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Spain's powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II, but suffered through a devastating civil war (1936-39). A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the EU in 1986), have given Spain one of the most dynamic economies in Europe and made it a global champion of freedom. Continuing challenges include Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorism and relatively high unemployment.


Southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France

Geographic coordinates:

40 00 N, 4 00 W


total: 504,782 sq km
land: 499,542 sq km
water: 5,240 sq km
note: there are 2 autonomous cities - Ceuta and Melilla - and 17 autonomous communities including Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, and three small Spanish possessions off the coast of Morocco - Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera

Land boundaries:

total: 1,917.8 km
border countries: Andorra 63.7 km, France 623 km, Gibraltar 1.2 km, Portugal 1,214 km, Morocco (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Morocco (Melilla) 9.6 km


4,964 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (applies only to the Atlantic Ocean)


temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast


large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees in north

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pico de Teide (Tenerife) on Canary Islands 3,718 m

Natural resources:

coal, lignite, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, tungsten, mercury, pyrites, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land

Land use:

arable land: 27.18%
permanent crops: 9.85%
other: 62.97% (2005)

Irrigated land:

37,800 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

periodic droughts

Environment - current issues:

pollution of the Mediterranean Sea from raw sewage and effluents from the offshore production of oil and gas; water quality and quantity nationwide; air pollution; deforestation; desertification

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants

Geography - note:

strategic location along approaches to Strait of Gibraltar


40,397,842 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 14.4% (male 3,000,686/female 2,821,325)
15-64 years: 67.8% (male 13,751,963/female 13,653,426)
65 years and over: 17.7% (male 2,993,496/female 4,176,946) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 39.9 years
male: 38.6 years
female: 41.3 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.13% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

10.06 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

9.72 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 4.37 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.76 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 79.65 years
male: 76.32 years
female: 83.2 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.28 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.7% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

140,000 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 1,000 (2003 est.)


noun: Spaniard(s)
adjective: Spanish

Ethnic groups:

composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types


Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%


Castilian Spanish 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%; note - Castilian is the official language nationwide; the other languages are official regionally


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 98.7%
female: 97.2% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Kingdom of Spain
conventional short form: Spain
local short form: Espana

Government type:

parliamentary monarchy



Administrative divisions:

17 autonomous communities (comunidades autonomas, singular - comunidad autonoma)and 2 autonomous cities* (ciudades autonomas, singular - ciudad autonoma); Andalucia, Aragon, Asturias, Baleares (Balearic Islands), Ceuta*, Canarias (Canary Islands), Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Cataluna, Comunidad Valenciana, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Melilla*, Murcia, Navarra, Pais Vasco (Basque Country)
note: the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla plus three small islands of Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera, administered directly by the Spanish central government, are all located along the coast of Morocco and are collectively referred to as Places of Sovereignty (Plazas de Soberania)


the Iberian peninsula was characterized by a variety of independent kingdoms prior to the Muslim occupation that began in the early 8th century AD and lasted nearly seven centuries; the small Christian redoubts of the north began the reconquest almost immediately, culminating in the seizure of Granada in 1492; this event completed the unification of several kingdoms and is traditionally considered the forging of present-day Spain

National holiday:

National Day, 12 October


6 December 1978, effective 29 December 1978

Legal system:

civil law system, with regional applications; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

bicameral; General Courts or National Assembly or Las Cortes Generales consists of the Senate or Senado (259 seats - 208 members directly elected by popular vote and the other 51 appointed by the regional legislatures to serve four-year terms) and the Congress of Deputies or Congreso de los Diputados (350 seats; members are elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 14 March 2004 (next to be held March 2008); Congress of Deputies - last held 14 March 2004 (next to be held March 2008)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - PP 49%, PSOE 38.9%, Entesa Catalona de Progress 5.7%, CiU 1.99%, PNV 2.8%, CC 1.4%; seats by party - PP 102, PSOE 81, Entesa Catalona de Progress 12, CiU 4, PNV 6, CC 3; Congress of Deputies - percent of vote by party - PSOE 43.3%, PP 37.8%, CiU 3.2%, ERC 2.5%, PNV 1.6%, IU 3.2%, CC 0.9%; seats by party - PSOE 164, PP 148, CiU 10, ERC 8, PNV 7, IU 2, CC 3, other 8

