Spain on the world map. Map of Spain
Map of Spain with cities. Where Spain is on the world map. The main geographical facts about Spain - population, country area, capital, official language, religions, industry and culture.
Spain Fact File
Official name Kingdom of Spain
Form of government Constitutional monarchy with two legislative bodies (Senate and Congress of Deputies)
Area 504,750 sq km (194,884 sq miles)
Time zone GMT + 1 hour
Projected population 2015 39,018,000
Population density 79.4 per sq km (205.6 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 79.1
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 4.9
Official language Spanish (Castilian)
Other languages Catalan, Galician, Basque
Literacy rate 97%
Religions Roman Catholic 99%, other 1 %
Ethnic groups Ethnically homogenous, but divided into the following cultural/linguistic groups: Spanish 72.3%, Catalan 16.3%, Galician 8.1 %, Basque 2.3%, Gypsy 1 %
Economy Services 68%, industry 21 %, agriculture 11 %
GNP per capita US$ 20,700
Climate Temperate, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers; cooler and wetter in northwest
Highest point Mulhacen 3,478 m (11,411 ft)
Map reference Pages 292-93
Spain occupies the bulk of the Iberian Peninsula at the southwestern tip of Europe. It shares land borders with Portugal to the west, France to the north, and the tiny principality of Andorra, perched high in the Pyrenees on the border with France. To the west and south Spain has short stretches of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, and to the north a long coast on the Bay of Biscay. Its southern tip is separated from Morocco by the narrow Strait of Gibraltar and its southeastern and eastern coastlines are on the western edge of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Iberian Peninsula had already experienced a long history of human habitation at the end of the third century вс, when the Romans subdued the Celts, Iberians, and Basques who lived there. The region remained a Roman colony until the Visigoths invaded early in the fifth century ad. Over the next three centuries the region became Christianized, but in ad 711 an invasion from Morocco in the south established what would become a flourishing Islamic civilization that lasted for six centuries. In the ninth century Christian invaders from the north gained control of Catalonia in the northeast, thus beginning a slow process of reconquest. By the early thirteenth century, the Moors only retained control of Granada in the south.
The marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in 1469 brought together the two most powerful states on the peninsula, and in 1492, when the Moors were finally expelled from Granada, Spain became a unified country under Catholic rule. Thus began a century of Spanish exploration and conquest in which Spain
A small farm In the province of Navarra (below). Fertile countryside in Catalonia (right).
acquired colonies in Central and South America, as well as the Philippines in Southeast Asia. The Spanish also ruled a large part of Western Europe, including Portugal, the Netherlands, Austria, and parts of Italy.
The beginning of Spain's decline from being a dominant power in the world to a state of secondary importance can be traced to 1588, when Philip II sent his mighty armada of 130 ships in an abortive attempt to invade Protestant England. This defeat by the English spelled the end of Spain's maritime dominance. By 1714 Spain had lost all its European possessions and by 1826 it had been forced to surrender all its American colonies except Cuba and Puerto Rico.
French revolutionary forces invaded Spain in 1794. They were defeated in 1814 and the Spanish Bourbon monarchy was restored. During the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century Spain has been destabilized by political turmoil and a series of military revolts and wars. Quarrels about the succession to the crown led to the removal of Isabella II from the throne in 1868, the declaration of a republic in 1873, and a military uprising in 1874 that restored the monarchy. In 1898 Spain and the United States fought a war at the end of which a defeated Spain was forced to cede its colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to its adversary.
Spain remained neutral in both world wars, but was wracked by a bitter civil war from 1936 to 1939. Universal adult suffrage was introduced in 1931 and in 1936 the election of a Republican government with socialist leanings prompted an army officer, Francisco Franco, to lead a revolt against the government. With the support of right-wing Spanish forces and of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, and after the loss of 750,000 Spanish lives, Franco's forces were eventually victorious and Franco was installed as head of state. His dictatorial regime lasted until his death in 1975. Almost immediately the monarchy was restored and in June 1977 the first parliamentary elections since 1936 were held. In December 1978 a referendum approved a new constitution in which Spain was declared a parliamentary democracy with a monarch as head of state. There are two houses of parliament, both elected by universal adult suffrage for maximum terms of four years.
Physical features and land use More than half Spain's land area is occupied by a central plateau, the Meseta, which has an average elevation of 700 m (2,300 ft). Much of the Meseta is harsh and barren. It is surrounded by mountain ranges to the north, northeast, south, and southwest, and is traversed by a low mountain range, the Sistema Central. The plateau is drained by three rivers—the Douro to the north of the Sistema Central, and the Tagus and Guadiana to its south—all of these rivers flow westward to the Atlantic.
In the far northeast of the country, between the Sistema Iberico (a range that fringes the Meseta on the northeast and the Pyrenees to the north) is an extensive lowland area through which the Ebro River, which rises in the Basque country, flows south to the Mediterranean. In the southwest of Spain, beyond the Sierra Morena Range at the Meseta's southwestern edge, the Guadalquivir River drains another extensive low-lying region. In the far southeast is a coastal range, the Sistema Pinibetico, which contains the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada, including the country's highest mountain, Mulhacen.
The Ramblas in Barcelona (above). Storks are among the many bird species found in southern Spain (right).
About one-tenth of Spain is heavily forested. Most of the forests are in the north and northwest, where the weather is wetter and more humid than in the center and south. Beech and oak predominate. Despite the fact that much of the country is arid and covered with low-growing scrub and water is a scarce resource, crops are widely grown. The most productive areas are in the north of the country, especially in the valley of the Ebro. There are significant crops of cereals, vegetables, fruits, and olives.
Spain is one of Europe's main producers of wine and there are 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of vineyards, mainly in the south and east. About one-fifth of Spain is pastureland, though cattle and dairying are largely confined to the north and pig farming to the southwest. Sheep are widespread on the Meseta, while goats graze in many of the more barren regions.
Industry and commerce Although Spain has a wide range of mineral resources, it is not rich in any of them and imports the oil and gas needed to fuel its industries. These industries are concentrated towards the north, mainly around the major cities of Madrid and Barcelona. Spain is a major manufacturer of motor vehicles and a number of multinational companies have car manufacturing plants in parts of northern and central Spain. Steelmaking and shipbuilding are among the most significant heavy industries. There are important shipyards at Barcelona, on the Mediterranean coast, La Coruha in the far northwest, and Cadiz in the southwest. Chemical manufacture and fishing are also major industries. Spain has one of the world's largest
fishing fleets, although its activities have been curtailed in recent years by European Union restrictions in response to serious fish stock depletions. About one in ten of Spain's workers are employed in the tourist industry.
While Spain is still a predominantly Catholic country, the influence of the Church has waned in recent years. This is reflected in the fact that Spain has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, even though divorce is still relatively rare. Although most Spaniards enjoy a reasonably high standard of living, unemployment has been alarmingly high in recent years.
Baleares • Basque Country Canary Islands • Cantabria Castilla-La Mancha • Castilla у Leon Catalonia • Ceuta and Melilla Extremadura • Galicia • La Rioja Madrid • Murcia • Navarra • Valencia