Spain, or officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. It has coasts on the Mediterranean Sea in the south and east, and the Atlantic Ocean in the north. It borders Portugal to the west, France, Andorra to the north, and the United Kingdom (Gibraltar) to the south. Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and the two autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa. With an area of 505,992 km2, Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe after France. With an average altitude of 650 meters, it is the second highest country in Europe after Switzerland.
Spain is governed by a constitutional monarchy organized as a parliamentary democracy. It has been a member of the European Union since 1986 and of NATO since 1982.
Around 1100 BC, the Phoenicians began to establish their first settlements on Spanish territory. Celts and Greeks followed. Spain then came under the rule of the Carthaginians. In 202 BC, the Romans expelled the Carthaginians from the Iberian Peninsula. From this date on, the Roman Empire provided unity in Spain and over time made Christianity accepted there.
In the 5th century AD, Spain was attacked by Germanic tribes. After the Alans, Suevs, and Vandals in turn, the Visigoths dominated Spain. The domination of the Visigoths lasted for a long time and the Visigoths, who accepted Christianity, enabled the spread of Christianity in Spain.
In 711, Muslims from Africa dominated Spain, except for a few regions in the north, from the 8th to the 10th centuries, and established the Andalusian civilization there.
In the eleventh century, the Christians, who took advantage of the internal turmoil of this country, began to recapture the peninsula starting from the north. In 1276, only the southern Granada remained in the hands of the Muslims. With the marriage of the Aragon king Fernando II and the Castile queen Isabella I and the unification of their armies, the Christians became stronger and expelled the Jews and Muslims from Andalusia. The Jews and Muslims who were saved by a navy under the command of Kemal Reis were brought to the east by ships. They left behind many science and science books that Europeans also benefited from.
Age of Enlightenment
In 1492, the last Muslim stronghold, the Kingdom of Granada, was destroyed. In the same year, Christopher Columbus went on his famous trip to America, with the financial support of the Spanish monarch. This journey led to the establishment of one of the largest colonial empires in the world by Spain. Spanish soldiers enslaved the natives who welcomed them with gifts, torture and genocide. Bartolomé de las Casas, who was the child of a close friend of Christopher Columbus and witnessed the atrocities of the natives, published How the Indians Exterminated in 1542. He writes in his book, “I am 100 percent sure that the Native Americans were right in their war against the Christians. On the other hand, the Christians did not wage a single just war with them. On the contrary, their war was more evil and unjust than any tyrant in the world.”
Following the defeat of the Spanish Armada by the English navy in 1588, the struggles for the throne and religion finally weakened Spain and began to collapse. It lost Portugal in 1640, and some of its European lands and Gibraltar in 1714. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, all of the Spanish colonies in the Americas gained their independence.
World War I and the Republican Period
In World War I, Spain remained neutral despite all invitations, but was greatly affected by the war. France attacked and occupied parts of Spain. General Primoderivera suppressed the uprisings and established a dictatorship in the country. He fell from power in 1930. As a result of the republican victory in the elections held a year later, King VIII. Alfonso left the country. After the leftists were successful in the elections held in 1936, General Franco wanted to strike a coup against the elected government and civil war broke out in the country.
In 1939, with the end of the civil war, Franco became President. II. In Spain, which did not participate in World War II, Franco remained in place after the war with the support of the army. With the death of Franco in 1975, Juan Carlos I succeeded him. With the resignation of Prime Minister Navarro in 1976, Carlos became king and appointed Alfonso Sourez as prime minister.
On June 15, 1977, general elections were held for the first time in Spain in 41 years. The Democratic Center Union, headed by Sourez, won a majority. In 1981, the right-wing Colonel Tejero Cortes’ coup attempt by storming the parliament failed. In the 1982 elections, the Socialist Party won the election by obtaining a large majority, and 46 years later, a leftist government re-emerged in Spain.
The Spanish constitution is the one adopted in 1978.
Spain’s constitution is based on the constitution adopted in 1812. After the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, with the elections held in 1977, the assembly, which served as a constitutional institution called the Constituent Cortes, convened to amend the constitution and enacted the 1978 constitution. As a result, Spain was divided into 17 autonomous states and 2 autonomous cities.
After the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, Spain, which the Franco regime hindered foreign relations, decided to improve its foreign relations. It became a member of NATO in 1982 and the European Union in 1986. With the normalization of relations with North Korea in 2001, Spain improved its relations with the whole world.
