Discover some of the most popular persons who live / lived in Spain.
|Location||Southwestern Europe, in the Iberian Peninsula|
|Neighborhood||Portugal, France, Andorra, Gibraltar, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea|
The country’s anthem is called “Marcha Real” which translates to “Royal March” and it is one of the few anthems without lyrics. The motto is “Plus Ultra” which from latin translates to “Further Beyond”. Spain is organised as an unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with King Felipe VI being the monarch. Spain’s total population according to the 2015 census is 46.423.064 persons. Other important spanish citizens can be found in countries like Argentina (368.000), France (224.000), Venezuela (179.000), Germany (147.000) or Brazil (100.000).
The Spanish flag, as defined by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, is divided into three horizontal stripes of red, yellow and red, with the yellow part being twice the size of the red ones. The origin of the current flag of Spain is the naval ensign of 1785, “Pabellón de la Marina de Guerra” under Charles III of Spain. It was chosen by Charles III himself among 12 different flags designed by Antonio Valdés y Bazán. All projected flags were presented in a drawing which is in the Naval Museum of Madrid. The flag remained the emblem of the marine forces for most of the next 50 years, flying over coastal fortresses, marine barracks and other naval properties. During the Peninsular War, the flag could also be found on marine regiments fighting inland. Not until 1820 was the first Spanish land unit, the “La Princesa Regiment” provided with one and it was not until 1843 that Queen Isabella II of Spain would make the flag official.
Since the 9th century BC, Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians entered the Iberian Peninsula, followed by the Roman Republic, who reached in the 2nd century BC. Spain’s present language, religion and legal system persist since the Roman period. Conquered by the Visigoths in the 5th century AD and attacked several times in the 711 by the North African Islamic Moors, modern Spain began to form after the “Reconquista”, the efforts to drive out the Moors, who remained in Spain until 1492.
Iberia had already passed through a long history of human habitation in the late 3rd century BC, when the Romans subdued the Celts, Iberians and Basques who were living there. The Peninsula remained a Roman region until the Visigoths invaded the place in the early 5th century. Over the next three centuries, the region became Christian, but an invasion of Morocco in 711 laid the foundation for what was to be a flourishing Islamic civilization, which lasted six centuries.
Because of the Roman guardianship, the economy has highly developed. Hispania served as a granary empire. From its boundaries gold, wool, olive oil and wine were exported. Agricultural production increased after the introduction of irrigation. Christianity was introduced into Hispania in the 1st century and became very popular especially in cities in the 2nd century AD. Most languages (one exception is Basque) spoken in the peninsula, the religion and contemporary laws have their basis from that era.
In the 8th century, almost the entire Iberian Peninsula was conquered (711-718) by Berbers (or Moors) from North Africa. These conquests were part of political and territorial expansion of the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate. Only a few areas in the mountains of northern Iberia have retained their independence, occupying territories now included in the autonomous communities of Aragon, Asturias and Navarra.
Under the Muslim rule, Christians and Jews were recognized as “peoples of the Book” and enjoyed the freedom to practice their religions, but being “dhimmi”, they were faced with a number of discriminations and mandatory penalties because of their religion. The number of converts to Islam has grown steadily. Following the massive conversion of the 10th and 11th centuries, it is believed that the Muslims have outnumbered the Christians on the territories that remained under Islamic rule.
In the 11th century, Muslim possessions were divided into rival Taifa Kingdoms, which allowed the Christian Kingdoms to expand and strengthen their power. The arriving of the Almoravides and the Almohads caused the restoration of the Islamic rule on the Iberian Peninsula, introducing a less tolerant form of Islam. However, the Almohad state couldn’t resist the growing military power of the Christians.
The division of Andalusia between the Taifa kingdoms helped the “Christian kingdoms” in expanding their territories. The capture of Toledo in 1085 resulted in the recapture of all the northern half of Spain. In 1175, part of the Kingdom of Castile has declared its independence from the rest of the “Christian Kingdoms” and that part is now called Portugal. In 1469, the crowns of the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were united through the marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. In 1478 commenced the completion of the conquest of the Canary Islands and in 1492, the combined forces of Castile and Aragon conquered the Emirate of Granada, ending thus the last remnant of a 781 year presence of Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula. That same year, Spain’s Jews were ordered to convert to Catholicism or face expulsion from Spanish territories during the Spanish Inquisition. The Treaty of Granada guaranteed religious tolerance towards Muslims, but the tolerance was only partial, and it was not until the beginning of the 17th century, after the Revolt of the Alpujarras, that Muslimthe s were finally expelled.
