for its historic tradition and outstanding architecture. The city was also the birthplace of the Spanish hero, El Cid (1040-1099), who is buried here in the cathedral. Burgos was founded about 855, and was first the seat of the county of Castile and later the capital of the Castilian kingdom under Ferdinand I. The city's cultural importance diminished when the royal residence was moved to Toledo. However, Burgos was the capital of Franco's regime during the civil war of 1936 through 1939. The cathedral, begun in 1221, is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Europe. Constructed in white limestone, its lofty, filigree spires dominate the city's skyline.

CÁDIZ is situated in southwestern Spain, on a promontory just off the mainland on the Bay of Cádiz. With a population of 140,000, the city exports wine and other agricultural items, and imports coal, iron, and foodstuffs. Industries include fishing and shipbuilding. Cádiz is a clean, white city with palm-lined boulevards and parks. The Phoenicians founded a town here about 1100 B.C. and the port became a tin and silver market. In the third century B.C., it was taken by the Romans and flourished until the fall of Rome. The discovery of America revived Cádiz; many ships from America unloaded their cargoes here, and Christopher Columbus sailed from Cádiz on his second voyage across the Atlantic in 1495. When Seville's port was partially blocked by a sandbar in 1718, Cádiz became the official center for New World trade. However, as Spain lost its colonies in America, Cádiz again declined in importance. Landmarks in the city include a 13th-century cathedral, originally built in Gothic style, but rebuilt in Renaissance form. Cádiz has several museums and an art gallery. Bartholome Murillo (1618-1682) fell from a scaffold to his death here while painting the Marriage of St. Catherine ; the painting hangs in the church of the former Capuchin convent.

CARTAGENA is the site of the country's main Mediterranean naval base and the finest harbor on the east coast. The city is situated 28 miles south of Murcia, and has roughly 180,000 residents. Cartagena has smelting works, and manufactures glass and esparto (grass) fabrics. Its importance as a port diminished early in this century with the development of other large coastal cities. The Carthaginian general, Hasdrubal, founded Cartagena in the third century B.C. It flourished under the Romans as Carthago Nova. The Moors ruled the area from 711 to 1269, when it was taken by James I of Aragon. Philip II (1527-1598) made Cartagena a major naval port. Landmarks include a medieval Gothic cathedral and the ruins of the Castillo de la Concepción castle, constructed over Roman foundations in the 12th century. Iberian, Greek, and Roman artifacts can be seen in an archaeological museum here.

CASTELLÓN DE LA PLANA (also called Castellón) is a seaport and provincial capital. Located 40 miles northeast of Valencia in the east, the city has an estimated population of 142,000. Paper, porcelain, and wool are among manufactures here; tourism is a growing industry. Landmarks include the Gothic Santa María Church, with its detached belfry, and a town hall, built in the 17th century. Castellón de la Plana was founded on nearby La Magdalena Hill. In 1251, its residents petitioned to have it moved to its present site on a plain near the Mediterranean. The city became the capital of Castellón Province in 1833.

CÓRDOBA (also spelled Cordova) is located on the Guadalquivir River, 175 miles south of Madrid. Historically, Córdoba flourished under the Romans before passing to the Visigoths and Moors. In the eighth century, it became the seat of an independent emirate which included most of Muslim Spain. Córdoba was renowned as a Muslim and Jewish cultural center and was one of the greatest and wealthiest cities in all of Europe. Its noted mosque, begun in the eighth century, is among the finest examples of Muslim architecture. Known for its gold, silver, silk, and leather artistry, the city reached its peak under Abd ar-Raham III, but then declined and was conquered by Ferdinand III of Castile in 1236. In 1238, the mosque became a cathedral. Córdoba never regained its former splendor. The city's modern industries include brewing, distilling, textile manufacturing, and metallurgy. The population today is approximately 313,000.

The defeated Spanish Armada took refuge in 1588 in GIJÓN. Today, the city is one of Spain's major seaports, located on the Bay of Biscay. With a population of 267,000, Gijón is an industrial and commercial center producing steel, iron, chemicals, glass, tobacco, and foodstuffs. It exports large amounts of coal and iron. A pre-Roman settlement, Gijón was recaptured from the Moors in the eighth century, and flourished under the early Asturian kings. Noteworthy landmarks here include Roman baths; palaces built in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries; a 15th-century church, and many mansions dating back at least 300 years.

A major tourist center, GRANADA is in southern Spain, about 180 miles from Madrid. Situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, Granada has a population exceeding 244,000, and attracts many visitors because of its art treasures and rich history. It also is a trade and processing point for an agricultural center that is rich in minerals. Originally a Moorish fortress, it became the seat of the Kingdom of Granada in 1238. The Moorish influence in Granada gave the city great splendor, making it a center of commerce, industry, science, and art. Granada is the site of the Alhambra, the famous Moorish citadel and royal palace that dominates the city from a hill. The summer residence of the Moorish rulersPalacio del Generalifehas beautiful gardens. The city's 16th-century cathedral contains the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella.

LA CORUÑA , with a population of 242,000, is an Atlantic summer resort in northwestern Spain. A distribution center for the surrounding farm area, La Coruña has an important fishing area, as well as shipyards and metalworks. The city reached its height late in the Middle Ages as a textile center and port. It was the departure point of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and was sacked by Sir Francis Drake 10 years later. A 13th-century church, and the Roman Torre de Hércules, now a lighthouse, are landmarks today. Glazed window balconies (miradores ) are characteristic of La Coruña. Just north of the city is the port of El Ferrol del Caudillo (population 87,700), the site of the most important naval base in Spain, built in the 18th century.

LEÓN is located in northwestern Spain at the foot of the Cantabrian Mountains, about 175 miles from Madrid. The capital of the province of the same name, León, with a population of over 138,000, is an agricultural and commercial center. Originally a Roman city, León was reconquered from the Moors in the seventh century by Alfonso III of Asturias. León replaced Oviedo as Asturias' capital in the 10th century and flourished until the 13th century when the city of Valladolid, to the northwest, became the favored residence of the kings. León still has a medieval atmosphere and a number of historic buildings which attract tourists. The Spanish Gothic cathedral (built during the 13th and 14th centuries) is noteworthy.

The trade center of LOGROÑO lies on the Río Ebro, 155 miles northeast of Madrid in the north-central region. This is an agricultural and wine-growing area, known for its Rioja wine. Saw milling and textiles number among Logroño's industries. The city has old and new quarters, and ruins of an ancient wall. Landmarks include three churches, a bridge dating to the 12th century, and the Instituto, an art-reproduction museum. Logroño originated in the Roman era. Much of its growth took place in the Middle Ages because it was on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. The city has approximately 128,000 people.

MURCIA is situated on the Segura River in southeast Spain, about 200 miles from Madrid. Just inland from the Mediterranean coast, Murcia lies in one of Spain's finest garden regions. For many years, the silk industry was important in the city, but has declined. Food processing and other light industries are currently part of the economy, as well as the mining of lead, silver, sulfur, and iron in the neighboring region. The city rose to prominence under the leadership of the Moors and served as the capital of the independent kingdom of Murcia. Landmarks include a Gothic cathedral (built in the 14th and 15th centuries) and the episcopal palace. The city, whose current population is close to 357,000, also has a university founded in 1915.

OVIEDO is one of Spain's most important industrial centers. A city of approximately 200,000 residents, Oviedo is located in northwestern Spain less than 25 miles south of the Bay of Biscay. Oviedo is situated near the Cantabrian Mountains mining district; among the products manufactured here are gunpowder, firearms, and textiles. Established about 760, Oviedo was the capital of the Asturian kings, flourishing in this role during the ninth century. When the capital was moved to León early in the 10th century, Oviedo declined. Landmarks include a cathedral, built in 1288, that contains the tombs of the Asturian kings. Camara Santa, next to the cathedral, houses its sacred relics and treasures, and is known throughout Spain. Oviedo also has a university, founded in 1604.

PAMPLONA is probably most recognized outside of Spain for the part it plays in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. This northern Spanish city is the site of the Fair of San Fermin and, described in Hemingway's novel, the feast is characterized by the running of bulls through the streets to the arena. The tradition continues today, and the event becomes increasingly more dangerous as daring young men participate in this age-old event. Pamplona is also an important communications, agricultural, and industrial center that produces chemicals and kitchenware. As an ancient Basque city, Pamplona was repeatedly captured between the fifth and ninth centuries; however, none of its conquerorsincluding Charlemagnecontrolled it for long. In 824, the Basque kingdom of Pamplona (later called Navarre) was founded and the city remained its capital until 1512. Surrounded by old walls, Pamplona has a Gothic cathedral (built in the 14th and 15th centuries) and a university, founded in 1952. The population is about 183,000.

SALAMANCA is a city of 159,000 residents in west-central Spain, about 110 miles northwest of Madrid. Situated on the Tormes River at an altitude of 2,600 feet, it has food processing and other industries. Salamanca is an ancient city, captured by Hannibal in 220 B.C. The establishment of the University of Salamanca by Alfonso IX of León in 1218 brought the city world acclaim, making Arabic philosophy available. The university is the repository of many important manuscripts. The city was also the center of Christian Spanish cultural life and theology during the late Middle Ages and throughout the Renaissance. Salamanca displays many forms of architecture, among them a Roman bridge, an old Gothic cathedral, and a new cathedral that combines Gothic, plateresque, and baroque styles. Its Plaza Mayor has been described as one of the finest squares in the country. There are many beautiful palaces here, especially the Casa de las Conchas, so named for the scallop shells on its facade.

SAN SEBASTIÁN is located in northern Spain at the mouth of the Bay of Biscay, just southwest of the French border. Situated in the Basque region at the foot of Mt. Urgull, San Sebastián has approximately 180,000 residents. Once a summer residence of Spanish royalty, the city is still a popular warm weather resort. Its industries include fishing, steel works, and paper making. San Sebastián was nearly destroyed in 1813, during the Peninsular War, when it was the scene of a fierce battle between Wellington's forces and the French. The San Sebastián Pact, which hastened the fall of the Spanish monarchy, was signed in the city in 1930.

SANTANDER is one of Spain's important ports, as well as a summer resort. Located in northern Spain on the Bay of Biscay, Santander has a population today of about 184,000. Following the discovery of America, Santander became one of the busiest ports in northern Spain, and was the site of a former royal summer palace. Santander's industries include ironworks and shipyards, largely developed through the exploitation of nearby mines. In 1941, the city's business district and the 13th-century cathedral were destroyed in a fire, but have since been rebuilt. Santander is the site of an internationally known summer university. The Altamira Caves near Santander contain some of mankind's oldest, best-preserved prehistoric paintings.

TOLEDO is one of Spain's most important cities from a historical and cultural viewpoint and often is called the soul of the country. Located in central Spain, 50 miles south of Madrid, it is situated on a granite hill surrounded on three sides by a river gorge. Toledo's origins are pre-Roman and its ancient name was Toletum. Conquered by the Romans in 193 B.C., the city became an archiepiscopal see dominated by powerful ecclesiastics. As capital of the Visigothic kingdom, Toledo was the site of several major church councils. It enjoyed its greatest prosperity under Moorish rule, 712-1085, becoming the center of Moorish, Spanish, and Jewish cultures. An important product of the city was the Toledo sword blade, introduced by Moorish artisans and famous worldwide for strength, elasticity, and craftsmanship. Silk and wool textiles were other important products. While commercial importance declined in the 16th century, Toledo gained prominence as the spiritual center of Spanish Catholicism. It was also the center for mysticism, symbolized by the artist El Greco (1541-1614), whose name has become synonymous with the city. Today, with a current population of over 61,000, it has changed little since El Greco painted his View of Toledo. It is surrounded by Gothic and Moorish walls, and its chief landmark is the alcazar, the fortified palace which was originally a Moorish structure. The Gothic cathedral here, one of the finest in Spain, houses many of El Greco's paintings. Several other buildings in Toledo have paintings by this celebrated master, whose given name was Kyriakos Theotopoulos (El Greco, the Greek, was a sobriquet).

VALLADOLID , in north-central Spain, 80 miles north of Madrid, is a communications and industrial center, as well as an important grain market. With a current population of about 319,000, Valladolid's origin is obscure, but the city has played a large role in Spanish history. The Christians took Valladolid from the Moors in the 10th century. It became prominent in the 12th and 13th centuries, and replaced Toledo as the residence of the Castilian kings in the 15th century. Famous for its festivals and tournaments, Valladolid was the scene of the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1469. Christopher Columbus died here in 1506. The city declined when Madrid was named the country's capital in 1561; it served briefly as capital from 1600 through 1606. Today, Valladolid is an important cultural center; its university, founded in 1346, has a large library with valuable manuscripts. Landmarks include Columbus' house and the house where Miguel de Cervantes wrote the first part of Don Quixote.

VIGO , situated in northwestern Spain on an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the country's most active ports. A center for tuna and sardine fishing, Vigo has shipyards, canneries, petroleum and sugar refineries, and several light industries, as well as a naval base. In 1702, galleons containing American gold and jewels were destroyed in the bay by the British and Dutch. Several galleons sank, and it is thought that much of the treasure is still at the bottom of the bay. The current population is 286,000.

ZAMORA is a communications and agricultural center on the Duero River in northwest Spain, 25 miles from the Portuguese border and 125 miles from Madrid. Situated in a strategic position, Zamora was contested several times during the Middle Ages. Today, visitors can still see some of the medieval fortifications, as well as a 12th-century Romanesque cathedral. The residential count is over 55,000.


Geography and Climate

Spain is composed of portions of the Iberian mainland, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, and the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast. The nation totals 194,880 square miles, slightly smaller than the area of Nevada and Utah combined.

Spain's most striking topographical features are its elevation and its internal division by mountain and river barriers. The peninsula rises sharply from the sea, with only a narrow coastal plain except in the Andalusian lowlands. Most of the peninsula is a vast plateau broken by mountains, gorges, and broad, shallow depressions. Spain has few bays, virtually no coastal islands, and a scarcity of natural harbors. A knowledge of the geography of Spain is important to an understanding of the nation's history.

Madrid's climate is predominantly dry, sunny, and agreeable. Because of its elevation (about 2,000 feet above sea level) and its proximity to mountains, Madrid often experiences wide variations in temperature. These weather changes (and chronic air pollution) may aggravate respiratory ailments. In winter, temperatures may sometimes drop slightly below freezing, and many winter days can be uncomfortably cold (although not nearly as severe as in the northern U.S.). Summers are quite warm, with average midday temperatures of 95°F to 100°F common, but some say the dry heat of Madrid is not uncomfortable. Except at the height of summer, evenings and nights are cool. Daily mean temperature ranges from 50°F to 68°F during 8 months of the year. Rainfall is scarce, except during a brief rainy season in October and November. Snow, uncommon in Madrid, usually becomes rain and slush by early afternoon.

Mildew is rare, and the city is fairly free of winged pests. Flies are sometimes noticeable because of the lack of window screens in many homes and apartments. Cockroaches, ants, and wool-eating moths can be minor problems in some locations, but local products are available to prevent damage.


Peninsular Spain, the Balearic Islands, and the Canary Islands have a population of about 50 million (2001 estimate). Population density is comparable to New England's and is much lower than that of most European countries.

Madrid has over 4.7 million persons in its metropolitan area, and Barcelona has over 2.8 million. Barcelona, the second largest city, is Spain's principal commercial and industrial city and a major regional center within the European Community (EC).

The 48 provinces of peninsular Spain are divided geographically and ethnically into 15 so-called Autonomous Regions. The Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands make up the remaining two Autonomous Regions.


The territory roughly encompassed by the northern part of the kingdom of Castile, known previously as Castilla la Vieja. The cities of Burgos, Leon, and Valladolid are the most populous centers in the region.

Castile-La Mancha

South of Madrid and previously known as Castilla la Nueva, the region also formed part of the old kingdom of Castile. Toledo, the capital of Visigothic Spain, is the most prominent of the region's population centers.

La Rioja

A small region in northern Spain best known for its production of red wines.


The region established to encompass the national capital and its metropolitan area.


The northwestern region of Spain is inhabited by the Gallegos, whose Celtic culture has much in common with that of Britain. The principal city is La Coruna. The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela has been world famous as a destination for Christian pilgrims for a millennium.


A small mountainous region in northern Spain, which served as a refuge for Spanish Christians during the height of the Muslim conquest of the peninsula.


A picturesque mountainous region on Spain's north coast.

Pais Vasco

The region in north central Spain inhabited by the Basques, known for their unique language, culture, and history of national pride and identity. Most of Spain's mining and heavy industry is located in the area. Strong regionalist sentiment prevails in the Basque country, and a small but intense minority demands independence from Spain.


Formerly an independent kingdom with ethnic and historical ties to both the Basque region and southern France.


Formerly the heart of one of the two major independent kingdoms in Spain. Zaragoza is its major city and capital.


Centered around Barcelona, the area is famous for its strong regional identity; commercial history; accomplishments in art; and unique language, Catalan, a mixture of Spanish and French. World-renowned artists of Catalonia include Picasso (who was actually born in Malaga but spent much of his early life in Barcelona), Dali, Miro, and Gaudi.


Located farther south along the Mediterranean coast, the region is justly known for its oranges and rice and as the home of paella, the Spanish rice and seafood dish. The coast of Valencia is a major resort destination for European package tourism. Valencia is the principal city and seaport in the area.


A small, sparsely populated single-province region on the southern Mediterranean coast.


Southern Spain is famous for flamenco music and its distinctive culture and architecture derived from more than seven centuries of Islamic civilization. Seville is the largest city in southern Spain and well known for its Holy Week religious festivities and its Spring Fair. Other cities in Andalucia are Granada, home to the famous Alhambra Palace, and Cordoba, site of La Mezquita, the centuries-old cathedral/mosque.


Spain's dry, parched southwest, best known as the birthplace of many of the "conquistadores" of the New World.

Public Institutions

Spain is a parliamentary democracy. King Juan Carlos I succeeded Francisco Franco as Chief of State in November 1975, in accordance with the provisions of the Franco-era Fundamental Laws, but the monarchy was later confirmed in the 1978 Spanish Constitution.

Spain's Constitution, ratified by public referendum on December 6, 1978, provides for a freely elected bicameral legislature, a government responsible to Parliament, the full range of basic civil rights and freedoms, an independent judiciary, the creation of autonomous government in Spain's various regions, and the institution of the monarchy.

The head of government is the President of Government, or Prime Minister, who presides over the Council of Ministers, composed of officials who head the government ministries or hold ministerial rank.

The legislature, or "Cortes," consists of the lower chamber or "Congress of Deputies," which is popularly elected at the provincial level, and the upper chamber or Senate, which combines both directly elected seats and seats filled by voting in regional parliaments.

Spain is divided into seventeen regional units or "comunidades autonomies." Each region maintains its own governing bodies, including a chief executive or president and legislatures. The level of authority or control that each body has differs for each region.

Arts, Science, and Education

Spain is justly proud of its museums, cultural institutions, and historic buildings, which abound throughout the country. Madrid boasts the world-renowned Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection of art, and the Reina Sofia Museum of Contemporary Art, along with the Royal Palace and other cultural sites. Barcelona has its own Picasso and Romanesque museums and collection of Thyssen art and many other provincial cities have artistic, cultural, and historical treasures representative of Spain's long history. The Spanish Museum of Modern Art in Cuenca houses some of the best paintings and sculptures of Spain's "Generation of the 1950s and 1960s."

Granada, with its grand heritage of Islamic art and civilization, and imperial Toledo are in fact cities preserved as museums. Sagunto (near Valencia) and Merida (near Badajoz) have well-preserved 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheaters and fortresses. Some of the oldest and best preserved paintings of prehistory are found in the Altamira Caves near Santander (now open only on an appointment basis).

Spain is a nation of festivals. Among Spain's more notable religious festivals are Holy Week in Seville (usually April) and Las Fallas in Valencia (March). Other festivals pay homage to local customs as well as to the patron saint, such as the festival of San Fermin in Pamplona (with the famous running of the bulls through the city streets) in July. Still others, such as the Seville Fair (April) and the Sherry Festival at Jerez de la Frontera (September), popularize local life-styles, cultural heritage or the most important agricultural product of the region.

Madrid and Barcelona have active cultural calendars featuring performances throughout the year by top Spanish and foreign performing artists and groups. Both cities have scores of theaters, with mainstream and more innovative productions staged throughout the year. Opera is an important element of the cultural scene. There are excellent local flamenco, folk dance, and Zarzuela (operetta) performances, especially in summer. Both cities attract top foreign artists, including touring pop and rock groups. There are scores of cultural festivals throughout the country. Granada, for example, hosts an annual international music festival in early summer; Santander, an international piano competition in midsummer; and Barcelona, an international choir festival in late summer. Madrid's annual Autumn Festival is a highlight of the city's life.

All major U.S. films open in the principal theaters of Spain within a couple of months of their initial U.S. release. Many European films reach Madrid before opening in U.S. cities. The popularity of movies is evidenced by the thousands of theaters throughout the country and by the numerous important film festivals that are staged annually in Spain. One of the most important is the San Sebastian International Film Festival, also known as the "Producers' Festival," since mainly producers and directors attend.

Spain's educational system has been strained by rapid economic development, overenrollment, and social pressure. An all-inclusive educational reform law was passed in 1970. New universities have been created; the Madrid and Barcelona technical schools (university level) have merged to form polytechnic universities, bringing the number of Spanish state universities to 31 (32 with the summer University of Santander). Spain also has several private universities. New courses of study have been instituted that give the university student a diploma after 3 years of general study and the traditional "licenciatura" after 2 or more years of specialized study.

Over 60 U.S. universities operate summer or full-year programs in Spain. American-style junior colleges operate in Seville. Two university programs in Madrid offer a complete 4-year B.A. degree. Some American students complete language studies or special research through the assistance of the Instituto de Cooperacion Iberoamericano or the U.S.-Spanish Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchange. The Spanish scientific community, led by the Higher Council for Scientific Research, works closely with the American scientific community in a range of mutually rewarding and important research projects.

Commerce and Industry

The success of the Spanish economy following accession has converted Spain into one of the most ardent advocates of greater European integration. The opening of Spain to Europe sent a strong message to foreign investors that the country was a good base for exports to the EC. The impressive growth of the late 1980s was largely spurred by the inflow of over $60 billion in foreign investment, mostly European.

The traditional image of Spain is that of a rural country producing wine, olives, and citrus fruits. Agriculture, however, accounts for only 4% of gross domestic product (GDP). Industry, by contrast, accounts for 31%. Moreover, Spanish industry in the last decade has shifted from heavy industry, in declining sectors like steel or shipbuilding, to light industry and assembly.

The services sector accounts for 65% of the economy. Banking has been relatively profitable due to protection afforded the sector, and the EC single market will spur more efficient operations. Tourism brought $19 billion into Spain in 1992 and is one of the important sectors of the economy. The emphasis is slowly shifting from low-cost package vacations to upscale tourism.

Future growth is most likely to occur through the telecommunications, environmental and aviation sectors.

In order to comply with EU environmental regulations, Spain will invest an estimated $33 billion in industrial clean-up, sewage treatment, water and air pollution control, and water and soil treatment. In the aviation sector, the EU's liberalization policy has added new local regular airlines to cope with the increased demand for air transport services.

The foreign trade sector has boomed since Spain's accession to the EC. Solid growth of the economy and the inflow of foreign investment spurred the import of capital goods, while overall imports rose as the peseta appreciated.

In the next few years, Spain is expected to continue in efforts to reform labor laws and decrease the unemployment rate (14% in 2000) while adjusting to the economic policies of the European Union.

Spain adopted the euro as its national currency in February 2002.


Spain has a well-developed transportation system in nearly all areas of the country. Intercity flights connect all major cities, and the busy Madrid-Barcelona air corridor is served by shuttle flights arriving and departing throughout the day. A high-speed train connects Madrid and Seville, reducing travel time to just over 2-1/2 hours. The line will be extended to Barcelona before the end of the decade. There is excellent bus and train service throughout the country, both intercity and suburban. With the help of grants from the EC, Spain has built a modern national highway system, which is continuing to grow as more and more segments are opened and the system reaches into the more distant parts of the country.


Public transportation in major cities is excellent. Bus routes serve most neighborhoods and suburban locations and are crowded with passengers during the workday. Madrid and Barcelona have extensive subway systems, although, in Madrid, the subway does not reach the western suburbs. In major cities, all taxis are metered and are plentiful at all times of the day and night. Public transportation costs less than in most U.S. cities. Street parking in Madrid is difficult, if not impossible, in most of the city center, although underground public parking garages are available almost everywhere.

Traffic in Madrid and Barcelona is faster-paced than in U.S. cities. Pedestrians should use designated crossing areas when crossing streets and obey traffic lights. Night driving on Fridays and Saturdays in urban areas may be dangerous due to drivers under the influence of alcohol. Night driving in isolated rural areas can be dangerous because of farm animals and poorly marked roads. Rural traffic is generally heavier in July and August as well as during the Christmas and Easter seasons.


There is good air and rail service between most major Spanish cities and places of interest. Rail fares are reasonablefirst-class fares are significantly higherwith special fares available for same-day returns. Airfares are usually slightly higher than in the U.S. Excellent bus service is usually available between most cities in Spain, but quality does vary. Rental cars are available, with or without a driver.

The Spanish National Railroad (RENFE) runs express trains (known as the Talgo) between all major cities in Spain. These trains have comfortable seats and dining facilities. Trains, with sleepers, serve selected cities in Spain and connect with trains serving all of Europe. The high-speed AVE serves Madrid and Seville.

Travel agencies in Spain's larger cities frequently offer domestic and international package tours at lower rates than those charged by airlines. Agencies will also procure rail tickets, charging the same as the carriers. Spanish airlines sometimes assess a fee for changing or canceling reservations.


Telephone and Telegraph

All types of domestic and international communications are available in Spain. The country enjoys excellent direct-dial domestic and international telephone service, although touch-tone phone service is still limited to portions of larger cities.

All telephone service in Spain is charged by units of use. Long-distance calling charges within Spain and to other European countries are high, and transatlantic rates to the U.S. are significantly more expensive than U.S. rates to Spain (although Spanish rates are dropping). Calls to the U.S. can be made using U.S. credit cards at rates lower than the Spanish long-distance rates. It is suggested that Individuals apply for a telephone credit card, such as those issued by AT&T, Sprint, or MCI, prior to arrival.

Radio and TV

The Spanish radio dial is crowded with stations, many broadcasting in FM stereo. Programming is dominated by talk radio and top 40 hits. Some stations feature Spanish music, and Spanish National Radio has an excellent classical station. A shortwave radio is useful for receiving the broadcasts of VOA and other European broadcasters.

There are national, regional, and local television channels, both government and commercial. There is no significant cable television in Spain, although one pay-TV channel does exist. Television programming varies, and all programming, including films and special events, is broadcast in Spanish.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

In addition to the Spanish press, newsstands in major cities throughout the country usually carry day-old foreign newspapers. The International Herald Tribune and the European edition of the Wall Street Journal are on sale on the day of publication, and the European editions of U.S. news magazines are readily available. British newspapers arrive the following day. Many newsstands in central Madrid carry the Sunday editions of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times a few days after publication.

There are no public lending libraries in Spain. USIS operates research centers in Madrid and Barcelona for Spanish scholars interested in selected U.S. topics. The Embassy's Commercial Library has a small collection of reference materials to support U.S. exports and U.S.-Spanish business cooperation. Spain's National Library and the many specialized libraries and archives throughout Spain are usually open only to certified scholars. There are several bookstores in Madrid that sell English-language books, most published in Britain, at prices significantly higher than in the U.S.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Madrid and Barcelona have general practitioners and specialists in all fields. Many local doctors understand and speak English and are U.S. trained. Generally, rates for persons not covered by Spanish social security are higher than in the U.S. Some of the U.S.-quality dentists speak English, but they are in high demand and charge prices commensurate with their reputation and ability. In general, medical care in Bilbao is adequate, and several physicians and dentists are U.S. or U.K. trained. Many of the local hospitals are clean, but only a few offer facilities comparable to those in the U.S. One privately owned hospital, the Clinica V. San Sebastian, is comparable to U.S. hospitals in equipment and facilities.

The Clinica Quiron in Barcelona is a 50% U.S.-owned hospital with a large English-speaking staff and levels of care and equipment comparable to U.S. standards.

Most commonly prescribed medications are available in Spain, often at lower cost due to Spanish government subsidies. Similarly, most U.S.-brand nonprescription cold remedies are also available.

Community Health

Sanitary conditions are good in Spain's large cities. Street cleaning and municipal garbage removal, although occasionally interrupted by labor disputes, are normal. Modern apartment buildings supply soft hot water day and night and sufficient heat during winter. Soft coal burned for winter heating leaves pollutants not normally found in the air in U.S. cities. These pollutants and the predominant use of lead-based automobile fuel can and do aggravate allergies and may increase susceptibility to respiratory ailments. Air pollution and smog are serious problems and may at times reach menacing and bothersome levels in major cities such as Madrid.

Both fresh pasteurized and reconstituted milk and dairy products that meet U.S. specifications are available on the Spanish economy. Meats and poultry, fish and shell-fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables are available all year locally. Cuts of meat differ from those in the U.S., and popular American steak cuts such as sirloin and T-bone may not always be available. Lamb, veal, pork, and chicken are popular throughout Spain and are of good quality. Fresh seafood from Spain's north coast is sold throughout the country and is excellent.

Infants and children up to age 13 need to take supplemental sodium fluoride tablets, as fluoride is not added to the water supply in Spain.

Preventive Measures

The most prevalent local illnesses are upper respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, influenza, measles, chicken pox, hepatitis, mumps, and whooping cough. No rabies has been reported for many years. Typhoid and tuberculosis are both still present in all regions but are far less prevalent than in the past. Keep immunizations current for tetanus.

Dry heat, common to most apartment buildings in winter, and extremely dry summers may cause skin irritations or aggravate allergies. Some of these problems may be alleviated by using a humidifier. Commercial skin moisturizers and humidifiers are available at Spanish stores and pharmacies.

Tap water is normally safe for drinking in Spain's major cities, although many visitors prefer to drink bottled water. However, occasional breaks in city water systems due to construction or old age require special precautions (i.e., boiling water and treating it with 2 drops of Clorox per quart, or buying bottled water). Nonpotable water signs are sometimes encountered in restroom facilities during travel to small towns and villages.

Because the water supply in Madrid is not fluoridated, fluoride drops or tablets are recommended for children from birth to age 13.


Passage, Customs & Duties

A passport is required, but a visa is not required for tourist or business stays up to 90 days. Individuals who enter Spain without a visa are not authorized to work. For further information concerning entry requirements for Spain, travelers should contact the Embassy of Spain at 2375 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone (202) 728-2330, or the nearest Spanish consulate in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, or San Juan. The web site of the Spanish Embassy in the United States is

Students planning to study in Spain should be aware of a recent change in Spanish immigration laws, which require applications for student visas to be submitted a minimum of 60 days before anticipated travel to Spain.

It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C. or one of Spain's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. This is especially important if you are attempting to send any medications to Spain through postal channels.

Americans living in or visiting Spain or Andorra are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Madrid or at the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona where they may obtain updated information on travel and security within Spain or Andorra. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain is located at Serrano 75; telephone (34)(91) 587-2200, and fax (34)(91) 587-2303. U.S. citizens who register in the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate listed below can obtain updated information on travel and security within Spain or Andorra. Additional information is also available through the U.S. Embassy's Internet homepage at

There is a U.S. Consulate in Barcelona, at Paseo Reina Elisenda 23-25; telephone (34)(93) 280-2227 and fax (34)(93) 205-5206.

There are also Consular Agencies in the following locations:

Malaga, at Avenida Juan Gomez Juanito #8, Edificio Lucia 1C, 29640, Fuengirola, telephone (34)(952)474-891 and fax (34)(952) 465-189, hours 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

La Coruna, at Canton Grande 16-17, telephone (34)(981) 213-233 and fax (34)(981) 222-808, hours 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Las Palmas, at Edificio Arca, Calle Los Martinez de Escobar 3, Oficina 7, telephone (34)(928) 222-552 and fax (34)(928) 225-863, hours 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Palma de Mallorca, Ave. Jaime III, 26 Entresuelo, 2-H-1 (97), telephone (34)(971) 725-051 and fax (34)(971) 718-755, hours 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Seville, at Paseo de Las Delicias 7, telephone (34)(954) 231-885 and fax (34)(954) 232-040, hours 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Valencia, at Doctor Romagosa #1, 2-J, 46002, Valencia telephone (34)(96)-351-6973 and fax (34)(96) 352-9565, hours 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


A certificate of good health from a veterinarian duly notarized by a Spanish Consulate must accompany each pet. Airlines require the certificate of health to be dated less than 10 days prior to departure. If the Sanitary Inspector of Customs believes an animal may have a contagious disease (despite a certificate of good health), the animal will be quarantined for 40 days. If it is then found to be in good health, it will be returned to owner.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

Official currency as of February 2002 is the euro. The exchange rate is about 1.08EUR=US$1 (May 2002).

Spain uses the metric system of weights and measures.


Jan. 1New Year's Day

Jan. 6Epifania Del Senor (Epiphany)

Mar. 18St. Joseph's Day

Mar/Apr.Jueves Santo* (Holy Thursday)

Mar/Apr.Viernes Santo*(Holy Friday)


May 1Fiesta De Trabjo (Labor Day)

May 2Fiesta De La Comunidad De Madrid

May 15San Isidro

July 25Saint James Day

Aug. 15La Asuncion De la Virgen

Oct. 12 Fiesta Nacional de Espana

Nov. 1Todos los Santos (All Saints' Day)

Nov. 9La Almudena

Dec. 6Dia de la Constitucion

Dec. 8Inmaculada Concepcion

Dec. 25Christmas



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Kingdom of Spain




Spain is located in southwestern Europe. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay in the northwest and by the Mediterranean Sea in the east and the south. It has a 1,214 kilometer (754 mile) land border with Portugal in the west and a 623 kilometer (387 mile) border with France and a 63.7 kilometer (39.5 mile) border with the tiny city-state of Andorra in the northeast, characterized by the Pyrenean Mountains. In the south it has a 1.2 kilometer (.75 mile) border with Gibraltar (which legally belongs to the United Kingdom) and a 96 kilometer (59.6 mile) border with Morocco (Ceuta, Melilla). All together Spain's 504,782 square kilometer (194,896 square mile) territory, including the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, Ceuta, and Melilla, has 1,917.8 kilometers (1,191.7 miles) of land boundaries and 4,964 kilometers (3,084.6 miles) of coastline. Spain is slightly bigger than twice the size of Oregon. Its capital, Madrid (with 2,866,850 inhabitants), is situated on the Central Plateau, and Barcelona (with 1,508,805 inhabitants), another major city, is in the northeast by the Balearic Sea (Western Mediterranean). Madrid and Barcelona are the only Spanish cities with a population over a million.


The population of Spain was 39,996,671 in July 2000. This compares to 37.7 million in 1981 and 38.7 million in 1984. Population growth was encouraged by the totalitarian regime of General Francisco Franco (1939-1975) through different state-sponsored programs that financially rewarded families with more than 5 children. Moreover, Spain experienced an urban boom in the 1960s and as a consequence over half the population lived in towns of at least 50,000 inhabitants by 1970. This boom was primarily a consequence of the "economic miracle" of the late 1950s and early 1960s spurred on by the stabilization plans led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). There was rapid industrialization, agriculture was transformed, the industry and service sector came to dominate, and subsequently, there were major migratory shifts from rural to urban centers.

During the Spanish transition to democracy that followed Franco's death in November 1975 and after the establishment of the Spanish constitution in 1978, population growth decreased. The population growth was a meager 0.11 percent in 2000. According to the last census (1998), the population density is 201.3 per square kilometer (521.4 per square mile). Similar to other western European nations, this lack of growth can be attributed to the increase in the cost of living, increasing housing prices, and the incorporation of women into the workforce. The main growth centers today are Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Malaga, and Murcia. This reflects the importance of the Spanish "sub-cultures," in particular the importance of the Catalans and the Basques. Despite the fact that church attendance has been progressively waning, the population of Spain is predominantly Roman Catholic.

The projected population for 2010 is 39,917,000. Like other Western European nations Spain will have to face the challenge of a decrease in the proportion of active population due to the aging of the nation. Moreover, it remains to be seen how tighter immigration laws can be reconciled with the fact that the projections show that without the influx of foreign immigrants, the population of Spain will in fact decline much more significantly. This immigrant population, which has increasingly entered Spain since the mid-1980s, is concentrated from Northern Africa (Morocco) and South America (Colombia, El Salvador, and Argentina).


Spain's economy in the latter half of the twentieth century developed under the shadow of General Franco's authoritarian regime, which had ascended to power at the end of the Civil War in 1939. However, unlike the self-enclosed, state-dominated economies of other authoritarian governments, Franco integrated Spain's economy into the western capitalist framework through a series of liberalization initiatives. Begun in 1957, these initiatives included the devaluation of the peseta, the introduction of a single exchange rate , a program of monetary and fiscal restraint, and a liberalization of price controls and trade restrictions. As a result, Spain's economy underwent a rapid industrialization that affected every segment of society. The ascension of the industry and service sectors resulted in migratory shifts from rural to urban centers as people sought jobs, and also opened the borders to foreign interests. Foreign machinery boosted Spain's modernization process, and foreign products competed with Spain's domestic offerings. Franco also permitted investors and banks from other countries to work within Spain's borders. In 1970, a preferential agreement with the European Community further boosted trade liberalization.