- United Kingdom: There is the Gibraltar issue, which covers an area of 6 km² between Spain and the United Kingdom. Gibraltar, the southernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula, was conquered by the British in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. The problem was legally resolved with the Peace of Utrecht. According to this peace, the United Kingdom was taking Gibraltar forever. The problem is currently being tried to be resolved with the United Nations.
- Morocco: Morocco requests from Spain the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, located on the African coast.
- Portugal: Portugal, on the other hand, does not recognize Spanish sovereignty in the Olivenza region.
Spanish administrative divisions
Spain is divided into 17 autonomous regions (comunidades autónomas) and 2 autonomous cities (ciudades autónomas). There are also fifty provinces in Spain. Each of the seven autonomous regions (Asturias, Balearic Islands, Cantabria, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, and Navarre) is also a province.
For historical reasons, some provinces are further divided into counties called comarcas. The smallest administrative unit in Spain are municipalities
Spain (in the West) Portugal and the United Kingdom (with Gibraltar in the South) on the Iberian Peninsula, 36° and 43.5° north latitudes and 9° west (not counting the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Septe and Melilla) It is located between longitudes and 3° east. Spain occupies six-sevenths of the Iberian Peninsula. To the northeast lies the border between France and Andorra and Spain along the Pyrenees. In addition, the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and the provinces of Septe and Melilla on the North African coast are also within the borders of Spain. The city of Llívia in France also belongs to Spain. However, the Chafarinas Islands off the Moroccan coast, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, Alhucemas, Alborán and Columbretes Islands, and Perejil Island also belong to Spain.
The total border length is 1917.8 km. It has a border of 63.7 km with Andorra, 623 km with France, 1.2 km with Gibraltar, 1214 km with Portugal, and 15.9 km with Morocco (Ceuta city). It has 4964 km of coastline.
The cities of Septe and Melilla are located in North Africa and, like Morocco, are on the Mediterranean coast. The area of Spain is 505,988 square kilometers. Spain is a mountainous country and ranks second in Europe after Switzerland in terms of altitude with its mountains with an average height of 600 m.
Except for the western parts of the mountains surrounding the plateau and high plains, more than two-fifths of the peninsula is surrounded by mountain ranges. The principal rivers of the peninsula flow into the Atlantic Ocean, following an east to west route. The Ebro River empties into the Mediterranean. The only nautical river, the Guadalquivir, passes through the city of Seville.
Spain’s northernmost point is Esteca de Vares, and the westernmost is Cape Toriñana, both of which are in the Province of Galicia. Its southernmost point is Punta Marroquí in Tarifa, and its easternmost point is Cape Creus. The widest area extending from north to south is 856 km, and the widest area extending from east to west is 1,020 km.
The largest and only lake in Spain is Lago de Sanabria, which spans an area of 368 hectares and is 55 meters deep.
The highest mountain in Spain is Pico del Teide (3718 m) on the island of Tenerife, which belongs to the Canary Islands. The highest mountain on the mainland is Mulhacén (3482 m) in the Sierra Nevada in Granada State.
Spain’s northern coast shows significant bulges only between Gijón and Avilés and Ribadeo and La Coruña, while elsewhere it runs in an almost straight line. Compared to other coasts of the country, these coastlines can be defined as steep and difficult to overcome coasts. The reason for this is that the mountains here go into the sea almost everywhere. This coastline is only possible from the mouths of the rivers and from the tributaries (Rías), which are common especially in the Galician region, where the sea enters the interior of the coast. The west of Spain also shows exactly these coastal features, but it is not as difficult a coastline as the north, as the mountains here only go into the sea at the headlands and there are usually flat areas at the back of the Rías.
The characteristic feature of the south and east coasts is the flat estuaries and the protrusions between these estuaries and ending with the hilly areas. These lanes are coasts that can be crossed more easily than the north and west coasts. The most important bays on the south coast are, from west to east, the Bays of Cádiz, Málaga, Almería and Cartagena; those on the east coast are Bahía Alicante and the Gulf of Valencia. The longest rivers in Spain are the Douro, Tejo and Ebro.
- Atlantic Climate: Occurs in regions bordering the Atlantic Ocean: Galicia, Asturia, Cantabria, Basque Country, Navarra. Especially in winter, precipitation is seen, winter and summer are quite mild.