The 1492 year also marked the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World, in a voyage that was funded by Isabella. Columbus’s first voyage crossed the Atlantic and reached to the Caribbean Islands, beginning thus, the European exploration and conquest of the Americas, although he was convinced that he had reached the Orient. The colonization of the Americas was marked by conquistadores like Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro.
Spain was Europe’s leading power throughout the 16th century and most of the 17th century, a position that was reinforced by trade and wealth from the colonial possessions and became the world’s leading maritime power. It reached its apogee during the reigns of the first two Spanish Habsburgs, Charles I (1516-1556) and Philip II (1556-1598). The cultural efflorescence witnessed during this period was referred to as the “Spanish Golden Age”.
In the late 19th century, nationalist movements arose in the Philippines and Cuba. In 1895 and 1896 the Cuban War of Independence and the Philippine Revolution broke out and eventually the United States became involved. The Spanish-American War was fought in the spring of 1898 and resulted in Spain losing the last of its once vast colonial empire outside of North Africa. “El Desastre” (the Disaster), as the war became to be known in Spain, gave an added impetus to the “Generation of 98”, who were conducting an analysis of the country.
The 20th century initially brought little peace. The colonization of Western Sahara, Spanish Morocco and Equatorial Guinea was tried as a substitute for the loss of the Americas. A period of dictatorship (1923-1931) ended with the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic. The increasing political polarization combined with the increasing violence led to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936. Following the victory of his nationalist forces in 1939, General Francisco Franco ruled an exhausted politically and economically nation.
After World War II, Spain was politically and economically isolated, and was kept out of the United Nations. This changed in 1955, during the Cold War period, when it became strategically important for the US to establish a military presence on the Iberian Peninsula, as a counter to any possible move by the Soviet Union into the Mediterranean basin. In the 1960’s, Spain registered an unprecedented rate of economic growth which was propelled by industrialization, a mass internal migration from rural areas to cities and the creation of a mass tourism industry. Franco’s rule was also characterized by authoritarianism, promotion of a unitary national identity, the favouring of a very conservative form of Roman Catholicism known as National Catholicism and discriminatory language policies.
However, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Spain was gradually transformed into a modern industrial economy with a growing tourism sector. After the death of dictator Francisco Franco in November 1975, his personally designated successor, Prince Juan Carlos assumed the titles of king and head of state. He played an important role in guiding Spain to a modern democratic state, especially in opposing an attempted coup d’etat in 1981. Spain joined NATO in 1982 and joined the European Union in 1986. After the death of Franco, the old historic nationalities of Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia were given great autonomy, which has extended to all Spanish regions.
On 1 January 2002, Spain fully adopted the Euro, and Spain experienced strong economic growth, well above the EU average during the early 2000’s. However, well publicized concerns issued by many economic commentators at the height of the boom warned that extraordinary property prices and a high foreign trade deficit were likely to lead to a painful economic collapse.
The proportion of Spain’s foreign born population increased rapidly from around 1 in 50 in 2000 to almost 1 in 8 in 2010 but has since declined. The bursting of the Spanish property bubble in 2008 led to the 2008-2015 Spanish financial crisis and high levels of unemployment, cuts in government spending and Catalan independentism served as a backdrop to the 2011-2012 Spanish protests. In 2011, Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party won the elections with 44,6% of the votes and Rajoy became the Spanish Prime Minister after having been the leader of the opposition from 2004 to 2011. On 19 June 2014, the monarch, Juan Carlos, abdicated in favour of his son, who became Felipe VI.
Most of the Spanish peninsular overlaps the Meseta Central, a high area, bordered and crossed by mountain chains. Other landforms include narrow coastal areas and some lowland areas focused on the course of rivers, of which the most extensive is the plain of Andalusia. The country can be divided into ten sub-regions: Meseta Central, Cantabrian Cordillera, Iberian area, the Pyrenees, the Cordillera Penibética area, the Andalusian Plain, the Ebro River Basin, the coastal plains, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. These regions are usually found grouped into four main areas: the Central Meseta associated with the mountains that cross and borders it and other mountainous areas, lowlands and islands.