It is important to note that Franco's liberal approach to the economy was not duplicated in his approach to labor issues. Franco's policies enforced hierarchy, military obedience, strong centralism, and police-state suppression of human rights which resulted in the imprisonment and execution of thousands of dissident citizens over the course of Franco's rule. Workers agitating for political freedom to complement Spain's economic freedom were quickly suppressed.

By the mid-1970s, Spain enjoyed a strong, modern capitalist economy. Spain's annual growth rate in the first half of the 1970s held steady at 6 percent, ranking it eighth in the world in terms of GDP measured at current prices and current exchange rates, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Only the United States, Japan, West Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy placed ahead of Spain in 1975. Of all the OECD capitalist countries with strong economies, Spain was the only one without a democratic government. The existence of free-market capitalism without democratic legitimacy made Spain an anomaly (a deviation from the common rule) in a world where the economic transition from command to free-market economy was expected to take place only after the political transition from authoritarian to democratic rule.

King Juan Carlos, Franco's successor, inherited Spain's robust economy and fascist legacy after Franco's death in 1975. He began moving the country towards democracy shortly after ascending to power. The appointment of Adolfo Suárez as president in late 1976 was one of his first transition moves, followed by general elections the next year. Spain's newfound freedom on the political front opened up further opportunities for labor and business, including the legalization of trade unions in 1977. One of the key initiatives of this transition period was the formulation of the Moncloa Pacts that same year. The Moncloa Pacts endeavored to bring Spain fully into the free-market system through the moderation of wages and the elimination of favoritism between the government and specific businesses. The Pacts favored the consolidation of a market economy and recognized that business activities should be pursued within the free-market framework. They also laid the framework for a more comprehensive policy on unemployment and pension benefits, previously lacking under Franco. These political and economic reformswhich included the creation of a Constitution in 1978, as well as various other legislative agreements guaranteeing the functioning of democratic institutionsplaced Spain squarely on footing with other Western European capitalist states by 1980.

The Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) came to power in 1982. Contrary to generally-accepted socialist economic policies, the Party worked to increase privatization and competition within Spanish markets during its 14-year rule. The time period is oftentimes referred to as the post-consolidation period of Spanish politics. Economic policies pursued by PSOE included privatization of state companies which belonged to the National Industry Institute in 1986 and the passing of legislation to end the state telecommunications monopoly in 1987. PSOE accomplished the latter by abolishing Telefónica's right to supply customer apparatuses and allowing other firms to run such systems. The Party also liberalized the energy sector by allowing Repsol's pipeline network to be used by competing suppliers wishing to transport gas in 1987. In late 1986, PSOE introduced the IVA (Impuestos sobre Valor Añadido) which is a 6 percent value-added tax ; by late 1991, the party announced decreasing employers' tax payments by roughly 8 percent as a means to increase competitiveness and profits in Spanish business.

In the 1990s, the PSOE moved even further from socialist policy through a series of budget cuts aimed at decreasing the role of government in health and human services. In 1987 and in 1992 cuts to the pension system were made by decreasing payments to both contributory and non-contributory programs; by 1993, the average maximum allowable payment from a public pension (measured in constant pesetas) was approximately 10 percent less than the value in 1986. Based on 1992 reforms to the education service, several secondary schools with falling enrollments were closed between 1992 and 1996; the percentage of the yearly budget devoted towards education fell from almost 9 percent in 1991 to approximately 5 percent by 1996. In 1994, PSOE pursued health reform, and the closing of several urban and rural hospitals resulted in a shortage of hospital beds. The PSOE mandated that users of the National Health Service (Insalud) pay for prescription costs (referred to as the medicamentazo), as well as some aspects of non-emergency treatment.

The PSOE instituted similar cuts and deregulation in its approach to labor issues. In early 1993, the PSOE decreed that minimum wages would fall by almost 5 percent in real terms from the year before. In 1994, the PSOE sought almost full deregulation of the labor market by passing legislation rescinding many of the rights, benefits, and guarantees of the Workers' Statute. As a result, less expensive contract types were introduced in the labor market, rules governing salaries of all workers were modified, workers could be more easily unilater-ally fired without state interference, indemnity benefits were decreased, a worker was no longer guaranteed basic working conditions such as a 40-hour work week, fewer workers became eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, and basic functional and geographical mobility rights were rescinded. This overall policy pursued by the Socialists has been followed more recently by further liberalization, deregulation, and privatization by the Partido Popular (Popular Party, or PP) that has ruled since 1996. Some neo-liberal critics suggest that more liberalization, including that of deregulating the labor market, is still required in order to make the economy competitive.

The reasons behind Spain's liberal economic policies are most clearly rooted in its membership in the European Union (EU). Spain joined the EU in 1986, when it was still known as the European Community (EC). While membership opened up a host of opportunities in the greater European markets, it also came with strict regulations that required significant adjustments of member countries to ensure standardization with EU's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The problems associated with the introduction of a common currency among the member countries (known as the euro, slated for circulation in 2002) were especially formidable. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 established strict objectives concerning decreasing inflation and interest rates, as well as decreasing budget deficits and government debts which were necessary for EMU entrance. In effect, domestic strategies had to be pursued in order to qualify for the EMU club, ultimately allowing for the single European currency to be used in Spain. The country successfully qualified for EMU entrance in 1998. Spain also receives funding from the EU to finance varied programs, reducing the current account deficit and improving infrastructures.

Industrial production continues to be the driving force of the Spanish economy, although in recent years the service sector has gained importance. Metalworking, shipbuilding, and data-processing equipment are particularly important in the industrial sector, while automobiles remain the main export item. Private consumption, investment, increased agricultural exports, and construction are spurring growth. At the same time, virtually all service sectorsespecially tourism and financeare expanding. With regard to the latter, Spanish banks have some of the highest capitalization of all banks in Europe, thanks to a series of mergers permitted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The 2 main banks today in Spain are BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) and BCHS (Banco Central Hispano Santander). Spanish mining is among the most important in Europe. Wine productionabout 30 to 40 percent of which is destined to export marketsis also among the largest worldwide. Spain's abundant arable land and long coastline make agriculture, maritime transport, and fisheries all important industries. Spain possesses hardly any petroleum and only limited amounts of natural gas. This problem has been tackled with a large-scale nuclear energy program, the realization of which has, however, been delayed because of an accident in the Vandellos nuclear power plant in 1989.

Spanish industries were small in scale until the liberalization of the economy in the late 1950s and early 1960s when foreign investment and large multinational companies arrived on Spanish soil. Although almost two-thirds of the workforce is still estimated to work for what are defined as small- and medium-sized enterprises, more workers are increasingly working for large multinationals which have roots in Western Europe, including those such as VW (Germany), Fiat (Italy), and Correfour (France). Spain is an attractive location for foreign companies for 2 reasons. First, Spanish workers' salaries are some of the lowest in Western Europe, higher only than those in Greece and Portugal. From a Western European business perspective, therefore, the cheap Spanish labor market keeps costs of production low. Second, Spain's geographical location is strategic in marketing products to Southern European states such as Portugal, France, and Italy.

The Spanish government debt of US$90 billion in 1993 has declined in absolute terms since the late 1990s. The declining debt is a function of the tight economic policy pursued by Rodrigo Rato, the Minister of Economy and Finance under the center-right PP government since 1999. Rato pursued cuts to the health and welfare program. This, along with a foreseeable cut in interest rates, makes it likely that the downward trends will continue.

There are 3 main structural problems that the Spanish economy faces, despite recent liberalizing and modernizing efforts. The first is illegal immigration, which makes a particularly large impact on the agricultural labor market of southern Spain. The second problem is high unemployment compared to the rest of Europe. During the mid-1990s the official unemployment rate was at over 20 percent. Governmental reforms have sought to make the labor market more flexible for less-skilled workers, thereby decreasing the unemployment rate by almost 4 percent by 2001. Nevertheless, this is still high compared to most other western industrialized states. Many economists fear that the high rate has only contributed to the black market in labor, although there are no firm and credible estimates of what percentage of the economy this actually constitutes. The third main problem is terrorism that has a disturbing impact on the economy. In particular, the Basque terrorist organization, ETA, which seeks independence for the Basque region located in Spain and France, has claimed responsibility for hundreds of deaths over the last 20 years, including killings of military officials, politicians, and citizens caught in the crossfire. The terrorism has particularly stifled some business leaders' plans for future investment in the Basque region and, more generally, made citizens throughout Spain fearful and cautious.


Spain has been a parliamentary democracy since the celebration of the first general election in 1977, following the death of Franco in 1975. In addition to the multi-party system, Spanish government supports the royal family of Spain, headed by King Juan Carlos. Much like the Queen of England, the King of Spain is a figurehead who holds virtually no political power, but who nevertheless serves as a symbol for Spain.

There are 2 main legislative bodies, both of which are elected usually every 4 to 5 years. The first is the lower house, officially called the Cortes. The second is the upper house, referred to as the Senado. There are 350 members in the Cortes and 208 in the Senado. The party holding the majority in the lower house controls the government. In the absence of a majority, the party with a plurality of seats will govern in minority, either in coalition government (which has yet to happen in contemporary Spain) or, as occurred in 1993 and 1996, with the legislative support (apoyo legislativo) of another party. A coalition government is made up of ministers from 2 or more parties. In a legislative support government only the plurality party has ministers in government while all of its bills are passed with the support of smaller parties in the house (who have potentially gained adoption of some of their own policies in return). The leader of the government is first chosen in a leadership selection contest of the party in which card-holding members vote. The winning party's leader is the president of the state and the leading political figure in Spain. From this perspective, the Cortes remains the more important of the 2 houses. The method of election used is the D'Hondt method of election (based on the concept of proportional representation , where seats attained by a political party are proportional to the votes received). At the judicial level, the highest court of the land is the Constitutional Tribunal, which is independent. Judges on the Tribunal are nominated by the president of the government and appointments must be approved by the Senado. Judges remain on the Tribunal for life.

There have been 3 main political parties in contemporary Spanish politics: the Centre Democratic Union (UCD), the Spanish Socialists (PSOE), and the Popular Party (PP). In the first 2 general elections, Adolfo Suárez's UCD won minority government. However, due to internal fighting within the party's coalition of 14 smaller parties, it disbanded in the early 1980s.

The Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) won the 1982, 1986, 1989, and 1993 elections under the leadership of Felipe Gonzalez. Though originally committed to socialist policies, the PSOE pursued policies aimed at liberalizing the Spanish economy, much to the chagrin of its working-class electoral base. The PSOE had traditionally been affiliated with one of Spain's major trade unions, the UGT, but its efforts to improve Spain's international competitiveness in preparation for full European economic integration resulted in the distancing of trade unions from the party. The PSOE closed unprofitable state corporations which were in the state holding company INI (The National Industry Institute), down-sizing most notably the coal, iron, and steel industries. It also reduced public spending in order to tackle the budget deficit. The PSOE abandoned socialist policies in its battle against inflation and for the modernization of the industry through support of a capitalist market economy. Spain's entrance to the European Community (EC) in 1986 was seen as a triumph of PSOE's policies. Not only had PSOE tied Spain to the influence of the greater European community, it had implemented the single market policies found in the Single European Act (1986) and the domestic-level policies consistent with the Maastricht Treaty EMU criteria (that is, reduction of deficits, debts, interest, and inflation rates ), to do so.

However, the harsh budget and social-welfare cuts, along with the erosion of labor's trust, helped unseat the PSOE in the 1996 elections. The more conservative Popular Party assumed control that year as a minority government under the leadership of Jose Maria Aznar. Although the 2 parties were polar opposites on the political spectrum (with the PSOE on the left and the PP on the right), Spain's economic policy did not shift radically with the new government. The PP continued to pursue PSOE's policies of deregulation and liberalization, with the goal of a complete privatization of state-owned enterprises. To this end, Aznar and the PP liberalized the energy sector (electricity, gas, fuels), national telecommunications, and television broadcasting. In order to ensure the success of these liberalizations, the new Free Competition Tribunal (Anti-Trust regulators) was set up and strengthened in order to restrict monopolistic practices and to increase judicial oversight of leasing, factoring, and franchising contracts. Nevertheless, observers highlight that it remains to be seen if the Tribunal will be effective.

There are some factors which stand in the way of the PP's economic goals. While new legislation generally allows for foreign investment without limitations, inflexible labor laws and restrictive legislation on intellectual property rights both still present problems in attracting new foreign business. The high unemployment rate (which hovered around 20 percent throughout the mid-to-late 1990s and is presently at 16 percent) is another major issue for the government. Hiring practices have been liberalized, but the government has criticized dismissal costs as too high and welfare benefits as too generous. The 1997 labor market reforms increased the number of temporary contracts by limiting the state's ability to interfere in business contracts. The PP government has attempted to deregulate the economy as much as possible in the belief that the less state involvement there is, and the more prevention of anti-competitive practices, the more efficient the economic system will be.

In the immediate future, the PP government hopes to eliminate the budget deficit by 2001 through the privatization of unprofitable state-owned companies. Aznar's government also encourages small enterprise by facilitating access to corporate finance and Spanish investment abroad as a way to diversify the economy. Investment in developing countries is supported by means of tied-aid credit and development assistance programs, but Spanish presence in the global economy is still modest. From this perspective, Spain attempts to promote investment and assistance in developing nations as a partner in initiatives taken along with other EU states.

The only party that has clearly distinguished itself from the PP and the PSOE is the United Left (IU). The IU is a coalition of several "left wing" parties and its main organizational party is the Spanish Communist Party (PCE). It was originally affiliated with the other main Spanish trade union, the CCOO (the Worker's Commission). Despite high expectations that the party would do well since its legalization in 1976 after 40 years of underground work, it has performed very poorly, at best gaining a little more than 10 percent of the popular vote.

Other parties which are of importance are the regional-based ones in Catalonia and the Basque Country: Convergence and Union (CiU) and Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). The CiU is a center-right and nationalist party (i.e. fights for the independence of Catalonia from Spain) that has been governing at the state (autonomous community) level in Catalonia since 1978. It came to importance at the national level after both the 1993 and 1996 general elections; although it did not participate in coalitions with the minority governing PSOE (1993) and PP (1996) governments, the CiU did offer its legislative support to both minority governments, basically allowing them to formulate policies unilaterally and easily pass them in the legislature. The PNV is a Christian democratic regionalist party seeking Basque independence. Its Basque middle-class support base has kept it in power at the regional level, either in majority position or as coalition partner, over the last 20 years. It is important to note that PNV is not associated with the terrorist organization ETA; whereas the PNV is a center-right party that uses peaceful means to pursue Basque independence, ETA is a terrorist organization (whose political wing is called Herri Batasuna, or HB) that prefers more violent and revolutionary means for independence.

Almost half of the Spanish government's tax income (46.8 percent) derives from direct taxation , 38.9 percent from indirect taxation , and 24.1 percent of which is accounted for by value-added tax (VAT). Other taxes on production constitute 14.3 percent of the tax income. Tax evasion is a major problem in Spain with the self-employed and black market workers (such as construction contractors) most often the guilty party. Because self-employed professionals (or, autonomous workers, as they are referred to in Spain, such as taxi drivers and free-lance writers) all have to make tax declarations themselves, there is no firm system by which revenue officials can verify or falsify their statements. It is therefore relatively easy to falsify tax declarations, a problem rampant in the 1990s. Although the Ministry of Economy and Finance led by Rodrigo Rato under the PP has attempted to clamp down on this practice in the last 2 years, the likelihood of evasion remains high and represents a potential drain of revenue that would otherwise be used for the social-welfare system .


The most developed part of Spain's infrastructure is the train system, which is one of the best in Western Europe. The National Network of Spanish Railroads (Renfe) operates the best part of Spain's 15,430 kilometers (9,588 miles, 1999) of railroads which originate from Madrid as the center point. Several lines were eliminated in the 1980s after the company experienced losses. However, in 1990 an ambitious long-term investment program was initiated with the goal of introducing super-speed trains on several lines. Similar to the TGV in France, Spain's AVE started high-speed train operations between Madrid and Seville. As a result, a trip that would otherwise last approximately 5 hours by car could be completed in almost 2 hours. A similar high-speed line linking Madrid and Barcelona is presently under construction and is expected to be completed by 2003. At the regional level, the Cercanias is a rail system that links smaller communities (or suburban areas) to the closest major city, being most fully operative in major urban centers such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Seville. For example, Madrid Cercanias links the southern part of Madrid (Getafe, which is about 20 kilometers south of Madrid) with the north (Tres Cantos, approximately 30 kilometers north), with trains running approximately every 10-15 minutes and generally always on schedule. At the urban level, all major cities have a metro (subway) system, which allows for quick travel within the city. Madrid has the most extensive metro at present with 10 lines operating.

With regard to roads, Spain's 343,389 kilometers (213,382 miles, 1999) of paved highway are similarly radial

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Spain 100 333 506 11.8 179 17.8 144.8 76.75 4,652
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
France 218 937 601 27.5 188 47.4 207.8 110.64 5,370
Portugal 75 304 542 59.8 309 7.0 81.3 59.40 700
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

dial in design and 9,063 kilometers (5,632 miles) of it is expressway (1997). Most of the road network has only been constructed in the second half of the 20th century, primarily due to the efforts of the Spanish Socialists in the early 1980s. Nevertheless, despite the major restructuring of roads over the last 30 years, many complain that it is not sufficient for the greatly increased traffic, which is very heavy both on the highways and in cities. Examples of the former can be seen in the over-congested highways between Barcelona and Madrid and Bilbao and Madrid. Congestion is especially problematic in larger urban centers such as Madrid and Barcelona where a 20-minute journey by car usually translates into 1.5 hours during rush hour.

With respect to airports, there are 99 usable airports in Spain and 42 of them receive commercial traffic. The busiest is Madrid's Barajas airport, which has been recently expanded with the addition of the infamous "third runway" that took several years to plan and finally complete. The second busiest is Prats Airport in Barcelona, and the third is the international airport in Palma de Mallorca, which is a popular tourist spot. Both Barajas and Prats enjoy daily flights from all EU capitals as well as the United States. The major carrier operating out of them is the national airline Iberia, which up until recently was state-owned; it was fully privatized (sold to private investors) in 2001. Although Iberia's fleet seems less modern than some other European carriers, a recent major purchase of several A-320s from Airbus will help in its drive to full modernization.

Due to its long coastline, Spain depends heavily on maritime transport for the import and export of goods to both European states as well as those outside of Western Europe. Its merchant marine and fishing fleet is among the largest and most important in the world. Traffic is heavily concentrated in the ports of Bilbao, Algeciras, Tarragona, and Barcelona.

Although Spain's infrastructure is similar to the rest of Western Europe, there is nevertheless an ongoing process of upgrading roads, airports, seaports, and railroads through public, private, and joint investment. The continuation of investment is necessary primarily because the government has made commitments to improving the infrastructure through EU funding conditions. In particular, part of the Maastricht Treaty earmarked funds towards the development of Spain's infrastructure through what are referred to as Cohesion Funds. Similarly, the European Commission's White Book on Growth Competitiveness and Employment stressed infrastructure development in order to make the economy more competitive.

Almost half of Spanish electricity is based on fossil fuels (48.23 percent), 31.23 percent on nuclear power, 19.16 percent on hydroelectricity, and 1.38 percent by other means (1998). In 1998 Spain produced 179.468 billion kWh of electricity and of that consumed only 170.306 billion kWh. National shortage of petroleum and gas is compensated with nuclear energy. The main electricity companies in Spain are Endesa and Iberdrola. Both are national companies, although full liberalization of the electricity sector has taken place in principle. Nevertheless, because both major operators have approximately 80 percent of the market, foreign investors are more seriously considering the strategy of buying parts of these 2 companies in order to enter into the Spanish market (as has been the case of German electricity companies seeking to buy Iberdrola).

Spanish telecommunications facilities are generally modern and are experiencing dramatic economic growth. The main operator in Spain is Telefónica. At present, the mobile telephone business is flourishing. In 1999 there were 17.336 million main telephone lines and 8.396 million cellular phones. The popularity of mobile phones has risen with the aggressive marketing strategies of new telephone companies such as Airtel and Amena, which have sought to enter the communications market previously dominated by Telefónica. The number of Internet service providers (49 in 1999) was expected to grow beyond saturation point, after which competition is expected to root out the weaker companies. Because local calls in Spain are not free, there is a push to establish an industry-wide regulation aimed at eliminating the price of calls associated with Internet connection time. Such efforts to promote Internet use would increase the number of personal computers in Spain, which is one of the lowest in the European Community.

Almost all Spanish homes have a television (99.7 percent) and 91 percent of Spaniards watch television every day. There is a comparable decline in newspapers: 10 to 15 percent of the population frequently buys and reads newspapers, a majority of which are actually sports newspapers (such as Marca y As ) as opposed to those predominately concerned with current events (such as El Pais, El Mundo, Diario 16, and ABC ). Most Spaniards receive the daily news from the television as opposed to the paper, with radio as their second choice; almost 60 percent listen to the radio daily, where talk shows are the leading radio programs. Until 1990 the Spanish only had the 2 channels provided by the state-run Television Española (TVE) and regional stations run by the autonomous governments (such as Telemadrid for the community of Madrid). Commercial television was authorized in 1989 and broadcasting fully liberalized in 1998. As a result, there are 4 main channels that can be freely viewed at the national level: La 1 (the main state station from RTE), La 2 (the second state channel which is dedicated to more cultural programming), Antena 3, and Telecinco. There are also 6 regional and over 75 local stations. TVE still runs large budget deficits and is accused by the opposition of favoring the government party in its news coverage. It has recently been absorbed into the state holding company, SEPI, in order to deal with its financial problems and help in its management. La 2 has the highest acclaimed nightly newscast. Two additional channels, Canal Plus and Via Digital, offer newly released movies as well as some major sporting events for a monthly fee by cable and satellite. Yet, only 10 percent of Spanish homes have either satellite or cable television. By 2010, it is estimated that all Spaniards should have access to Terrestrial Digital TV, and significant growth is predicted, especially for cable television.


Over a 25 year span, the sector evolution of Spain's economy is similar to that of western liberal democratic states. Agriculture production has declined significantly (from contributing 16.7 percent of the GDP in 1974 to 3.2 percent in 1999), service has expanded (from 48.8 percent in 1974 to 63.2 percent in 1999), and industry has remained somewhat constant (hovering around 34 percent). Although these overall trends are similar to those found in western industrialized states, industrial production is comparatively higher in Spain.

The decline of agriculture is rooted in several different factors. Spain aligned itself with the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) as part of its membership with the EU, which placed limits on Spanish agricultural production. A drought in the 1990sparticularly in the Southfurther limited the growth of the industry. These factors, combined with the modernization of farming techniques, caused a significant drop-off in the number of agricultural laborers. In 2000 much-needed rainfall increased agricultural output but also lowered prices as the larger food supply lowered demand. The outlook for Spanish agriculture is not entirely grim, however. Spain's position as the most varied agricultural producer in the EU promises the sector increased growth in the greater European market.

The industry sector constitutes a large part of the GDP due to the strength of mining, manufacturing, and metalworking, which have been important to the economy since the 1960s. At present, Spanish industry has been recovering from the recession of the early 1990s, largely due to growth in the metalworking sector, which includes data-processing equipment and other transportation equipment. While Spain has continued involvement in traditional industries such as mining, it has also focused more on capital-intensive industries such as high technological equipment, which are also attractive for foreign investors.

The service sector is expanding in almost all areas, particularly finance, tourism, and telecommunications. Spanish banks, which constitute some of the largest and most powerful in Europe, have a dual-pronged strategy to enter into other sectors of the economy (such as telecoms) and to expand into foreign markets in both the EU and South America. Tourismparticularly in both Catalonia as well as the South of Spainincreasingly attracts tourists from the EU as travel costs to Spain decrease. The telecom market has also seen great expansion, especially with the onset of liberalizing legislation in the sector and the complementary popularity of mobile phones.


Spanish agriculture has traditionally been most affected by the level of rainfall, since drought is always a threat. However, in recent years a much more decisive factor has been the Spanish membership in the EC/EU. While encouraging production in some agricultural sectors, the EU has discouraged it in others. Small farms have been closed down, with grape growers and dairy farmers the hardest hit. In 1999 a EU reform of the Common Agricultural Policy was approved as part of the "Agenda2000." The reform mandated that at least 10 percent of land be set aside until 2006 in order to avoid overproduction. In spite of this limitation, the abundance of Spain's agricultural resources guarantees overall growth.


This sector has traditionally been financially the most important sector, accounting for 39 percent of overall agricultural output in 1999. However, the sector has suffered from increased competition from other EU countries, and the "Agenda2000" will gradually cut the beef support prices by 20 percent. Although economists predicted that livestock production would increase slightly in 2000 with improved pasture conditions and more rain, outbreaks of "mad cow disease" prevented such increase. BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), which is also referred to as "mad cow disease," is a highly contagious, lethal disease of the central nervous system in cattle. There have been several cases, particularly in Britain in the 1990s, of people who have died after eating meat from cows infected with BSE. In Spain, the first cases of mad cow disease were detected in September 2000 in Galicia, with subsequent cases arising in other provinces in Spain. The cases in Spain can be traced back to Britain; the same feed that was given to cows that developed BSE in the UK was transported and used in other western European farms. Although there have been no human fatalities reported in Spain as a result of the contamination, consumer confidence in beef plummeted. By February 2001, consumption of beef had fallen by an estimated 80 percent. More consumers turned to other meats, including fish, pork, poultry, and lamb, in spite of the subsequent rise in prices. The price of beef, in the meantime, continues to slide, which leaves the future of Spain's beef industry in doubt.


This sectorwhich includes citrus, deciduous fruit, olives and olive oil, nuts, wine, and vegetablesis gaining importance to the point that its value of production now equals that of livestock, dairy, and poultry at 39 percent. This sector has greatly benefitted from access to EU markets and accounts for 70 percent of overall agricultural exports. Both Spanish olive oil and wine production were initially subject to the tough restrictions imposed by the Common Agriculture Policy during the 1990s. However, recent policy changes have allowed for Spain's quota for olive oil production to reflect the actual production capacity. Spain's vineyards have also benefitted from policy changes; previous programs which uprooted vineyards are now replaced with new programs that concentrate on restructuring vineyards to make the Spanish wine industry more competitive. Spain produces some of the best red wines in world, with the most famous being those from the Rioja region. More than 30 percent of such wines are destined to the EU, North American, and Latin American markets. Other regions producing fine wines include Catalonia, Ribera del Duero, Navarra, and La Mancha. These wines are generally made from the Tempranillo variety of grapes and offer a distinct taste to those from France, for example, which use the Merlot variety.


This sector includes grain, tobacco, cotton, forage, sugar beets, and oil seeds. It covers a larger area than the horticultural crops, but accounted for only 15 percent of the total value of production in 1999. The most important sector of field crops is cereals, especially wheat and barley. However, Spanish cereal production has suffered from competition from the EU, and, under the "Agenda2000," support prices for all grains will be reduced by 15 percent. The most plentifully produced field crop is alfalfa, used for animal fodder. The "Agenda2000" will also reduce area payments for oilseeds to the same level with grains, which is expected to reduce the production of the sunflower seed crop significantly.


Even though the total catch declined in the 1980s, the fishing industry is still important in Spain. The main fishing ports are Vigo and La Coruna in the Northwest. Despite Spain's vast fishing waters, Spanish fishermen have several times been arrested for fishing illegally in Canadian and Moroccan waters. The most visible conflict of late has been the so-called "Turbot War" with Canada in 1995 when Canadian authorities fired on Spanish fisherman for trespassing in Canadian waters. Legal experts argue that the Canadian government clearly violated international law by firing upon a vessel which was, in fact, in international waters. Although there was a peaceful resolution to the conflict, the incident highlights concerns voiced by other countries in the past, such as Ireland and Morocco, about Spanish fishermen.


Ever since liberalization became a goal in the late 1950s, Spanish industry has been growing and becoming more diversified. This is particularly the case in mining, manufacturing, and metalworking. As a result, companies have grown bigger, and foreign investment has become more significant.


Spain has one of Europe's most important and diversified mining sectors. Over half the production is coal, while other major products are iron, pyrites, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, uranium, mercury, potash, and chloride. Despite its strength, Spanish mining is not sufficient to satisfy domestic demand and, therefore, Spain continues to be a large-scale importer of minerals. Due to competition from other EU countries, the Spanish mining industry has been subject to restructuring and closures, especially in the Asturian coal industry, which has led to miners' protests. The mining sector remains stagnant but is expected to recover when Spain increases its gold production.


The iron, steel, and shipbuilding of Asturias and the Basque Country experienced downsizing in the 1980s. However, the sector has been recovering strongly since 1996, thanks to increased production in shipbuilding, data-processing equipment, and transportation equipment.


In the automobile industry, Spain's top exportersOpel, SEAT, Volkswagen, Citroen, and Renaultset records in 1996 and 1999. The fact that all car producers in Spain are foreign multinationals is reflective of their strength in the economy. The German car company Volkswagen, for example, actually received large amounts of subsidies from the Spanish governments of the 1980s and 1990s to take over the (then) only native Spanish car manufacturer, SEAT.

In other manufacturing activities, however, foreign multinationals play less of a role. For example, the cotton, woollen textiles, and clothing industries have maintained their importance in the economy. Predominantly located in the Catalan area since the 19th century, they are characterized as being small- and medium-sized enterprises that are family-owned. Spain also manufactures toys, shoes, electrical appliances (televisions, refrigerators, and washing machines), and foodstuffs. Toys and shoes, in particular, have a reputation for high quality and constitute a main export for the manufacturing sector.



Spain overtook the United States recently as the world's second most important tourist resort. The tourist industry employs 12.5 percent of the Spanish workforce and accounts for 10 percent of GDP, with a 9 percent annual growth rate. The success of the industry stems from a variety of factors. It generally costs less to travel and vacation in Spain compared to many places in the world. Spain's already high-quality resorts are improving as aging accommodations are restored. The warm weather is another draw for tourists, especially in southern Spain. The main tourist areas are Mallorca, the Canary Islands, and the Costa Brava. The total number of tourists in 1999 was 58,588,944, and the total number of available accommodations in the country was 1,282,013. This booming industry's role in the Spanish economy does have a downside, however; some analysts worry that the seasonal nature of the tourist industry may add to the precariousness of the Spanish labor market.


The largest Spanish bank is the BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria), and the second largest is the BSCH (Banco Santander Central Hispano), both the fruit of mergers in 1999. BBVA is the product of the merger of the Banco de Bilbao (founded in 1857), Banco de Vizcaya (1901), and Argentaria (1983); the BSCH comes from the merger of Banco de Santander (1857), Banco Hispano-Americano (1900), and Banco Central (1919). Other important banks in Spain include Banco Urquijo, the Grupo March, la Caixa, and Caja de Madrid. The concentration of native Spanish banks in the sector stems from the Ley de Ordenación Bancaria of 1921 that disallowed foreign banks from operating in Spain for several years. Although foreign banks were allowed to enter into Spain in the early 1960s, the stronghold obtained by main Spanish players effectively prevented outside competition. In fact, when many of the foreign banks entered the Spanish market in the late 1960s and early 1970ssuch as Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and Manufacturer's Hanover Trustthey did so only with the cooperation of big Spanish financial players such as Banco Bilbao, Vizcaya, and Santander. Cooperation included the sharing of staff with members of Spanish financial institutionsespecially important given the fact that many foreigners cannot speak Spanish. Despite liberalization of the financial sector, Spanish financial capital maintained its dominance.

Today, Spain's financial services are diversified and fully integrated in the international financial markets. The EU single market in banking and insurance services has intensified competition, brought down interest rates, and encouraged mergers. Spanish banks are well capitalized. Beyond the main players mentioned above (BBVA, BSCH), there are 103 domestic private banksmostly headquartered in Madridand 53 foreign ones34 of which are headquartered in the EU. There are also 50 confederated savings banks and 12 regional savings bank federations that are, in principle, non-profit making. They concentrate on private savings and loans and financing public and private projects. To this day, Spanish investment and brokerage entities have increased in number and in the volume of their investments. The credit market is structured around private banks.


The sector is registering spectacular increases. The main operator of telecommunications is Telefónica, but, given recent liberalization initiatives, other operators such as Airtel and Amena have gained significant market strength in a short period of time. The mobile telephone market increased from 14 million to 19 million users during the first half of 1999. Growth is also expected in the cable television sector, even though only 10 percent of the population subscribes to these services. Although the number of PCs per household is low in Spain compared to other industrialized states, it is projected that falling PC prices and cuts to prices on local calls will allow for PC consumption to triple within 5 years.


The EU liberalized the aviation sector due to increased demand for air transport services. As a result, many new local airlines are in competition with the main national airline, Iberia. Two major new competitors, Spanair and Air Europa, have daily flights between major cities in Spain as well as the rest of Continental Europe and the United Kingdom.


The EU accounts for 72 percent of Spain's exports and 67 percent of imports, the most important trading partners being France and Germany (1998). The share of EU states involved in Spanish trade has grown in importance since Spain joined the EC/EU in 1986, reflective of the goals of the EC's Single European Act of 1986, which stressed completion of the internal market and decreasing

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Spain
Exports Imports
1975 7.690 16.265
1980 20.720 34.078
1985 24.247 29.963
1990 55.642 87.715
1995 91.716 115.019
1998 109.228 133.149
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

trade barriers between member states. Spanish trade with Latin America (7 percent of exports, 4 percent of imports) is explainable through the historical connections between the countries. Imports from OPEC (5 percent) reflect Spain's dependence on imported petroleum. Fifty years ago Spain exported agricultural products and minerals and imported industrial goods. The fact that the exports today are dominated by consumer goods and imports by machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, and semi-finished goods reveals how fundamentally the pattern has changed.

The Spanish balance of trade has long been negative; despite rapid growth in trade in the 1980s, imports continue to outweigh exports. Due to increased petroleum prices, the weakness of the Euro, and loss of competitiveness, the Spanish trade deficit increased significantly in 1999. The dependence on imported petroleum makes Spain vulnerable to developments in the Middle East.


Since the early 1990s, the Central Bank of Spain has pursued a monetary policy independent from the national government, similar to most other western European states. However, Spain's membership in the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) means its rates are set by the European Central Bank (ECB). While submission to the ECB is required of all EMU states, some have argued that such a move detracts from the state's right to pursue autonomous monetary policy. Indeed, implicit in being an EMU state is that domestic-level actors cannot easily pursue macro-economic stabilization initiatives as they see fit. For example, as was the case during the 1980s for states that belonged to the EMS/ERM (the European Monetary System/ Exchange Rate Mechanism , which was a fixed but adjustable parameter within which European currencies could fluctuate), states could not devalue their currency in order to boost their economies by promoting export-led growth. When the ECB sets long-term interest rates for all the EMU countries, states lose the ability to modify those rates in such

Exchange rates: Spain
euros per US$1
Jan 2001 1.0659
2000 1.0854
1999 0.9386
1998 149.40
1997 146.41
1996 126.66
Note: Rates prior to 1999 are in pesetas per US$.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

a way as to control inflation. Spain's traditionally high inflation in comparison with the rest of western Europe makes this a special concern for the country. Certainly, based on the attempt to achieve convergence criteria which stressed that inflation rates be reduced, in 1999 inflation was low at 2.3 percent. Although it was expected to decrease to 2.0 percent in 2000, structural problems in the past, such as wage-push inflation that is partly driven by union demands for higher wages, may result in price increases in the next few years. In such a scenario, the country's powerlessness in controlling interest rates may make it difficult to counter the rise.

Between 1995 and 1999 the peseta weakened from 124.69 pesetas to US$1 down to 149.40 pesetas to US$1. Since 1 January 1999 the exchange rate of the peseta is fixed to the euro, which has been decreasing in value since it was launched. This is same for all currencies of the EU (save most especially the British Pound Sterling) that are tied to the euro. Even though the fall in the peseta/Euro may boost the export market to non-euro countries, it will be offset with increase in import prices (of goods from outside EMU states) and inflationary tendencies are thus likely to follow. In such a scenario, pressure to increase long-term interest rates will likely ensue.

There are 4 stock exchanges in the Spanish stock market; the major ones are in Madrid (Bolsa de Madrid, The Madrid Stock Exchange) and Barcelona (Bolsa de Barcelona, The Barcelona Stock Exchange). Major stocks are listed in what is referred to as the Ibex-35, and the most heavily traded recently include Telefónica, Terra, Endesa, and Iberdrola. Due to recent reforms, the Spanish stock markets have become safer and more transparent, and their ways of operating and types of financial assets more varied.


Until the 1950s there was only a small industrial working class in Catalonia and the Basque Country, a traditional agricultural working class in the rest of the country,

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Spain 10,040 10,512 10,943 13,481 15,644
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
France 18,730 21,374 22,510 25,624 27,975
Portugal 6,024 7,193 7,334 9,696 11,672
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

and a small middle class. Industrialization came relatively late to Spain and was concentrated in few areas. The social structure was polarized between a small upper class, consisting fundamentally of large landowners (latifundia) and a large rural proletariat (jornaleros). In the South agricultural day laborers were employed on a seasonal basis by the large landowners; in the North ownership was more evenly distributed and there were many small family farms. In 1957 1 percent of the population belonged to the upper class, 38.8 percent to the middle class, and 60.2 percent to the lower class.

