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About Spain

Spain - Land of diversity

Located at the crossroads of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Europe and Africa, the Kingdom of Spain, or Spain as it is more commonly known, occupies 85% of the Iberian Peninsula, which it shares with Portugal, in southwest Europe. It also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

Spain is a country rich in history and culture, made up of diverse elements. During the 16th century, Spain was considered a world power, a status it achieved through exploration and conquests. Until the early 19th century, Spain still maintained a vast overseas empire. However, the advent of the 20th century saw the Spanish empire begin to unravel as more and more colonies declared independence. However, Spain left an indelible mark on the culture, language and daily life of the people and colonies it once ruled.

In the 20th century, Spain suffered a devastating civil war and came under the rule of an authoritarian government, leading to years of stagnation and dictatorship. Parliamentary democracy was restored following the 1975 death of General Franco, who had ruled since the end of the civil war in 1939. The 1978 constitution established Spain as a parliamentary monarchy, with the prime minister responsible to the bicameral Cortes (Congress of Deputies and Senate) elected every 4 years.

Spain has a population of about 47millon and its population density is lower than that of most European countries. Madrid is the capital city and Spanish is the official national language.

In 1959, under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) stabilization plan, the country began liberalizing trade and capital flows, particularly foreign direct investment. Despite the success of economic liberalization, Spain remained for years the most closed economy in Western Europe. The pace of reform slackened during the 1960s. Nevertheless, in the 1960s and 1970s, Spain was transformed into a modern industrial economy with a thriving tourism sector. Its economic expansion led to improved income distribution and helped develop a large middle class.

After joining the European Union in 1986, Spain experienced a cultural and economic renaissance. This economic modernization gave Spain a dynamic and rapidly growing economy. Until 2008, the Spanish economy was regarded as one of the most dynamic within the EU. The mainstays of the economy were tourism and a booming housing market and construction industry.

The adoption of the euro in 2002 greatly reduced interest rates, spurring a housing boom that further fueled growth. The strong euro also encouraged Spanish firms to invest in the United States, where several Spanish firms have significant investments in banking, insurance, wind and solar power, biofuels, road construction, food, and other sectors.

However, the global economic crisis of 2008-9 hit the country hard. Housing sales and construction declined dramatically. Unemployment rates sky rocketed and the country entered into a recession.

Today Spain\'s mixed capitalist economy is the 12th largest in the world, and its per capita income roughly matches that of Germany and France.

Spain is also the third largest world investor.

The country’s Mediterranean climate, its historical and cultural legacy, its proximity to many desirable European destinations and its first-class facilities have made tourism a leading industry in Spain. The Spanish tourist industry is the second biggest in the world, is a large source of stable employment and development and contributes significantly to the national economy.

Spain is one of the world\'s leading countries in the development and production of renewable energy. In 2010 Spain became the solar powerworld leader when it overtook the United States with a massive power station plant called La Florida. Spain is also Europe\'s main producer of wind energy. The country also has the most extensive high-speed rail network in Europe, and the second most extensive in the world after China.