The Meseta Central (“Inner Plateau”) is a vast plateau in the heart of peninsular Spain, which has elevations that range from 610 to 760 m. Rimmed by the mountains, the Meseta Central slopes gently to the west and to the series of rivers that form some of the border with Portugal. The Sistema Central, described as the “dorsal spine” of the Meseta Central, divides the Meseta into northern and southern sub-regions, the former higher in elevation and smaller in area than the latter. The Sistema Central rims the capital city of Madrid with peaks that rise to 2.400 m north of the city and to lower elevations south of it. West of Madrid, the Sistema Central shows its highest peak, Pico Almanzor, of 2.592 m.
External to the Meseta Central lies the Pyrenees in the northeast and the Sistema Penibético in the southeast. The Pyrenees, extending from the eastern edge of the Cordillera Cantábrica to the Mediterranean Sea, form a solid barrier that separates Spain, France and Andorra and has acted as a natural border throughout history, which has effectively isolated the countries from each other. In the central section of the Pyrenees, however, passage is difficult. In several places, peaks rise above 3.000 m. The highest, Pico de Aneto, surpasses 3.400 m.
Spain also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and a number of uninhabited islands on the Mediterranean side of the Strait of Gibraltar, known as plazas de soberanía (“places of sovereignty”, or territories under Spanish sovereignty), such as the Chafarinas Islands and Alhucemas. The peninsula of Vélez de la Gomera is also regarded as a plaza de soberanía. The isle of Alborán, located in the Mediterranean between Spain and North Africa, is also administered by Spain, specifically by the municipality of Almería, Andalusia. The little Pheasant Island in the River Bidasoa is a Spanish-French condominium.
Three main climatic zones can be separated, according to geographical situation and orographic conditions:
Spain is a bridge between the European and the African continent, so it isn’t surprising that the diversity of vegetation also reflects how many completely different cultures mix. Spain’s flora species are a combination of Mediterranean, Central European and North African. The vegetation is one of the richest across Europe, including nearly 8.000 species of plants, many of which were brought to this country from other regions, especially species grown in agriculture. In northern Spain, there are particularly deciduous and coniferous forests, most of the latter growing in the Pyrenees. The plant species are of the most common of Central Europe: oak, chestnut and beech, hawthorn, shock and blackberries. Underwood consists of heather and ferns.
In southwestern Spain there are meadows and pastures mostly, with their characteristic vegetation. Here, there grows many species of herbs. The Central Plateau, the Meseta, is covered by grasses specific to the dry climate, aromatic bushes and spiky trees. In the dry regions, large thickets of heather alternate with cranberry (boxwood) or ferns. In the highlands you can find the polar willow and some shorter plants, shrubs and bushes that do not flourish.
As in the case of flora, Spain’s fauna is characterized by the presence of typical species from the regions of Central Europe and those from North Africa. In the north of the country there live mainly central European types of animals. In the Pyrenees, there can be found wild boars, wolves, ibex, chamois and lynx. Among the birds of prey, some species of vultures are worth mentioning.
In the mountains of central Spain, there can be found foxes, badgers, moles and many species of rodents. Also, in the center of the country, in the lower regions of the steppe, the most common animals are hares, burrow rabbits and field mice. Southern Spain is characterized by the presence of species characteristic to the North African fauna. Among these animals, we can mention the porcupine, weasel, jackal, quail and some large lizards. The Magot, the only specie of monkey in Europe lives on the rocks of Gibraltar.
The rivers of Spain are rich in fish. You can fish for trout, flat-fish or salmon in the waters of Cantabria. In some areas the sturgeon and the barbell also live. If you want to fish in the sea, you can catch mackerel, cod, tuna or crawfish. On the Canary Islands, a large number of reptiles live, a total of 58 species (Canary Islands ranks second in Europe in this regard, being exceeded only by Greece).
Spanish, sometimes called Castilian (castellano) is an Iberian Romance language subgroup. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Spanish ranks as the second most spoken language in the world according to the number of speakers who have it as their mother tongue, preceded only by Mandarin Chinese. Spanish is being spoken as the first and second language by about 450 to 500 million persons. Spanish ranks 3rd as the most used language by number of speakers combined (both native and foreign), being overtaken by Mandarin Chinese and English.
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest denomination of Christians present in the country. According a study by the Spanish Sociological Research Center in July 2009, approximately 73% of Spaniards are Catholic, 2% are part of other religions and about 22% of the Spanish people declared themselves atheists or agnostics. Most Spaniards do not regularly attend religious services. The same study shows that Spaniards identify themselves as religious. 58% rarely or never go to church, 17% go to church a few times a year, 9% go several times a month and 15% go every Sunday or multiple times a week. An overwhelmingly majority of young Spaniard people, including those who are Catholic, tend to ignore the conservative advices of the church on issues like premarital sex, sexual orientation or contraception. The total number of parish priests decreased from 24.300 in 1975 to 19.307 in 2005. The number of nuns also fell by 6,9% to 54.160 in the first half of the first decade of the 21st century.
