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SPAIN
 
   
   
 

Spain Identity Card

Country name:
~ conventional long form: Kingdom of Spain
~ conventional short form: Spain
~ local short form: Espana
 
Area: 504,782 sq km
Coastline: 4,964 km
Highest point: Pico de Teide (Tenerife) on Canary Islands 3,718 m
Population: 43,209,511
Density: 85/km2
Population growth rate: 0.15%
Official Language: Spanish
Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%
Government type: parliamentary monarchy
Capital: Madrid
GDP - per capita: $23,300
Inflation rate: 3.2%
Currency (code): euro (EUR)
Vehicle Country Id-Code: E
ISO CODE Alpha2: ES
ISO CODE Alpha3: ESP
ISO NUMERIC CODE: 724
Calling code: +34
Internet country code: .es
Time Zone: + 1.0 H

 
 
 
 

Though the Reino de España (Kingdom of Spain) and the Leyenda Negra (The Black Legend) terrorised the medieval world of the past today’s Spain accounts as the land of the Leyenda Rosa (The White/Rosy Legend). Thanks go by and large to Julian Juderías (Spanish Historian) who unraveled in 1914 the underlying myths that kept defaming the Spaniards and the Hispanics till then. A residence to numerous races since the 9th Century BC, Spain had also been resided by the aboriginal people of the Iberian Peninsula till the Celtic population poured in. Still nurturing the ritual spectacle of Corrida de Toros (Bullfight), today’s España also has its tradition of Flamenco culture intact as it was during the time when the Gitanos (gypsies) moved in. What they left behind along with the music is the precedence of emotion with its sudden outbursts and extended vowel pronunciations, the most common trait that’s found among the people of modern Spain.


Bullfight (Corrida de Toros)

Geography

High plateaus and mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees or the Sierra Nevada dominate mainland Spain. The highlands are also the sources for major rivers like the Tajo, the Ebro, the Duero, the Guadiana and the Guadalquivir, giving rise to the alluvial plains along the coast. The Guadalquivir plains in Andalusia require a special mention on this context, whereas medium rivers like Segura, Júcar and Turia formed the eastern alluvial plains. Bound in the east by the Mediterranean Sea (including the Balearic Islands), in the north by the Bay of Biscay and in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, Spain also comprises of the Canary Islands off the African coast.


Salamanca

Climate

Spain is mostly temperate in the eastern and southern parts of the country i.e. the Mediterranean zones. The rainy seasons being spring and autumn, Spain enjoys a dulcet summer with mild temperatures. On the other hand, the North-Atlantic coast becomes rainy mostly during the winter; however, summer here has a mild overtone accompanied by moderate temperature fluctuations. The Canary Islands have a subtropical weather (18 ºC to 24 ºC Celsius) throughout the year.


Palace of Communications, Madrid

History

The Spanish history can be divided into several distinct epochs. The aboriginal peoples of the Iberian Peninsula once inhabited the land, but it was in the 9th century BC that we witnessed the Celtic tribes moving in; Celtiberians was what they took up as their new name. Along came the seafaring Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians, whose successive settlements along the Mediterranean coast laid the foundations for the numerous trading colonies. All these were accomplished within a few centuries.
The Second Punic war (2nd century BC) was responsible for making the Romans invade the Iberian Peninsula. The war continued for two centuries resulting in the extension of the Roman Empire under Augustus. The colonies laid by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians along with the Celtic and the Iberian settlements were included into the province of Hispania, later divided into Hispania Ulterior and Hispania Citerior under the late Roman Republic. However, the Roman Empire in the 2nd Century B.C. extended from Hispania Taraconensis in the northeast to Hispania Baetica in the south. The southwest was named Lusitania. Hispania became a rich source to the Roman Empire in terms of food, olive oil, wine and metal in exchange of the languages, religion, and the laws, which are in practice till today.