By 1988 the figures were 4.8 percent, 59.4 percent, and 32.9 percent, respectively. The growth of the middle class had begun by 1970. The numbers of agricultural workers fell, eroding the power of the large landowners and the rural bourgeoisie and diminishing the problem of the rural workers' social conditions. Today, professional, technical, managerial, and administrative groups have increased significantly as levels of education and qualifications have improved. The service sector has grown while manufacturing and construction declined. The urbanization, modernization, and economic development of the country can be seen in the social structure of the 1990s.

Earnings differential have increased in recent years. In 1981 a blue-collar worker in manufacturing or service earned 67.7 percent of a white-collar worker's salary in

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Spain
Lowest 10% 2.8
Lowest 20% 7.5
Second 20% 12.6
Third 20% 17.0
Fourth 20% 22.6
Highest 20% 40.3
Highest 10% 25.2
Survey year: 1990
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Spain 33 12 11 3 5 8 28
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
France 22 7 9 3 8 12 40
Portugal 29 8 7 2 19 6 29
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

the same sector; in 1992 the figure was only 62.5 percent. The earnings ratio between an unskilled laborer and a university graduate in 1988 was 100 to 371. In 1991 the poorer half of the households received 27.42 percent of total income and the richer half 72.58 percent.

The standards of living have risen significantly due to the improvement of the education, health, and other social welfare programs over the last 25 years. Education is compulsory until the age of 16, and university education is no longer the privilege of a small elite; by 1990 almost half the university students had parents with only elementary education. Twenty-nine of the 33 universities are public and access is merit-based. In cases where the regional government has responsibility over education, regional languages such as Catalan and Basque are obligatory. There is a free, universal health-care service for all citizens. There are both contributory and non-contributory unemployment benefits and pension provisions. It should be noted, though, that in the drive to decrease public spending, it is harder to qualify for unemployment benefits (for example, those holding temporary contracts are not eligible for unemployment payments). The amount given to those receiving non-contributory pensions (such as what is called the SOVI) received almost 10 percent less in real terms than 5 years ago. Vulnerable groupsthe disabled, elderly, abandoned children, single mothers, battered wives, families without income, and the homelessreceive special attention through different state-sponsored funding programs. Nevertheless, these services were only properly organized in the 1980s and the 1990s and Spain still spends a smaller share of the GDP on them than the EU average. Interestingly, Spain has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. While some have argued that this is a benefit of the social welfare system that attempts to universally cover all, others argue that long life expectancy is a consequence of the generally healthier Mediterranean diet, characterized by olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Despite the apparent strength of the policies of redistribution (such as education, health, and other social welfare programs), regional differences in wealth persist. The 3 richest autonomous communities are Madrid, Barcelona, and the Basque Country, which are representative of the financial and industrial strongholds of the country. The poorer regions in the country remain in the North and South, where the larger part of the economy remains agriculturally-based. These include Galicia, Castilla la Mancha, and Extremadura.


With regard to working conditions, the Spanish government's emphasis is on increasing flexibility, deregulation, and training programs. Compared to American standards, some say that the labor law is inflexible and discourages new hiring. Also, many consider the severance payments to be very high. Compared to the rest of the EU, the Spanish labor market is one of the lowest-paying and precarious. More than 35 percent of the work-force is actually on temporary contracts which are generally low-paying and can be canceled unilaterally any time by employers.

The government pursued 2 major Labor Market Reforms to achieve this flexibility. The first was in 1994 under the socialists and the second in 1997 by the Popular Party. Both reforms rescinded the rights and guarantees enjoyed by workers as originally framed within the Workers' Statute (ET) of the early 1980s. The reforms to the ET included allowing temporary contracts, opening space for private companies (agencies) to place temporary workers, introducing low-paying apprenticeship contracts, scrapping concepts such as extra pay for overtime work or a 40-hour work week, decreasing severance costs, and allowing employers to move workers between different functions and geographic locations.

The government pursued these reforms with the participation of the main business organization, CEOE (Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales, the Spanish Employers Organization), which reflects the increasingly marginalized role of trade unions. Trade unions of the early 1980s actively participated in the formulation of the Workers' Statute. Originally the UGT was affiliated with the socialists and CCOO to the communists, but both unions distanced themselves from the parties. Although they have been cooperating with each other more closely since, membership in both unions is low (estimated to be around 15 percent of active workers) and their role in collective bargaining has diminished, especially since the labor market reforms of the 1990s. As a result unions are hampered by organizational and financial weakness, which reduces their ability to negotiate.

With unemployment at 16 percent today, it is one of the highest in the industrialized world. It is therefore not surprising that this issue continues to dominate the government agenda. Unemployment is highest in Andalucia, Extremadura, Ceuta, and Melilla. Catalonia and Madrid enjoy the highest employment figures. The reasons behind the high unemployment rate are the decline in agricultural employment, inadequate skills of the labor force, small companies' difficulties in an increasingly competitive environment, and previously high inflation. Some economists estimate that the black market actually employs some 10 percent of the active population, mostly younger workers with few qualifications to enter the regular labor market.

The presence of women in the Spanish labor market is below European average even after increases in the 1980s and the 1990s. In rural areas women always participated in agricultural work and in urban context they are concentrated in manufacturing (textiles, leather, footwear) and services (retailing, hotels, restaurants, catering, public administration, education, health services, domestic and personal services). The presence of married and older women in the labor market is increasing, and legislation to prevent discrimination is among the most progressive in western Europe. Since 1989 women are offered 16 weeks paid maternity leave. Despite legislation, inequalities remain; women's unemployment in 1996 was 30.4 percent and women's work contracts tend to be either part-time or temporary. An average woman earns 72 percent of the average man, and women are underrepresented in the higher status occupations. A significant exception to this trend remains the fact that many scientists in Spain, especially in natural science, are female. The state's Council for Scientific Investigation has a slight female majority.


1492. On 12 October, Christopher Columbus discovers America.

1516. Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany assumes the Spanish Crown, following the death of Fernando of Aragon. Carlos I effectively unites the Spanish kingdoms of Castilla and Aragon, as well as the European and Italian dominions of the Habsburgs.

1700-14. The War of the Spanish Succession breaks out in 1700 (involving France, England and Austria) and ends in 1714. The French victors place Felipe V, who is the grandson of Louis XIV, as king of Spain.

1808-13. The War of IndependenceSpanish citizens rise against French domination (1808) and help defeat Napoleon.

1898. Spain loses the last of its remaining overseas colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. This officially marks the end of the Spanish empire.

1931-36. Second Republic. After the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in the 1920s, the Second Republic is established in 1931. The Second Republic provided a democratic and stable system of governance whereby there were free elections (where women had the right to vote as well) and guaranteed rights and freedoms for all citizens for the first time in Spanish history.

1936-39. Civil War between the Republicans (backed by the workers, socialists, and communists), and the Nationalists (led by General Francisco Franco, with the support of economic elites, Hitler, and Mussolini). Upon victory, General Francisco Franco leads Spain's government as a fascist dictator until his death in 1975.

1957-59. Stabilization Plan is proposed by the OECD and the IMF. Economy is liberalized and foreign investment enters, opening up Spain to international markets in order to save the state's economy from collapse after the policy of self-sufficiency. Followed by economic boom in 1960s and 1970s, known as the "economic miracle."

1975. King Juan Carlos assumes control in November, after Franco's death.

1977-82. First General Elections held (1977), won by UCD (Center Democratic Union); signing of Moncloa Pacts which aim to moderate wages, and strengthen the social welfare system (1977). UCD second victory in 1979.

1978. Democratic constitution, which guarantees rights and freedoms and basic liberal democratic principles for Spain, is approved by referendum.

1982-96. Socialist Party in power in Spain for 14 consecutive years. The first Socialist victory was one of the largest majorities in contemporary western Europe (1982); Spain joins NATO (1986). Despite strengthening the welfare state , Spanish Socialists strongly pursue neo-liberal economic policies, including privatization, deregulation, and labor market reform, especially between 1986-1996.

1986. Spain joins the European Community. Adoption of Single European Act solidifies Spanish commitment to the European Single Market Program (which highlights free movement of goods, persons, capital, and services). Unprecedented economic growth in Spain yields an annual increase in GDP of over 4 percent, 1986-1991.

1992. Spain agrees to Maastricht Treaty, which outlines criteria to be achieved by late 1990 for those EU states wanting to join the European single currency (Economic and Monetary Union, EMU). Spain therefore commits itself to deficit and debt reduction. Heavy cuts to the health, education, and pension systems ensue.

1996-PRESENT. Popular Party (Christian Democrats) comes to power for the first time in contemporary Spain. Commitment to deficit and debt reduction as well as controlling interest and inflation rates is reinforced. Second PP election victory, March 2000.

1999. Spain qualifies for EMU.


Spain is likely to experience further liberalization of markets and privatization in the sectors of telecommunications, defense, energy, transportation, and aerospace. In order to attract more foreign investors, the government will likely institute more labor law reform with the aim of increasing the flexibility of the labor market. Such reforms would result in lower salaries and more precarious forms of employment, which may also have negative social repercussions. Given increased economic and monetary integration in the European Union, it is likely that Spain will benefit in terms of its growth. In fact, economists project growth in telecommunication equipment, service markets, environmental services, and equipment and agriculture. Moreover, linguistic and historical links to Central and South America could increase the influence of Spanish firms in these geographical areas, with reciprocal investment by Latin American business leaders in Spain. Spanish representatives in the European Commission will play a key role in negotiating trade agreements between the EU and Latin America.

There are 3 main challenges that Spain faces in the next decade: 2 are at the domestic level and one at the EU level. First, illegal immigration and the high unemployment rate will continue to offer serious problems. Illegal immigration from Northern Africa to the South of Spain has become an increased focus of attention, especially considering that many die in their attempt to come to Spain. This, coupled with the fact that many illegal immigrants work in the black market, will continue to increase social tensions in a country that already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the industrialized world.

The second main challenge deals with eradicating the Basque terrorist group ETA. The group's activities are not contained to the Basque Country, which means that businesses in targeted metropolitan areas like Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona, are significantly and negatively affected. The threat of terrorist activity may likewise discourage foreign investors from locating their business in Spain. Although the Interior Ministry has made recent attempts to crack-down on ETA's activities, the terrorists' strong infrastructure and continued activities make it doubtful that an indefinite ceasefire is on the horizon.

The third main challenge facing Spain relates to its compliance with future EU initiatives. Spain has generally accepted EU deregulatory policies (that is, policies which attempt to discourage barriers to trade and prevent anti-competitive practices in the free-market) and economic and monetary policies (that is, Economic and Monetary Union and the Single Currency). However, EU policies which attempt to replace national legislation in areas such as the environment may continue to offer challenges. Further, policies which attempt to increase the size of the Union may be met with caution by Spain; enlargement may mean a slow down in structural funds flowing into Spain and movement of foreign investors presently in Spain to other low-paying, better educated, labor markets in Eastern Europe. Notwithstanding these potential challenges, Spain will continue to be one of the engines behind deeper integration and, along with Germany and France, will attempt to ensure that the EU remains an important player in the world economy.


Spain has no territories or colonies.


Chari, R. "The March 2000 Spanish Election: A 'Critical Election'?" West European Politics, Vol. 23, No. 3, July 2000.

Heywood, P. The Government and Politics of Spain. Comparative Government and Politics Series, edited by V. Wright. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Holman, O. Integrating Southern Europe: EC Expansion and the Transnationalization of Spain. London: Routledge, 1996.

Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) Anuario de Estadística. Madrid: INE, 1996-2000.

Lawlor, Teresa, and Mike Rigby. Contemporary Spain. New York, 1998.

Share, D. The Making of Spanish Democracy. New York: Praeger, 1986.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed August 2001.

U.S. Department of the State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Spain. <>. Accessed August 2001.

Raj S. Chari

Suvi Iltanen




Peseta (Pta). There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500 pesetas and bills of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 pesetas. Similar to other Western European countries which comply with the European Union's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the Spanish currency will no longer circulate after January 2002 when it will be replaced by the euro, the new unified currency of 12 European Union member states. The fixed exchange rate is 1 euro will be worth 166.667 pesetas. Since January 2000, transactions on the Spanish stock market have already been done in the new currency.


Production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, foodstuffs, leather products, and minerals.


Machinery and heavy equipment, fuels, chemicals, semi-finished goods, foodstuffs, and consumer goods.


US$677.5 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$112.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$137.5 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Kingdom of Spain
Region: Europe
Population: 39,996,671
Language(s): Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque
Literacy Rate: 97%
Academic Year: September-June
Compulsory Schooling: 10 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 5.0%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 21,403
Libraries: 3,600
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 2,799,960
  Secondary: 4,117,052
  Higher: 1,591,863
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 109%
  Secondary: 120%
  Higher: 51%
Teachers: Primary: 162,112
  Secondary: 270,866
  Higher: 88,223
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 17:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 108%
  Secondary: 123%
  Higher: 56%

History & Background

Spain, also known as the Kingdom of Spain, is made up of 504,782 square kilometers and is located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It borders Portugal on the west and France on the north. In terms of geography, it borders the Bay of Biscay and the North Atlantic, the Pyrenees Mountains, the southwest of France, and the Mediterranean Sea. Spain is made up of a high central plateau, which is broken up by many mountains and rivers. In addition to the landmass of the peninsula, Spain also includes the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Minorca, Cabrera, Ibiza, and Fomentra), the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Palma, Gomera, Hierro, Grand Canary, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote) and five territories of sovereignty on and off the coast of Morocco: Ceuta, Melilla, the Chafarinas Islands, the Peñón of Alhucemas, and the Peñón of Vélez de Gomora. The population of Spain is estimated to be 39,996,671 people, with a 0.11 percent population growth. There are three major cities: Madrid (4 million people), Barcelona (2 million), and Valencia (754,000).

In terms of religion, Spain is known to be 66.7 percent Roman Catholic, 1.2 percent Muslim, 0.8 percent Protestant, and 31.3 percent other. There are four recognized languages: Castilian Spanish, the official language spoken by 74 percent of the population; Catalan, spoken by 17 percent; Galician, spoken by 7 percent; and Basque, spoken by 2 percent. The Spanish population has a literacy rate of 97 percent. About one percent of men and two percent of women are illiterate.

During the Franco Period, there was no discussion of cultural or ethnic diversity. Spain believed that Castilian was the only permissible language. In any discussions of Basque, Catalan, or Galician peoples, the lines between ethnicity and nationalism became fused. From the perspective of the National government, Basques, Catalans and Galicians were nationalities within a larger and inclusive Spanish state or nation. However, for many Basque and Catalan nationalists, there is no Spanish nation but only a country made up of ethnic nations or autonomous communities. To further complicate this issue, one must also consider the role of immigration of peoples to these areas, especially the Basque Country and Cataluña to find work. These non-ethnic groups are faced with learning and using the languages of these areas.

In addition to Basques, Catalans, and Galicians, there is another important minority group, Spanish Gypsies. Gypsies refer to themselves as Rom and to their language as Romany. Gypsies in Spain are usually divided into two groups: Gitanos (Gypsies) and Hungaros (Hungarians). Historically, Gitanos live in the southwest and central regions of Spain. Traditionally, many have worked as street vendors and entertainers. Hungaros are said to be Kalderash; they are generally poorer and more nomadic than the Gitanos. The exact population of Gypsies in Spain is unknown. Estimates range from 300,000 to 450,000. The traditional nomadic and segregated lifestyles of the Gypsies have dictated inequitable access to welfare services, housing, and education.

Since the nineteenth Century, illiteracy in Spain had been on the decline. It was estimated that during 1860 and 1900, it was between 75 and 63 percent. It had decreased at an important rate to about 15 percent in the 1950s. The highest rate of illiteracy is found in rural areas among women.

Spain is in the progress of evolving its economy and integrating into the European Union. It suffered a recession in the 1990s and saw an upturn in 1994. However, Spain has also suffered from a very high unemployment rate of up to 25 percent. The GNP is 44.5 billion (estimated 1998) and the per capita GDP is $8,300. The most significant economic progress has been in the area of tourism.

With respect to the government, Spain is a parliamentary monarchy ruled by the Chief of State, the King, and a head of government, the president the Popular Party (PP). The Spanish legislative system is bicameral and made up of General Courts (Cortes) a type of national assembly, which is made up of a Senate whose members are directly elected by popular vote, and 51 others appointed by the Regional Legislatures and the Congress of Deputies, also elected by popular vote. Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities.

The most important political pressure groups in Spain include business and land-owning interests, the Catholic Church, the Basque group, free labor unions, the radical independence group known as Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), the Anti-Fascist Resistance Group (GRAPO), the Opus Dei, a conservative Catholic organization, the General Union of Workers (GTU), university students, and the Workers Confederation. Among the most important political parties are the Popular Party (PP), the Convergence and Union Party of Cataluña, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), and the Spanish Communist Party (PCE).

Spain, as part of the Iberian Peninsula, is made up of an interplay between a diverse geography, which fostered a series of separate regional communities and a history of foreign invasions. Spain's geography is made up of a central plain, a series of coasts, and substantial mountain ranges. Iberia, as the political and cultural basis of modern Spain, did not exist in antiquity and only came into being as a series of small kingdoms during the Middle Ages. The indigenous people of Iberia were overrun by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Celts, and most importantly by the Romans. Iberia or Hispania as the Romans called it, became a late Roman colony. Among all the invaders of the Iberian Peninsula, it was the Romans who brought unity through a series of important cultural reforms. From the beginnings of the second Punic War (218-201 B.C.) and for the next 600 years, Iberia became part of the Roman Empire and was under Roman rule. Changes in the Roman substratum of Iberian culture were brought about through the arrival of Christianity and the invasion of the Visgoths, a Germanic people from northern Europe.

The cultural changes, which Spain experienced at this time, were profound, especially in terms of religion. The Visgoths maintained many of the Roman traditions, but only within a Christian context. At the level of language, however, Latin continued as the linguistic substratum. While Latin would eventually evolve into Castilian, Catalan, or Galician, the language of daily life, as well as the language of academic life, continued to be Latin.

Thus, the formal history of education in Spain must begin with the history of Roman education because it established the basis for subsequent educational thought and literature for many centuries. Romans brought their system of education to Spain, and it flourished as in all parts of the Roman Empire. Roman education in Spain took many forms. It usually started with the education of children in the family by parents and relatives or tutors. Fathers frequently educated their sons by using paternal precepts (pracepta paterna ). It was often the case that private tutors from distant lands, at times slaves, were also used to educate children. This was especially true in the case of teachers of Greek. Primary and secondary education was in the hands of the pedagogues, preceptors, or magisters. These teachers were in charge of teaching the young the basic notions of language (Latin and Greek), as well as with the basics of literature, rhetoric, and philosophy. There also existed special schools for the specific teaching of grammar and literature. Teachers in these schools were known as grammatistes and students who attained high levels of grammar were known as grammatikos.

Higher education also flourished in Spain from the period of the late Republic onwards. Many famous orators, poets, political figures, philosophers and educators came from Roman Spain. This list might include the older and younger Seneca, Mela, Columella, Martial, and Quintilian. Quintilian was born around A.D. 35 in Calagurris in the northern Roman Spanish province known as Hispania Tarraconensis. He was a famous teacher of Latin and rhetoric. During his early years, he studied in Rome and later returned to Spain to teach rhetoric and work as a lawyer (advocate). He returned to Rome during his later years.

During the fifth century, western and southern Europe experienced large-scale invasions by the Visigoths, Germanic peoples from the north of Europe. These groups were quick to become Christianized, and they took over the control of Roman governmental administration while keeping many aspects of Roman culture.

Education in the Middle Ages became much more formalized in Spain during the Middle Ages with the establishment of monastic schools in the fifth century. It was the primary role of the Church to educate literate clergy for Spanish medieval society. In the Islamic period, Moorish invaders overran Visigothic Spain at the beginnings of the eighth century. At this time Moorish peoples from the North of Africa (mostly Berbers) crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in 711. Seven years later in 718, most of Iberia was under Islamic control. Of all the invasions that Spain was to experience, this was the most significant. The Moors developed a strong military and technologically advanced society in Iberia, which was known for more than eight centuries for its cultural arts and tolerance of beliefs. At this time, Christian, Muslims, and Jewsthe principal populations of Spainlived in comparative harmony.

During the second half of the ninth century, and in the tenth century, important Islamic academies were founded in Moslem Spain, especially in the city of Cordoba. In these academies, education originated mostly from close studies of the commentaries of the Koran and philology. Muslims, Spanish speaking Ibero-Roman Visigoths, and Hispanic Jews shared in each other's educational traditions. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, Judaism developed its own system of education, which was, for the most part, based on the famous Talmudic Schools of the Near East. Important changes to this system arose during the tenth century. During this time, Jewish schools changed emphasis. Spanish Jews, known as Sephardi, were strongly influenced by Islamic educational thought and thus changed their areas of focus to include philosophical, scientific, and linguistic subjects. Jews made important contributions to Spanish culture during the Middle Ages, but these contributions must be considered within the context of Islamic Spain, especially during the years 711-1100. Important Jewish communities existed in the cities of Seville, Toledo, Burgos, Valeria, and Saragossa, as well as in other cities like Cordoba and Segovia.

Jews continued to make significant contributions to Spanish culture and education throughout the late Middle Ages, especially in the areas of medicine, philosophy, and literature. Jewish education in Spain was closely tied to Jewish temples, as well as to Arabic and Christian centers of learning. Unlike today, scholars from Jewish temples, Islamic mosques, and Christian cathedrals were in constant conversation. Centers of higher learning existed throughout independent Spain and these centers were especially well known for the teaching of medicine. In Spain, medieval education was intimately connected with religion in all the three major religious faithsChristian, Moslem, and Jewish. The system that was based on the classical traditions of the Roman Period eventually went into decline. However, the Christian system of education continued to be based on the study of the seven liberal arts (the Trivium and Quadrivium).

During the fifteenth century, Renaissance humanism spread from Italy to Spain. As in other European countries, Renaissance education in the humanities was a court phenomenon. The Spanish court of Alfonso V, in Naples, provided a direct flow of Italian educational ideas from Italy to Spain. At the center of this exchange of ideas and information was the Spanish College of San Clemente at the University of Bologna, where many Spanish students studied. During the second half of the sixteenth century, Spanish higher education started to decline; this decline began during the reign of Philip II and the application of the Ley Pragmática of 1559, whereby Castilians were prohibited from studying in foreign universities, with the exception of those in Rome or Naples. The Counter Reformation and the Spanish King's siding with the Council of Trent continued Spain's isolation and curtailed any reforms brought on by Renaissance humanism in educational thought. At the end of the seventeenth century, and at the beginning of the eighteenth century, a small group of Spanish thinkers began to speak out against Spain's intellectual isolation. This group of scholars, known as the Novatores denounced Spain's backwardness and called for the introduction of modern science and thought into Spain's cultural landscape.

The eighteenth century in Spain was a period of reform and one of the principle instruments of reform was education. In fact, education offered one of the greatest possibilities for bringing about reform in Spanish society. During this time, education in Spain was in a dismal state. Some Spaniards had read about the critiques of education in the writings of Rousseau, as well as in the writing of Spanish intellectuals such as Father Benito Feijoo and Luis Antonio Verney. There was no true educational system in eighteenth-century Spain. Education was governed and controlled for the most part by municipalities, town councils, and by the church through the teaching efforts of religious orders.

The reforms put forth by the liberal Spanish governments of the early nineteenth century were similar to those of the eighteenth century. The educational thought of M. Quintana and Gil de Zárate sought to free Spanish educational institutions from the restrictions of the past. However noteworthy these attempts at reform seem to be, in the end, they failed. Spanish liberals believed that Spain had to provide for the most important services and needs of the population. Clearly, education was one of paramount importance. According to the Constitution of 1812, education was the basic responsibility of the State. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that there were any real efforts for constructing a true system of education for Spain. This systematic provision of education was not at all successful. Throughout the nineteenth century, from 1821 to 1857, a great deal of educational legislation was put forth to better Spain's educational system. Basic educational reform had to be restructured into new governmental offices.

The later half of the nineteenth century was a period of political conflict between those who sought to establish a democratic constitution and conservatives who wished to continue and restore the power of the Crown. The Revolution of 1868 and the subsequent establishment of the First Republic (1873) highlighted the importance of academic freedom and the separation of Church and State in the matters of education. With the coming of the Restoration (1874), King Alfonso XII returned to the throne and conservatives sought to re-establish church control in education. Throughout the nineteenth century, liberals and conservatives engaged in bitter battles over educational issues. One of the most important conflicts arose in 1875, when the government proclaimed the Decree of 1875. This decree directed university presidents (Rectores ) to oversee that "nothing contrary to Catholic dogma or morality" would be taught in their universities. The decree set off a controversy and protests from many university professors. Opponents saw the decree as a violation of their academic freedom. Many professors were dismissed or removed from their chairs.

The Revolution of 1868, and the establishment of the First Republic in 1873, was a period of political tensions. Special attention was given to the importance of academic freedom but the vast majority of educational reforms were not successful. In 1874, after a brief period of Republican efforts, the Monarchy was restored, and education fell into a constant battle between liberals and conservatives. The political instability of this period can also be seen in the many attempts at reforms in the areas of secondary and higher education. The period of the Restoration ended with the military uprising of General Primo de Rivera in 1923 and his attacks on academic freedom in Spanish higher education. During this period, many Spanish intellectuals and university professors were exiled or silenced, among them, the noted poet-philosopher Miguel de Unamuno.

With the coming of the Second Republic in 1931, a new Constitution brought new important educational reforms, including the call for free compulsory Primary Education, academic freedom and non-religious instruction. All these changes came to an end with the failure of the Republic and the success of the Nationalist forces of General Franco at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. During subsequent years, education in Spain was converted into the transmission of Franco's views of Spanish Nationalism and Catholic ideology. There were important reforms in the 1950s with some changes to elementary and secondary education and the establishment of preuniversity course of study.

Important changes in economics and demography came to the forefront in the 1960s. This was a period of significant economic and demographic growth, as well as an intense time of industrialization. However, the authoritarian Franco government did not provide for democratic reforms; thus, this period is also characterized as a time of internal conflict, especially in Spanish Universities. Five years before the death of Franco, the Spanish government carried out its most significant educational reform since the Moyano Law of 1857. This reform, known as the General Law on Education (LGE), sought to reorganize the whole of the Spanish educational system. In the end, only limited reforms were enacted and these were quickly out of date due to the increasingly fast social and economic changes that Spanish society was forcing.

One of the most important events, which changed not only contemporary Spanish education but also the whole of Spanish society and culture after the death of Franco, was the Spanish Constitution of 1978. One of the first attempts at reform, which came about after the establishment of the new Constitution, was the Organic Law of 1980 (LOECE) which, while short lived, laid the foundations for the University Reform Law (LRU) of 1983. This reform established the basis for the Organic Law on the General Organization of the Educational system of 1990 and the subsequent Organic Law on Participation (LOPEG), which characterizes the basic nature and structure of Spanish education at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

The Catholic Church has always played a significant role in the history of Spanish education. The relationship of the Church throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had been complex and significant. A series of Concordats with the Vatican have solidified these relationships. The first in 1851, established Catholicism as the official state religion of Spain. However, this Agreement was revoked in 1931 with the coming of the Second Republic and a series of anticlerical government measures. With the success of Franco, after the Spanish Civil War, the power and status of the Church was restored with the approval of the 1952 Concordat. This agreement had important implications for education. According to this agreement, Catholic religious instruction was to be mandatory in all schools, even in public schools. Additionally, the Church was given the right to establish universities. With the coming of democracy, the reduction of state subsidies for education was established. By the end of 1987, however, issues surrounding government subsidies for Church education had not been resolved. At the end of the twentieth century, the government continued to subsidize private Church-affiliated schools. In 1987, the Church received $110 million. These subsidies have continued in the creation of educational institutions that are private but receive state funds.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Educational legislation in Spain is built and guided by the principles of law as established in the Constitution of 1978 and four basic organic acts: the Organic Act on University Reform of 1983 (LRU); the Organic Act on the Right to Education (LODE) of 1985; the Organic Act on General organization of the Educational System (LOGSE) of 1990; and the Organic Law on Participation and Administration of Educational Establishments (LOPEG) of 1995. As such, the fundamental legal text of education is the LOGE. Among the basic stipulations of this law was most of the repeal of the 1970 Law of General Education (LEG). The General Education Law of 1970 was the first and most important law of modern times. Among its fundamental characteristics were compulsory education of all the Spanish population between the ages of 6 and 14; a demonstrated concern for quality education for all; and support for private education at non-higher education levels.

The General Educational Law of 1970 soon became obsolete because of the important political, social, and economic changes, which Spain went through in the late 1970s, especially because of the changes brought on by the death of Franco. The changes in the government were a transition from a military dictatorship and the transition to a democracy. Other important changes in Spanish society, which occurred during this time were the incorporation of Spain into the European Economic Community (later European Union) and the reorganization of Spain into autonomous regions with home rule.

After the General Education Law of 1970, the next important educational legislation in Spain was the Law of University Reform (LRU) of 1983 and the Organized Law for the Right of Education of 1985 (LODE). The University Reform Law called for autonomy and self-regulation for universities and distributed the responsibilities for higher education among the State, the autonomous communities, and the universities themselves. It aimed at a decentralization and more democratic organization of Spanish universities. In addition it sought to simplify the hierarchy of the university teaching staff and thereby encourage higher quality in university teaching and research. The LODE, the Right of Education Law, of 1985 affirmed the right and educational opportunity of all Spaniards and it also provided for a greater role for "society" in the educational system. In addition, it provided for economic funding for both public and private educational centers.

The next important piece of educational legislation was the LOGSE, The Organic Law for the General Organization of the Educational System of 1990. This legislation called for the reorganization of the academic system of compulsory education for children from the ages of 6 to 16. Its purpose was to increase the quality of the educational system by including periodic assessment and evaluation, as well as the improvement of professional teacher training and the establishment of general educational objectives for the whole student population.

Educational SystemOverview

The educational system was reorganized in the following manner: preschool (from 0 to 6 years) was organized into two cycles (0 to 3 years and 3 to 6 years); elementary education (ages 6 to 12 years) was organized into three cycles (6 to 8 years, 8 to 10 years, and 10 to 12 years); compulsory education (ages 12 to 16 years) was divided into two cycles (12 to 14 years and 14 to 16 years); and secondary education (16 to 18 years) included either bachillerato (preparation for university studies) or professional training (vocational training). One of the innovations of the LOGSE was the introduction of constructivist approaches to learning and teaching based on the ideas of Piaget, schema theory, and the social constructivism of Vygotski.

Compulsory education in Spain is provided by the LOGSE legislation. According to this law, compulsory free education is for the 10-year period of all children from 6 to 16 years of age. This compulsory education is divided into two stages of educationprimary education from ages 6 to 12 and secondary education (Educación secundaria obligatoria or ESO) from ages 12 to 16. The later is divided into two, two-year cycles. The most common ages for the first cycle is 12 to 14 years, while the ages for the second cycle are and 14 to 16 years. Compulsory education is considered to be public service and, as such, is publicly funded.

According to the Ministry of Education, during 1999 student enrollments were as follows: preprimary, 1,131,044 students; primary education, 2,526,565 students; special education, 27,160 students; first cycle of ESO (compulsory education), 968,233 students; second cycle of ESO, 1,037,251 students; and bachillerato level, 484,260 students. A total of 70 percent of students attended public schools and 30 percent attended private institutions.

For the most part, women in Spain have reached equality. They represent equal, near equal, and sometimes above equal representation in all levels of education. At the preprimary level, they represent 48.0 percent of students; at the primary level, 48.0 percent; at the secondary level (ESO), 48.9 percent; at the bachillerato level, 53.0 percent; vocational training (FP), 47.0 percent; and university level, 53.2 percent.

The official school calendar is not established by the state, but by each autonomous community, according to minimum standards. The same calendar must be in effect for all cities, towns and areas within the autonomous community. In Spain, the layout of the school year varies according to the educational level. For preschools, the school year begins in the first week of September and ends in the last week of July. In Spain, most schools have one-week holidays at Christmas and Easter, as well as the entire month of August. Individual autonomous communities also offer particular individual holidays. For primary education, the term is from September to June. For secondary education it is from September to June; however, for higher education, the school year is from October to June.

According to the Spanish Constitution of 1978 (amended in 1992), "The Spanish Nation promotes and protects all Spanish people in the exercise of human rights, their culture, tradition, and languages." In Article 3 of the Constitution, it is stipulated that Castilian Spanish is the official language of the nation, together with the co-official languages of the autonomous communities: Catalán (Catalonian) in Cataluña and the Baberaric Island; Basque (Euskera) in the Basque Country and in Navarre; Galician (Gallego) in Galicia; and Valencian (Valenciano) in Valencia. It should be noted that Catalán, Gallego, and Valenciano are romance languages derived from Latin and Basque, a non-proto-type-European language of unknown origins. The Spanish Constitution further recognizes the right of the autonomous communities to use their languages in administration and teaching. Spanish and the regional languages of the autonomous communities are the languages of instruction in all centers of compulsory education. The use of the various languages of the autonomous communities varies and is subject to the politics of language policy.

Spanish institutions of higher education have also included the use of regional languages so that Basque is used in Basque's universities, Gallego in the Universities of Santiago and Vigo and Catalán, and Valenciano in the areas of Cataluña and Valencia. It should be noted that Catalán is also used in areas of Aragon, and that Valenciano is closely related to Catalán; some would consider it a dialect, but there is no official agreement on its relationship to Catalán. In most Spanish universities, the language of the autonomous communities, where they are different from Spanish, is the language of administration; however, Spanish is used throughout in teaching.

Grading at the secondary level is done on a 1 to 10 point scale, with the following notation: 10, Excellent (Sobresaliente, Matricula de honor ); 8.5 through 9, Outstanding (Sobresaliente ); 7 through 8.4, Very Good (Notable ); 6 through 6.9, Good (Bien ); 5 through 6, Passing (Suficiente ); Below 5, Failure (Insuficiente ). Grading at the university level is also done on a 10-point scale. The grade of 10 is Excellent (Matricula de Honor ); 9 through 9.9, Outstanding; 7 through 8.9, Good; 5 through 6.9, Passing; Below 5, Failure.

The bachillerato (baccalaureate) curriculum requires two years of study with a common curriculum for all students and specific curricular paths for students in art, natural science and health, humanities and social sciences, and technology. The common curriculum includes physical education, philosophy, foreign language, religion, and electives. The different autonomous communities offer differences in educational paths and timetables but the greatest differences are in the area of electives. Most of the autonomous communities include electives with content and subjects, which are specific to each region such as history of the Canary Islands or geography of Andalusia. Since 1978, the bachillerato curriculum also includes the regional language of the autonomous communities (Catalan, Gallego, Basque, and Valencian). The study of languages includes English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, and Greek. In addition to the latter, most schools must offer at least two foreign languages.

Textbooks for primary and secondary levels are selected by the National School Council in collaboration with the educational administrations of the Autonomous Communities. The National School Council selects materials, which will be used in common for all of Spain, and the Autonomous Councils select those materials that are specific to regions.

Special Education & Learning Disabilities: Learning disabilities as they are defined in the United States and other countries does not exist as a legal category in the area of special education. There is no legislation that has considered learning disabilities as a diagnostic category, and IQ-achievement is not used for the identification of learning disabilities. In Spain, it is conceptualized in a much broader sense, which ranges from permanent deficits (sensorial, physical motor, and intellectual) to socalled "transitory" or less severe deficits.

Special education does indeed have a long history in Spain though. It dates perhaps back to 1550, with the work of Pedro Poncé de León and his attempts at educating deaf children. In 1785, the first school for the education of deaf-mutes was established in Spain. As one might imagine, throughout Spanish history there have been many prejudices associated with the concept of deficiency. Popular negative attitudes have not met with the needs for the education of this population. Plans for the compulsory education of all Spanish children during the twentieth century further underscored the problems and needs for special education in Spain.

Preprimary & Primary Education

The first legislation on primary education in modern contemporary Spain appears in the Constitution of 1812. It is mentioned but not discussed in detail. The first real discussion of primary education with the context of a total educational system is found in the Moyano Law of 1857. According to this law or educational act, elementary schooling was to be compulsory and free. This law also established the foundations for private education in Spain, which at the time were mainly Catholic Schools.

During the years 1874 to 1923, the time of the Spanish Restoration and the Dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera, a series of educational reforms were established in Spain but they did not change the fundamental character of Primary Education as established by the Moyano Law of 1857.

Some of the most important changes to primary education came with the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931. During this time, the single school unit, together with compulsory and free primary education, was established. Other important changes during this time regarded the use of regional languages as languages of instruction and the non-compulsory teaching of religion.

From the end of the Spanish Civil War until the 1970s, especially with the death of Franco, one of the principal functions of primary education was the teaching of Francoist ideology of "national Catholicism." Important educational legislation was enacted in 1945 (The Primary Education Act of 1945) and in 1953 with the Educational Establishment Law. According to the latter, the Spanish Educational system was organized into two different systems. The first was a system of primary education for students aged 6 to 13 years, who terminated their studies at age 13. The second system was organized around primary education from 6 to 9 years of age, which was followed by secondary education from the ages of 10 to 17. The later was designated as the group that would have access to higher education.

This system was significantly altered by the General Education Law of 1970 (LGE), which reorganized the entire educational system for the first time since the Moyano Law of 1857. According to this legislation, general education was to be universal and compulsory (full schooling) for students between 6 and 14 years. It was organized around general basic education (EGB) and was made up of both primary and secondary education. This legislation was again reformed in 1990 by the creation of the Organic Law on the General Organization of the Educational System (LOGSE). This law stipulated that both primary and secondary education (ESO) were to be free and compulsory. Furthermore, this law provided for a new level of instruction for students in primary education between the ages of 6 and 12 years.