According to the latest Eurobarometer 2005: 59% of the Spanish citizens responded “I think there is a God”, 21% responded that “I think there is a force, a spirit”, 18% answered that “I do not think there is any spirit, force or God.” While the Roman Catholic Church is the strongest denomination in Spain, most Spaniards choose to ignore its teachings. Agnosticism and atheism enjoy the social prestige, according to the general secularization of Western Europe. Revivalist efforts by the Catholic Church and other creeds have not had any significant success out of their previous sphere of influence.
According to the Eurobarometer 69 (2008), only 3% of Spaniards consider religion as one of their three most important values, even lower than the 7% European average. Proves of Spain’s secular nature can be seen in the general support towards legalization of same sex marriages, 70% of Spaniards supporting gay marriage, according to a study by the Center for Sociological Research in 2004. In June 2005 a law project was voted which allowed gay marriages, making Spain the 3rd country in the European Union to allow same-sex marriage. Proposals to change the laws to make the divorce process to take less time and to eliminate the need for a culprit are also popular.
Previous waves of immigration, especially during and after the 1990’s, led to a growing number of Muslims, which counts about 1 million members. Today, Islam is the second largest religion in Spain, after Roman Catholicism, representing approximately 2,5% of the total population.
On UNESCO’s list there can be found 39 cultural objectives, 3 natural objectives and 2 mixed objectives in Spain:
Spain is composed of many nations but has adopted the Castilian culture to become what is now Spain, although there is a growing recognition of other nationalities within the country, most well-known being the basques. The number of immigrants in Spain has exploded in the past decade, rising from 500.000 in 1996 to 4,5 million in 2008, leading to a population of 45 million. During this period the country experienced strong economic growth.
In 2007 Spain had officially 45,2 million inhabitants. The population density in Spain is lower than in other western European countries, and its distribution is very disproportionate. Most of the population lives on the coast, the only exception being the Community of Madrid. The population of Spain doubled during the 20th century as a result of the spectacular demographic boom in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. After that time, the birth rate plunged through the 1980’s and Spain’s population became stalled, its demographics showing one of the lowest sub replacement fertility rates in the world, only above Greece, Portugal, Hungary, Ukraine, and Japan.
Spain’s economy, as well as its population is the 5th largest economy in the EU and in absolute terms is among the 10 largest economies in the world. In relative terms, the Spanish economy is losing several positions in favour of the more populated states. Its target for economic growth, even if moderate, it exceeds those of its neighbours and European partners.
After the great growth of the late 1980’s, the Spanish economy entered into recession in 1992. With the entry of Spain into the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the European Union on 1 January 1986, it became necessary the opening of the economy, the modernization of industry, improvement of the infrastructure and revision of the economic legislation to meet the EU requirements. By doing this, Spain has accelerated its GDP growth, reduced its public debt, unemployment fell from 23% to 15% in 3 years and brought the inflation level down to less than 3%. The most important challenges for the Spanish economy are reducing the public deficit, a greater reduction in unemployment, a reform to be applied on the labor laws, reduction of inflation, an increase in productivity and an increase in GDP per capita.
A chronic problem in Spain is the excessive growth of the prices for a house due to generalized estate speculation, the fashion of having a second house, massive British and German residential tourism, money laundering by the mafia, population growth due to immigration, the increase of municipalities funding and others.
Spain is the second country in the world in terms of foreign tourists, according to data from the World Tourism Organization, hovering just behind France, and enjoys a market share of 7% of world tourism, ahead of the US and Italy. Tourism has brought Spain 37.500 million € in 2004, which places it number 2 in terms of revenue, behind the United States, who won 75.000 € in 2004 (12% of total), and ahead of France (33.900 €) and Italy (29.600 €).
Between January and November 2005 there were a total of 52,4 million foreign tourists, 6,2% more than those registered in the same period a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade. Catalonia is Spain’s leading tourist destination. The 13,2 million tourists visiting Barcelona and its surroundings involve a total of 25,3% registered tourists in Spain, and has also increased from 12,7%, the previous year.