- Oceanic-Continental Climate: Occurs in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula: Castile Leon, Madrid, La Rioja, Castile-La Mancha, Extremadura and Andalusia. Winters are quite cold and snowfall is seen especially in the north, while summers are hot.
- Continental Mediterranean Climate: occurs in Aragona, Catalonia, Valencia (in its interior), Murcia, Castile-La Mancha and Andalusia. While precipitation occurs in spring and autumn, summers are hot and winters are cold.
- Mediterranean climate: occurs in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Murcia and Andalusia. Precipitation occurs mostly in spring and autumn. Precipitation decreases from north to south (Barcelona 640 mm, Tortosa 524 mm, Valencia 454 mm, Alicante 336 mm, Almería 196 mm). Although the air temperatures in the winter months are not very low, hot weather prevails in the summer.
- Subtropical Climate: It is seen in the Canary Islands. A temperate climate prevails almost all year round (between 18 and 24 °C). The winter season is almost non-existent. Average air temperatures in Santa Cruz de Tenerife are 17.9 °C in January and 25.1 °C in August. The precipitation rate of the Canary Islands varies greatly from region to region.
- Mountain Climate: It is a climate seen in the high parts of the Pyrenees and high in the Castile mountains. Winters are long, summers are short and mild. Especially in the winter months, intense frost events are seen in the region, so the arrival of the summer months is prolonged, the summers are short and mild, and towards the middle of July, heavy rains begin in the region and floods occur.
According to World Bank data, Spain has the eighth largest economy in the world. According to CIA data, Spain’s Gross National Product is 1.362 trillion dollars. GNP per capita is approximately 33,700 dollars. Spain’s economy grew by 3.8% in 2007, surpassing all G7 countries.
In 1999, Spain abandoned its own currency, the Peseta, and switched to the Euro currency along with other European Union members.
While there are 22.19 million employees in Spain, 3.5% of them work in agriculture, 29.8% in industry, and the remaining 66.6% in the service sector. However, with an unemployment rate of 22.3%, it is above the European average.
According to the data of the United Nations Tourism Organization, France is the first with 86.9 million tourists in 2017, while Spain is the second most visited country in the world with 81.9 million tourists.
As of January 1, 2020, according to the Spanish National Statistical Institute, Spain has a population of 47,329,981 people. The male population in the country is 23,197,625 and the female population is 24,132,356. In addition, 5.235,375 people of foreign origin live in the country. The population is increasing at a rate of 0.096% per year. There are 89.6 people per square kilometer. The busiest city is Madrid.
While the estimated life expectancy across the country is 79.92 years, this figure is 76.6 years for men and 83.45 years for women.
The country’s population doubled in the 20th century due to high industrialization and immigration. Thereafter, the birth rate declined after the 1980s, and serious population declines occurred in eleven out of fifty provinces. After that, the number of immigrants from places such as Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa increased.
Same-sex couples have the right to marry in Spain.
Spanish is considered the only official language of Spain, while other languages are the main language used in daily life only in the autonomous regions.
However, Valencian, a Basque dialect of Catalan, is spoken in the Valencian Region, while Majorcan Dialect, another Catalan dialect, is spoken in the Balearic Islands. There are also minority languages spoken by small groups. A few of these are Asturian, Aragonese and Aranese. However, while the Masiris living in Melilla speak the Tamazight language, there are still Portuguese-speaking groups in Olivenza (Extremadura).
When the holiday season starts, there are many people from Germany, Poland and many South American countries who come to work, especially in holiday destinations. There are also many Germans and Brits who have settled in some tourist areas such as the Costa Blanca or the Costa del Sol.
English and French are spoken as foreign languages. Young Spaniards learn more English as a foreign language, while older Spaniards speak more French.
Religions and Worldviews
According to 2019 Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas data, 68% of Spanish people are Catholic (46% believe but do not worship regularly, 22% do not regularly) 25% Irreligious (11% Atheist, 9% Agnostic 6% Undefined) 3% adhere to other religions .
The Catholic Church is a church supported by the government of Spain due to an agreement with the Papacy. Since the Catholic Church in Spain survives on donations from believers, there is no need for formal fundraising. Santiago de Compostela, one of the most visited holy places by Christians, is also located in Spain.