Secondary Education

After the 1990 Legislation, compulsory secondary education lasted for four years, which was divided into two two-year cycles and which followed six years of general primary education. Upon graduation from secondary school, students received the degree Graduado en Educación Secondaria (Degree in Secondary Education). After secondary education, students would go on to the bachillerato if they planned to attend a university. After the completion of the bachillerato, students were required to take a university entrance examination, known as Prueba de Acceso or Selectividad.

Secondary education is organized in content areas similar to those set out for primary education. The curriculum is divided into two cycles: First Cycle and Second Cycle. Required subjects are emphasized in the First Cycle and students have more options for electives in the Second Cycle. Each cycle is divided into two, two-year groups.

Curricular content in secondary education is divided into common compulsory subjects and electives. Minimum core curricula are set by the state, and the Autonomous Community defines core curricula. Common compulsory subjects include natural science, physical education, plastic and visual education, social studies, geography and history, foreign languages, Spanish, the official regional language of the Autonomous Community (where there is one), literature, mathematics, technology, and music. All secondary schools must offer religious education, but it is not compulsory.

According to the stipulations of the statutes of the ESO Law, evaluation and assessment of students at the secondary level must be continuous and global and applied at the specific subject area. Evaluation must take into account the skills acquired at each level through the educational objectives of the various subject areas. Assessment is carried out by each level's teaching team, the individual teachers and is coordinated and supervised by the Counseling Department of each school. All data and information on student assessment must be included on the student's permanent academic record. Grades or evaluations are expressed in the following terms: Unsatisfactory (In), Satisfactory (Sf), Good (B), Very Good (N+), and Excellent (Sb).

Higher Education

Historically, the Spanish university system has been a very uniform and centralized educational organization. For many years it was characterized by an autocratic system of Catedraticos or permanent professors who controlled departments and subject areas. For most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, much of the Spanish university system was regulated by the state. During the 1960s and 1970s, a system of university departments was introduced in order to reform the outdated system of Catedras or professional chairs. The new position of Professor Numerario (University Professor) was created. During these years, student populations in universities increased, as did labor issues associated with university professors.

One of the most important changes to the university system came with the adoption of the Spanish Constitutions of 1978 and the creation of Autonomous Communities. Along with these changes came the recognition of autonomy for universities and the decentralization of the system of Spanish higher education. However, the most important reform in higher education came with the adoption of the University Reform Law of 1983. This legislation not only renewed the legal foundation of the university, but it also set out to regulate working conditions for university faculty.

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 provides for the existence of both public and private universities. There are two types of private universities in Spain: those that are Catholic, and those that belong and are administrated by other private organizations. There are four Catholic universities: The Pontifical University in Salamanca, The University of Duesto in Bilbao, The Comillas University of Madrid, and The University of Navarre in Pamplona. The first three of these universities are Jesuit and the last is run by the Opus Dei. There are four other important private universities: The S.E.K. University of Segovia, The CEU-San Pablo University, The Europa University, and the Pompeu Fabra.

Spanish universities are structured around the following administrative bodies: university council, governing board, faculties and department councils. The university council is made up of professors, students, and staff. The governing council or junta de gobierno is made up of the rector or president of the university along with vice-rectors, deans, and representatives of the students and professors. Each faculty, such as the faculty of philosophy and letters is governed and administered by the faculty council, which is made up of deans, associate deans, the directors or heads of departments, and representatives of professors and students. Departments, in turn, are administered by the department council, which is made up of the director of the department, professors, and students. The rector or president, as well as all deans, associate deans, and department deans, are elected by popular vote. Each university also has a university manager who is in charge of technical administrative matters. This is an appointed position.

As of 1999, Spain had 62 universities; the majority were public. Eight of these universities were Catholic. Catholic universities have traditionally been regarded as very effective and influential. Two Spanish public universities, the Complutense University of Madrid and the Central University of Barcelona, accounted for almost 20 percent of all students enrolled in Spanish universities.

Before the establishment of the Law on University Reform in 1983, universities were under the direct control of the government's Ministry of Education and Science. As a consequence of the 1983 Law on University Reform, one of the first educational reforms put in place by the new socialist government, control by the central government of universities was weakened and autonomy was increased. In the past, senior faculty exercised a great deal of control in university matters. The new law stipulated a shift of power from the faculty or a university council or Claustro. The Spanish university system is divided into two very distinct tracks. The first of these, the more academic, is a track where students follow a five-year or some six-year programs in liberal education and professional programs offered in facultades (academic departments in faculties) or three-year programs in socalled "University Schools" such as teaching or nursing.

Spain's universities exhibited a dramatic growth in the 1960s, more so than primary or secondary schools. From 1960 to 1972, university enrollments increased from 70,000 to more that 200,000. In the 1970s, the government was forced to reintroduce university entrance exams. The General Law of Education of 1970 had guaranteed places for all students who had completed the bachillerato program. The entrance of university bound students had to be restricted. Nevertheless, during subsequent years in the late 1980s, universities continued to enroll large numbers of students. The vast majority of those students were enrolled in the traditional faculties (law, medicine, philosophy and letters). In many cases, especially in medicine, the university was producing too many young people for professions that were already over crowded. Too many university graduates were not able to find jobs in professions for which they had been trained. This also contributed to Spain's already high rate of unemployment.

The ability to pay for a university education has also presented another problem. Most Spanish students have depended upon parental economic support for their education. Very few can work while completing their studies. For many years Spain has lacked the sufficient number of scholarship and student subsidies necessary for university age population. As a consequence, a university education remains the privilege and opportunity for the more financially secure population.

Women's enrollment in a university program has also increased in the 1980s. In 1984, about 47 percent of Spain's university enrollment were females. However, women were not and are not represented in all academic areas. The largest numbers of women are found in professions such as pharmacy, teaching, and journalism, professions which have always attracted large female populations.

Issues of autonomy and self-regulation have been central to the reforms in Spanish higher education from 1977 to the end of the twentieth century. Political events associated with the death of Franco and the coming of democracy brought about significant transformation in the structure and organization of Spanish universities. As indicated, Spanish higher education during the nineteenth century was characterized by a system of rigid centralization with power and control in the hands of the Ministry of Education. The 1960s and 1970s witnessed a further increase in government control in higher education. This system of centralization was characterized by very limited autonomy in a system where the central government appointed Rectors and controlled higher education through bureaucratic agencies.

Spanish universities focused their efforts on professional training and neglected scientific research. Universities were organized in traditional faculties (law and medicine) that produced the most students. Other faculties, (humanities, social science, and natural science) were not linked to the needs of the labor marker. Within the faculties, control over teaching was in the hands of a special corps of full professors known as catedráticos, who were also civil servants. In order to enter this corps, one had to pass through a rigid and formal system of admissions and examinations known as oposiciones (national examinations). In most cases, universities had little or no control over the admission and examination process for catedráticos. These full professors organized their teaching around their catedras (chairs) and they were not dependent on formal academic departments. The catedra was the department. It was often the case that there was only one chair per academic department or area of teaching. Junior lectures worked in the apprentice model teaching in and for the catedra while working on their doctorates. The catedraticos exercised total power and often had substantial freedom, autonomy and influence.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Spanish higher education experienced attempts at deregulation and greater autonomy. These attempts focussed on strengthening of managerial autonomy of universities and the progressive reduction of direct supervision by a central administration.

Demographic and political changes during the 1960s and 1970s stimulated the calls for more autonomy in Spanish universities. First, there was an enormous growth of students in Spanish universities. From 1960 to 1970, the student population in Spanish universities grew from 76,000 to 213,000. As the student population grew, however, the basic structure of the universities did not grow. Students experienced over crowding and were taught by following outdated and outmoded curricula teaching methods. Frequently, recent graduates faced increasing unemployment.

The 1960s and the 1970s were also times of increased political unrest. Students frequently protested poor conditions in the university, especially teaching by staff who held non-permanent positions. There was also continued protest against the authoritarian government of Francisco Franco. Students also pointed to the failures of the Franco educational reforms, notably the failures of the General Education Act of 1970. With the death of Franco in 1975, and the coming of the transition toward democracy, beginning with the first democratic election of 1977, calls for autonomy and self-regulation in higher education were again heard. The government responded with the creation of the University Reform Law. At the center of these calls for reform were the new Spanish Constitutions of 1978, which proclaimed that university autonomy was a fundamental right.

The drafting of the then new university law needed to be contextualized within complex political debates between new political parties, the traditional political parties of the transition and the new Socialist party. Increasing discussions on regional autonomy also fueled these disputes, especially by nationalists from Catalonia and the Basque Country. The University Reform Law could not be enacted until the victory of the Socialist Party in 1982. It was not passed until August 1983. The principle objectives of this legislation were to provide universities with greater autonomy and further extend the process of political decentralization. This law stipulated that university autonomy was not to be in the hands of professors but rather in the hands of university decision making bodies controlled by a consejo social (social council). The law also gave regional governments more control in the funding and management of universities in autonomous regions. Furthermore, the law stipulated that on the national level, universities were to be coordinated by a National University Council.

The University Reform Law focused on issues of equal access and quality of teaching and research. The law was intended, first and foremost, to provide equal access for all Spaniards in order that they might have the same opportunities in terms of university education. This law also sought to improve teaching and research by improving the departmental structures within universities, thus reforming the traditional chair (catedra ) based system. Furthermore, the law sought to improve the quality of teaching by raising academic standards and provide the university with a more flexible system of recruitment for new lecturers and professors. The later stipulation gave universities the power to create new posts and exercise influence and control over them. Finally, the new law gave universities more flexibility over course standards and curricula.

The establishment of the University Reform Law, brought with it some desired and some undesired results. First, there is no doubt that Spain witnessed an increase in political decentralization during the years from 1983 to 1996. During this time, there was an overall expansion of the university system in Spain. As a consequence of decentralization, the central administration of individual universities saw their control and power increased because of increased autonomy. However, universities experienced a different rate of autonomy. Autonomy in higher education was closely connected with increased autonomy of different regional governments. It was not until 1996 that this type of control was given to other regions. We must recall that the coordination of this decentralized system was in the hands of the University Council.

From 1983 to 1996, Spanish universities saw the number of their student bodies rise. This population increased from 692,000 in 1982 to 1,370,000 in 1994. With this increase came an increase in public funding for higher education. However, these increases were not enough to support the increase in student numbers, and Spain still lagged behind other European countries in terms of public expenditure on higher education. With some success, there also came failure in terms of university reform. The imprisonment that the University Reform Law hoped to attain in terms of quality had not been met. Among the failures of these reforms we can cite: failures to improve the department structures of the university; failures in improving the quality of teaching standards; and, failures in the modernization of the curriculum. But not all was failure. During the years of 1983-1996, Spain witnessed an increase in scientific research carried out in universities. But we must also remember that in Spain, not all research is done in universities. A substantial amount of research is carried out under the umbrella of The Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), which competes with the universities for government funding. In addition, more and more university-based scholars are seeking external funding for their research projects.

In short, changes to the basic structure of higher education in Spain have been modest. There has been a marked increase of autonomy and decentralization of the political administration of Spanish universities. The numbers of Spanish universities had increased, as had the output in research. However, the quality of teaching and the recruitment of teaching staff have not attained the levels sought by the reforms of 1983. Little progress has also been made in the course of study programs and curricula. While there have been some changes, the organization of courses into a system of credits, greater choice in electives and the division of the academic year into semesters, tradition modes of instruction based on lecture format teaching and note learning by students has not changed. Increased autonomy has solved the problems of localism and endogamy, which plague Spanish higher education. For the most part, Spanish universities while being bureaucratic institutions have not been able to structure themselves into more efficient bodies without appropriate regulatory or evaluative mechanisms.

Another significant reform in Spanish higher education provided for by the University Reform Law of 1983 concerned access and appointment to university teaching positions. Since 1983, university professors are hired at public universities through a system of competitive examinations consisting of two exercises. The first deals with a discussion of the professor's academic and research record, his or her curriculum vitae, and a detailed syllabus for the academic subject which is the candidates specialty. The second part of the examination includes a delivery and defense of the candidate's major theme. A jury of university professors awards these appointments. Candidates may apply for various types of university professorships, all of which require competitive examinations.

Those candidates who apply for university full professorships must hold the same position at another university or have up to and at least three years as professor. All candidates for these positions must have a doctorate degree in the area of specialization. In order to sit for the examination for professor, candidates must only have a Doctorate degree. Those who wish to apply for the position of full profesor licenciado need the Architect or Engineer degree. There are other venues of university appointment. Candidates may also seek a university position by means of applying for a contract. Each Spanish university has its own procedure for hiring by means of contracts. According to legislation stipulated in the University Reform Law of 1983, universities may also hire visiting professors or associate professors on a part-time or full-time basis. These positions are usually offered to well known experts in their fields of study. Spanish universities may also grant several types of honorary degrees, including profesor de honor or profesor honorario and professor emeritus, which is reserved for retired professors who have served the University for at least 10 years.

Finally, universities frequently hire full-time assistant professors for a maximum of two years. In order to apply for these positions, candidates must sit for a special examination and in addition, must have completed all their coursework for the doctorate as well as several years of research. These types of contracts may be reviewed for a period of up to three years providing the candidate has completed his or her Doctorate in the university period.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Spanish educational system is administered on many levels and in many ways, but the general administration of the system is in the hands of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. The Ministry of Education administers the educational system through the following organisms: the State Secretariat of Education, the Secretarial of Universities, and the Secretariat of Research and Development. Other important administrative organisms include the Interministerial Commission for Science and Technology, the General Direction for Higher Education and Scientific Research, the General Secretariat of Education and Vocational Training, and the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

In addition to these central administrative bodies and because of the self-regulation of the Autonomous Communities, much of the administration on the regional and local levels are in the hands of the governments of the Autonomous Communities. Local municipalities oversee educational centers at the preprimary and primary education levels. They are in charge of the construction, maintenance and repair of these centers. They also oversee compliance of compulsory education. Local municipalities may also create local school councils to oversee the individual educational centers.

In 1985, the public expenditure (percent of GNP) was 3.3 percent. Public expenditure in terms of the total percent of the government budget for the years 1993-1995 was 12.6 percent. Expenditures on primary and secondary education (percent of all levels) for the year 1994-1995 were 75.5 percent and 14.7 percent for higher education. It should be further noted that, in 1998, countries of the European Union spent 5 percent of their GDP on education and training.

The culture of evaluation and assessment is too new to the Spanish system of education. It can be argued that the system was first evaluated and assessed in global terms for the first time in 1976, when the National government called for results based on the General Education Law of 1970. Several evaluation centers have been created to undertake evaluation of the system. Among these are the Center for Research, Documentation and Evaluation (CIDE), which worked throughout the 1980s, and The National Inspections of Regional and local Educational Centers. At the level of higher education, there have been several notable attempts at evaluation during the period from 1992 to 1995. Among these efforts is the Program on the Evaluation of University System Quality (1992-1994), which was connected to the Project for Evaluation Quality set forth and administered by the European Union.

Significant attempts at evaluation, especially institutional self-evaluation take place at all schools and educational centers. For example, the Center for Educational Research turned its attention away from evaluation and concentrated its efforts on educational research, innovation, and documentation. In addition, the governments of the autonomous communities carried out important efforts at evaluation and assessment. These involved education for evaluation, assessment, and institutional research at all institutions of learning.

Nonformal Education

Distance Learning became reorganized at the end of the twentieth century. It is administered through The Center of Innovation and Development of Distance Learning (CIDEAD). This organization is an outgrowth and restructuring of an earlier institution INBAD, or the National Institute on Secondary Education Distance Learning, which primarily focuses on non-university distance learning and training. The CIDEAD is attached to the Ministry of Education and works with the open university (UNED) as well as distance learning organizations that belong to the Autonomous Communities. It carries out work in the areas of teacher training and didactic research and evaluation. In addition, it offers classes in the areas of primary education, secondary education, pre-university coursework, language learning, and vocational and technical training. In 1996 more than 80,000 students were enrolled.

Distance training courses from the proprietary sector are also offered through The National Association of Distance Learning Centers (ANCED), which is a private distance learning institution. Private institutions within this organization offer more than 600 different courses, most of which are vocational. Spain has two, so-called open universities that offer higher education through distance learning. They are the National Distance Learning University (UNED) and the Open University of Cataluña. The UNED was established in Madrid in 1971 and began offering classes in 1972. Degrees from the UNED are of an equal status to those in any other Spanish university, and students from the UNED may transfer to any other university. In 1997, the total enrollment of the UNED was 186,000 students. It is interesting to note that the UNED has associated centers in Bonn, Caracas, Brussels, Geneva, London, Mexico City, Paris, Rosario (Argentina), and San Paulo.

The next distance learning university, the Open University of Cataluña was established in Barcelona in 1995, and was a creation of the autonomous community of Catalonia. Among its areas of concentration and focus are the study of the Catalan language and culture. The UOC was founded as a distance learning university, but it has based its teaching structure on that of a virtual campus. During the academic year 1994-1995, some 200 students enrolled at the UOC. In February 2000, Spain's UNED Distance Learning Center joined the World Bank Institute's Global Learning Network in order to provide Spain with the most advanced multimedia learning environments through the use of the latest communication technologies (interactive video, electronic classrooms, satellite communications) and the use of the Internet.

Teaching Profession

Training for secondary education teachers has taken place historically at the university level. Secondary education teachers majored in various disciplines at traditional university faculties without receiving any specific teacher training. All that was needed was a university degree. This changed with the General Education Law of 1970 when future teachers were required to do specific pedagogical course work for teaching. Thus, in addition to university degrees (Licenciado, Engineer, Architect, or Diplomas for Technical or Vocational Training), secondary teachers also needed a special certificate, "Aptitude Certificate" or CAP, which indicated that they had completed coursework in pedagogical training. These certificates could be obtained at Educational Science Institutes.

The LOGSE of 1990 brought further changes to teacher training for those in the area of secondary education. This law called for the establishment of two different groups of secondary teachers: secondary teachers, or those teaching ESO (secondary education and bachillerato ), and technical teachers of vocational training.

The foundations and regulation of training primary school teachers dates back to the eighteenth century, but the most significant efforts for the development of teacher training centers are from the nineteenth century. It seems that the first teachers college (Escuela Normal de Maestros ) was founded in 1839. It served as a model for primary teacher training until the Law of General Education in 1970.

According to the 1970 law, university schools for teacher training were established to prepare teachers for teaching basic general education (EGB). During the 1970s, teachers received specialized training in their areas of curricular interest: preschool, humanities, philology, and special education. The next significant reforms to primary education teacher training were those indicated by the LOGSE Law of 1990. According to this law, training was to be in the first cycle of university study and the degree of Maestro would be awarded upon completion of the course of study. The law required all teachers at the preschool and primary school level to have the Maestro degree.

In 1992, salaries for Spanish teachers, primary and lower secondary, were as follows: for starting primary teachers, $22,964 with a maximum of $35,394; for lower secondary teachers, $22,964 with a maximum of $30,632. The two most important teachers unions in Spain are the Federation of Teachers (Federación de Enseñanza ), which belongs to Comisión Obreara (Workers Group) and the Federation of Workers in Education, which is associated with the Socialist General Union of Workers (UGT). While these unions periodically hold demonstrations throughout Spain, they do not represent the majority of Spanish teachers.


In 1996, the Ministry of Education and Culture proposed that the National Institute for Quality and Evaluation undertake an examination and diagnosis of the Spanish educational system. Committees focused on the following areas: student academic performance, teaching plans and methodology, school functioning, the role of teaching, and the relationship between schools and society. In its final report, this diagnostic study spoke to "symptoms" rather than "strengths and weaknesses" of the system. Among the most concerning symptoms and challenges for the future, it cited the following: the low academic performance by students throughout the entire system; increased incidences of vandalism and physical aggression in schools along side of a general lack of discipline; the insufficient training of teachers both at the beginning of their careers as well as ongoing faculty development; lack of communication between families (parents) and schools; the need for a clarification of values both for teachers and families, especially in light of a more pluralistic, democratic, and globally connected Spain; the need to harmonize the obligatory secondary system of education with the needs of a common course of study, the individual needs of students, and the needs of training students for careers and professions necessary for the demands of the Spanish economy.

Some of the newest important features of the Spanish educational system are related to Spain's incorporation in the European Union. This cooperation with the European Union dates from 1986 with Spain's entrance to the Union, but more importantly it corresponds with the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, which clarified the role of education in the Union. Among the significant aspects of this cooperation are the inclusion of Spanish students, professors, and educational specialists in European exchange programs, especially the Socrates Program, the Leonard Di Vinci Program, and the Youth with Europe Program. The Socrates Program, which was approved in 1995, establishes inter-university contracts among universities of the European Union. In addition to exchanges of students and faculty, the Socrates Program also deals with programs that involve language study and teaching, issues of multiculturalism and diversity, teacher training, and databases on European Education Networks such as The Eurydice Educational Network. The Leonardo Di Vinci Program, which was created in 1994 concentrates on European technical and vocational training. Its purpose is to improve technical training in all the countries of the European Union through innovative techniques in the area of vocational training through international exchanges.


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Rafael Chabrán

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Kingdom of Spain
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 40,037,995
Language(s): Castilian Spanish (official), Catalán, Galician, Basque
Literacy rate: 97.0%
Area: 504,782 sq km
GDP: 558,558 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 136
Total Circulation: 4,300,000
Circulation per 1,000: 129
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 10
Total Circulation: 5,827,000
Circulation per 1,000: 175
Newspaper Consumption (minutes per day): 18
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 1,692 (Euro millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 30.20
Magazine Consumption (minutes per day): 5
Number of Television Stations: 224
Number of Television Sets: 16,200,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 404.6
Television Consumption (minutes per day): 222
Number of Cable Subscribers: 466,100
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 11.8
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 1,840,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 46.0
Number of Radio Stations: 924
Number of Radio Receivers: 13,100,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 327.2
Radio Consumption (minutes per day): 95
Number of Individuals with Computers: 5,800,000
Computers per 1,000: 144.9
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 5,388,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 134.6
Internet Consumption (minutes per day): 6

Background & General Characteristics

As of the early 2000s, the press of Spain, like its contemporary culture and politics, is coming out of a period of transition. Salient characteristics of this press are low circulation and equally low per capita readership, at least in comparison to presses in other modern European countries. During the twentieth century the press became decentralized, and newspapers were established that focus more on the concerns of Spain's regions and autonomous communities often publishing in regional languages such as Catalán, Basque and Galician. In addition, newspapers have evolved from traditional print media to electronic versions published on the Internet. Another significant feature is the fact that most Spaniards rely on television rather than newspapers as their primary source of news. Only since the death of Francisco Franco in 1975 has political and cultural expression been unfettered. And only with the coming of the so-called transition to democracy in the 1980s has there been anything that approaches a critique of the government and prominent Spanish cultural institutions.

Located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe, the Kingdom of Spain is made up of 504,782 square kilometers. It borders Portugal to the west and France to the north. It borders the Bay of Biscay and the North Atlantic, the Pyrenees Mountains, the southwest of France, and the Mediterranean Sea. Spain is made up of a high central plateau, which is broken up by many mountains and rivers. In addition to the landmass of the peninsula, Spain also includes the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Minorca, Cabrera, Ibiza, and Fomentra), the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Palma, Gomera, Hierro, Grand Canary, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote) and five territories of sovereignty on and off the coast of Morocco (Ceuta, Melilla, the Chafarinas Islands, the Peñón of Alhucemas, and the Peñón of Vélez de Gomora.

Transportation improved a great deal in the twentieth century. With public or private transportation methods, travel is available to all parts of Spain. Spain has many harbors and ports along with an extensive train network. Spain has over 100 airports that accommodate both national and international flights. In addition, Spain has many bus companies, which reach all parts of the country. This wide and diverse transportation network is important for the distribution of the press.

Population Distribution

As of the early 2000s, the population of Spain is estimated to be approximately 40 million, with a 0.11 percent population growth. There are three major cities: Madrid (4 million), Barcelona (2 million), and Valencia (754,000). Since the 1980s there has been a rise in immigration to Spain from northern Africa, Asia, and Latin America. During the 1990s, in fact, Spain has become a country of immigration, although the number of legal resident foreigners is still low by comparison to other European countries. Frequently these immigrants are the targets of discrimination. In terms of religion, Spain is known to be 66.7 percent Roman Catholic, 1.2 percent Muslim, 0.8 percent Protestant, and 31.3 percent other.

Language Distribution

There are four recognized languages: Castilian Spanish, the official language, spoken by 74 percent of the population, as well as three regional languages: Catalán, (17 percent), Galician (7 percent) and Basque (2 percent). Spanish (Castellano, Castilian) is spoken throughout all of Spain and was, during the Franco period, the only Spanish language permitted.

The Spanish population has a literacy rate of 97 percent (approx. 1 percent of men and 2 percent of women are illiterate). As in other European countries, literacy in Spain is high and virtually everyone speaks Spanish. However, since the death of Franco speakers of regional languages, such as Catalán, Basque (Eusquera or Eus kara ), and Galician (Gallego, Galego ). The growth of these languages is closely tied to the growth of newspapers published in these languages.

Catalán belongs to the group of western neo-Latin or Romance languages, which are spoken in the East of Spain (Catalonia or Catalunya ), the Baleric Islands, Valencia, the Franja region, and the border area of Murcia and Valencia. The legal framework for the Cataán language in Spain is found in Article 3 of the 1978 Spanish Constitution and in the Statutes of Autonomy of Catalonia, Valencia the Baleric Islands (Mallorca, Minorca and Ibiza) and Aragón. In 1990 the European Parliament recognized the identity, validity and use of the Cataán language in the contexts of European Union affairs. During the first part of the twentieth century Cataán went through a period of growth and importance associated with the political power of the government of Catalonia, especially during the 1930s. This period of importance culminated during the Second Republic when Cataán was restored to its official language status. However, this situation changed dramatically as a consequence of the Civil War when the Franco regime forbade the use of the Cataán language. After the death of Franco and during the period of transition to democracy, the use of Cataán was restored, and it is flourishing in both print and electronic media. The Cataán language is the cultural language of the upscale, highly educated audience of the Barcelona area. Valenciano or Valencian, a linguistic cousin of Cataán, some might say, a "dialect" of Cataán is the "language" of the autonomous community of Valencia. As with Cataán, Valenciano has witnessed a period of growth since the death of Franco that can be seen in the press and especially the broadcast media.

The Basque language, a non-Indo-European language, is spoken at the western side of the Pyrenees and along the Bay of Biscay in Spain and France. The language is spoken in the Spanish provinces of Vizcaya and Guipuzcoa, in northern Navarre, in part of Alava, and in the traditional French provinces of Labourd, Basse-Navarre, and Soule that now form part of the department of Pyrenees-Atlantique. The Basque country, El PaísVasco in Spanish or Euskadi or Euskal Herria in Basque, is populated by a people whose culture and language is not related to any known European language or culture. Basque customs, sports, and cuisine are distinctive and form an important part of the culture.

As of the early 2000s, more than 600,000 people speak the Basque language. While not a written language until the sixteenth century, Basque has a rich oral tradition. For centuries there was no standard orthography, and during the Franco years it could only be studied in a series of underground schools. In 1964 Euskalzaindia (Royal Basque Language Academy) set forth new grammatical standards for the language, thus beginning what would later be the process for the subsequent program of language normalization. Language planners have focused on the media, both print and electronic, in order to increase the knowledge of the Basque language. Television, radio, and the press have been used in order to improve competence in the language. In the Basque Country, given the low levels of literacy and the higher levels of oral use, the press has obviously played a smaller role in this process.

One of the most salient aspects of Basque culture, Basque nationalism, has its roots in the writings and thought of Sabino de Arana y Goiri (1865-1903) who founded the Basque Nationalist Party in 1985. This party focused on the importance and uniqueness of the Basque language and race as unifying principles of Basque culture and politics. In the late 1950s the organization Euskadi ta Askatasuna (The Basque Country and Land, ETA) was founded as a political movement for the independence of the Basque homeland. Some ten years later, this organization began a terrorist campaign to carry out its political objectives. From 1996 to 2002 many terrorist attacks were attributed to ETA. Many journalists, politicians, and tourists died in these attacks. In the early 2000s, a day does not go by that Spanish people are not confronted in one way or another with the problems of Basque separatist terrorism and violence. ETA terrorist threats are frequently published in Basque newspapers such as Gara and Euskaldunom Egunkaria. One of the Basque newspapers closely associated with ETA is the ultranationalist and radical Egin (To Do) which has been called a mouthpiece of the terrorist organization. In the 1980s, Egin came under the control of the Basque coalition Herri Batasuna that was closely tied to ETA. Finally in 1998 the Spanish courts closed the newspaper.

In addition to Basques, Cataáns, and Galicians, another important minority are the Spanish Gypsies who refer to themselves as Rom and to their language as Ro-many. Gypsies in Spain are usually divided into two groups: Gitanos (Gypsies) and Hungaros (Hungarians). Historically, Gitanos live in the Southwest and central regions of Spain. Traditionally, many worked as street vendors and entertainers. Hungaros are Kalderash, poorer and more nomadic.

Historic Trends

While the tradition of the press in Spain truly dates back to the eighteenth century, its roots are to be found in the seventeenth century. The first periodical publications in Spain belong to the so-called gazette tradition. Among these, the first gazettes to circulate in Spain were those from France: La Gazette,Le Journal des Savantes and Le Mercure Galan. The first gazette to be published in Spain the weekly Gaceta Semanal de Barcelona appeared in 1641. The second and more important gazette, the Gaceta de Madrid, known as Gazeta Nueva and Relación, was published in 1661. This political and military news source appeared annually until in 1667 it became a weekly. Later it was published biweekly and in 1808 it became a daily.

The eighteenth-century press was strongly influenced by the periodical press of France. The eighteenth century saw a proliferation of news in Spain. The majority was dedicated to literary content and information dealing with the arts and sciences. This press also contained articles on the improvement of the national economy. One of the earliest Spanish newspapers was the eighteenth-century El Diario de Los Literatos, which was published in 1737 and focused primarily on literary content and survived until 1742. The paper espoused and defended the ideas and philosophy of eighteenth-century Spanish thinkers and writers, such as Feijoo and Luzan. It was one of the first papers to carry the title Diario (daily). However it was not published daily. The first daily was the Diario Noticioso, Curioso, Erudito, Comercial y Politico was published in February of 1758 by Francisco Mariano Nipho (1719-1803), the founder of journalism in Spain. This paper, later called the Diario de Madrid, became the first daily newspaper published in Spain. King Fernando VI granted this paper a special privilege to publish "moral and political discourses," announcements, and literature. A success, it led to the proliferation of other similar newspapers throughout other cities in Spain. However, some thirty years later, the monarchy limited the publication of newspapers. These decrees, especially those by Carlos IV, were short-lived, and in 1792, the press regained the right to appear. Other important newspapers of this period were El Seminario Económico (1765), El Correo de los Ciegos (1786) and El Correo de Madrid (1787).

Newspapers in Spain continued to proliferate in the nineteenth century. Readers were attracted by general and political news as well as by articles by well-known writers such as Mesonero Romanos, Mariano José Lara, and others. A whole literary movement, known as Costumbrismo, based on character sketches and articles on Spanish customs and manners, arose out of the press of Spain during the nineteenth century.

By 1878, there were already some 380 newspapers in Spain. By 1882, this number had grown to 917. In 1920 there were more than two thousand. With respect to dailies, in 1900 there were around 300 papers. However, this number dropped to 290 in 1920. The most important papers of the early nineteenth century were ABC (1861), El Debate de Madrid, La Vanguardia (Barcelona 1881)), Heraldo de Aragón (Zaragoza ), La Gaceta del Norte and Euzkadi, both published in Bilbao and El Mercantil (Valencia). During the early part of the next century, especially around 1913, the most influential papers were La Correspondencia de España, Heraldo de AragónEl Imparcial, (all from Madrid) and La Vanguardia from Barcelona.

In the nineteenth century, Spain's newspapers faced difficulties. Spain's transportation system and railway network were unreliable. Coupled with its rough terrain, the underdeveloped transportation system limited the distribution of the press. Also, the literacy rate was low, about 25 percent of a population of 16 million. Perhaps the most important obstacle was the issue of freedom of the press. In Spain, full freedom of the press was not achieved until the revolution of 1868 and the First Republic (1871). It should be noted that the political developments, which brought about this freedom, were short lived.

Moreover, during the nineteenth century, newspapers became closely affiliated with specific political groups and also linked to particular business interests. This was departure from the earlier part of the century when writers and other intellectuals controlled the press. During the later part of the century, the press became a for-profit enterprise.

Political Effects on the Media

Three important political events helped shape the press of twentieth century Spain: the rise of the Second Republic; the Spanish Civil War and subsequent triumph of General Francisco Franco; and the death of Franco and the transition to democracy. During the forty years of the Franco dictatorship, the government had complete control of all forms of the press and media. Censorship was exercised and dissent was not tolerated. After the death of Franco, the press gained freedom and with it the ability to take on the role of a modern European democracy. In the early 2000s the press and other forms of the media have complete freedom to comment on all political, cultural, and social issues.

During the twentieth century, ABC was one of the most important Spanish newspapers. Founded in 1903 (1905 as a daily) by the Luca de Tena family, it continues to have strong ties to the monarchy and the Catholic Church. It espouses conservative viewpoints and is highly critical of both Cataán and Basque nationalism.

Before and during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), ABC was instrumental in attacking the governments of the Second Republic (1931-1936), specifically with respect to Cataán and Basque nationalism and any political manifestations of labor and radical ideologies, especially socialism. After the war, ABC was closely tied to the Franco government but it always maintained its monarchist stance.

After the Civil War, the state became the principal newspaper publisher in Spain. All papers were subsumed into what was then called Prensa del Movimiento, an organization with close ties to the Spanish Falange. In 1948 there was an official media that controlled all the nation's press. This time it controlled some 38 newspapers (dai-lies) and 8 weeklies, in addition to several important national magazines. Until the late 1960s, the government, subsidized this state-run propaganda tool.

With the victory of Franco and the destruction of the Second Republic at the end of the Civil War in 1939, all newspapers were placed under the control of the government's press agency, the Delegación Nacional de Prensay Propaganda (National Press and Propaganda Agency). This agency controlled 30 morning dailies, six afternoon papers, and five Monday papers as well as weekly and monthly magazines. In 1962, the number of dailies grew to 39. While some privately owned papers did exist, they had to accept directives and administration imposed by the Franco regime.

In the 1970s, the press declined. The only papers during this time to maintain circulation rates of 200,000 were ABC and La Vanguardia. Circulation rates continued to fall well into the late 1970s. However there was a small increase in 1981 and 1982.

Distribution of Readership, Content, and Areas of Income

In 2002 there were 91 newspapers in Spain with a total daily circulation of 4 million. The circulation to population ratio was 103 copies per 1,000 people. The highest of these averages was in the region of Navarre with 175 copies per 1,000,and the lowest was in the region of Castile with an average of 44 copies per 1,000. Regarding subject matter and circulation, there was a circulation of 3,219,152 copies with general content information: 787,307 copies with sports content and 104,965 copies with financial information content. Newspapers reached 12.6 million readers in 2000. Readership was the highest in the North: Navarre (57 percent) and the Basque Country (56 percent).

Historically, most Spaniards only read one newspaper (57 percent read one title) and newspapers were frequently passed around to more than one reader. Some 29.4 percent of all Spaniards read two papers daily and only 13.1 percent of the population read more than two papers. In terms of gender, 63.3 percent of the readership of newspapers were male and only 36.7 percent were female. The largest segment of the readership was between the ages of 25 and 35, and most belonged to the middle class. In general terms, the reach of newspapers in Spain grew in the 1990s, and the sports press influenced readers, especially middle-aged men. Regarding income areas, the press got 54 percent of its income from advertising, 41 percent from sales, and 5 percent from other factors. Ten advertisers spent 9.19 percent of the total expenditure on advertising in newspapers.

Geographical Distribution and Ownership

The press in Spain is divided into national and regional newspapers. There are three important newspapers: El País, El Mundo and ABC. Most newspapers and a lot of the electronic media are owned by the major media groups: PRISA, Grupo Correo Prensa Española, UNEDISA, and Grupo Godó. Other important media concerns include: the Spanish Statistical Institute (INE), which is publicly owned; The Telecommunications Market (CMT); and private sources such as Telefónica, Retevisión, and SEDISI. Among the most significant agencies which maintain statistical data on the media are the Oficina de Justificacion de la Difusión (Audit Office of the Press, OJD) and the Association of Media Research (ACMC).

Ten Largest Newspapers

With regard to circulation, the top ten newspapers in Spain are: El País (436, 0000);Marca (403,049); ABC (291,950), El Mundo (291,950); La Vanguardia (191,673); El Periódico (184,251); As (158,780); El Correo Español (132,113); La Voz de Galicia (107,850); and Sport (106,504). Three of these papers, El País, ABC and El Mundo, are national newspapers. Four are regional: La Vanguardia, El Periódico ; El Correo Español ; and La Voz de Galicia. Three of these papers are sporting newspapers: Marca, As and Sport.

Without a doubt, El País, published in Madrid, is Spain's leading newspaper. It has set the tone for serious journalism in Spain, and it played a central role in the country's transition to democracy. In the early 1970s, a group of investors and journalists sought to begin a truly liberal independent newspaper in Spain. After the dictator's death in 1975, one of the principal mass communication groups in Spain, PRISA, began the paper. El País: Diario Independiente de la Mańana first appeared on May 4, 1976. Its publication marked a milestone in the history of Spanish journalism and political and cultural history. PRISA also owns the radio network SER and is part owner of the subscription television channel Canal+(Plus).