The Spanish road system is mainly centralized, with six highways connecting Madrid to the Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia, West Andalusia, Extremadura and Galicia. Additionally, there are highways along the Atlantic (Ferrol to Vigo), Cantabrian (Oviedo to San Sebastián) and Mediterranean (Girona to Cádiz) coasts. Spain aims to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2014 as part of the government’s plan to save energy and boost energy efficiency. The Minister of Industry, Miguel Sebastian said that “the electric vehicle is the future and the engine of an industrial revolution.”
Spain has the most extensive high-speed rail network in Europe, and the second-most extensive in the world after China. As of October 2010, Spain has a total of 3.500 km of high-speed tracks linking Málaga, Seville, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Valladolid, with the trains reaching speeds up to 300 km/h.
Most railways are operated by RENFE, narrow gauge lines are operated by FEVE and other carriers in individual autonomous communities. It is proposed to build or convert more standard gauge lines, including some dual gauging of broad gauge lines, especially where these lines link to adjacent countries. A high-speed rail line (AVE) between Madrid and Seville was completed in 1992. In 2003, high-speed service was inaugurated on a new line from Madrid to Lleida and extended to Barcelona in 2008. The same year, lines from Madrid to Valladolid and from Córdoba to Málaga were inaugurated. In 2010, AVE line Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia was inaugurated.
Spain also has numerous maritime communications, with more than 53 international ports on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. In particular, the port of Algeciras, Spain’s only world class port has considered the movement to higher passenger and cargo. The port of Vigo is also one of the busiest in terms of cargo traffic, fish transport and frozen products. The Port of Seville is a unique port because of the river Guadalquivir that crosses the country. The city is inside the mainland, but it is landlocked by the Guadalquivir River. The Port of Cadiz nearby is a strategic point for transportation of goods to the Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. The Port of Barcelona, is the leader regarding Mediterranean cruise traffic and the second worldwide. One of the ferries from Algeciras to Ceuta is running almost every day across the year. The port of Valencia in Spain is the busiest seaport in the Mediterranean basin, 5th busiest in Europe and 30th busiest in the world. There are four other Spanish ports in the ranking of the top 100 busiest world seaports; as a result, Spain is tied with Japan in the third position of countries leading this ranking.
There are 47 public airports in Spain. The busiest one is the airport of Madrid (Barajas), with 50 million passengers in 2011, being the world’s 15th busiest airport, as well as the European Union’s 4th busiest.
There are municipal transport companies in each city. For example, the municipal transport company in Madrid is EMT with a fleet of 1.907 buses and a total of 203 lines of which 1 Airport Express line, 6 lines providing university service during the academic year and 26 night lines. The EMT buses provide service 365 days a year, 24 hours/day.
A lot of cities from Spain are using the tram. Valencia was the first Spanish city to reintroduce the tram, in 1994. The success of the modern tramway network in Valencia led to the extension of its lines on three occasions.
In the main cities of Spain there is Metro (Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Sevilla, Valencia). The Madrid Metro has an excellent infrastructure. Currently, it has 12 lines linking the city completely, plus 3 subway lines loosely (Metro Ligero) connecting the periphery. It has a very simple and clear system for using agility and speed. The Metro opens at 06:00 and closes at 01:30.
Discover some of the most popular persons who live / lived in Spain.
Was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV and one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period, important as a portrait artist. In addition to numerous renditions of scenes of historical and cultural significance, […]
Was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the […]
He is widely regarded as the greatest clay court player in history, and due to his dominance and success on the surface, he has been titled “The King of Clay”. His evolution into an all court threat has established him as one of the greatest players in tennis history, with some considering Nadal to be […]
Discover some of the traditional receips from Spain.
Is an alcoholic beverage of Spanish origin. A punch, the sangria traditionally consists of red wine and chopped fruit, often with other ingredients such as orange juice or brandy. The term sangria dates to the 18th century. It is generally believed to have been taken from the Spanish sangre (blood), in reference to the red color […]
Ingredients: 500 ml of Pedro Ximenez sherry ( Pedro Ximénez is a type of sweet Spanish sherry) 4½ leaves titanium strength gelatine 50g raisins 190g shortbread biscuits 50g unsalted butter (melted) Toasted flaked almonds (to serve) Chocolate custard 250 ml milk 250 ml thickened cream 3 egg yolks 90g caster sugar 1 tablespoon arrowroot (Arrowroot […]
Ingredients: 1 kg Octopus 500g Potatoes Olive oil (necessarily) Hot Chili Sweet Boya Pepper Salt Steps: The octopus is best to be frozen in order not to toughen when you boil it. You can buy a ready-cooked, cut and frozen octopus and all you need is just to warm it up well before seasoning […]
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