The Alhambra of Granada

8th century Spain i.e. the Iberian peninsula underwent a complete transfer of power as the Moors from North Africa became successful in expanding their Umayyad Empire. The Moorish conquest, however, faced defeat in front of the countries Asturias, Navarra and Aragon in the North, which later were granted the status of individual kingdoms. Córdoba, in southern Spain (Andalucía) was coronated the Moorish capital, with large populations of Jews, Christians and Muslims, better known as the stalwarts of great architecture and art. Restrictions and taxes were, however, imposed on the non-Muslims; it’s after the death of Al-Hakam III in 976 that these measures followed an upward curve till reaching the peak during 1031. 1031 also saw the dethronement of Al-Andalus as stricter Muslim groups from North Africa took control. Their orthodoxy and strict measures led many to seek a safer abode in the city of Toledo after Christian conquest (Reconquista) freed the city in 1085, marking an end to the re-conquest of the northern half of Iberia. Earlier, the same conquest had also liberated one of the most important centers of western medieval Christian pilgrimage, Santiago de Compostela (739 A.D.) in the northwestern region of Galicia with the aid of the forces from the neighbouring Asturias. Nonetheless, 1212 A.D. saw the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa bringing down Moorish strongholds like Seville and Córdoba in the southwest and then freeing most of the Iberian Peninsula by the middle of the thirteenth century. Only Granada was left as a small, southern tributary state till 1492. However, as per the Treaty of Granada, Ferdinand and Isabella (King and Queen of Castile) guaranteed religious tolerance towards the Muslims. The new and combined Christian Kingdom of Ferdinand and Isabella crushed down another attempt of Muslim insurrection in 1499; this time, for a complete expulsion of Muslims in 1502. Isabel and Ferdinand's new, combined, Christian kingdom also marked the discovery of the New World since they funded the legendary voyages of Columbus, besides being the victor against the French and the Italian armies. The new kingdom thus emerged as a European superpower, besides being the wealthiest nation in Europe. This remained static although the influx of goods from neighbouring countries made the country undergo an economic crisis for some time.
Spain witnessed a series of long and costly wars and revolts in the early 17th century, which brought about a steady decline of Spanish power in Europe, fanned further by the War of the Spanish Succession in the first years of the 18th century. The French Bourbons emerged as the rulers, who established a centralized Spanish state under the first Bourbon king Philip V of Spain in 1707. The Aragon court was dissolved and Castile was unified with Aragon to form a single kingdom of Spain. This marked the end of numerous regional privileges and autonomy (fueros) considered detrimental for the new establishment. A period of peace followed till May 1808, till Napoleon initiated the War of Independence (1808–1814), followed by a dispute over dynastic succession and three civil wars that rendered Spain briefly a Republic (1871 – 1873) enabling a series of coups to reinstall the monarchy. The loss of the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific also occurred at the same time, as a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898.
The 20th century saw a period of dictatorial rule (1923 - 1931) before the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic occurred. Political autonomy to the Basque Country and Catalonia was gained along with the introduction of the voting rights for women, though the attempted military coup rule. July 1936 onwards, after the end of the Spanish Civil War, General Francisco Franco brutally ruled a nation exhausted politically and economically till 1975. 1978 saw The Spanish Constitution being formed and the arrival of democracy.


Manzanares Castle

Culture

The most prominent feature being the discovery of the Guitar in Andalusia, Spain’s extraordinary artistic heritage dates back to the golden age. This covers a time frame spanning from the Toledo-based artists El Greco and Diego Velasquez to Francisco Goya in the 18th century. Wonders like Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí also had their roots in the Spanish soils; however, for an easy understanding of the seminal Spanish culture, the following headings might prove useful.
Bonfires of Saint John: A popular festival of Alicante (S.E. Spain), bonfires of Saint John are celebrated every year on the eve of June 24 in towns all around Spain. Primary ingredient being any kind of wood, its also the hot chocolates that mark the prominence of the Festival.
Bullfighting: Tauromaquia is the name by which the Spanish address this game; a sport that blends elegant movements, grace and confidence of the Matador (the fighter) with the kind of brutality that can be considered masterful. A ritual spectacle designated as an artform, there is a significant degree of skill and danger that remains involved.
Music of Spain – Cante, Baile, Guitarra; the three ingredients of masterful wizardry comes alive in the Southern part of Spain. The ancient Gypsies are very often addressed as the fathers of this wonderful form of Art that the world today knows as Flamenco. Baile or the Flamenco dance is a successor of Cante, vocals accompanied by rhythmical clapping of hands or toque de palmas; the introduction of the Guitarra occurred later when Julián Arcas and similar composers came in. Apart from the traditional music, Spain has also given birth to Bakalao, a form of Techno or electronic beat-based music that emerged from Valencia.
Spanish Literature: Spanish literature began in the Castilian language. During the 19th century, romanticism awoke the nationalist feelings at certain regions of Spain, since then Catalan, Galician, and Basque literature has developed alongside the predominant Castilian literature. From Cervantes to Jorge Manrique, everybody has contributed to the richness of Espanol, however a certain ambiguity exists as some critics identify Spanish literature with Castilian literature. For them, the rest of peninsular languages appear as Hispanic literature, including Hispano-American, Portuguese and Brazilian literature, and that written in Hispania in any language or epoch. Others consider Spanish literature that which is written in Spain, in any language.


Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao

Economy

Spain has a mixed capitalist economy, with a GDP (per capita basis) of 87% that of the four prime West European economies. Attempts to introduce the Euro (European single currency) were been made by the former Prime Minister Aznar was a success. Currently, Spain has the 8th largest economy in the world, with per capita GDP growth by 25% over the last ten years.


Barcelona View

Politics

Regarded as a Federation of Autonomous Communities, the 50 Spanish provinces are grouped into 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities that come under a constitutional monarchy. Apart from a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament (Cortes Generales), Spain has a Council of Ministers with the President of Government at the head, elected by the National Assembly. The legislative branch consists of the Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados), elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms, and a Senate or Senado with 259 seats. Currently, Spain allows its people to vote on the European Union constitution, and is the first country ever to approve the constitution through proper voting.


The Royal Palace, Madrid
 



 

 

 
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