El País championed liberal democratic views along with pluralist views toward the recently formed autonomous communities. Published in Madrid in a tabloid format of between 80 to 100 pages, it contains many business, educational, travel, and literary supplements. It concentrates on reporting and analysis of all aspects of Spanish life and culture. There is a marked emphasis on international news, indicating the paper's role in European journalism. For its international coverage, it uses both news agency material as well as overseas correspondents. It also has established close relationships with other European newspapers such as the Independent and La Repubblica. Its Op Ed pieces often set the agenda for public debates. The paper also publishes regional editions (Andalucia and Barcelona). In addition, it publishes an international edition and an Internet edition.

El Mundo is one of the major daily newspapers published in Madrid with a national readership. Founded in 1989, its Masthead reads, "El Mundo del Siglo Veintuno" (The World of the Twenty-First Century). In tabloid format with around 80 pages per copy, it contains both international news and in-depth coverage of national news. In addition, it contains business and sports pages with extensive literary and Sunday magazines and supplements. It is also known for its investigative journalism. During the socialist government of Felipe González, it carried out extensive investigative reporting into corruption of governmental officials.

ABC is one of a very few conservative, older family-owned newspapers. Published by Prensa Española, and owned by the Luca de Tena family, ABC is part of the Catholic and monarchist press to survive Spain's transition to democracy. It is a very successful paper with a national readership. It is, however, not as important as El País or El Mundo.

ABC is published in a small format of around 130 pages, stapled at the spine, and printed on poor quality paper. It contains few photographs. The newspaper's articles are printed in difficult-to-read columns. In terms of format, in comparison to El País and El Mundo, it seems "unmodern." The paper is a constant critic of the socialist PSOE government of Felipe González, and it has been very critical of Cataán and Basque nationalism. Its read-ership appears to be people who are "suspicious of change."

La Vanguardia is one of the oldest and most prestigious daily newspapers published in Catalonia. It was founded in 1881, by the Cataán industrialists Carlos and Bartolomé Godó, and is still owned by the Godó family. While it is one of the major newspapers in Barcelona, it has a significant readership in other parts of Spain.

La Vanguardia is published in a tabloid format of around 100 pages. It is known for its coverage of Cataán as well as Spanish and international news. Its high quality reporting represents the industrial and business sectors of Cataán society. Written in Spanish, the paper contains a great deal of information on Cataán culture and politics. However, it often takes a critical view of Cataán nationalists, especially of the Cataán parliament and the convergence and unity political party. Recently, this paper has received competition from another Barcelona paper, El Periodico.

The sporting press of Spain enjoys a huge popularity. The most important sporting newspapers are Marca, As, Sport, El MundoDeportivo and Super Deporte. Marca is by far, the most successful. It is one of the most important of all Spanish dailies. It was part of the Punto Editorial and was later bought by Recolectos in 1984. It also receives support from the British Pearson Group. While the paper covers all sports, it is most intensely interested in football-soccer.

Financial Newspapers

Newspapers, which concentrate on economic and business content, have had a great success in the 1980s and 1990s. Each of the major newspapers has departments or sections dedicated to economic issues and there are also individual newspapers, which concentrate on this topic. Some of the most important economic papers in Spain are Dinero, Su Dinero (El Mundo ),Gaceta de los Negocios (which is published in English and French in addition to Spanish), ABC Economia, Cinco DíasExpansiónLa Vanguardia Economia, and Iberbolsa.

Sunday Editions and Supplements

Spanish newspapers register a marked increase in circulation on weekends, especially on Sundays. This increase in readership is due to the great interest in Sunday supplements. Among the largest circulation of Sunday supplements is El País Semanal, which circulates more than one million copies daily. This represents a milestone in the history of the Spanish press. The supplements of other dailies are Blanco y Negro (ABC ) which circulates some 600,000 copies; La Revista (El Mundo ) with a circulation of 400,000, and the Sunday supplement of Barcelona's La Vanguardia which circulates some 300,000 copies.

Kiosk Literature

Newspapers as well as other periodical press form part of what has been called "kiosk literature" in Spain. This literature dates back to the nineteenth century and is related to the Spanish tradition of buying, selling, and reading. This type of literature usually refers to both serious and popular literature that is sold in kiosks. It is a literature of mass appeal which includes serious newspapers, sports press, economic, and travel magazines as well as what is referred to in Spain as "prensa del corazón" (press of the heart). This periodical press is primarily a set of magazines containing what might be called "gossip columns". The best example of this press is the popular magazine Holá!, founded by Eduardo Sánchez and Mercedes Junco in 1944. Circulation of the magazine has continued to increase through the years. A print run by is about 800 thousand copies a week. Much of the magazine deals with the Spanish Royal family, European royalty, and international entertainment stars. With respect to format, photographs receive more attention than text, which is minimal for the most part. Holá has been described as escapist, which was fostered by Franco's ideas of culture and the arts. Other publications also considered to be "press of the heart" includes Pronto,Lecturas, SemanasDiez Minutos and Qué me dices.

Regional Press

The Cataán Press and Media The press and other media of Catalonia are divided by language, one in Cataán and the other in Spanish. After a forty year hiatus during the dictatorship, a Cataán language press appeared in 1976. The Cataán paper Avui (Today), published in Barcelona, is the largest Cataán daily paper and also contains a supplement written in Aranés, a local idiom spoken in a sector of the Pyreenes. In general, the late 1970s saw a rise in the number of Cataán papers. In 1978, this press included Regió 7 and Punt Diari in 1979.The latter became El Punt in 1988. The historic Diari de Barcelona (Barcelona Daily) was revived for a short time but is no longer published. While there has been an increase of Cataán press during the later part of the twentieth century, print runs very small.

An interesting case in the press of Catalonia can be seen in the establishment of El Periodico (The Paper), a newspaper published in both Cataán and Spanish editions. Since its establishment in 1997, it has increased its circulation and readership. It is the largest daily paper in Cataán with the greatest readership. Another popular paper, Segre, which is published in two editions (Cataán and Spanish), is distributed in the province of Llerida.

Cataán and Spanish coexist in print and electronic media just as Cataán newspapers exist along side of Spanish language papers. El Periódico (Spanish edition), La Vanguardia and the El País (Barcelona edition) are the most important papers published in Spanish. The Spanish papers have a circulation of a little more than a million, and the Cataán language papers have a circulation of around 250,000.

Press of Galicia Galician, a Romance language closely related to Portuguese, is spoken in North Western Spain, in the autonomous community of Galicia, and in some parts of Asturias, Custillia, and León. Approximately 1.5 million people speak it. Galician has a rich literary tradition, especially during the middle ages and in the nineteenth century, when a rebirth of this literature was initiated by Rosalía de Castro. While it received official status during the second Republic for a brief time, it was not until the Constitution of 1978 and the Language Law of 1983, that it became one of Spain's official regional languages.

The regional government of Galicia, Xunta de Galicia has worked to institutionalize and promote Galician language and culture. Important among these are efforts to expand the Galician language through radio and television (RTVG: Radio and Television Galego) and the publication of texts and periodicals in the language. Publishing in Galician has increased notably and even Spanish-language newspapers published in Galicia often contain sections in Galician. The O Correo Galego is the only newspaper that is entirely published in Galician. It is published in Santiago de Compostela and has played an important role in the linguistic normalization of the Galician language. Important Spanish-language newspapers published in Galicia include La Voz de Galicia, El Ideal Gallego, El Correo GallegoFaro de Vigo and El Progreso de Lugo.

The Basque Press The most important papers of the Basque press are El Correo, El Diario Vasco Euskaldunom Egunkaria, Gara and Tolosaldean Equnero. Euskaldunom Egunkaria published in Andoin, Gipuzkoa, is the only existing daily newspaper written entirely in the Basque language. Gara is written and published in both Basque and Spanish. This paper published in San Sebastian also has an on-line edition.

Press of the Canary Islands The Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa constitute an autonomous community (since 1979) with an estimated population of over a million. These islands have a distinctive culture, which sets them off from the peninsula. The culture has its roots in the Guauches people of Berber origin. The population also was strongly influenced by the presence of indianos (Spanish immigrants from the Americas). The islands became part of Castile's transatlantic empire. They were the last stop over on the way to the Americas and the first stop on the return from the American colonies. From a political point of view, the islands have made some attempts at self-determination and even independence, especially since the death of Franco. In terms of government, the group of islands are divided into seven island councils, which pursue local island interests. Canarian culture is known for its distinctive literature, music, and cuisine.

The press and other forms of media of the Canary Islands have two principal characteristics. The first is a great interest in international news, especially because of the islands' location. The second is a more "parochial" nature, even more local than is found in Spanish regions. The history of the press of these islands dates back to Correo de Tenerife, which was published between 1808 and 1810.

The period between 1875 and 1925 was important for the growth of the islands' press. The most important papers during this time were: Diario de Las Palmas, a liberal paper, and the Gaceta de Tenerife, which had conservative and Catholic roots. The most popular paper on Tenerife is El Dia, founded in 1910. The 1980s witnessed the publication of one daily on all the islands, Canarias7.

Economic Framework

During the twentieth century, Spain changed from an agricultural to manufacturing and to a services oriented economy. In 2002, the Spanish economy is based on the services sector, which accounts for 60 percent of the country's wealth. In 1996, the GDP per capita was estimated to be around $13,660. Much of the services sector is related to the importance of tourism, the most important part of the economy. The industrial sector is motor manufacture.

Rapid change and transition have in the twentieth century characterized the modern economy of Spain. During the last years of the Franco government, there was uneven expansion, followed by a period of reform and restructuring. After the 1980s, and well into the 1990s, Spain struggled to modernize its industries. Among the most significant problems are those of energy, inflation, and growing unemployment. Not surprisingly, Spain's international trade experienced important growth after the country joined the European Union (EU) Trade. As of 2002, the EU accounts for around 70 percent of international trade.

Without a doubt, one of Spain's most serious economic problems is chronic unemployment. In 1996, Spain's rate of unemployment was 22 percent, one of the worse in the EU. The number unemployed reached over three million in the 1990s. Nonetheless, a large sector of the Spanish population enjoys a standard of living that is comparable to that of other developed European economies, and in many ways, higher. It is certain that the standard of living for most Spaniards has improved in the past 30 years. Using all traditional measures such as life expectancy, literacy, educational enrollments as well as per capital income, Spain enjoys a relatively high standard of living. Salaries and wages in Spain have improved with the economy. With a GNP per capita of $14,070; thus, Spain occupies the twelfth position in the EU. Geography is also an indicator of income. The wealthiest region per capita GDP is the Balearic Island. Next come the areas of Madrid and Catalonia. The poorest regions are Extremadera and Andalusia. According to Schulte, reporters in Spain earn around $1,000 per month, while salaries for experienced newsmen would range up to $2,000 in cities like Madrid and Barcelona.

Spain's national debt is estimated at around 68 percent of its GDP. Although this is a high rate, the government has been somewhat successful in decreasing this percentage in the past years. Privatization of different companies, which proved to be controversial as reported in the press, was helpful in reducing the debt.

In the late 1970s, a series of serious economic problems affected the press: paper prices, heavy losses in advertising, and circulation revenue. All of the press suffered the consequences of this economic crisis. The only exception was the Francoist El Alcázar, a right-wing paper that circulated primarily among the Spanish armed forces.


Historically, the Spanish government has also controlled the import and distribution of newsprint. Of the more than 200 metric tons consumed, more than half is produced in Spain.

Professional Organizations

Spanish journalists belong to several professional organizations. In order to be a member of a journalist organization, they must be graduates of a recognized school of journalism. Journalists are registered by the government. In addition, there are several journalist unions. Spain's major labor unions, workers' commission, and the general workers' union also have sections for journalists, photographers, and printers. Many individual cities, like Madrid, have their own journalist organization and union. This is also true of particular regions and autonomous communities.

Spanish journalists are organized into a national group of Associations of the Press. There is a National Federation of Associations of the Press, as well as regional and local Associations of the Press. Among the most important city associations are those of Madrid and Barcelona. The principal objectives of these organizations are to protect the rights and interests of all journalists as well as to promote the standards and ethics of the profession. According to Schulte, more than 4,000 journalists belong to more than fifty individual associations of the press. Other significant press organizations include Asociación de la Prensa de Cantabria, Asociación de la Prensa de Madrid, Asociación de la Prensa de Sevilla, Asociación de Periodistas de Información Económica,Asociación de la Prensa Profesional, and Organización de Periodistas en Internet, among many others.

Unlike the United States, most Spanish newspapers are sold over the counter or in kiosks, rather than through subscriptions. This buying practice is part of a Spanish culture of apartment or flat dwelling rather than living in freestanding homes. Most Spanish newspapers sell for around one Euro.

Press Laws

The most important press legislation in Spain in the twentieth century began with the Law of 1938, which Franco decreed during the Spanish Civil War. This law put the press under the direct control of his military forces. The next important piece of press legislation was the 1966 Ley Fraga (Fraga Law) after its principal author, Manuel Fraga Iribarne. This law constituted a form of controlled liberalization with respect to censorship and freedom of the press. While it relaxed some of the repressive aspects of earlier legislation, it still maintained significant aspects of the prior censorship. Because of this law many journalists and some newspapers suffered sanctions, especially fines, suspensions of publications, and closures. Frequently the offending journalists were charged with conspiring against the government and the founding principles of the Franco regime.

However, the most important changes came about through the establishment of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, especially Article 20 which gave citizens the right to express their views openly. This article also protects the right to publish in languages other than Spanish.


Until the death of Franco, censorship was a main feature of all Spanish culture. The government was intolerant of any political or artistic expression that challenged or seemed to insult the Franco government or military forces. During the Franco years, the press, literature, and the cinema were heavily censored. In addition to governmental censorship, there was also censorship organized by Catholic organizations. The Church's role was primarily to censor materials that were deemed to be immoral or of a sexually explicit nature.

Franco's Ministry of Information and Tourism was charged with the censoring process. This process, based on the 1938 press law, gave the government the right to regulate the size and number of periodicals. It also stipulated that the government could elect the administration of all periodicals and press. All newspapers were required to submit their copy to the Ministry before publication. In April 1977, the second article of the 1966 press law was abolished. This article listed particular institutions, in this case the National Movement that could not be criticized by the press. The Constitution of 1978 guaranteed the rights of a free press and outlawed prior censorship.

State-Press Relations

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Spain is a parliamentary monarchy ruled by the chief of state, King Juan Carlos I de Borbón y Borbón, and the head of government, President José María Azar, of the Popular Party (PP). The Spanish legislative system is bicameral and made up of Cortes (General Courts) a type of national assembly, which is made up of a Senate whose members are directly elected by popular vote, and 51 others appointed by the Regional Legislatures and the Congress of Deputies, also elected by popular vote. Spain is divided up into seventeen autonomous communities.

When Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos, the grandson of Alfonso XII, became king of Spain. With Juan Carlos on the throne, Spain began to make the transition from dictatorship to a modern European democracy. The first election in Spain in contemporary times was held in 1977, and a new constitution, which had many implications for the press, was drafted in 1978. This constitution made fundamental changes to the legal structure of the Franco regime by allowing Spain to develop into a democratic state. These changes were challenged by a failed military coup in 1981.

The most important political pressure groups in Spain include business and land owning interests; the Catholic Church; the Basque group known as Euskal Herrilarok (the people of the Basque Country); free labor unions; the radical independence group known as Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA); the Anti Fascist Resistance Group (GRAPO); the Opus Dei, a conservative Catholic organization; the General Union of Workers (UGT); University Students and the Workers Confederation (CCOO). Among the most important political parties are the Popular Party (PP), the Convergence and Union Party of Cataluña, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), and the Spanish Communist Party (PCE). In 2002, the main political units with national representation are the governing Partido Popular, the Socialist Workers' Party, and the Left United Coalition (IU). Other significant political groupings include parliamentary representations of nationalist parties such as Convergence to Union and the Basque Nationalist Party.

Labor Relations

The most important journalist strike in the twentieth century were those against Medios de Comunicaciones del Estado in 1975; the strike against the Diario de Barcelona in 1977 and the 1980 strike against Madrid's Informaciones. In the late 1990s and early 2000s there were no strikes connected to journalists' issues. However, Spanish journalists frequently get involved around general labor issues affecting workers in Spain.

Journalist labor issues are typically divided into three groups. First, those who side with the government and the Partido Popular (Popular Party, Conservative Party of J. M. Aznar) constitute the middle conservative sector, for example, the newspaper El Mundo, the radio station Onda Cero, and the television channel Antena Tres. Those who side with the most conservative sector tend to be associated with the Basque Country, for example, the newspaper chain Prensa Española, and the newspaper ABC. Last, there is the group that is independent and slightly critical of the government. Included in this group are the PRISA Group (the newspaper El País, the television channel Canal+ (Plus), and the radio station Cadena SER. The remaining group is associated with the state run radio and television, Televisión Española (TVE) and Radio Nacional de España (RNE).

News Agencies

Agencia (EFE) is the oldest and most important of the Spanish media resources. Founded by the Franco government in 1938, it was controlled the flow of news, including news from foreign agencies. After the transition to democracy, this agency remained closely associated with the government. It operates as the official news agency of the state and is one of the largest news agencies in the Spanish-speaking world. In the past the government appointed the administration of the agency. The editorial line of the agency reflects the current government in power.

The agency has 1,145 employees worldwide, and it distributes to more than one thousand locations throughout the world. It staffs offices in 137 cities and in 102 countries. More than 2,000 journalists are affiliated with it. Using satellite transmitters, it sends more than 300 reports daily, and it offers 24-hour service to participating journalists. In addition to EFE, there are other important news agencies in Spain. Among these there are Agencia de Comunicaciones, AvantpressColpisaEuropa Press,Agencia Cataána de Noticias, and Reuters España.

Broadcast Media


Radio has had a profound impact on Spanish media. During and after the Civil War, radio was used primarily as an instrument of government propaganda. After the war, the Franco forces seized republican broadcasting stations. Beginning in 1939, there was prior censorship of all commercial radio broadcasts. During the Franco period, coverage of all news, both national and international was in the hands of an official state network, Radio Nacional de España (RNE). RNE held a monopoly on radio transmission until 1977. Unlike the Spanish print media, radio did not experience a process of liberalization, during which restrictions were eased. In 1997, the number of radios in Spain was 13.1 million. There were 208 AM stations, 715 FM stations, and one short wave station. The RNE ended its monopoly in 1977. Since 1989, the General Bureau regulates radio for Radio Broadcasting and Television.

The most important radio networks in Spain are RNE, Cadena de Ondas Populares (COPE), Sociedad Española de Radio Difusión (SER) and Onda Cero. SER is the most popular of all the radio networks. It commands a high audience (9.6 million) and is known for its music (rock and popular) and its news programs. This network, especially "Hora 25" program, played an important role in Spain's transition to democracy by broadcasting some of the first uncensored news stories. The audience for radio news in Spain is greater than that of print media, but smaller than that of television.

As in the case of print media and television, radio has figured prominently in consolidating culture and identity in Spain's regions and autonomous communities. This is especially true in the Basque country, Galicia and Catalonia. Euskadi Irratia (Basque Radio) broadcasts throughout the Basque region in Basque. Galician Radio, part of RTVG, transmits exclusively in Galician. In Catalonia, Corporació Cataána de Radio Televisio (CCRTV) has contributed to the expansion of Cataán over the airways.


It is estimated that over 90 percent of the population watches television daily. On average Spaniards watch more than three hours of television per day. They watch television at home but also in bars and cafes; they especially love to watch football matches. In terms of audience size, TVE1 and Antena 3 draw the greatest number of viewers.

Like newspapers and radio, television was controlled and censored during the Franco regime. During those years Television de España (TVE), Spain's first station, founded in 1956, held a state monopoly on television broadcasting. A second channel was introduced in 1965. Even after the death of Franco, Spanish television was under the influence of the government. This lasted into the 1980s, when the first regional televisions appeared, particularly Basque television (ETB) and Cataán television. After 1983 regional television stations began to appear throughout Spain, especially Television de Galicia and Canal Sur in Andalucia (1985), Telemadrid (Madrid), and Canal 9 in Valencia. The later was established in 1989 and broadcasts in Valenciano.

The major development in Spanish television after the death of Franco was broadcasting in regional languages and the arrival of commercial national stations. The most important of these was the establishment of Canal+, which is owned by a French company of the same name and the Spanish media group PRISA. Canal+ is a subscription channel, known particularly for its broadcasting of films and high quality programming. Other important Spanish channels are Antena 3 and Tele5. Antena 3 offers the Spanish viewing public programming dealing with current events, sports, news, sitcoms, and popular game shows. Tele 5 is owned by an Italian company and by the Spanish Organization for the Blind, ONCE. It is known for its game shows and controversial "reality" programs. Its news programs are not high quality. Spanish television has evolved from a state owned institution, which expressed the views of the government and was heavily censored to one that tends to echo the views of particular regions, a more European perspective, and the demands of the public in general. It must also be noted that the majority of the Spanish public receives their news, be it local, regional, national, or international, from television and not the print media.

Regarding regional television in regional languages, the most significant are Cataán and Basque. There are two major television stations in Catalonia. Both of these stations broadcast in Cataán. The first of these is TV3, which was founded in 1983, and the second is Canal 33, which began regular broadcasting in 1984. Both TV3 and Canal 33 belong to the publicly-owned Corporació Cataána de Radio i Televisió (Cataán Radio and Television Corporation). The programs on these stations focus on specific aspects of Cataán culture and news, as well other national and international news. It should be further noted, however, that Cataáns also watch Spanish-language television such as TVI and Antena 3. But there is no doubt that Cataán television has been an important tool in strengthening Cataán identity and as such has been a key element in the process of language normalization.

As with the Cataáns, there are also two important television stations in the Basque country. They are both under the ownership of Euskal Telebista (Basque Television). The first of these is ET1, which broadcasts exclusively in Basque. It began broadcasting in December 1982 and as such was founded outside the traditional structures of Spanish national television and without official permission, thus marshalling in a revolution in the history of Spanish television and the history of the electronic media in general. The second station, ET2, was founded in 1986 and broadcasts only in Spanish. Basque TV has not been able to reach the levels of success as other television stations in Spain, which broadcast in regional languages, such as Cataán. This is due in part to the relatively small numbers of Basque speakers and the lesser use of Basque in public administration and education, in comparison that is to Cataán. One area in which Basque television has shown some success is the production of Basque-language soap operas, which have become very popular.

Electronic News Media

Online newspapers in Spain are a recent phenomenon, and they account for 17 percent of the distribution of web traffic. The history of online publications is closely tied to the beginnings of the Internet and computer technology in Spain. This publication history begins with the appearance of the Boletín Oficial del Estrado, a governmental newspaper which was first published on the Internet in 1994. The first general information online newspapers in Spain appeared in 1995. These were the Barcelona papers: El Periódico and La Vanguardia. Later that same year the following papers went online: ABC (Madrid) and El Diario Vasco (San Sebastian). In 1996, two other important papers appeared online: El Mundo (Madrid) and El País (Madrid). From 1997 through 2000, almost all national and regional newspapers went online. In 2002 there are more than 100 editions of printed Spanish newspapers. With the passage of time, Spaniards are reading more and more newspapers online, especially El País, El MundoLa Vanguardia and ABC. Ultima Hora Digital publishes local news from the Balearic Islands on line and is owned by Grupo Serra.

Education & Training

There are many schools of journalism throughout Spain, and media and communications studies are popular. Programs in journalism or related studies are offered at the Universidad Complutenese (Madrid); Universidad de La Laguna (Canary Islands); Univerisdad de Navarra and Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (Galicia); Universidad de Sevilla (Seville); Universidad del País Vasco (Basque Country, Universidad); Pontificia de Salamanca; and the Univerisdad de Barcelona. These journalism schools are organized into university faculties (schools) or departments, and they offer both master's (Licenciatura ) and doctorate degrees in journalism. However, the most important schools of journalism are those of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Journalism Faculty of the University of Navarre under the control of the Opus Dei. Under the influence of the EU, some Spaniards take part in what has been called "trans-national European journalism education." They are participating in a master's program in European Journalism Studies at various EU universities.


One of the significant trends for the press of Spain is the move toward privatization of the media industry whereby many smaller businesses are put in the hands of larger media conglomerates. Over time, the audiovisual media market has overtaken traditional print media. Pictures and color use are used increasingly in the press.

After the transition to democracy, the press experienced an increase in publications of all types but especially newspapers. In addition to the historic and important newspapers of the past, such as ABC and La Vanguardia,papers such as El País and El Mundo have come to the forefront and become part of significant media companies. The popularity and growth of this press can be explained in part by articles composed by some of the most prominent writers of the Spanish language, both from Spain and Latin America, such as Jose Camilo Cela, Miguel Delibes, Carlos Fuentes, and Gabriel García Márquez.

Among the major issues which will continue to be reflected in the press of Spain are problems associated with Basque and Cataán nationalism and the structure of the Spanish state; the economic consequences of European integration; the impact of immigration from outside of Europe; and the Spanish government's attempts at immigration reform; the issues associated with guaranteeing of human rights, especially to women, homosexuals and recent immigrants; the continuing impact of scientific and technological developments, especially those associated with information technology; and finally, the ongoing government attempts at university reform and the controversies related to this problem.


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Rafael Chabran

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Spain, Span. España (āspä´nyä), officially Kingdom of Spain, constitutional monarchy (2005 est. pop. 40,341,000), 194,884 sq mi (504,750 sq km), including the Balearic and Canary islands, SW Europe. It consists of the Spanish mainland (190,190 sq mi/492,592 sq km), which occupies the major part of the Iberian Peninsula; of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea; and of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Continental Spain extends from the Pyrenees, which separate it from France, and from the Bay of Biscay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, southward to the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates it from Africa. (Gibraltar itself is a British possession, although Spain has long claimed sovereignty over it.) The eastern and southeastern coast of Spain, from the French border to the Strait of Gibraltar, is washed by the Mediterranean. In the west, Spain borders on the Atlantic Ocean both north and south of its frontier with Portugal. The small republic of Andorra is wedged between France and Spain in the Pyrenees. The five enclaves in Morocco are the only remnants of Spain's former empire. Two of the enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, are Spanish municipalities. Morocco disputes Spain's possession of the enclaves and in 2002 briefly occupied an islet off Ceuta, sparking a bloodless confrontation with Spain. Madrid is the nation's capital and largest city.


Administratively, Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities based on regional geography and history and in large part corresponding to the old Christian and Moorish kingdoms of Spain. The communities are subdivided into 50 provinces that predate the establishment of regional autonomy beginning in the late 1970s. The chief cities, other than Madrid, are Burgos, Valladolid, León, Zamora, and Salamanca in Castile-León; Toledo in Castile–La Mancha; and Badajoz in Extremadura.

The center of Spain forms a vast plateau (Span. Meseta Central) extending from the Cantabrian Mts. in the north to the Sierra Morena in the south and from the Portuguese border in the west to the low ranges that separate the plateau from the Mediterranean coast in the east. It is traversed from west to east by mountain chains—notably the Sierra de Guadarrama—and the valleys of the Douro (Duero), the Tagus, and Guadiana rivers. Except for some fertile valleys, the central plateau is arid and thinly populated; wheat growing, viniculture, and sheep raising are the principal rural activities. The plateau comprises Castile-León, Castile–La Mancha, and Madrid, which form the heart of Spain, and Extremadura, which is in the west.

To the northeast of the central plateau is the broad valley of the Ebro, which traverses Aragón and flows into the Mediterranean. Aragón has Zaragoza as its chief city; it is historically and geographically connected with Catalonia, which occupies the Mediterranean coast from the French border to the mouth of the Ebro. Barcelona, the chief Catalonian city, is the largest port and the second largest city of Spain.

The W Pyrenees and the northern coast, paralleled by the Cantabrian Mts., are occupied by Navarre, with the city of Pamplona; the Basque Country, with the ports of Bilbao and San Sebastián; Santander; and Asturias, with Oviedo and the port of Gijón. The extreme northwestern section, occupied by Galicia, has a deeply indented coast and the excellent ports of A Coruña, Ferrol, and Vigo.

Along the eastern coast, S of Catalonia, extend the regions of Valencia and Murcia, named after their chief cities. The Balearic Islands, with Palma as their capital, are off the coast of Valencia. The southernmost part of Spain, S of the Sierra Morena, is Andalusia; it is crossed by the fertile Guadalquivir valley. The chief cities of Andalusia are Seville, Córdoba, and Granada, the Mediterranean port of Málaga, and the Atlantic port of Cádiz. The Sierra Nevada, rising from the Mediterranean coast, has the highest peak (Mulhacén, 11,411 ft/3,478 m) in continental Spain. Spanish summers are often very hot, but winters vary sharply, being mild in coastal areas and colder inland.


The Spanish people display great regional diversity. Separatist tendencies remain particularly strong among the Catalans and the Basques. Castilian is the standard Spanish language, but Catalan (akin to Provençal), Galician (akin to Portuguese), and Basque, unrelated to any other language, are still spoken and written extensively in their respective districts. Roman Catholicism was the official religion until 1978, but its role in Spanish public and private life has declined. There is a sizable Muslim minority (about 1 million), largely consisting of North African immigrants.


Long a largely agricultural country, Spain produces large crops of wheat, barley, vegetables, tomatoes, olives, sugar beets, citrus fruit, grapes, and cork. Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil and Europe's largest producer of lemons, oranges, and strawberries. The best-known wine regions are those of Rioja, in the upper Ebro valley, and of Málaga and Jerez de la Frontera, in Andalusia. Cattle, pigs, and poultry are raised. Agriculture is handicapped in many places by lack of mechanization, by insufficient irrigation, and by soil exhaustion and erosion.

The major industries produce textiles and apparel, foods and beverages, metals and metal products, chemicals, ships, automobiles, machine tools, clay and refractory products, footwear, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment. Industries are concentrated chiefly in the Madrid region; in Valladolid; in Catalonia, which has large textile, automotive parts, and electronics manufactures; in Valencia; and in Asturias and the Basque Country, where the rich mineral resources of the Cantabrian Mts. (iron, coal, and zinc) are exploited. Copper is mined extensively at Río Tinto; other mineral resources include lead, uranium, silver, tin, and mercury. Petroleum is found near Burgos. Fishing, notably for sardines, tuna, cod, and anchovies, is an important source of livelihood, especially on the Atlantic coast, and fish canning is a major industry. Tourism is Spain's greatest source of income.

Most Spanish railroads, unlike those of the rest of Western Europe, use broad-gauged tracks, although some regional systems consist of narrow-gauge railways. In 1992 a high-speed standard-gauge railway connecting Madrid and Seville began operation.

Spain has made great economic progress in recent decades, but it still lags behind most of Western Europe. Though industry has grown considerably since the 1950s, the country still has a large trade imbalance. Spain's greatest trade is with France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain. Among the leading exports are machinery; motor vehicles; fruit, wine, and other food products; and pharmaceuticals. Major imports include machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, and medical instruments.


Spain is a constitutional monarchy governed under the constitution of 1978 as amended. The hereditary monarch, who is the head of state, may ratify laws, dissolve the legislature, and propose candidates for the office of prime minister; he is also head of the armed forces. The prime minister (presidente) is the head of government. The king proposes the prime minister, who must be approved by the legislature. Spain has a bicameral legislature, the Cortes (Las Cortes Generales), or National Assembly. Members of the 350-seat Congress of Deputies are elected by popular vote. Of the 259 members of the Senate, 208 are directly elected, while 51 are appointed by regional legislatures. All legislators serve four-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 17 regions (autonomous communities) and 2 autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). Each of the autonomous communities has its own parliament and regional government.


Spain before the Muslim Conquest

Civilization in Spain dates back to the Stone Age. The Basques may be descended from the prehistoric humans whose art has been preserved in the caves at Altamira. They antedated the Iberians, who mixed with Celtic invaders at an early period. Because of its mineral and agricultural wealth and its position guarding the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain was known to the Mediterranean peoples from very early times. The Phoenicians passed through the strait and established (9th cent. BC) colonies in Andalusia, notably at Cádiz and Tartessus (possibly the biblical Tarshish). Later the Carthaginians settled on the east coast and in the Balearic Islands, where Greek colonies also sprang up. In the 3d cent. BC, the Carthaginians under Hamilcar Barca began to conquer most of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearics and established Cartagena as capital.

The Roman victory over Hannibal in the second of the Punic Wars (218–201 BC) resulted in the expulsion of the Carthaginians. The Romans conquered E and S Spain, but met strong resistance elsewhere, notably in the north. The fall (133 BC) of Numantia marked the end of organized resistance, and by the 1st cent. AD Roman control was virtually complete. Except for the Basques, the Iberian population became thoroughly romanized, perhaps more so than any subject population. Roman rule brought political unity, law, and economic prosperity. Christianity was introduced early; St. Paul is supposed to have visited Spain, and St. James the Greater is its apostolic patron. Natives of Spain contributed increasingly to both pagan and Christian literature in Latin. Among them were Seneca, Martial, and Quintilian.

In AD 409, Spain was overrun by the first wave of Germanic invaders, the Suevi and the Vandals. They were followed by the Visigoths, who forced the Vandals to emigrate into Africa and established (419) their kingdom in Spain and S Gaul, with Toulouse as capital. The victory (507) of the Franks under Clovis over Alaric II at Vouillé resulted in the loss by the Visigoths of most of Gaul; in the Iberian Peninsula, Belisarius temporarily reconquered (554) S Spain for the Byzantine Empire; however, the Visigoths soon regained S Spain and in 585 also conquered the kingdom of the Suevi in Galicia. The Visigothic capital after the loss of Toulouse was at Toledo. The Germanic Visigoths, who adhered to Arianism until the late 6th cent., and the Catholic, romanized native population lived side by side under two separate codes of law (see Germanic laws); fusion of the two elements was very slow.

King Recceswinth imposed (c.654) a common law on all his subjects. His code remained the basis of medieval Spanish law. Learning was cultivated almost exclusively by the Roman Catholic clergy, among whom Orosius and St. Leander and his brother, St. Isidore of Seville, were outstanding. Byzantine cultural influence was strong, but was probably less important than that of the Jews, who had settled in Spain in large numbers, and were persecuted after 600. Politically, the Visigothic kings were weak; the clergy, meeting in councils at Toledo, acquired secular power. Visigothic society was rent by a clash of Germanic, Hispano-Roman, and Jewish influences. When, in 711, a Muslim Berber army under Tarik ibn Ziyad crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain, Roderick, the last Visigothic king, was defeated, and his kingdom collapsed.

Muslim Spain and the Christian Reconquest

The Moors, as the Berber conquerors were called, soon conquered the entire peninsula except for Asturias and the Basque Country. Córdoba became the capital of the emir, who governed in the name of the Baghdad caliph. In 756, however, Abd ar-Rahman I, scion of the Umayyad dynasty, established an independent emirate. This Muslim state, which reached its greatest splendor under Abd ar-Rahman III, who set up the Western caliphate, or caliphate of Córdoba, included all but northernmost Spain. In the northeast, Charlemagne created (778) the Spanish March, out of which grew the county of Barcelona (i.e., Catalonia). In the W Pyrenees, the Basques held out against both Frankish and Moorish attacks and eventually united in the kingdom of Navarre.

Asturias, the only remnant of Visigothic Spain, became the focus of the Christian reconquest. The rulers of Asturias, who were descended from the semilegendary Pelayo, conquered large territories in NW Spain and consolidated them with Asturias as the kingdom of León. Navarre, under a branch of the Asturian line, reached its greatest prominence under Sancho III (1000–1035), who also controlled Aragón and Castile. His state split at his death into three kingdoms: Navarre, which soon lost its importance; Aragón, which united (1137) with Barcelona (see Aragón, house of); and Castile, which was eventually united with León (1230) under Ferdinand III and with Aragón (1479) under Isabella I and Ferdinand V. This long process of unification was accomplished by marriage and inheritance as well as by warfare among the Christian kings; it was accompanied by the expansion of the Christian kingdoms at the expense of the Moors.

The Umayyad empire had broken up early in the 11th cent. into a number of petty kingdoms or emirates. The Abbadids of Córdoba were the most important of these dynasties. They called in the Almoravids from Africa to aid them against Alfonso VI of Castile. As a result, the Almoravids took over Moorish Spain, but they in turn were replaced (c.1174) by the Almohads, another Berber dynasty. In the battle of Navas de Tolosa (1212), a turning point in Spanish history, the Almohads were defeated by Alfonso VIII of Castile, whose successors conquered most of Andalusia. Little more than the kingdom of Granada remained in Moorish hands; it held out until its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.

Disunity among the Moors facilitated the Christian reconquest. However, the states of Christian Spain were also frequently engaged in bloody rivalry, and the Christian kings were in almost continuous conflict with the powerful nobles. Alliances between Muslim and Christian princes were not rare, and the Christian reconquest was a spasmodic, not a continuous, process. A major reason for the Christian victory was that Christian Spain was in a stage of dynamic expansion and religious enthusiasm while Moorish Spain, having attained a high degree of civilization and material prosperity, had lost its military vigor and religious zeal. In the Moorish cities Muslims, Jews, and Christians (see Mozarabs) lived side by side in relative harmony and mutual tolerance. Their excellent artisans and industries were famous throughout Europe, and their commerce prospered.

Agriculture, helped by extensive irrigation systems, was productive under the Moors. To the Christian nobles of N Spain, particularly of Castile and León, the flourishing cities and countryside to the south were a constant temptation. The united state of Aragón and Catalonia, commercially more prosperous than the other Christian kingdoms, was less active in the reconquest and was more concerned with its Mediterranean empire—the Balearics (which for a time formed the separate kingdom of Majorca), Sardinia, Sicily, and Greece. Portugal also, after winning its independence in the 12th cent., developed as an Atlantic sea power and took part only in local campaigns against the Moors. It was thus under Castilian leadership that the reconquest was completed, and it was the Castilian nobility that formed the nucleus of the class of feudal magnates—the grandees—who were the ruling class of Spain for centuries after the reconquest. The fall of Granada (1492) made Ferdinand V (see Ferdinand II of Aragón) and Isabella I rulers of all Spain. (For a list of the rulers of Spain from Ferdinand and Isabella to the present, see the table entitled Rulers of Spain since 1474)

In the same year, in their zeal to achieve religious unity, the Catholic rulers expelled the Jews from Spain. Until 1492 the Jews and the Muslims had been allowed to live in reconquered territory. From the time of the Spanish Inquisition (1478), however, attempts at conversion were made more forcibly, often including confiscation of property, torture, or murder, usually by auto-da-fé. The Inquisition was not restricted to Jews and Moors, and even those who did convert were often persecuted. The expulsion of the Jews deprived Spain of part of its most useful and active population. Many went to the Levant, to the Americas, and to the Netherlands, where their skills, capital, and commercial connections benefited their hosts. The Mudéjares, as the Muslims in reconquered Spain were called, were not immediately expelled, but after an uprising they were forcibly converted (1502) to Christianity. Many of the Moriscos [Christian Moors] secretly adhered to Islam. After many persecutions, they were finally expelled in 1609.

In spite of the expulsion of 1492, a large population of Christian converts remained in Spain and, as members of the educated elite, continued to make significant contributions to Spanish culture. The Jewish-Moorish legacy to Spain and to Western Europe is immense. Moorish architecture (see Islamic art and architecture) has left a deep imprint on Spain; its most famous example is the Alhambra of Granada. Arabic scholars such as Averroës and Jewish scholars such as Maimonides had a major share in the development of Christian scholasticism. Material legacies of Moorish Spain included the great steel industry of Toledo, the silk industry of Granada, the leather industry of Córdoba, and the intensive plantations of rice and citrus trees.

By fostering the exploitation of central Spain for sheep grazing, Ferdinand and Isabella unwittingly prepared the ruin of much land that had been fruitful under the Moors. The major economic revolution that occurred during their reign was, however, the discovery (1492) of America by Columbus. By the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), Spain and Portugal divided the world into two spheres of influence. Almost all of South America, Central America, S North America, and the Philippines were added to the Spanish world empire in the 16th cent. Gold and silver, the primary objectives of the conquistadores, flowed into Spain in fabulous quantities. Spain in the 16th cent. (the Golden Century) was the first power of the world, with an empire "on which the sun never set," with fleets on every sea, and with a brilliant cultural, artistic, and intellectual life. In the Italian Wars (1494–1559), Spain triumphed over its chief rival, France, and added Naples (see Naples, kingdom of) and the duchy of Milan to its dependencies.

The Golden Age

When Charles I (elected Holy Roman emperor in 1519 as Charles V), first of the Hapsburg kings (who ruled Spain from 1516 to 1700), succeeded Ferdinand V, Spain was still divided into separate kingdoms and principalities, united chiefly in the person of a common ruler. Each kingdom had its separate Cortes and its own customary law. The cities, which had retained their individuality since Roman times, enjoyed great privileges and independence. Charles had to be acknowledged by each individual Cortes at his accession. Castile was nominally ruled jointly by Charles and his mother, Joanna, until Joanna's death. The centralizing policies of Charles's predecessors had curtailed some of the local powers, particularly in Castile, but Charles's efforts to continue the centralizing process and his fiscal policies resulted in an uprising of the cities—the war of the comunidades (see comuneros)—in 1520–21. The rising was suppressed, and its leader, Padilla, was executed.

By the time Charles abdicated (1556) in Spain in favor of his son Philip II, Spain was on its way to becoming a centralized and absolute monarchy. Under Philip II the process was continued, although Catalonia, Navarre, Aragón, Valencia, and the Basque Country still maintained a considerable degree of autonomy. During the 16th cent. the church enlarged its already dominant position in Spanish life. The Spanish Inquisition, organized by Tomás de Torquemada in the late 15th cent., reached its greatest power in the 16th cent. under Philip. At the same time the Counter Reformation was advanced in Spain by St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Theresa of Ávila, and St. John of the Cross.

With Spain, Philip had also inherited Sicily, Naples, Sardinia, Milan, Franche-Comté, the Netherlands, and all the Spanish colonies. His religious policies, fiscal demands, and high-handed rule precipitated the Dutch struggle for independence (see the Netherlands). The northern provinces of the Netherlands shook off the Spanish yoke, but the southern provinces (see Netherlands, Austrian and Spanish) were again subjugated. Spanish military power, which achieved its greatest successes against France, leading to the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559), and in the naval victory at Lepanto over the Turks (1571), was on the decline. As the champion of Catholicism in Europe, Spain unsuccessfully intervened in the French Wars of Religion by sending an army to support the League against Henry IV. The rivalry on the seas between Spain and England culminated in the attempted conquest of England by the Spanish Armada (1588); its complete failure at immense cost weakened Spain for a decade.

The Decline of Spain

Under Philip II's successors, Philip III and Philip IV, Spain was drawn into the Thirty Years War (1618–48), prolonged by war with France until 1659. The peace treaties (see Westphalia, Peace of; Pyrenees, Peace of the) made France the leading power of continental Europe. The wars of Louis XIV of France (see Dutch Wars3;Devolution, War of; Grand Alliance, War of the) cost Spain further territories and military prestige. Portugal, united with Spain by Philip II in 1580, rebelled and regained its independence in 1640. In the same year a serious revolt began in Catalonia over the province's autonomous rights. In the end (1659) the Catalans retained most of their privileges.

The political weakness of Spain was complicated by the absence of a direct heir to Charles II, who succeeded Philip IV in 1665. The chief claimants to the succession were Louis XIV of France and Archduke Charles of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI). The pro-French party at the Spanish court ultimately won out when Charles II designated Louis XIV's grandson, Philip (later Philip V of Spain), as successor. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14) broke out upon Charles's death. The Peace of Utrecht (see Utrecht, Peace of) confirmed Philip V on the Spanish throne, but it transferred the Spanish Netherlands, Milan, Naples, and Sardinia to Austria and Sicily to Savoy. Another result of the war was that Catalonia, Valencia, and Aragón, which had opposed Philip, lost their political autonomy.

Attempts to recover the lost possessions and to revive Spanish prestige were fostered by Philip's ambitious queen, Elizabeth Farnese, and his chief minister, Alberoni. These attempts merely led (1718) to the formation of the Quadruple Alliance, which in 1720 imposed upon Spain a but slightly more favorable settlement in Italy. Spain under its Bourbon kings came increasingly under French influence after the Family Compact of 1733 and its successors.

With the support of France, Spain regained (1735) Naples and Sicily in the War of the Polish Succession. These two kingdoms, however, were no longer administered by Spanish viceroys but were ruled independently by a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons. In the Treaty of Paris of 1763 (see under Paris, Treaty of), Spain lost Florida to Britain but was compensated with Louisiana by France. In the American Revolution, Spain sided with the United States and France and recovered Florida in the Treaty of Paris of 1783. These, however, were short-lived successes.

The economy of Spain had steadily deteriorated since the reign of Philip II. The influx of precious metal had long ceased, and little of it remained in Spain. The colonization of the vast Spanish Empire and the many costly wars had impoverished the country. Inflation led landowners to increase their holdings. The population had greatly increased and the peasants lived in misery, some of them on the inefficiently run estates of the grandees. The court and government had decayed in an atmosphere of bigotry, incompetence, and corruption. The church, exhausted by the struggle between the popes and the kings, had largely ceased its political role as a constructive force and was using its influence for the perpetuation of the existing order. The towering artistic and intellectual achievements of the 16th cent. had given way, by the mid-18th cent., to meaningless convention.

Under Philip V's successors, Ferdinand VI and Charles III, the ministers Ensenada and Floridablanca made basic reforms. Internal transportation was improved. Agricultural colonies were formed for better utilization of the land. The colonial trade was freed of centuries-old regulations and restrictions. Trade and commerce, especially in Cádiz and Barcelona, were stimulated. The Jesuits were expelled from Spain in 1767 as part of an effort to subordinate church to state. Charles IV, who succeeded Charles III, was an incompetent monarch, dominated by his wife, María Luisa, and their favorite, the able but unscrupulous Godoy.

Drawn into the French Revolutionary Wars and the Wars of Napoleon I, Spain suffered its greatest humiliation in 1808 with the successive abdications of Charles and his son, Ferdinand VII, the installation of Joseph Bonaparte (see under Bonaparte, family) on the Spanish throne, and the occupation of the country by French troops. However, the rigor and heroism displayed by the common people of Spain in their struggle against the conqueror (see Peninsular War) was an important factor in the eventual downfall of Napoleon. By 1814 the Spanish resistance forces and the British under Wellington had expelled the French, and Ferdinand VII was restored under a constitution drawn up in 1812 at Cádiz by the first national Cortes of Spain. The constitution restricted the power of the Spanish monarch and did away with the special representation of the nobility and the church in parliament. It also formally ended the Inquisition.

Monarchists and Republicans

The nationalist and liberal upsurge that swept over Spain and its overseas empire during the Peninsular War was focused, somewhat incomprehensibly, on the person of Ferdinand VII. After his restoration Ferdinand, through his reactionary measures, drove the forces that had placed him on the throne into opposition. At home, the liberal and radical groups attacked the very institution of the monarchy; overseas, they brought about the independence of the Latin American nations. By 1825 all Latin America except several territories in the West Indies had gained independence. In Spain itself, Ferdinand's refusal to honor the 1812 constitution led to the revolution of 1820, put down in 1823 by French troops acting for the Holy Alliance.

Shortly before his death (1833), Ferdinand altered the law of succession in favor of his daughter, Isabella II, and to the detriment of his brother, Don Carlos. Isabella succeeded under the regency of her mother, Maria Christina, but her succession was contested by the Carlists in a bitter war that raged until 1839. Her turbulent reign (1833–68) was marked by a series of uprisings, military coups, new constitutions, and dictatorships and ended with her abdication. Politics was largely a matter of personalities—among these Espartero, Narváez, Prim, and O'Donnell were outstanding—but factions generally fell into three groups: the extreme reactionaries, who included the Carlists; the moderates and progressives, who theoretically favored a constitutional monarchy, but who tended to rule dictatorially when they came into power; and the republicans. The Catalonian and Basque separatists favored whichever party happened to oppose the central government.

After the abdication (1868) of Isabella, the Cortes set up a constitutional monarchy and chose Amadeus, duke of Aosta, as king. Unable to obtain the cooperation of all factions, Amadeus abdicated in 1873. The short-lived first Spanish republic (1873–74) was torn by another Carlist War (1872–76) and by the cantonalist movement in the south, notably in Cartagena, which attempted to establish authorities independent of the central government. The Bourbon Alfonso XII, son of Isabella, was placed on the throne by a coalition of moderate parties, and in 1876 a new constitution was adopted.

By the end of the 19th cent. the Socialist and Anarcho-Syndicalist parties began to gain a wide following among the lower classes, particularly in industrial Catalonia, rural Andalusia, and in the mining districts of Asturias. Strikes and uprisings, usually suppressed with great brutality, became characteristic features of early-20th-century Spain. The church, which was aligned with the landowners, aroused often violent anticlerical feeling among the revolutionary, and even among liberal, elements. The loss of most of the remainder of the Spanish Empire in the Spanish-American War (1898) prompted a period of self-examination that produced a cultural renaissance.

Under Alfonso XIII (reigned 1886–1931), Spain remained neutral in World War I. But wartime trade had increased industrialists' profits. Great social and economic unrest marked the postwar period. Colonial rebellions in Morocco were a recurring problem. In 1923 a new outbreak in Catalonia was suppressed and resulted in the establishment of a military dictatorship under Primo de Rivera. Widespread opposition forced Primo de Rivera's resignation in 1930; in 1931, after a great republican victory in municipal elections, Alfonso XIII was deposed and the second republic established. Under the new president, the moderate liberal Alcalá Zamora, the regime instituted progressive reforms, including the distribution of church property, but met widespread opposition from rightist groups and also from the extreme left. There were serious separatist and Anarcho-Syndicalist uprisings in Catalonia. The government shifted to the right after the 1933 elections, and in 1934 a miners' uprising in the Asturias was put down with much bloodshed.

Civil War

The Popular Front (republicans, Socialists, Communists, and syndicalists) was victorious in the national elections of 1936. Before the government under Manuel Azaña had time to carry out its program, a military rebellion precipitated the great Spanish civil war of 1936–39. The Insurgents, or Nationalists, who soon came under the leadership of Gen. Francisco Franco, embraced most conservative groups, notably the monarchists, the Carlists, most of the army officers, the clericalists, the landowners and industrialists, and the fascist Falange (Nationalist Front). Their forces received the immediate military aid of Germany and Italy. The Loyalists were supported by the Popular Front parties and by the nationalists in Catalonia and the Basque Country, which had at last been granted autonomy.

Because of the nonintervention policy of Britain and France, the Loyalists received virtually no outside support except for an international brigade and some meager aid from the USSR. Despite military inferiority and bloody internal divisions, the Loyalists made a remarkably determined stand, particularly in central Spain. By the beginning of 1938, however, the territory held by the Loyalists had shrunk drastically, and with the fall (Jan., 1939) of Barcelona the war was almost over. Madrid surrendered in Mar., 1939. The Loyalist government and many thousands of refugees fled into France, and the government of Franco was soon recognized by all major powers except the USSR.

Spain under Franco

A dictatorship was set up under Franco. The church was restored to its property and its favored position, although there was much friction between church and state. The Falange was made the sole legal party, and the leftist opposition was energetically suppressed. The Cortes and Catalonian and Basque autonomy were abolished. Although it gave aid to the Axis, Spain remained a nonbelligerent in World War II. The Cortes was reestablished in 1942. The United Nations, refusing to recognize the constitutionality of the Franco regime, urged its members in 1946 to break diplomatic relations with Spain; this resolution was not rescinded until 1950. Spain entered the United Nations in 1955. An agreement with the United States in 1953 provided for U.S. bases in Spain and for economic and military aid.

In 1956, Spanish Morocco became part of the independent state of Morocco; in 1968, Spanish Equatorial Guinea became independent; in 1969 Ifni was ceded to Morocco; and in 1976 Spanish Sahara was transferred to Morocco and Mauritania. In 1968 Spain closed its frontier with the British colony of Gibraltar, over which Spain has long claimed sovereignty. The border was reopened in 1985, and in 1987 Spain and Great Britain forged an agreement that would have allowed joint use of the Gibraltar airport, but Gibraltar rejected the agreement.

Political unrest, partly over the problem of succession to the Franco regime, became increasingly evident in the 1950s, and at the start of the 1960s the church, which had long been silent, began to voice some opposition to aspects of the dictatorship. In 1962 a series of strikes, beginning in the coal fields of Asturias, gave indication of widespread discontent. Student demonstrations also occurred. Basque separatism posed another serious problem for the regime.

A new organic law (constitution) was announced by Franco in 1966. It separated the posts of head of government and chief of state, provided for direct election of about one quarter of the members of the Cortes, gave married women the vote, made religious freedom a legal right, and ended Falange control of labor unions. The forming of new political parties was still discouraged. Press censorship was ended in 1966, but strong guidelines remained. Economically, Spain progressed dramatically in the 1960s and early 70s, stimulated in part by the liberal economic policies espoused by Opus Dei; growth was particularly pronounced in the tourist, automobile, and construction industries.

Contemporary Spain

The year 1975 was marked by escalating terrorist activity in the Basque Country on the part of the militant separatist organization ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna), the death of Franco, and the beginning of the reign of King Juan Carlos I. With his prime minister, Adolfo Suárez González, the king ushered in a period of political reform and rapid decentralization. Juan Carlos opened the new bicameral Cortes in 1977. The Falange was dissolved in 1977 as well, and the Communist party was legalized shortly thereafter. A new constitution, which replaced the fundamental laws under which Spain had been governed since 1938, was ratified in 1978, formally establishing a parliamentary monarchy and universal adult suffrage.

Catalonia and the Basque Country were granted limited autonomy in 1977, the Balearic Islands, Castile-León, and Estremadura in 1978, and Andalusia and Galicia in 1980. In 1981 Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo became prime minister following Suárez's resignation. Rightist civil guards seeking greater centralization seized the Spanish parliament in 1981, but the coup was quickly put down. In 1982, a Socialist majority was elected to the Cortes in parliamentary elections and Felipe González Márquez became prime minister. Spain also expanded its international role; it was admitted into NATO in 1982 and became a member of the European Community (now the European Union) in 1986. Spain continued to enjoy economic growth as a result of increased domestic and foreign investment in the 1980s and 90s, but had one of the highest unemployment rates in W Europe. In 1988, a general strike prompted the government to increase workers' unemployment benefits and salaries for civil servants.

Basque separatist violence continued in the 1980s with the ETA committing hundreds of murders, but showed some signs of abating in the 1990s, following arrests of many ETA leaders. The ruling Socialist party suffered losses in the 1993 elections but was able to form a minority government with the cooperation of the Catalonian nationalist coalition. Following the Mar., 1996, elections, a center-right government took office. Popular party (PP) head José María Aznar López became prime minister in coalition with the Catalonian nationalists. Factors in the Socialists' fall included economic problems, corruption scandals, and charges that Socialist officials had endorsed a "dirty war" against Basque separatists in the 1980s.

Aznar introduced a government austerity and privatization program, and the economy experienced significant economic growth. A cease-fire called by the ETA in 1998 resulted in fruitless negotiations with Aznar's government, and in 1999 the ETA ended the cease-fire. With the end of the cease-fire the government took a hard line with the separatists. Also in 1999, Spain became part of the European Union's single currency plan. Benefiting from a prosperous economy, Aznar led the PP to a parliamentary majority in the Mar., 2000, elections.

Following the Sept., 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the Spanish government sought greater international support for its campaign against the ETA and renewed its crackdown the organization. In Aug., 2002, a Spanish judge suspended Batasuna, the Basque separatist party linked to the ETA, accusing it of collaborating with terrorists; the party was permanently banned in Mar., 2003. Despite strong opposition from the Spanish people, Aznar was a strong supporter of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Spain did not, however, commit troops to the invasion force, but it subsequently contributed to the occupation force.

The government's support of the U.S. occupation of Iraq appears to have contributed to multiple bombings of Madrid commuter trains in Mar., 11, 2004, shortly before Spanish national elections. Initially termed likely an ETA attack by Aznar's government, the bombings were soon linked to a largely Moroccan group of Islamic terrorists; 190 people died, and more 1,400 were injured. Although the PP had been expected to win the mid-March parliamentary elections, the opposition Socialists secured a plurality of the seats. Their win seemed due both to continuing popular opposition to sending Spanish forces to Iraq and to the government's strongly asserted, presumptive mischaracterization of those behind the bombings. Socialist leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who had called for withdrawing Spain's troops from Iraq, did so after becoming prime minister.

Dependent on the support of Catalonian nationalists, Zapatero agreed to consider increased autonomy for Catalonia. The Catalonian government passed an autonomy plan in 2005, and the Cortes voted to approve increased autonomy for Catalonia in 2006. (A more extreme autonomy plan for the Basque Country, calling for "free association," failed to win Cortes approval in 2004.) The ETA, the militant Basque independence group that had mounted terror attacks since the 1960s, announced a "permanent" cease-fire in Mar., 2006, and called for negotiations; Zapatero announced in June the his government would open talks with the ETA. Also in June, Catalonian voters approved the autonomy plan; the approval meant that the powers accorded the Catalonian government could also devolve on other Spanish regions. In 2010, however, the constitutional court essentially nullified many of those powers, an action that stoked support for Catalonia's independence.

Negotiations with the ETA were slow to develop, although government representatives did meet with the ETA secretly in December. Progress was slowed in part by acts by each side that the other side regarded as contrary to the spirit of the cease-fire, and a major ETA bombing at the Madrid airport at the end of December led the government to announce it was ending the talks, and it subsequently arrested many ETA members. The ETA asserted the cease-fire continued, despite the bombing, but also threatened further attacks in retaliation for what it regarded as government moves against it, and in June, 2007, it officially ended its cease-fire.

In the Mar., 2008, elections, the Socialists again won a plurality of seats in the Cortes; both the Socialist and Popular parties increased their seats a little at the expense of smaller regional parties. The global financial crisis and resulting economic downturn that began in 2008 hit Spain especially hard, aggravating the collapse of a national housing and construction bubble; during 2010 and 2011 unemployment was around 20%. The weakened economy greatly worsed the government's deficit, forcing the eurozone nation to adopt austerity measures. The ETA announced a new cease-fire in 2010 and an end to its armed campaign in Oct., 2011; the Spanish government continued to call for the group to disarm and disband.

Spain's economic difficulties led to significant losses for the governing Socialists in the May, 2011, local and regional elections, and Mariano Rajoy Brey led the PP to a parliamentary majority in the national elections in November. The new government enacted additional austerity measures as the economy continued to weaken; the PP failed to win the regional assembly elections in Andalusia in Mar., 2012. By mid-2012 increasing financial troubles with a number of Spain's banks had led to a government takeover of the largest savings bank, and also led Spain to seek European Union aid amounting to as much as €100 billion for its banks. At the same time, unemployment exceeded 27% by Mar., 2013, as a result of the ongoing recession, and the nation's budget deficit as a percentage of GDP increased to exceed Greece's in 2012.

The economic situation (which showed some improvement in late 2013) contributed to sentiment for independence in Catalonia, and led to renewed tensions between the region and the central government as Catalonia's government sought to hold a vote on independence. Ultimately held (Nov., 2014) as a nonbinding poll, in which most of those voting favored secession, the vote was later declared unconstitutional. In June, 2014, Juan Carlos abdicated and was succeeded by his son, Felipe (as Philip VI). In the May, 2015, local and regional elections the PP remained the largest vote-getter but nonetheless suffered significant losses as voters turned to new center-right and left-wing parties in protest against continuing poor economic conditions.


A standard historian of Spain is R. Altamira y Crevea. See also R. B. Merriman, The Rise of Spanish Empire (4 vol., 1918–36; repr. 1962); A. Castro, The Spaniards: An Introduction to Their History (tr. 1971, repr. 1980); R. Menéndez Pidal, The Cid and His Spain (tr. 1934, repr. 1971); G. Jackson, comp., The Spanish Civil War (1972); R. Collins, Early Medieval Spain (1987); R. Clark and M. Haltzel, ed., Spain in the 1980s (1987); P. Preston, The Triumph of Democracy in Spain (1988); S. M. Ellwood, Spanish Fascism in the Franco Era (1988); P. J. Donaghy and M. T. Newton, Spain (1988); J. H. Elliott, Spain and Its World, 1500–1700 (1989); L. A. Benton, Invisible Factories: The Informal Economy and Spanish Industrial Development (1990); H. Kamen, Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492–1763 (2003); H. Thomas, Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire (2004) and The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America (2011); W. Maltby, The Rise and Fall of the Spanish Empire (2009); M Carr, Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain (2010).

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SPAIN. Although the term "Spain," from Latin Hispania, had long been used to refer to the greater part of the Iberian Peninsula, that nation did not become a political reality until the marriage of Isabella of Castile (14741506) to Ferdinand of Aragón (ruled 14791516) united the kingdom of Castile and León with the crown of Aragón. Castile added the Canary Islands during the fifteenth century, Granada in 1492, Melilla in 1497, and most of Navarre after 1512. The crown of Aragón possessed the kingdoms of Aragón and Valencia, the county of Barcelona (Catalonia), and the Balearic Islands. Between 1707 and 1716, Philip V (ruled 17001746), first king of the Bourbon dynasty, unified these regions into the single kingdom of Spain, with its sole capital at Madrid.

Prior to the War of the Spanish Succession (17011714), the crown of Aragón also held the Mediterranean kingdoms of Sardinia (after 1323), Sicily (from 1409), and Naples (from 1443). Castile, beginning in 1492, acquired a vast empire in the Americas and the Philippine Islands, along with a few towns and forts on the North African coast.


Spain occupies 85 percent of the Iberian Peninsula. It borders France to the north, the boundary defined since 1659 by the crest of the Pyrenees, following Spain's cession to France of Roussillon and most of Cerdagne. To the west Spain borders Portugal, with the boundary running through rugged, sparsely inhabited country save in its southern reaches, where the Rio Guadiana defines it. For the rest, Spain is surrounded by sea: its northwest and southwest coasts face the Atlantic, its east coast, the Mediterranean. Some eleven miles of the Strait of Gibraltar separate Spain from North Africa.

Spain is mountainous, and its climate, apart from the rainy northwest, ranges from Mediterranean to semiarid. Much of Castile is a high tableland, known as the meseta. Barely half Spain's terrain was historically productive, only a fraction rich. Four important rivers, the Duero, Tagus, Guadiana, and Guadalquivir, flow west to the Atlantic. None is navigable for other than small craft until it nears the sea. Each defines a valley with mountains separating it from the others. Of the rivers that flow east, only the Ebro is long, allowing barge traffic in its lower reaches. Shorter rivers that flow east water fertile soils in Catalonia and Valencia and irrigate semiarid vegas ('fertile plains') in Murcia and eastern Granada.

For most of the early modern period the historic kingdoms and principalities of Spain defined its political geography. The largest kingdom, Castile, incorporated many others: Galicia in the northwest; the principality of Asturias and the Basque lordships of Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa facing the bay of Biscay; a third Basque lordship, Álava, inland of them; León and Old Castile in the Duero valley; the kingdom of Badajoz, today's Extremadura; New Castile, often called the kingdom of Toledo; the kingdoms of Jaén, Córdoba, and Seville along the course of the Guadalquivir; and, in the mountainous southeast, the kingdoms of Granada and Murcia. The Bourbon King Ferdinand VI (ruled 17461759) replaced Castile's historic kingdoms with twenty-four provinces in 1749, each based in a populous capital. In 1799, further subdivision increased the number to thirty-two.


The first attempt at a modern census occurred in 1768. Earlier population figures derive from counts of heads of household (vecinos), usually undertaken by bishops. Sometimes their figures are precise, more often they are rounded guesses. Demographers use multipliers that range from 4 to 6, with 4.5 most common. Philip II (ruled 15561598) undertook a detailed census, the Relaciones topográficas, but data for only a few regions were actually collected. His counselors thought Castile had about 1,250,000 households. Around 1500 there may have been 6,000,000 Castilian subjects, another 100,000 in Navarre, 300,000 in Aragón, 400,000 in Catalonia, and 600,000 in Valencia. Most were Roman Catholics. In 1492 at least 40,000 Jews, of a population that had numbered over 200,000, chose to leave rather than accept Christianity. The rest became or had earlier become "New Christians," mainly under pressure, and were known as Conversos. Many Muslims left after 1500, when Islam was proscribed; most, however, some 400,000, remained and accepted Christianity, as often as not superficially, and became Moriscos.

During the sixteenth century Spain's population grew until checked in the late sixteenth century by agrarian crises and recurring epidemics that decreased it by as much as 20 percent by 1660. In 16091611, over 200,000 Moriscos were expelled to North Africa. Economic shifts depopulated many northern Castilian cities, even as Madrid and Seville grew. Emigration to the Americas attracted a few thousand each year, while endless foreign wars took more. Growth in population did not return till after 1680, and the 7,500,000 estimated for the early eighteenth century matched the figure for the sixteenth. By the end of the eighteenth century, Spain's population had reached 11,000,000, with much of the growth in Catalonia, Valencia, the Basque Country, and Andalusia. Apart from the overpopulated capital of Madrid and its vicinity, the Castilian heartland recovered more slowly.

Spain's people spoke several languages. Castilian in its several dialects prevailed in Old and New Castile, Andalusia, Murcia, old Aragón, and most of Navarre. In Galicia people spoke Gallego, a dialect very close to Portuguese. In Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearics, people spoke Catalan. All these were Romance languages and mostly mutually intelligible. In the Basque Country and parts of Navarre. people spoke Basque, a unique language with no relation to the Romance languages. At court, for government, in correspondence, printing, and literature, Castilian came to dominate. Antonio de Nebrija published a grammar for Castilian in 1492, but, until the establishment of the Royal Academy in 1713, spelling continued to vary widely. Catalan and Galician literature, rich in the Middle Ages, would experience a revival in the nineteenth century.


Most Spaniards worked the soil and lived at a subsistence level. They dwelled communally in villages, towns, and cities. Many peasant proprietors were found across northern Spain, but in the south large estates (latifundia) prevailed, owned by a few and worked by landless laborers. In the seventeenth century high taxes and hard times forced many from the land, and Spain had a conspicuous number of vagabonds. Where lands were arable, cereal crops predominated, save in Valencia, where rice provided an alternate staple. Maintained close to dwellings, gardens provided vegetables and fruit, and poultry provided meat and eggs. Orchards were widespread and Spanish citrus fruit, fortified wines, and olive oil proved profitable exports. While scrub woods suited pigs, much of Spain's land was suitable only for grazing cattle and sheep. Wool provided a major export. Each year vast flocks of sheep walked from winter pastures in southern New Castile and Andalusia to summer pastures in Spain's northern mountains. In a trade that had its ups and downs, Burgos became the center for shipping wool to the mills of northwest Europe. Wool shipments to Italian looms were also considerable.

Given Spain's topography, cities of 20,000 people and more, or towns greater than 10,000, generally stood thirty to forty miles distant from one another. Each served as the economic, political, and ecclesiastical hub for its surrounding villages, and provided a focus for the larger regional economy. The lack of navigable rivers and the many mountain barriers limited long-distance transport as well as communication. Most transported goods rode the backs of pack animals. Before the serious improvement of roads in the eighteenth century, wagon transport seldom left its home region. Until that century, little was done for inland water traffic, despite discussion and periodic planning.

The chief regional economies were those of the major river valleys, the valleys of Catalonia and Valencia, and the maritime economies of the north coast, the gulf of Cádiz, and the coasts of Granada, Murcia, Valencia, and Catalonia. Barcelona, a great medieval commercial center, had been devastated by fourteenth-century plagues, and not till the eighteenth century did it reach its former prosperity. Until that century, local privilege in Castile and the Aragonese realms added further restrictions to internal commerce. Thereafter, Spain's maritime regions became more closely linked, with a revived Catalonia and the Basque Provinces leading.

Manufacture was chiefly limited to local markets. In ironware, military hardware, and shipbuilding, the Basque Provinces dominated, although ships were built along the entire north coast. Old Castile for a long time had a lively textile industry, but that declined in the seventeenth century because foreign goods were cheaper. In the eighteenth century textiles revived, but mainly in Catalonia and Valencia. Catalonia also built ships, though primarily for the Mediterranean. In the sixteenth century Barcelona's arsenal built Spain's Mediterranean galleys, and Málaga founded bronze cannon.

With the opening up of the Americas, their commerce became an important element in Spain's economy and fed many exaggerated notions of Spain's wealth. The crown made Seville the center of American commerce in 1503, but it soon became a clearinghouse. The influx of treasure in the sixteenth century drove Spanish prices up till Spain could only compete through tariffs and restrictions. Other parts of Europe, with longer experience and better resources, produced cheaper goods that came to dominate the American trade, so long as they cleared Seville. By the mid-seventeenth century, Spain could not even provide sufficient shipping for its American trade.

The European wars of the Habsburg dynasty, a heavy tax burden, and the diversion of treasure, goods, and people to warfare abroad, were the chief causes of Spain's economic woes. In the seventeenth century, inflation was compounded by the debasement of currency. In finance and banking, foreigners, above all the Genoese, supplanted less-experienced Spaniards and took their cut. Though popular theorists known as arbitristas proposed plans for economic reform, many of them harebrained, little was achieved before the eighteenth century, when Spain made a remarkable economic recovery under more efficient government, even if its Bourbon rulers continued to go to war.

The recovery was most marked on the periphery, where population and industry grew in what became a relatively free market. Influenced by Enlightenment ideas, many of Spain's elite formed societies of amigos del país ('friends of the country') and stimulated improvements in education, local industry, and agriculture, while the crown promoted agricultural colonies in long-deserted areas. Economic recovery enabled Spain to tighten control over commerce with its empire, which, along with positive results, bred Spanish-American resentment and inflamed aspirations for independence after 1800.


Spanish society was based on the three Estates: clergy, nobles, and commoners. The clergy was entered by vocation, the others by birth, although service or money might bring a commoner noble status. Spanish religious life was strong, and the church rich, attracting some 200,000 men and women to the clergy at any time. For ambitious people of humble origins, it offered an avenue to fortune and power. In annual income Spain's primate, the archbishop of Toledo, was second only to the pope.

Perhaps 400,000 Spaniards claimed noble status. At the top stood the grandees, whose number grew from twenty-five in 1520 to 119 by 1787. With great wealth and often great debts, they maintained their domains through mayorazgo ('primogeniture'), and dominated provincial life. Like the number of grandees, the number of other nobles with titles grew from perhaps a hundred in 1500 to 585 in 1787. The Bourbon monarchs after 1700 opened a new round in the creation of titles to reward those who served them. With few exceptions, Spanish titles were personal, usually based on one of the holder's domains. Alba de Tormes, from which the duke of Alba's title comes, is simply a lordship, not a duchy. Many without titles possessed domains and were known simply as señores de vasallos, 'lords of vassals'. The term vassal in Spain, where vestigial feudalism was limited to Aragón and Catalonia, meant anyone under a lord's jurisdiction.

For those claiming noble status, but without domains, the terms hidalgo ('nobleman') and caballero ('knight') were loosely applied. One was born a hidalgo; the king could create a caballero, most often as a reward for military service. All natives of some regions, most notably Guipúzcoa, Vizcaya, and Navarre, claimed hidalgo status.

Most Spaniards, at whatever economic level and whether they lived in town or country, were commoners. Unlike the clergy and nobility, they were subject to direct taxes and were often referred to as pecheros ('taxpayers').


A monarchy, Spain came under royal jurisdiction. The crown provided justice, made law, organized defense, upheld the church, and collected taxes. From the early sixteenth century, Spanish rulers resided chiefly in Castile and appointed viceroys to their Aragonese and other dominions. To assist the sovereign at court, a system of councils developed that continued through the seventeenth century. The Council of State advised on high policy for all the sovereign's possessions. For Spain there were councils for Castile and Aragón that dealt with administration and law. The Council of War handled military and naval matters. Spain's overseas empire was the business of the Council of the Indies. As Castile provided most of the revenues, its Council of Finance set fiscal policy, largely a matter of struggling with crown debts. The poorer Aragonese realms contributed little, and that with strings. A Council of Military Orders, of which the king became grand master, managed the orders' properties. Most notorious was the Supreme Council of the Inquisition, established in 1480, with jurisdiction over Christians throughout Spain, an organization suspected of being used for political as well as religious ends.

Spain's Bourbon kings after 1700 eliminated the councils, regarded as clumsy and dilatory, save for an honorific Council of State. In their place they appointed responsible ministers for justice, finance, foreign affairs, interior, army, navy, and overseas possessions. Captains general replaced viceroys in the former Aragonese realms and Navarre. In Castile, hereditary offices were suppressed and captaincies general of maritime regions became appointive.

If the sovereign ruled all Spain, at the bottom, in villages, towns, and cities, noble and taxpaying householders elected councils on which both commoners and nobles served. While female heads of household with underage children might not hold office, they enjoyed limited voting rights until they remarried or a son came of age.

Into the major cities of Castile that came directly under its jurisdiction, the crown sent corregidores ('magistrates') to look after its interests. Most corregidores were well trained in law, and tended to dominate elected counselors, part-timers who had their own private interests to look after. In fortress towns, the corregidor was often a soldier, who was assisted by a legist (a specialist in civil law). In the Aragonese kingdoms cities retained greater autonomy until Spain's Bourbon rulers introduced corregidores into them. Everywhere they increased corregidores' powers, and later appointed intendants (governors) to each province with even greater authority.

Smaller towns and villages might come under the crown's jurisdiction, or that of an ecclesiastical or secular lord, or the nearest city. It was jurisdiction that defined a seignorial domain and produced income through offices, taxes, dues, and fines. Both jurisdictions and offices were often for sale. The lord of a domain, whether king, churchman, or noble, usually owned some lands and businesses in it, but hardly all. Most belonged to vassals, whether noble or common. Much land, especially pastures and woods, was considered common, and there were understood rights to grazing, cutting wood, hunting, and fishing. In Castile señores might appoint their own corregidores to villages. Villages often sought greater liberty with payments to crown or lord.

In the provision of justice and making of law, Spain's sovereign was in theory absolute, bound only by divine and natural law, and the fundamental laws of Spain, such as the right of female succession. Legal advisers assisted the sovereign. Two chancelleries, in Valladolid and Granada, served Castile as high appellate courts, with broad authority to supervise municipal and seignorial courts. Audiencias, lesser appellate courts, existed in Seville and elsewhere. The Aragonese realms had their own appellate system, and Aragón itself had a justiciar, who might challenge the king's rulings. After the Chief Justiciary in Saragossa joined a revolt in 1590, the office was suppressed. Under the Bourbon dynasty, Spain's court system was centralized and further refined.

The church served in many respects as a branch of government. The pulpit was the surest way to reach the entire population. The church was also a great landholder. Churchmen served in high office for the crown. Through concordats with the papacy, the crown gradually gained the right to nominate Spain's bishops for papal approval. Education, hospitals, and feeding the poor were the church's business. In theory, Spaniards tithed, though a third of the tithe went to the crown.

For revenues the crown derived many rights from Roman law, including customs and the royal fifth of minerals, which extended to the gold and silver mines of the Americas. Some rights to salt flats and customs duties had been transferred to nobles during the later Middle Ages, but from the reign of Philip II the crown gradually recovered them. Much of the historic crown domain had been transferred as well, but by Ferdinand and Isabella's acquisition of the grand masterships of the Military Orders of Santiago, Calatrava, Alcántara, and Montesa, the crown regained extensive, though seldom rich, domains. These soon became encumbered with debts.

On Castile, richer than the Aragonese realms at the time of union, fell the chief burden of direct taxes till the advent of the Bourbons. After 1538 nobles no longer sat in the Castilian Cortes ('parliament'), which voted subsidies and approved tax increases. Only thirty-six delegates, two each from eighteen royal towns, attended. While stubborn, they generally yielded to the crown's demands.

From Moorish times the crown held the right to the alcabala, in theory a ten-percent tax on sales and business transactions. Its actual rate was lower and required bargaining with the Cortes for its collection by municipal corporations, and increasingly by royal tax collectors and agents of creditors. Only reluctantly, because of mounting debt and repeated bankruptcies, did the crown agree to levies on basic foodstuffs. The Cortes also granted periodic subsidies in addition to the sums raised through the alcabala. As the delegates to the Cortes largely came from the elite, the tax burden fell unduly on the poor. Church wealth provided another big source of royal revenue, mainly arranged through the papacy, on the argument that Spain crusaded against infidels and heretics.

The Bourbon dynasty, which summoned the Cortes only to acclaim succession to the crown, proved unable to overhaul the Castilian tax structure, but, by eliminating regional privileges in the Aragonese realms, it increased revenues from Catalonia and Valencia as prosperity returned to those areas. From the mid-seventeenth century, corporations of tax farmers undertook much of the revenue collection. Beginning in the early eighteenth century, government finances improved and debt began to decline. Ferdinand VI, whose reign was peaceful, saw a surplus. Mexican silver financed the wars of Charles III (ruled 17591788), but with the coming of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, debt mounted and government finances turned chaotic.


Education was in the hands of the church. Colleges and universities, established in the Middle Ages, concentrated on theology and canon and civil law. To career-oriented students law had the greatest appeal. Science was pursued largely outside the university. Interest in navigation led to an academy of mathematics in Madrid in 1582, while the exotic plants of empire encouraged botanical studies. Though Philip II brought anatomist Andreas Vesalius (15141564) to Spain, Spanish medicine remained undistinguished before the work of Andrés Piquer (17111772) at the University of Valencia.

Spanish literature of the "Golden Age" peaked with Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (15471616). Theater flourished with Lope de Vega (15621635), Tirso de Molina (15831648), and Calderón de la Barca (16001681), poetry with St. John of the Cross (15421591) and Luis de Góngora (15611627). Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.15481611) proved a giant of Renaissance music. The Cretan El Greco (15411614) caught Spain's religious fervor in paint, while Diego de Velázquez (15991660) took painting to unsurpassed levels. For all its renewed prosperity, however, the eighteenth century produced little remarkable, apart from the powerful art of Francisco de Goya (17461828), and some good music, with that of Antonio Soler (17291783) perhaps the best.


Ferdinand and Isabella put an end to endemic civil war, restored government, and in 1492 completed the seven-hundred-year "reconquest" of Spain from the Moors with the conquest of Granada. They expelled Spain's Jews, avowedly to prevent those Jews who had become Christian from backsliding. Also in 1492 Isabella commissioned Christopher Columbus to seek Asia by sailing west. His discoveries brought an American empire to Spain.

Rebellion by the Muslims of Granada brought expulsion after 1500 of those who did not accept Christianity. Perhaps 400,000 remained in Spain as New Christian Moriscos, suspected nevertheless by Old Christian Spaniards of insincerity and collaboration with Barbary corsairs and the Ottoman Turks.

Ferdinand's foreign policy led to the dynastic marriage of Princess Joanna to Archduke Philip, son of the Habsburg Holy Roman emperor Maximilian I. The deaths of her only brother Juan, older sister Isabel, and Isabel's infant son made Joanna her parents' heir. When Isabella died in 1504, Queen Joanna (15041555) and her consort, Philip I, succeeded to Castile. Philip died in 1506 and Ferdinand became regent for Joanna, who was known as la loca ('the Mad'), deemed unfit to rule and confined to a palace at Tordesillas.


When Ferdinand died in 1516, Joanna's Habsburg son Charles (Carlos I, ruled 15161556) succeeded to Castile, Aragón, and the Italian possessions. Born in the Low Countries, which he inherited from his father, Charles also inherited the Austrian lands on Maximilian's death in 1519, and was elected Holy Roman emperor Charles V (ruled 15191558). Dunning Spain for money, Charles hurried to Germany in 1520, provoking many Castilian towns to rise in the revolt of the Comuneros. Feeling threatened, the landed nobility rallied to Charles and crushed the revolt. A revolt in Valencia that mixed urban grievances and hostility to Moriscos was also crushed by the nobility.

Charles bequeathed his Austrian inheritance to his brother Ferdinand in 1522 and returned to Spain to restore his rule, yet after 1530 he spent little time in Spain. Wars with France in defense of his Low Countries and Italian possessions, with German Lutherans and the Ottoman Turks, drained his energies and increased Spain's debts. In 1556 he abdicated to his Spanish-born son Philip II (ruled 15561598). Philip wished to improve government in Spain, but became embroiled in foreign wars. He began his reign with a bankruptcy in 1557 that allowed him to renegotiate his debts. Gaining an edge on France at the battle of St. Quentin (1557), he achieved a favorable peace at Cateau-Cambrésis (1559). Both he and the king of France feared the spread of Protestant heresy. Extirpated by the Inquisition in Spain, Protestantism would prove the chief issue in the Low Countries, where growing unrest led to open revolt in 1568. By 1580 the Low Countries had divided into a Protestant, Dutch-dominated United Netherlands in the north and the "Spanish" Netherlands in the south. Battling the Dutch Revolt proved a drain on both the Spanish treasury and manpower.

In the same years, Ottoman Turkish ambitions fired conflict in the Mediterranean, and in 15681571 the Moriscos of Granada rebelled. Though Philip's half-brother Don Juan of Austria crushed the Morisco revolt and, in league with the pope and Venice, defeated the Turkish navy at Lepanto (1571), Philip could not sustain simultaneous wars in the Mediterranean and Low Countries. In 1575 he declared bankruptcy again, and in 1578 achieved a truce with the Turks.

In 1580 he annexed Portugal when its legitimate male line died out, and acquired Portugal's Asian empire with its African way stations. Increasingly fearful of his power, both Protestant England and Catholic France fed the Dutch revolt and attacked Philip's overseas empire and treasure routes. In 1588 Philip launched his great armada to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and restore England to Roman Catholicism, or at least compel her to cease aiding the Dutch. The armada was defeated, but an English attack on Portugal in 1589 also failed. That year Protestant Henry IV succeeded to the French throne. Philip encouraged Catholic rebels and sent his army of Flanders into France against Henry. In 1590, local issues led to a brief revolt in Aragón.By 1595, Philip was at war with the Dutch, England, and France. In 1596 an Anglo-Dutch fleet sacked Cádiz. Philip vainly counterattacked with armadas in 1596 and 1597, and again declared bankruptcy. In 1598 he made peace at Vervins with Henry IV, now Catholic, and tried to separate the Low Countries from Spain by bestowing them on his daughter Isabel and her husband, Archduke Albert.

Though disease and famine racked Spain in 15991601, Philip III (ruled 15981621) persisted in war with England and the Dutch. Winning no advantage, he made peace in 1604 in London with James I of England, and in 1609 accepted a Twelve Years' Truce with the Dutch, but refused to relinquish his claims on their lands. Blame for Spain's shortcomings fell on his valido ('favorite'), Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas (15531625), duke of Lerma. Unsuccessful abroad and facing economic problems at home, Spain's government expelled the Moriscos, who did not seem sufficiently assimilated and were suspected of conspiring with North Africa. In 1618, war in central Europe involving the Austrian Habsburgs sucked in Spain as well.

In 1621 Philip III died, the Low Countries reverted to the Spanish monarchy when Albert died childless, and the truce with the Dutch expired. Sixteen-year-old Philip IV (ruled 16211665) ascended the throne, while a new valido, Don Gaspar de Guzmán (15871645), count-duke of Olivares, acquired direction of policy. He determined to make Philip IV the greatest of sovereigns, though most Spaniards had become disillusioned by endless wars, heavy taxes, and relentless recruiting. Olivares knew that Castile bore a disproportionate share of the monarchy's burdens and called for a Union of Arms, which would require more from the Aragonese realms and Portugal. Opposition proved immediate. After early victories, the tide of war turned against the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs. In 1628 the Dutch captured a treasure fleet, impairing Spain's credit even as Olivares pushed into the Mantuan succession crisis that brought war to Italy. In 1635, France openly joined the anti-Habsburg forces it had long aided, and in 1639 the Dutch shattered Spain's last great armada in the battle of the Downs.

Early in 1640 Olivares's policies provoked rebellion in Catalonia. At the end of that year Portugal, its empire savaged by Spain's Dutch foes, declared independence under John IV of Braganza. The growing cry for Olivares's removal succeeded in 1643, when Philip dismissed him. Don Luis de Haro took over direction of policy and sought peace. In 1648 Philip conceded Dutch independence at Münster, but war with France continued over holdings both crowns claimed. Even as Philip recovered Catalonia in 1655, England joined France against Spain. Beaten, in 1659 Philip signed the Peace of the Pyrenees, which both ceded territory and gave his eldest daughter Maria Teresa as bride to Louis XIV of France. Though she renounced all claims to Spain's throne for herself and her heirs, most jurists held that she could not bind them. When Philip IV died in 1665, his sickly four-year-old son Charles II (ruled 16651700) became king. Charles's sister, Margarita, married Emperor Leopold I (ruled 16581705).

The reign of Charles proved the nadir of Spain's fortunes, though after 1680 there was some faint hope for recovery. Always sickly, he sired no offspring. Bourbon Louis XIV and Habsburg Leopold I each sought to win Spain's throne for a candidate of his dynasty, while Louis nibbled at Charles's possessions that bordered France. In Spain Juan Joséde Austria (16291679), Philip IV's bastard, and the count of Oropesa, chief minister (16851691), struggled to maintain government while England and the Dutch tried to arbitrate the anticipated Spanish succession by partition of the inheritance among rival candidates. But Charles rejected partition and Spaniards supported him. Irritated by the Habsburg party at court and aware that France, not Austria, had a navy, Charles's counselors, led by Cardinal Portocarrero of Toledo, persuaded Charles to will his inheritance to Philip (16831746), duke of Anjou, grandson of Maria Teresa and Louis XIV, who became Philip V of Spain.


On Charles's death (1 November 1700), Louis accepted Charles's will and dispatched Philip V (ruled 17001724, 17241746) to Spain. Leopold declared war and claimed Spain for his younger son Charles. In 1702 England and the Dutch joined Leopold in the War of the Spanish Succession. When it ended in 1713, Philip retained only Spain and its overseas empire. Aided by Frenchman Jean Orry, dedicated ministers undertook fruitful reforms. In 1724 Philip abdicated to his son Luis, who quickly died, and Philip resumed the throne. His second wife, Elisabeth Farnese, involved Spain in wars that successfully won the Two Sicilies for her son Charles and Parma for her son Felipe. Philip and his son Ferdinand VI (ruled 17461759) continued to enjoy the services of ministers committed to improvements, such as Zenón de Somodevilla (17021781), marquis of La Ensenada. As Ferdinand was childless, Charles III (ruled 17591788) came to Spain from the Two Sicilies.

His enlightened reign saw Spain prosper, after the so-called Esquilache riots of 1766, spurred by the high cost of bread, prompted further reform. Modernizing ministers included the counts of Aranda, Campomanes, and Floridablanca, and Gaspar de Jovellanos (17441811), the most renowned. Threatened, the church and old nobility opposed many reforms, and in 1767 Charles expelled the Jesuits, but the Inquisition, an embarrassment to many, survived. Spain allied with France against Britain in the war of American Independence. With Louisiana ceded to Spain by France in 1763, and California opened to colonization, the empire reached its greatest extent.

A year after Charles IV (ruled 17881808) succeeded his father, revolution erupted in France. Spain joined the antirevolutionary coalition and went to war. When the regicides who guillotined Louis XVI were overthrown, Spain made peace with France. Manuel de Godoy (17671851), Charles's chief minister and purported lover of Queen Maria Luisa, came to dominate the Spanish government and renewed the French alliance. War as France's ally, however, proved disastrous. The battles of Cape St. Vincent (1797) and Trafalgar (1805) destroyed Spain's navy. Napoleon coerced Louisiana from Charles and sold it to the United States. Spaniards demanded peace and at Aranjuez in 1808 popular riots forced Charles IV to abdicate to his son Ferdinand VII (ruled 18081833). Napoleon promptly invaded Spain, imprisoned Charles and Ferdinand in France, and put his brother Joseph Bonaparte on Spain's throne. Spain's war of Independence (18081813) followed, leaving Spain devastated and its American empire in revolution. The restoration in 1814 of the absolutist Ferdinand quashed the effort of the 1812 Cortes of Cádiz to make Spain a constitutional monarchy, and created a state of political instability that racked Spain during the nineteenth century.

See also Armada, Spanish ; Barcelona ; Bourbon Dynasty (France) ; Bourbon Dynasty (Spain) ; Cádiz ; Catalonia ; Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) ; Cervantes, Miguel de ; Charles III (Spain) ; Charles V (Holy Roman Empire) ; Charles VI (Holy Roman Empire) ; Columbus, Christopher ; Comuneros Revolt (15201521) ; Conversos ; Dutch Revolt (15681648) ; Ferdinand of Aragón ; Ferdinand VI (Spain) ; Góngora y Argote, Luis de ; Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de ; Habsburg Dynasty ; Inquisition, Spanish ; Isabella of Castile ; Joanna I, "the Mad" (Spain) ; Juan de Austria, Don ; Leopold I (Holy Roman Empire) ; Lepanto, Battle of ; Lerma, Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, 1st duke of ; Louis XIV (France) ; Madrid ; Mantuan Succession, War of the (16271631) ; Maria Theresa (Holy Roman Empire) ; Moriscos ; Moriscos, Expulsion of (Spain) ; Netherlands, Southern ; Olivares, Gaspar de Guzmán y Pimentel, Count of ; Philip II (Spain) ; Philip III (Spain) ; Philip IV (Spain) ; Philip V (Spain) ; Pyrenees, Peace of the (1661) ; Spain, Art in ; Spanish Colonies ; Spanish Literature and Language ; Spanish Succession, War of the (17011714) ; Thirty Years' War (16181648) ; Utrecht, Peace of (1713) ; Vega, Lope de ; Wars of Religion, French .


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Peter Pierson

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Modern Spain emerged in the fifteenth century. The land had previously been occupied by the Romans, Visagoths, and the Moors, who remained dominant beginning in the eighth century C.E. From early times, Spain was regarded as a special abode of superstition and sorcery, malevolent magic, and, in the Middle Ages, as the home of witchcraft, much of that reputation deriving from the notoriety of the Moorish alchemists. Spain was a major point of dissemination of Arab learning into Christian Europe. As early as 1370, the kingdom of Castile (a major component of what would become Spain) declared divination to be heresy. Writing about 1458 C.E., Alfonso de Spina, a Franciscan brother from Castile, created a work especially directed against heretics and nonbelievers, in which he gave a chapter on those articles of popular belief that were derived from ancient pagan beliefs. Among these, witches, called Xurguine (jurgina) or bruxe, held a prominent place. He stated that in his time offenders abounded in Dauphiny and Gascony, where they assembled in great numbers by night on a wild tableland, carrying candles with them to worship Satan, who appeared in the form of a boar on a certain rock, popularly known by the name Elboch de Biterne, and that many of them had been taken by the Inquisition of Toulouse and burned.

Spain reemerged as a Christian kingdom during the reign of Ferdinand V(1474-1504) and Isabella. They introduced the Inquisition, expelled the Jews, and financed Columbus's voyages to America. Their reign coincided with the redirection of the Inquisition against witchcraft in the 1480s and from that time in Spain, the charge of witchcraft and sorcery was frequently made under different forms and circumstances. Local inquisitors operated without clear guidelines, especially regarding exactly what constituted sorcery, and had considerable latitude in their prosecution of the accused.

The first auto-da-fé (act of faith) against witchcraft appears to have been that of Calahorra in 1507, when 30 women charged before the Inquisition as witches, were burned. In 1527 a great number of women were accused in Navarre of the practice of sorcery through the information of two girls, one 11, the other only nine years old, who confessed before the royal council of Navarre that they had been received into the sect of the jurginas. They promised, on condition of being pardoned, to expose all the women who were involved in these practices.

The prevalence of various magic practices in the Basque provinces became notorious, and Charles V, judging that it was to be attributed more to the ignorance of the population of those districts than to any other cause, directed that preachers should be sent to instruct them.

The first treatise in the Spanish language on the subject of sorcery was by a Franciscan monk named Martin de Castanaga, printed under approbation of the bishop of Calahorra in 1529. About this time, the zeal of the inquisitors of Saragossa was excited by the appearance of many witches who were said to have come from Navarre, and to have been sent by their sect as missionaries to make disciples of the women of Aragon. This sudden witch persecution in Spain appears to have had an influence on the fate of the witches of Italy. Pope Adrian IV, who was raised to the papal chair in 1522, was a Spanish bishop, and had held the office of inquisitor-general in Spain.

In the time of Pope Julius II (1503-13), a large sect of witches and sorcerers had reportedly been discovered in Lombardy who had their Sabbats and all the other activities of the Continental witches. The proceedings against them had been hindered by a dispute between the inquisitors and the ecclesiastical judges who claimed jurisdiction in such cases. Then on July 20, 1523, Pope Adrian issued a bull against the crime of sorcery, equating divination with its practice, and by naming both as heresy, placed sorcery clearly under the sole jurisdiction of the inquisitors. This bull freed the Inquisition to act against witches in Spain.

Of the cases that followed during more than a century, the most remarkable was that of the auto-da-fé at Logrono on November 7 and 8, 1610, which arose in some measure from a visit to the French Basque province in the preceding year. The valley of Bastan is situated at the foot of the Pyrenees on the French frontier, near Labourd. It was within the jurisdiction of the Inquisition established at Logrono in Castille. The mass of the population of this valley were said to have been sorcerers, and they held their meetings or Sabbats at a place called Zugarramurdi.

A woman who was condemned implicated a number of other persons. All the persons arrested on this occasion agreed in their description of the Sabbat and of the practices of the witches, who in their general features bore a close resemblance to the witches of Labourd. The usual place of meeting was known here, as in Labourd, by the popular name of Aquelarre, a Gascon word signifying "the meadow of the goat." Their ordinary meetings were held on the nights of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, every week, but they had grand feasts on the principal holidays of the church, such as Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas. All these feasts appear to have been fixed by the Christian teachers at the period of older pagan festivals. The accounts of their claimed Sabbats were similar to those given of such meetings elsewhere. They supposedly danced, sang, took part in orgies, and came into personal contact with Satan.

The auto-da-fé of Logrono, as far as it related to the sect of the sorcerers of Zugarramurdi, caused a sensation, and brought the subject of witchcraft under the consideration of the Spanish theologians. They were far more enlightened than most of their contemporaries in other countries, that they generally held the opinion that witchcraft was a mere delusion and that the details of the confessions of its victims were all creations of the imagination. They were punished because their belief was a heresy, contrary to the doctrines of the church. Llorente gave the abstract of a treatise on this subject by a Spanish ecclesiastic named Pedro de Valentia, addressed to the grand inquisitor in consequence of the trial at Logrono in 1610. It remained in manuscript among the archives of the Inquisition.

Valentia adopted the opinion that the acts confessed by the witches were imaginary; he attributed them partly to the methods in which the examinations were carried outand to the desire of the people examined to escape by saying what seemed to please their persecutorsand partly to the effects of the ointments and draughts they had been taught to use. These were composed of ingredients that produced sleep and acted upon the imagination and the mental faculties.

Although the heresy-hunting of the Spanish Inquisition resulted in a vast number of victims being burned throughout Europe, in Spain itself witchcraft persecutions were relatively more restrained than elsewhere, and there were relatively fewer burnings. An entrenched skepticism on the part of the Suprema as to the reality of witchcraft discouraged mass persecutions from 1526 onward. During the witchcraft panic of 1610 in Navarre, the secular judges had burned their victims before the Inquisition could act. Subsequently the Suprema restrained punishment for alleged witches and in some cases denounced the charges as a delusion.


A writer in the Religio-Philosophical Journal (flourished 1865-1905) states: "The language that furnishes the largest number of periodicals devoted to the dissemination of the doctrine and philosophy of modern Spiritualism, is the Spanish. This statement will be somewhat surprising to many of our readers, for we have been accustomed to look upon the Spaniards as non-progressive and conservative in the extreme. Spain, until a few years, has always been intolerant of any religions except the Roman Catholic, and was the latest of European nations to yield to the spirit of religious progress. Protestantism has with the greatest difficulty obtained a foothold in that country within the last few years, but it has been attended with annoying restrictions and persecutions, while its progress has been exceedingly slow and discouraging."

Spiritualism in Spain began, as in many other lands, with a series of disturbances, which took place in a family residing in the outskirts of Cadiz. Stone throwing, bell ringing, and other poltergeist -style annoyances were the first means of awakening attention to the subject. Because they occurred at the house of a Spanish gentleman who had just returned from the United States, full of the marvels of the Rochester rappings, circles were at once formed, intelligent responses by rappings obtained, and a foothold for Spiritualism established. So rapidly did interest in Spiritualism spread, that the first promulgators were soon lost sight of. As early as 1854, a society was formed at Cadiz for the sole purpose of publishing the communications received from the spirits during the two preceding years.

From 1854 to 1860, Spiritualism spread through the principal towns and villages of Spain in the usual fashion, aided in large part by Spiritualism's claim to be a nonreligious, scientific movement. Circles were held in private families, and an endless number of societies were formed and dissolved, according to the exigencies of the time.

One of the first public events of note in connection with Spanish Spiritualism deserves special mention. It was no other than a modern auto-da-fé, held on the morning of October 9, 1861, at the Esplanade Barcelona. The difference between this burning and the fiery executions of earlier centuries was that the early victims were humans, while these were all the books, pamphlets, and works of a Spiritualist character that could be procured at that period of the movement. Resting on the "funeral pyre" were the writings of Allan Kardec and Baron Ludwig von Guldenstubbe, some copies of English and American Spiritualist papers, and a large collection of tracts issued by the Spiritualists of Spain. Some change of attitude soon occurred.

Among the well-known residents of Barcelona was a Señor Navarez, whose daughter Rosa had, for many years, been the subject of spasmodic attacks, called by some of the Roman Catholic clergy "the obsession of demons," and by the medical faculty, "an aggravated condition of epilepsy." Within two years following the Barcelona burning, Rosa was pronounced entirely cured by the magnetic passes of a gentleman who was the medium of the private circle held in the city.

Shortly after this, Barcelona could boast of its well-approved Spiritualist publications, numerous societies for investigation, and several mediums. A journal published by a Señor Alcantara was supported by the Viscount de Torres Solanot and many other leaders of science and literature in Spain. Through this publication the opponents of Spiritualism were amazed to learn of the immense progress the cause was making, and the number of distinguished persons who assembled nightly in circles to promote its investigation.

A circular calling the attention of the Spanish public to the phenomena of Spiritualism was published in 1875 by Viscount Solanot. The authors of this circular met with no little response. However, the energetic viscount again promoted the subject before the Paris Exposition of 1878. In articles written for El Criterio, he argued for the development of an international cooperative effort by Spiritualists and named among those societies prepared to promote such a structure as including: La Federation Espirita, of Belgium; The British National Association of Spiritualists, England; La Sociedad Central Espirita, of the Republic of Mexico; and El Central General del Espiritismo. There was also an attempt to form a national association and unite all the discordant elements under the one broad banner of Spiritualism. Instead of further development, however, by the end of the century Spiritualism had ceased to exist as a vital movement in Spain.

Animal Magnetism and Mediums

In Spain, as in Italy, a considerable amount of attention was directed toward exploring mediumistic abilities by means of animal magnetism. Magnetic societies abounded in Spain prior to World War I, but internal discord eventually dissolved the bonds that had united flourishing associations.

Among the numerous groups formed in the different parts of Spain in the late nineteenth century to study Spiritualism and its phenomena was one of long standing at Tarragona called The Christian Circle. The president of this circle sent the following communication to the Revue Spirite of Paris:

"The convict prison here in Tarragona has 800 inmates sentenced to forced labour. By some means, Spiritualistic books have been introduced among the prisoners. The circulation of these books among them has been the means of bringing seventy or eighty of them to be believers in our doctrine. These converts have ceased to regard their miserable position from their old point of view; they no longer entertain schemes of revolt against the authorities. They endure their lot with resignation under the influence of the teaching that this world is but a preliminary stage to another, where, if repentant of the ill they have done, and seeking the good of others, they will be better off than here.

"Not long since one of these men died; at his death he declined the established offices of the prison priest, on the ground that he was a Spiritualist and did not need them. The priest then discovered that Spiritualism was a subject of discussion with many of the prisoners. He made a representation of the matter to his bishop, who made formal complaint of it to the commandant of the prison, and the commandant made an investigation. In the end a particular prisoner was selected for punishment in the form of an additional weight of fetters. This coming to the knowledge of the Spiritualists of Tarragona, Barcelona, and Lerida, they had a meeting upon the subject and delegated one of their number, a man of position, to interview the commandant. The representations which he made, led the commandant to cancel his order as to the additional fetters. The bishop's censure against Spiritualist books placed them under prohibition, which was maintained. It is known, however, that although never found by gaolers, the books are still there."

In April 1881 the editor of the Madrid El Criterio stated that " great progress has been made in the cause of Spiritualism; that the hall of meeting of the Spiritual Society is completely full every Thursday evening, and is not now large enough to hold the public who come to the sessions, that Dr. Merschejewski has called the attention of the University of St. Petersburg to a psychometric phenomena of much importance; to wit: A young man deemed from childhood to be an idiot, who will in some seconds solve any mathematical problem, while if a poem be read to him, even of many hundred verses, he will repeat the whole of it without failing in a single word."

In the same issue of El Criterio Señor Manuel Lopez wrote on the progress of a society of Spiritualists in Madrid: "We have received a mediumistic work of extraordinary merit, executed by a medium of the Society of Spiritualists of Zaragoza. It consists of a portrait of Isabel the Catholic, made with a pencil, and is a work truly admirable. It is said by intelligent persons who have examined it to be an exact copy of one preserved in the Royal Museum of Painters of this court. Many thanks are tendered to the Zaragozan Society for this highly appreciated present."

It was about the end of the year 1880 that the Spiritualists of Spain sustained another series of attacks from the church. The first of these was the refusal of the clergy to accord the customary rites of interment to the remains of two women, both of irreproachable character and good standing in society, but both "guilty" of having believed in Spiritualist manifestations.

The second attack by the church about this time was the suppression of a Spiritualist paper published at Lerida, entitled El Buen Sentido. The bishop of Lerida had long threatened this step and warned the editor to beware allowing any writings reflecting upon clerical doings to appear in his columns.

One article that seemed to inflame the clergy to such threats was an article that appeared in El Buen Sentido protesting the condemnation of a working man to three years' imprisonment, leaving a family of children destitute, and all for daring to speak in public against the intolerance of the church.

In an issue of El Criterio dated 1881 was a letter from Don Migueles in which he gave a somewhat discouraging account of the cause of Spiritualism as it existed at that time in Spain. The editor commented, "Don Migueles visited many cities to examine into the state of affairs of a spiritual nature, but found many who were only to be enticed by physical phenomena, caring nothing for the esoteric beauties of our faith; many who were convinced that they knew all there was to be known concerning it, and others who were timid fearing the disapproval of neigh-bours."

In some places, however, excellent mediums were discovered. In Santiago, in Oviedo, in Corunna, and in Valladolid an exceptional interest was manifest. Near Santiago, there was a young girl said to be possessed of remarkable faculties. Two bars of magnetized iron held over her horizontally, half a meter distant, were reportedly sufficient to suspend her body in the air.

In 1881 the Barcelona Lux gave encouraging accounts of séances held at Cordova, Tarragona, Seville, and many other places. The editor, Madame Soler, also referred to an archbishop's prohibiting Catholics from possessing or reading the Spiritualist work of Niram Aliv of the Society of Spiritualists of Tarrasa; that of the circle of Santa Cruz of Tenerif; that of Faith, Hope, and Charity, of Andujar, and that of St. Vincent de Bogota.

Psychical Research

Psychical research emerged in Spain but had an extremely spotty existence. Some research was carried on by the Ferderacion Espirita Española, a Spiritualist group in Sabadel. Periodicals included Hacia La Iguidad y el Amor of Barcelona and Lumen of Tarrasa. Spain was also represented at the several international congresses of psychical research. By 1930 Don Manuel Otero of Madrid and Signor Tassi of Perugia were active psychical researchers who had investigated the phenomena of the medium Eusapia Palladino in Naples in 1899.

The Civil War and World War II disrupted developments from the 1930s on. However, interest in parapsychology reappeared in 1971 when Ramos Molina Perera began to teach courses at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Two years later Perera, several colleagues, and others interested in the field founded the Sociedad Española de Parapsicologia. Perera served as president for many years. The society, which at one time had several thousand members, conducts research, sponsors courses at colleges and universities, and issues Psi Comunicacíon.


Baroja, Julio Caro. The World of the Witches. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961.

Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Lea, Henry. History of the Inquisition in Spain. New York and London, 1906.

Llorente, J. A. History of the Inquisition of Spain. 1826.

Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York: Crown, 1959.

The Roots of the New Age Movement. June 19, 2000.

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Gazpacho (Cold Tomato Soup)..................................... 3
Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet) ................................ 3
Flan (Custard) ............................................................... 4
Mazapanes (Marzipan or Almond Candies) ................... 6
Chocolate a la Española (Spanish Hot Chocolate).......... 7
Churros......................................................................... 7

Tapas ............................................................................ 8

Crema de Cabrales (Spread) ...................................... 8
Tartaletas de Champiñón (Mushroom Tartlets) .......... 8
Aceitunas Aliñadas (Marinated Olives) ....................... 9


With Portugal, Spain makes up the Iberian Peninsula, or Iberia. Iberia is separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees Mountains, which rise to a height of 11,168 feet (3,404 meters). The peninsula is bordered by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea on the east, the Strait of Gibraltar on the south, the Atlantic Ocean on the west, and the Bay of Biscay on the northwest. Spain's miles of coastline (more than any other European country) provide it with bountiful seafood and fish. Spain is also a close neighbor to Africa. Morocco lies only a short distanceeight miles (thirteen kilometers)across the Strait of Gibraltar from the southern tip of Spain.

Rich soils in interior valleys yield a variety of cultivated vegetables, while the country's arid (dry) climate provides excellent growing conditions for grapes and olives. The high plateaus and mountainsides of the interior are grazing grounds for sheep and cattle.


As a gateway between Europe and Africa, and the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Spain has been much fought over throughout history. The Greeks settled its coastal areas as early as the eighth century b.c., while Celts occupied interior regions. By the second century b.c., Spain was under Roman domination. In the early eighth century a.d., the Moors (Arabs from northern Africa) crossed Gibraltar and entered Spain, occupying it for the next 700 years before Christian kingdoms drove them out.

This long history of invasion is still evident in Spain's cuisine. Olives, olive oil, and wine tie it closely to Greek and Roman (Italian) culture. Meat and fish pies show the Celtic heritage. The Moorish influence is seen in the use of honey, almonds, citrus fruits, and spices, such as cumin and saffron (a yellow spice).

A leader in exploration and colonization, powerful Spain was among the first nations in Europe to discover the treasures of the New World. Beginning in the late 1400s, explorers returned from voyages across the Atlantic Ocean carrying such exotic new foods as tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, corn, peppers, chocolate, and vanillaall native to the Americas. These foods were slowly joined with the Spanish diet.


Spain's culinary traditions rely on an abundance of locally grown vegetables and fruits as well as meats and poultry. Jamón serrano, a cured ham, and chorizo, a seasoned sausage, are popular. Seafood and fish are popular in coastal areas. Other popular foods are cheeses, eggs, beans, rice, nuts (especially almonds), and bread (a crusty white bread, baked fresh daily, is common). Olive oil and garlic are common ingredients. Spain is also known for its wines, including the rioja, made in the northern province; sherry, a fortified wine that may be dry or sweet; and sangria, wine mixed with fruit and soda water.

The best-known Spanish dish, a stew called paella (pie-AY-ah), originated in Valencia, an eastern province on the Mediterranean Sea. Rice, a main ingredient, is grown in Valencia's tidal flatlands. Though there are numerous variations, paella is usually made of a variety of shellfish (such as shrimp, clams, crab, and lobster), chorizo (sausage), vegetables (tomatoes, peas, and asparagus), chicken and/or rabbit, and long-grained rice. Broth, onion, garlic, wine, pimiento (sweet red pepper), and saffron add flavor to the stew.

Every region has its own distinct cuisine and specialties. Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, comes from Andalucía in southern Spain. Traditionally, a special bowl called a dornillo, was used to pound the ingredients by hand, but modern Spanish cooks use a blender. Andalusians also enjoy freidurías (fish, such as sole or anchovies, fried in batter). Cataluña (Catalonia), in northeastern Spain, is known for its inventive dishes combining seafood, meat, poultry, and local fruits. In the northern Basque country (país Vasco), fish is important to the diet, with cod, eel, and squid featured prominently. The signature dish of Asturias, in northwestern Spain, isfabada, a bean stew. In the interior regions, such as Castilla, meats play a starring role. Tortilla española, a potato omelet, is served throughout the country. It can be prepared quickly and makes a hearty but simple dinner. Spain's best-known dessert is flan, a rich custard.

Gazpacho (Cold Tomato Soup)


  • 1½ pounds (6 large) fresh tomatoes in season, or 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 1 medium green pepper, washed and cut into pieces
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup cold water (if using fresh tomatoes)

Optional garnish: crouton, diced cucumber, diced avocado


  1. Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until almost smooth.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Serve in small bowls. May be topped with croutons, diced cucumber, and diced avocado. Served with bread, gazpacho makes an excellent summer meal or first course.

Serves 6.

Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)


  • cup olive oil
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into -inch slices
  • Salt
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 eggs


  1. Heat 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet; add potato slices and onions.
  2. Cook slowly, occasionally turning potatoes until they are tender but not brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add potato-onion mixture; add a sprinkle of salt.
  4. Return skillet to the stove, add the rest of the olive oil and turn heat to medium-high.
  5. Wait 1 minute for the oil to become hot. (Be careful not to let it splatter.)
  6. Pour potato and egg mixture into the skillet, spreading it evenly with a spatula. Lower heat to medium.
  7. Cook until the bottom is light brown (lift the edge of the omelet with a spatula.)
  8. Carefully place a large dinner plate on top of the pan, and turn it upside down (so that the omelet falls onto the plate).
  9. Slide the omelet (the uncooked side will be down) back into the skillet. Cook until the other side is brown.
  10. To serve, cut into wedges.

Serves 4.

Flan (Custard)


  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 3½ cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon rind, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. In a saucepan, heat ½ cup of the sugar over low heat, stirring frequently until the sugar melts completely and turns amber (golden).
  3. Pour it into a 1½ quart (6-cup) ring mold, tilting the mold in all directions to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Set aside.
  4. Break the 6 eggs into a mixing bowl.
  5. Separate the remaining 2 eggs. To separate the yolk from the white, break the egg over a small bowl or cup and allow the whites to drip out of the shell halves, then transfer the yolk back and forth between the 2 halves until all of the egg's whites have dripped into the bowl.
  6. Place the egg yolks into a separate bowl. and keep yolks. (The whites may be discarded or used for another purpose). Add the 2 egg yolks to the other 6 eggs.
  7. Beat eggs until blended. Add the rest of the sugar and the grated lemon rind; beat again. Set aside.
  8. Measure the milk into a saucepan and warm it over medium heat, but do not allow it to boil.
  9. Gradually stir the heated milk into the beaten eggs and sugar.
  10. Pour the mixture into the ring mold. Place mold in a larger pan with about one-inch of hot water in it. Transfer to oven.
  11. Bake for 1 hour. Flan is done when a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean.
  12. Remove from oven and allow to cool. When cool, chill in refrigerator.
  13. To serve, run a knife around the sides of the mold (to loosen the custard).
  14. Put a large plate on top of the mold and carefully turn the mold onto the plate; the custard should gently slide out. Lift off the mold.

Serves 6 to 8.


To bring good luck in the year ahead, Spaniards traditionally eat twelve grapes, one with each chime of the clock at midnight on New Year's Eve. On February 3, St. Blaise's Day (Día de San Blas ) is celebrated by baking small loaves of bread, called panecillos del santo, which are blessed at Mass in the Roman Catholic church. According to tradition, all the children in the household are to eat a bit of this bread to protect them from choking in the year ahead.

The Christmas season officially begins on December 24, called Nochebuena (the "good night"). It is marked by a special family dinner. A typical menu includes onion and almond soup; baked fish (cod or porgy); roasted meat (such as turkey); and red cabbage and apples (or another vegetable dish). Dessert may include flan and a variety of fruits, cheeses, and sweetsespecially turrón (almond and honey candies) and mazapanes (or marzipan, a glazed concoction of almonds and sugar) which are sometimes shaped like coiled snakes to signify the end of one year and the beginning of the next. After this festive dinner, it is tradition to attend church. Christmas ends with the festivities of Three Kings Day, or Día de los Tres Reyes.

On January 5, parades are held to welcome the arrival of Baltasar, Gaspar, and Melchior who arrive that night to bring gifts to children. (Baltasar, Gaspar, and Melchior were the "Three Wise Men" who, according to the Christmas story, brought gifts to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.) The next day, January 6, the traditional Roscón de Reyes (a sweet bread) is baked and enjoyed. A small surprise, such as a coin, is baked into the cake and the person who finds it in his piece is believed to enjoy good luck in the year ahead.

Mazapanes (Marzipan or Almond Candies)

Ingredients for candy

  • ½ pound almonds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • Powdered sugar


  1. In a food processor or blender, grind the nuts on high speed to form a paste.
  2. Add the sugar and beat again.
  3. Gradually add water and continue beating to form shapeable dough.
  4. Dust a clean, flat surface (such as the counter) with powdered sugar.
  5. If the dough cracks and is too dry to work with, lemon juice may be added, drop by drop, until the dough is easier to work with.
  6. Pinch off pieces of the dough. Working on the surface dusted with powdered sugar, roll the pieces of dough to make short pencils, about 4 inches long.
  7. Join the ends to make rings. Place on a cookie sheet.
  8. Leave uncovered in a dry place overnight to harden.

Makes about 50 candies.

Ingredients for glaze

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. To separate the egg yolk from the white, break the egg over a bowl and allow the whites to drip out of the shell halves, then transfer the yolk back and forth between the two halves until all of the egg's white has dripped into the bowl. Discard the egg yolk.
  2. Using a mixer, beat the powdered sugar with the egg white until mixture is creamy and thick.
  3. Add the lemon juice; beat 5 minutes.
  4. Dip the top of each marzipan candy into the glaze and return the candy to the cookie sheet.
  5. When the glaze hardens, the marzipan candies are ready to eat.


Daily meals in Spain begin with a light breakfast (desayuno ) at about 8 a.m. Next comes a three-course lunch (comida ), the main meal of the day. Families gather to eat it in the mid-afternoon (about 2 p.m.). At about 10 p.m. supper (cena ), a lighter meal, is served. In addition, bollos (small rolls) may be eaten in the late morning; the merienda, a snack of tea or Chocolate a la España (Spanish-style hot chocolate) and pastries may be enjoyed in the early evening (about 5 p.m.); and tapas, traditional Spanish appetizers, are consumed around 8 p.m., before supper.

Though American fast-food restaurants have opened in Spain's cities, traditional "food-to-go" includes churros, sugary fritters sold at street stands; and bocadillos, sandwiches typically made of a cured ham (jamón serrano) or other meat and cheese. Bocadillos may be found in the school-child's lunch box, as might a wedge of a cold Tortilla Española (Spanish omelet), fresh fruit, and cheese.

The tradition of tapas, now enjoyed in many U.S. restaurants, originated with the practice of bartenders covering a glass of wine or beer with a small plate of free appetizers (tapa means "cover"). The great variety of tapas enjoyed today are testimony to their popularity. They may be as simple as a slice of fresh bread with tuna, as extravagant as caracoles a la madrileña (snails, Madrid style), or as comforting as an empanadilla, a mini meat pie. Invariably they are accompanied by lively conversation, a hallmark of Spanish daily life.

Chocolate a la Española (Spanish Hot Chocolate)


  • ½ pound sweet baker's chocolate
  • 4 cups milk (2% okay)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


  1. Chop sweet chocolate into small pieces. Place in a small saucepan.
  2. Add milk to chocolate in saucepan, and heat over low heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until the mixture just begins to boil
  3. Remove from heat. Dissolve cornstarch in a little cold water in a cup.
  4. Add cornstarch solution to chocolate mixture. Return to low heat, and, stirring constantly, cook until the hot chocolate thickens. Serve hot.

Serves 6.



  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine water, 1 Tablespoon oil, and salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add the flour and immediately turn heat to low; stir constantly until a ball of dough forms. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. When dough can be handled, place it in a pastry bag or cake decorator with a fluted tip; press the dough into 4-inch strips that are about 3/8 of an inch in diameter.
  4. In a skillet, heat vegetable oil (about ½-inch deep) until very hot.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and fry the churros until they begin to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes, on each side (turn them once while frying).
  6. Cook only a few at a time, to keep an eye on them.
  7. As churros are done frying, remove them from the pan and place on paper towels to drain.
  8. Roll warm churros in sugar (mixed with cinnamon, if desired). Serve.

Makes about 30 fritters.

Tapa: Crema de Cabrales (Blue Cheese, Apple, and Walnut Spread)


  • ¼ pound blue cheese (the Spanish variety is cabrales, but gorgonzola or roquefort may be used)
  • 2 teaspoons raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon white grape juice or cider
  • 1 Tablespoon cream
  • 2 Tablespoons apple, finely chopped (about half a peeled apple)
  • 2 Tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped
  • teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Remove blue cheese from refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature (let it sit on the counter for an hour or more).
  2. Soak the raisins in the fruit juice for 20 minutes.
  3. Using a spoon, remove the raisins from the juice and set aside.
  4. When the cheese has reached room temperature, place it in a small mixing bowl.
  5. Add the cream and fruit juice.
  6. Using a fork or wooden spoon, combine ingredients until smooth.
  7. Stir in raisins, apple, walnuts, and thyme.
  8. Serve with crackers.

Tapa: Tartaletas de Champiñón (Mushroom Tartlets)


  • 5 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ pound (8 to 10) mushrooms, washed, drained, stems removed, and finely chopped
  • 20 miniature tartlet shells or toast triangles (tartlets are available at supermarkets)
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, garlic, parsley, and lemon juice.
  2. Stir in the mushrooms, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate mixture for 1 hour.
  3. Fill the tartlet shells with the mushroom mixture and serve immediately. (If using toast triangles instead, proceed to steps 4 and 5.)
  4. To prepare toast triangles, remove crusts from 5 pieces of good quality bread thin-sliced bread. Toast them in a toaster; cut each piece into four triangles by cutting an X across each slice of bread.
  5. Then, using a slotted spoon, put a spoonful of the mushroom mixture onto each triangle and serve immediately.

Makes 20 tartlets.

Tapa: Aceitunas Aliñadas (Marinated Olives)


  • Large empty jar, with a lid
  • 14-ounce can pitted black olives, with their liquid
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Slice of lemon or ½ teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Combine all ingredients (including the liquid from the olives) in the jar.
  2. Refrigerate several days and up to a few weeks.
  3. The longer the olives marinate, the more flavorful they become.
  4. To serve, use a fork or slotted spoon to remove the olives from the marinade and place them in a small bowl.


The Spanish economy is strong. Spain was one of the countries that joined the European Monetary Union in 1999, and the country adopted the European currency, the euro. Nearly all Spanish children receive adequate nutrition.

In the late 1990s, concerns about mad cow disease, which was affecting cattle in the United Kingdom, caused all Europeans to be more cautious about eating beef. The market for Spanish sheep and hogs strengthened slightly, as Spanish cooks decided to cook more lamb, mutton, and pork.



Casas, Penelope. The Foods and Wines of Spain. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982. (A complete cookbook of Spain's traditional foods. Most recipes are quite involved, but many are preceded by the author's notes on the dish and its origins.)

Goodwin, Bob, and Candi Perez. A Taste of Spain. New York: Thomson Learning, 1995.

Mendel, Janet. Cooking in Spain. London, Eng.: Garnet Publications Ltd., 1997. (Recipes and background information on Spain's cuisine)

Sterling, Richard, and Allison Jones. Lonely Planet World Food: Spain. Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications, 2000.

Web Sites

Spanish Gourmet. [Online] Available (accessed July 19, 2001).

Tienda. [Online] Available (accessed August 17, 2001). (Tienda is a Virginia-based company selling food products from Spain; its web site also offers recipes).

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Official name: Kingdom of Spain

Area: 504,782 square kilometers (194,897 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mulhacén Peak (3,478 meters/11,411 feet)

Highest point in territory: Teide Peak (3,718 meters/12,198 feet), located on Tenerife Island

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Western

Time zone: 1 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1,085 kilometers (764 miles) from east to west; 950 kilometers (590 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: 1,918 kilometers (1,192 miles) total boundary length; Andorra 64 kilometers (40 miles); France 623 kilometers (387 miles); Gibraltar 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles); Morocco 16 kilometers (10 miles), Portugal 1,214 kilometers (754 miles)

Coastline: Total: 4,964 kilometers (3,084 miles); Mediterranean Sea 1,670 kilometers (1,038 miles); Atlantic and Bay of Biscay 2,234 kilometers (1,388 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


The mainland of Spain covers most of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe and shares borders with France, Andorra, and Portugal. The country has northern and western coasts along the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay and an eastern coast along the Mediterranean Sea. With a total area of about 504,782 square kilometers (194,897 square miles), the country is slightly more than twice the size of the state of Oregon. Spain is administratively divided into seventeen autonomous communities.


Spain controls "places of sovereignty" (plazas de soberania ) on and off the coast of Morocco: the coastal enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, although Morocco contests these territorial claims; and the Alhucemas and Chafarinas Islands. Spain also administers the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and Canary Islands in the Atlantic. Finally, Spain continues to have a centuries-old dispute with the United Kingdom over Gibraltar, a small enclave to the south of Spain.


Daytime summer temperatures in Spain can reach 35°C to 39°C (95°F to 102°F) in the northern Meseta and are even hotter in the south. Temperatures of 43°C (109°F) have been recorded in the Ebro basin. Nights are significantly cooler. The climate is more moderate in the northern Atlantic maritime region. In the Mediterranean region, winter temperatures average between 10°C and 13°C (50°F and 55°F) and summer temperatures average between 22°C and 27°C (72°F and 81°F).

Rainfall is highly irregular, but annual averages usually fall between 30 and 50 centimeters (12 and 20 inches). The northern Meseta enjoys two rainy seasons: from April to June and from October to November. In the southern Meseta, the spring rainy season begins in March and is wetter than the fall. The maritime northwest receives abundant rainfall throughout the year, with the wettest season from October through December. The Mediterranean region receives the least rainfall, with most of its precipitation occurring in the fall and winter.


Overall, Spain's terrain is mountainous, with major ranges running throughout the country. The Pyrenees system is particularly noteworthy. One of Europe's most effective natural boundaries, the highest terrain of the main portion of this range marks Spain's border with France. The tiny nation of Andorra is also located there. Most of the level land in Spain is situated in river valleys, along the coast, or on the Meseta Central (Central Mesa), the large plateau at the center of the country.

Topographically, Spain is divided into four parts: the temperate region in the north and northwest, the marginal mountain ranges, the Meseta Central and the surrounding interior region, and the coastal areas. The boundaries between regions are far from clear-cut, however. The temperate region, for example, includes significant portions of the mountains and coastal areas. The Meseta Central contains two large, low-lying river valleys and is traversed by several major mountain systems.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

The Atlantic Ocean lies to the west of Spain. The Bay of Biscay, an arm of the Atlantic, runs along the northern coastline. The Mediterranean Sea lines the eastern and southern borders of Spain. The Mediterranean Sea is an almost completely landlocked body of water situated between southern Europe, northern Africa, and southwest Asia. It links to the Atlantic Ocean at its western point through the Strait of Gibraltar, and to the Red Sea at its southeastern shore though the Suez Canal. The Mediterranean also connects to the Black Sea in the northeast through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus. The Balearic Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean, lies at the northeast coast of Spain, separating the mainland from the Balearic Islands.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The Gulf of Cádiz, at the southwest coast of Spain, is an extension of the Atlantic Ocean. The narrow Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco connects the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. The Gulf of Valencia is an inlet of the Balearic Sea.

Islands and Archipelagos

The Balearic Islands are an extension of the Baetic Cordillera, which stretches across the southern border of Spain and reaches underwater into the Mediterranean. The major islands of the archipelago are Majorca, Miñorca, and Ibiza, with Majorca by far the largest. Formentera and Cabrera are smaller islands within the Balearics. All of the islands are mountainous.


The Rock of Gibraltar is part of a peninsula that juts out from the south-central coast of Spain into the Mediterranean Sea near the Strait of Gibraltar. The rock contains a number of limestone caves and a long tunnel that have been used for shelter and defense. A large number of archaeological finds have been uncovered in the caves. The Rock of Gibraltar was once known as one of the Pillars of Hercules, which stand at either end of the Strait of Gibraltar. The other pillars are Mount Acha in Ceuta and Jebel Musa (west of Ceuta), which are also sometimes called the Gates of Hercules. Though the area has been under British rule since 1704 after the War of Spanish Succession, the Spanish government continues to work toward regaining the territory.

The Canary Islands are an archipelago of ten volcanic islands in the North Atlantic not far from Africa, about 1,324 kilometers (823 miles) southwest of mainland Spain. They have been a possession of Spain for centuries and thus are considered a part of the country. Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, and Gran Canaria are the largest of the Canaries. La Palma, Gomera, Hierro, Graciosa, Lobos, and Alegranza make up the rest of the archipelago. The islands are predominantly mountainous and Teide Peak (3,718 meters/12,198 feet) on Tenerife is Spain's tallest mountain.

Coastal Features

The northern coast extends about 724 kilometers (450 miles) from France to the northwestern corner of the country. The Cantabrian Mountains are never far from the shore in this region and the coast is generally even, marked only by occasional river estuaries. The largest of these, the Betanzas Estuary and Arosa Estuary, are in the extreme northwest on the Atlantic Ocean.

Spain's tourism thrives on the beauty of its sun-drenched southern beaches. In fact, the southern Atlantic coast is called Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) because of its bright sunshine. At the Strait of Gibraltar is Point Tarifa, the southernmost point in Europe. East of this is the narrow Costa del Sol (Sun Coast), which extends to Cape Gata (Cabo de Gata). The Costa Blanca, from Cape Gata to Cape Nao (Cabo de la Nao), has white and sunny beaches facing the warm Mediterranean Sea. Cape Palos forms the Menor Lagoon along this coastline.


Most of the larger lakes in Spain are formed along the courses of the rivers. The most significant, however, are man-made reservoirs.


Spain has some eighteen hundred rivers and streams, of which only the Tagus (Río Tajo) is longer than 965 kilometers (600 miles). Only ninety of these rivers are longer than 97 kilometers (60 miles). The Tagus, Duero, Guadiana, and the Guadalquivir all have their sources in the center of the country and drain to the west, into the Atlantic Ocean. The Ebro rises in the north and runs southeast between the Pyrenees and the Iberian Cordillera into the Mediterranean. The Júcar, whose source lies in the southern Iberian Cordillera, also flows into the Mediterranean. The mountain rivers in the north all have short courses, owing to the nearness of their sources to the sea. Those in the northwest are the longest, particularly the Miño (Minho). Many of them encounter the sea through deep estuaries, similar to fjords, which extend from the mountains to the sea.

Owing to scant and unpredictable rain, many of Spain's lesser riverbeds are dry most of the year. All of the Meseta Central's rivers are sluggish most of the year, except for a few days each spring and fall when raging waters fill the riverbeds. Even the Tagus, the largest of the three, is variable in its volume of water. The Miño carries a volume of water equal to or greater than that of the Ebro, although the Miño's course is less than half as long and its basin covers only about a fifth as much area. South of the Meseta and the Sierra Morena, and draining most of the Andalusian Plain, the Guadalquivir is the country's most consistent and valuable river; Spain's only major river port, Seville (Sevilla), is located on it. The delta of the Guadalquivir is marshy and frequently saline.


Except in the north and northwest, the Meseta Central is substantially denuded and desert-like. Scrub growth has replaced forests. Portions of the Mediterranean region are dry and desolate, especially the Baetic Cordillera, which receives dry, hot winds from the east or southeast originating over North Africa.


Grasslands are sparse in Spain due to its semi-arid climate and are found primarily in the valleys of the major rivers. The Andalusian Plain, in the valley of the Guadalquivir, is the largest and most important of these. It is the best farmland in the country and the only low-lying area that permits easy entry from the sea. The La Mancha Plain is found near the Guadiana River. Grasses also cover parts of the Meseta Central and the high Sierra Nevada.

The land between the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian Mountains is hilly, with an average elevation of 610 meters (2,000 feet). This verdant region is fairly broad in the west, but it becomes narrower in the east, where it is confined to the ocean-side slopes of the mountains.


The Pyrenees Mountains extend across the country between the Bay of Biscay and the Balearic Sea, a distance of about 418 kilometers (260 miles). Their width averages 80 kilometers (50 miles), with a maximum of 129 kilometers (80 miles). The French-Spanish border runs through these mountains, connecting six of the highest peaks. On the Spanish side, three of these peaks exceed 3,353 meters (11,000 feet); Aneto Peak, the highest of these, reaches an altitude of 3,403 meters (11,165 feet). The Pyrenees summits are very steep and rugged with few passes.

In the north, the Cantabrian Mountains (Cordillera Cantábrica) extend across the country parallel to, and in some places adjacent to, the Bay of Biscay. There are drops exceeding 1,524 meters (5,000 feet) within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of the shore. Generally, peaks in the Cantabrian Mountains range from 2,133 to 2,938 meters (7,000 to 8,000 feet).

The Iberian Cordillera (Sistema Ibérico) extend southeast from the center of the Canta-brian Mountains, reaching nearly to the Mediterranean coast. This region's 20,725 square kilometers (8,000 square miles) are covered with barren and rugged terrain. The Spanish call it the "area of difficulty." It separates the Meseta Central from the northeastern river valleys.

The Baetic Cordillera (Sistema Penibético, sometimes called the Andalusian Mountains) of southwestern Spain extend from Cape Nao to Gibraltar, a distance of some 579 kilometers (360 miles). The most impressive part of this range is that which is closest to the coast, the Sierra Nevada; much of it is desolate, however. Its 3,478-meter (11,411-feet) peak, Mulhacén, is the highest point on the Iberian Peninsula. The coastal Sierra Nevada is separated from a sister range in the north by a geological fault line that runs roughly parallel to the shore. The northern range is equally forbidding, with the exception of a few exotic places, such as Granada. Further north is the Sierra Morena, a lower chain with elevations between 152 and 610 meters (500 and 2,000 feet).


The Iberian Peninsula contains only two countries: Spain and Portugal. It is a botanical crossroads between Africa and Europe, with more than eight thousand species of plants.


Although there are many caves in Spain, one of the most interesting is the Altamira Cave. Altamira has been called the "Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic Art." The main hall of the cave, which measures about 18 meters by 9 meters (59 feet by 30 feet), features paintings on the ceiling that are about fifteen thousand years old. Most of the figures are animals, such as bison, horses, and wild boars, along with a few anthropomorphic figures (human-like creatures with animal features). The paintings are remarkably detailed, with various brush-strokes providing a sense of texture and realism. The artists depicted most of the animals poised in the midst of movement, and they painted with only three colors: ochre (yellowish-brown), red, and black. Because the paintings deteriorate when exposed to the carbon dioxide which is exhaled by tourists, a limited number of people are allowed to visit the cave. A nearby museum contains an exact replica, however. UNESCO has designated Altamira Cave as a World Heritage Site.

The Sierra de Guara Canyons, located in the Spanish Pyrenees, are popular sites for climbing and canyoning enthusiasts. The area includes nearly sixty limestone canyons that contain stunning rock formations and views.

The Guayadeque Gorge, located on Gran Canaria Island of the Canary Islands, is a spectacular canyon that stretches halfway across the island. The canyon contains the Purple Caves (Cuevas Bermejas), some of which are still inhabited by humans.


The Meseta Central, the vast Spanish tableland, dominates central Spain from the Cantabrian Mountains in the north to the Sierra Morena in the south and from the Portuguese border in the west to the Iberian Cordillera in the east. Generally, the Meseta varies in elevations between 610 and 762 meters (2,000 and 2,500 feet), except in the river valleys. It also contains many small mountain ranges, however; two of these are the Toledo Mountains and the Cordillera Carpetovetonica, the latter of which reaches 2,591 meters (8,500 feet). In general, the Meseta gives way to higher land in the western part of the country between the basins of its three largest rivers.

The El Torcal de Antequera, located in the southern hill regions, contains a number of limestone rock formations resembling towers, sculpted figures of various shapes and sizes, and even some dramatic balancing rocks. The rock sculptures were formed primarily by erosion.


There are about twelve hundred dams located along the rivers of Spain. They have been constructed for irrigation, hydropower, and water supply storage. The Alcantara Reservoir, located on the Tagus River, is one of the largest in Western Europe.



Cross, Esther, and Wilbur Cross. Spain. Chicago: Children's Press, 1994.

Schubert, Adrian. The Land and People of Spain. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Simonis, Damien. Spain. 3rd ed. Oakland, CA.: Lonely Planet, 2001.

Smith, Angel. Historical Dictionary of Spain. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1996.

Web Sites

Sí Spain. (accessed April 24, 2003).

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The Spanish family has been undergoing dramatic changes that started in the 1980s. These changes have influenced not only patterns of interaction, but also society's broader values regarding marital and family life. To understand these changes, it is important to study these families in their immediate social and larger historical context.

Demographic Trends

Spain has a population of approximately 39,508,900 (Eurostat 2001), with fifty provinces in seventeen autonomous regions. The people of Spain are as diverse as the geographical areas they represent. Throughout the centuries, several ethnic groups have maintained their unique cultural and linguistic identities. Among these groups, the Catalans reside primarily in the northeast and on the eastern islands and represent 16 percent of the population. Second, the Galicians live in the northwestern section of Spain and represent 7 percent of the population. Third, the Basques (or Euskal-dun), who represent 2 percent of the population, reside primarily around the Bay of Biscay. Finally, the nomadic Spanish Roma or Gypsies, who traditionally have been more numerous in the southern region of Spain (i.e., Almeria, Granada, Murcia), can also be found today in larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona.

The population's natural growth has been moderate (7 per 1,000, or 27,200 people). Most population growth has been due to migration to the country, which accounted for 1.0 per 1,000 population (40,000 people) in 2000 (European Communities 2001). One of the leading causes of the slow growth is a decrease in fertility rates that began in the 1980s. In 1980 the crude birth rate was 15.3 per 1,000 population; in 1998 and 1999 that rate decreased to 9.2 and 9.5 per 1,000 population, respectively (European Communities 2001 Collection for 1999). In 2000 that number increased slightly to 9.8 per 1,000 population (European Communities 2001).

The decrease in fertility rates is more dramatic when examining the average number of live births during a woman's life. In 1980 the number was 2.2, but it dropped in 1998 and 1999, by which time the numbers stood at 1.15 and 1.18, respectively (European Communities 2001). By 2025 the annual rate of growth is estimated to be –0.4 percent with an approximate population of only 37,648,000 (U.S. Census Bureau 2001).

In trying to understand these numbers, attention must be given to factors affecting the marital relationship as well as the changing role of individuals within the family unit. Over the years Spaniards have been delaying the age at which they marry. In 1975, the average age at first marriage was 26.5 for men and 23.9 for women. In 1995, however, the average age increased to 28.9 for men and 26.8 for women (Pérez-Díaz, Chuliá, and Valiente 2000). During the same period, the average number of marriages per 1,000 individuals also decreased. In 1975 the average rate was of 7.6 per 1,000 population, while the rate in 1980 was 5.9 and in 1999 was 5.2 (European Communities 2001). The divorce rate, however, has remained low when compared to other countries, particularly the United States. In 1998 the average divorce rate per 1,000 individuals was 0.9 compared to 4.3 in the United States (European Communities).

Views regarding cohabitation and the age of emancipation for youth have also changed over the years. In a survey conducted by the Center for Sociological Studies (Centro de Investigaciones Sociólogicas, or CIS) in 1994, 59.2 percent of those interviewed indicated that being married by the church represented the best living arrangement a couple could have. The respondents also indicated at a more personal level that if their neighbors were living together and they were not married, it would not bother them (80.2%). More than half (68.1%) of those interviewed believed the decision to live with someone was a very personal one, and the couple's decision should be accepted (Centro de Investigaciones Sociological 1994).

Meanwhile, researchers have found that young people are also delaying the age at which they leave the family home. In 1987, 84 percent of Spanish youth ages twenty to twenty-four and almost one-half (49%) of individuals ages twenty-five to twenty-nine were still living with their parents. In 1996 the number had increased slightly. Nine out of every ten youth ages twenty to twenty-four were still living with their parents, compared with 62 percent of individuals ages twenty-five to twenty-nine who were also living at home with their nuclear families (as cited by Pérez-Díaz, Chuliá, and Valiente 2000).

The role of women and their active participation the workforce has also played a critical role in Spain's demographic changes. Women are working more outside the home and staying longer in the workforce than any previous generation. According to Víctor Pérez-Díaz and his colleagues (2000), the number of women who completed their formal education and entered the workforce by the end of the 1990s represents two out of every three women ages twenty-five to forty-four (75%), compared to only 30 percent twenty years earlier. However, the critical issue here, according to Julio Iglesias de Ussel (1998), is not that women are working outside the home, but rather that they are staying in the workforce longer. For instance, among women age forty-five to fifty-four, 43 percent of the women interviewed reported still being active in the workforce (as cited by Pérez-Díaz, Chuliá, and Valiente 2000). Access to the public sphere of interaction and its economic implications have empowered women to begin to take control of their own futures and challenged the traditional patriarchal delineation of power within the family.

Nevertheless, is critical to consider the meaning behind these statistics. Why are people delaying the age of marriage? Why have fertility rates decreased so sharply? What seems to fuel the changing role of women in Spanish society?

The Changing Attitudes in Spain

The debate is on whether patterns of interaction are the result of changes in the larger political and/or economic sectors (Alberdi 1999) or, conversely, whether changes in individual/familial perspectives have served as catalysts to larger social change (Pérez-Díaz, Chuliá, and Valiente 2000). This debate remains unresolved. What seems clear, however, is that there has been a gradual and significant shift in attitudes regarding the way Spaniards define their roles and future goals within their interpersonal relationships. A review of the historical context yields a better sense of the magnitude of these changes. During Francisco Franco's government (1939–1975) both the laws of the state and the regulations of the Catholic Church enforced a set of structures aimed to preserve a conservative and patriarchal structure of the family, as well as significant control of the mass media and various institutions (Clark 1990).

Before the creation of the constitution in 1978 and the reforms of the civil code of 1981, Spanish law discriminated heavily against married women. Stringent standards restricted opportunities for women to pursue professional careers, while celebrating their roles as mothers and wives. During Franco's government, Spanish law prohibited wives from taking part in almost all forms of economic opportunity, including employment, ownership of property, or even travel, unless they had the consent of their husbands. These laws were known as permiso marital (marital permission) (Clark 1990). The government advocated a policy of perfecta casada (the perfect housewife) and angel del hogar (angel of the home), reaffirming women's subordinate roles within the family and in society at large. Women, for example, had to enroll in a six-month training program in preparation for motherhood (as cited in Sanchez and Hall 1999). Adultery during this time was a crime, as was abortion. Marriages also had to be canonical in nature. This meant that basically all marriages in Spain had to be sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Since the church did not allow divorce, the difficult process of annulment was the only means of dissolution (Clark 1990).

By the 1960s, social values were changing faster than the existing legal statutes allowed, creating tension between the legal codes and the growing social reality. Many scholars believe that these changes developed as a result of the economic exodus of hundreds of thousands of people from rural settings to new urban centers during that time. In addition, the increasing flow of European tourists to Spain as well as the migration of Spanish workers to other European countries dramatically changed Spain's isolation from the rest of the world (Clark 1990). Soon after Franco's death in 1975, the permiso marital was abolished, laws against adultery were cancelled in 1978, and divorce was legalized in 1981 (Clark 1990).

This growing shift in attitudes regarding family roles could be viewed as part of a larger ideological divide experienced by many countries during the industrialization process. The change is a shift from a traditional style of family, which is often hierarchical and patriarchal, to a secular definition, which is often more individualistic and egalitarian in style. A secular style questions the role of women as the primary familial caretaker and homekeeper and challenges hierarchical conceptions of men's and women's relationships (Sanchez and Hall 1999).

In Spain, as in many other countries, these two ideologies co-exist. At one level, Spaniards affirm the right of women to work outside the home, but they still expect women to carry most of the burden of childcare and housework. The same discrepancy is true when comparing the difference in pay between men and women. The average salary for women is only 75 to 80 percent of that of men, depending on the sector of the economy in which they participate. Nevertheless, the dramatic increase of women's participation in the labor markets has significantly challenged traditionalist notions of couple and family relationships.

Ines Alberdi, in her 1999 study of the Spanish family, attributes the growing secular trend to a changing ethic that encompasses the following factors. The first is a growing egalitarian ethic that encourages women to pursue professional jobs and increase participation in the decision-making process in the home. Traditionally, women normally followed values such as personal sacrifice of other goals in the interest of raising children. However, with the improvement in economic conditions and opportunities for professional advancement, the emphasis shifted from the struggle for economic survival to the pursuit of more meaningful and satisfying interpersonal relationships. Alberdi (1999) believes that there is the desire for individual liberty and the pursuit of personal happiness at the heart of this movement toward egalitarian relationships. Although from a general perspective, men and women agree on the benefits of more autonomy in their relationships, many couples have difficulties working out these roles because many men have not been socialized to function in this way. The result is a constant effort to negotiate and renegotiate their individual responsibilities within the relationship. This experience has left many couples questioning the need to increase additional responsibilities either by formalizing their relationship through marriage or by having children. Therefore, couples are delaying the age at which they marry and have children to have the opportunity to pursue their own individual relational and professional interests.

An increasing tolerance toward diverse family forms and patterns of interactions has also supported the development of secular trends in the society. The majority of Spaniards do not see any problems with cohabitation or having children outside the marital relationship. This shift in social expectations and norms has given couples more flexibility and less pressure to conform to traditional standards. As a result, couples are able to explore different types of living arrangements in response to different economic needs and educational opportunities (Alberdi 1999).

Spaniards, amidst all these changes, maintain a strong sense of family loyalty and solidarity. The traditional values of family obligation, similarity of interest, and sympathy for members of the group remain. The challenge, however, is in the application of these values in a society where individual families are increasingly separated from their extended families. Nevertheless, this value remains central to the way many families operate. For instance, a mother may take care of her daughter's children so her daughter can go to work or a grandparent may use part of a pension to help financially support unemployed younger members of the family. It is within this context of the search for individual liberty and desire to be part of the larger group that many Spanish families find themselves today (Alberdi 1999).

More Spaniards are less willing to postpone any opportunity for current happiness for a distant and uncertain future. As opposed to past decades, during which individuals would put aside short-term personal desires to reap the benefits of a better future, contemporary Spaniards are paying more attention to what is available to them in the present. Therefore, it is possible to understand how some of these demographic changes have taken place when considering the reinterpretation of the value of time as well as an increased desire for meaningful and satisfying emotional connections in their interpersonal relationships. These changes represent for many Spaniards new challenges and opportunities, as they attempt to define for themselves what family life will be like in the future.

See also:Basque Families; Hispanic-American Families; Latin America; Mexico


alberdi, i., ed. (1995). informe sobre la situación de la familia en españa (report regarding the situation of the family in spain). madrid: ministerios de asuntos sociales.

alberdi, i. (1999). la nueva familia española (the newspanish family). madrid: taurus.

centro de investigaciones sociológicas (center for sociological investigations). (april 1994). barómetro de abril (april barometer) issue brief no. 2.087. madrid: author.

clark, r. p. (1990). "the society and its environment: social values and attitudes." in spain: a country study, ed. e. solsten and s. w. meditz. washington, dc: library of congress, federal research division.

flaquer, l. (1998). el destino de la familia (the destiny of the family). barcelona: ariel.

iglesias de ussel, j. (1998). la familia y el cambio político en españa (the family and political change in spain). madrid: tecnos.

miel landwerlin, g. (1999). la postmodernizacion de la familia española (the postmodernization of the spanish family). madrid: acento.

pérez-díaz, v.; chuliá, e.; and valiente, c. (2000). la familia española en el año 2000 (the spanish family in the year 2000). madrid: fundación argentaria—visor dis.

sanchez, l., and hall, c. s. (1999). "traditional values anddemocratic impulses: the gender division of labor in contemporary spain." journal of comparative family studies 30(4):659–685.

other resources

european communities. (2001). "first demographic estimates for 2000." available from int/comm/eurostat.

european communities. (2001). "first results of the demographic data collection for 1999 in europe." available from

european communities. (2001). "first results of the demographic data collection for 2000 in europe." available from

u.s. census bureau. idb summary demographic data forspain. available from


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Known to contemporaries as the House of Austria, the Habsburg dynasty succeeded the Trastámara dynasty (13691516) and ruled Spain from 1516 to 1700. Its earliest title, count of Habsburg, provides the name now used for it. Spanish kings placed "count of Habsburg" after their royal and ducal titles, which included king of Castile and León, Aragón, Valencia, Navarre, Sicily, Sardinia, Naples, and Jerusalem; archduke of Austria; duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Luxembourg, Milan, and more. Other titles with the status of count included Barcelona, Flanders, Holland, Tyrol, and Franche Comté, all preceding such lordships as the Basque Country and Indies East and West.

Their titles gave the Habsburgs a conviction of divine favor, with its concomitant obligations. The first Habsburg in Spain, Philip I (15041506), duke of Burgundy, was king-consort of Castile as husband of Queen Joanna I ("Joanna the Mad," 14791555), third child of Ferdinand of Aragón (ruled 14791516) and Isabella of Castile (ruled 14741504). In 1496, Ferdinand, for diplomatic purposes, married Joanna to Philip, son of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (ruled 14931519), and his own son, Prince John (14781497), to Maximilian's daughter Margaret. He hardly expected that Joanna would inherit Spain, and that her son Charles I (Carlos I, ruled 15161556) would succeed to the Spanish thrones. Charles was born in 1500 in Ghent, where Maximilian influenced his upbringing. Maximilian and his father, Emperor Frederick III (ruled Holy Roman Empire 14521493; ruled Germany 14401493), developed a mystique about their dynasty, which included fictive genealogies tracing descent from Roman caesars and kings of Israel. Maximilian promoted the ideals of chivalry and crusade, also dear to Ferdinand. To Spain's court Charles bequeathed the elaborate etiquette of Burgundy.

On Maximilian's death, Charles became Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (ruled 15191558). He vowed to uphold the Roman Catholic Church when he confronted Martin Luther at Worms. Differences with France involved him in dynastic wars; only in 15301541 did he find opportunity to crusade. He continued the marriage strategies of his grandfathers. His sisters married into Portugal, Hungary-Bohemia, France, and Denmark; his brother Ferdinand (15031564), to whom Charles ceded his Austrian holdings in 1522, also married into Hungary-Bohemia and founded the Austrian Habsburg line. The Spanish line remained senior. Charles's sister Mary of Hungary acted as arbiter between Charles and Ferdinand, and succeeded their aunt Margaret as Charles's regent of the Low Countries. Serving the absent ruler as viceroy or regent in his chief holdings became a family obligation.

Charles married Isabel of Portugal. Their eldest daughter, Maria, married her Austrian cousin, future emperor Maximilian II (ruled 15641576). Their youngest, Joanna, married the prince of Portugal. Maria, Maximilian, and Joanna served as regents in Spain. Charles acknowledged two bastards. The first, Margaret (15221586), eventually married the duke of Parma, grandson of Pope Paul III (15341549). Both she and her son Alexander Farnese served as regents in the Low Countries, as did Charles's natural son, John of Austria (15471578), who also commanded Spain's Mediterranean fleet. Male bastards, potential threats to the legitimate line, did not marry.

Charles's heir, Philip II of Spain (ruled 15561598), married successively Maria Manuela of Portugal, mother of the unfortunate Don Carlos (15451568); childless Mary Tudor of England; Elisabeth de Valois of France; and his niece Ana of Austria, who mothered Philip III (15981621). Philip's eldest daughter by Elisabeth, named Isabel, married her cousin Archduke Albert. Philip endowed them with the Low Countries, but when Albert died childless, title reverted to Spain, while Isabel continued as regent. Her sister Catalina (15671597) married Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy (15801630).

Philip brought four of Maximilian II's sons to Spain for their education. Private instructions penned by him and Charles V became part of the family heritage. His monastery-palace, El Escorial, remains Spain's enduring monument to the Habsburg dynasty.

Europe's division between Catholic and Protestant limited Spain's Habsburgs to marriages with consanguineous Catholic dynasties, primarily Austria and France. (Portugal ceased being an option while annexed to Spain [15801640].) Philip II considered marriage to Elizabeth I of England (ruled 15581603) for himself or an Austrian archduke if she became Catholic. In the early 1620s, Spanish diplomats dangled the prospect of marriage to an infanta, or princess, before Protestant Charles Stuart (ruled 16251649), who, as prince of Wales, traveled to Madrid only to be rejected.

Philip III married his second cousin Margaret of Austria. His heir, Philip IV (ruled 16211665), married French princess Elisabeth de Bourbon, but only a daughter, Maria Teresa (1638