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo

Economy - overview:

The Spanish economy boomed from 1986 to 1990, averaging five percent annual growth. After a European-wide recession in the early 1990s, the Spanish economy resumed moderate growth starting in 1994. Spain's mixed capitalist economy supports a GDP that on a per capita basis is 80% that of the four leading West European economies. The center-right government of former President AZNAR successfully worked to gain admission to the first group of countries launching the European single currency (the euro) on 1 January 1999. The AZNAR administration continued to advocate liberalization, privatization, and deregulation of the economy and introduced some tax reforms to that end. Unemployment fell steadily under the AZNAR administration but remains high at 10.1%. Growth of 2.5% in 2003, 2.6% in 2004, and 3.4% in 2005 was satisfactory given the background of a faltering European economy. The socialist president, RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, has initiated economic and social reforms that are generally popular among the masses of people, but that are anathema to religious and other conservative elements. Adjusting to the monetary and other economic policies of an integrated Europe, reducing unemployment, and absorbing widespread social changes will pose challenges to Spain over the next few years.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$1.017 trillion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$1.021 trillion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.4% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$25,200 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 3.4%
industry: 28.7%
services: 67.9% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

20.67 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 5.3%
industry: 30.1%
services: 64.6% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate:

10.1% (2005 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 25.2% (1990)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

32.5 (1990)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.4% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

28.1% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $440.9 billion
expenditures: $448.4 billion; including capital expenditures of $12.8 billion (2005 est.)

Public debt:

48.5% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

grain, vegetables, olives, wine grapes, sugar beets, citrus; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish


textiles and apparel (including footwear), food and beverages, metals and metal manufactures, chemicals, shipbuilding, automobiles, machine tools, tourism, clay and refractory products, footwear, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment

Industrial production growth rate:

1.6% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

247.3 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

231.2 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - exports:

7.5 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

8.7 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

24,540 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - consumption:

1.544 million bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - exports:

135,100 bbl/day (2001)

Oil - imports:

1.582 million bbl/day (2001)

Oil - proved reserves:

10.5 million bbl (1 January 2002)

Natural gas - production:

216 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

23.27 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - imports:

17.26 billion cu m (2001 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

2.662 billion cu m (1 January 2002)

Current account balance:

-$64.62 billion (2005 est.)


$194.3 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

machinery, motor vehicles; foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, medicines, other consumer goods

Exports - partners:

France 19.5%, Germany 11.7%, Portugal 9.8%, Italy 9.1%, UK 9.1% (2004)


$271.8 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, semifinished goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, measuring and medical control instruments

Imports - partners:

Germany 16.7%, France 15.9%, Italy 9.1%, UK 6.4%, Netherlands 5% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$18.5 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$1.249 trillion (30 June 2005 est.)

Economic aid - donor:

ODA, $1.33 billion (1999)

Currency (code):

euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by the financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions with the member countries

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

17,934,500 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

38,646,800 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: generally adequate, modern facilities; teledensity is 44 main lines for each 100 persons
domestic: NA
international: country code - 34; 22 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), NA Eutelsat; tropospheric scatter to adjacent countries

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 208, FM 715, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations:

224 (plus 2,105 repeaters)
note: these figures include 11 television broadcast stations and 88 repeaters in the Canary Islands (1995)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

1,380,541 (2005)

Internet users:

17,142,198 (2005)


157 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 95
over 3,047 m: 15
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 19
914 to 1,523 m: 25
under 914 m: 26 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 62
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 44 (2005)


8 (2005)


gas 7,306 km; oil 730 km; refined products 3,512 km (2004)


total: 14,781 km (7,718 km electrified)
broad gauge: 11,829 km 1.668-m gauge (6,950 km electrified)
standard gauge: 998 km 1.435-m gauge (998 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 1,926 km 1.000-m gauge (815 km electrified); 28 km 0.914-m gauge (28 km electrified) (2004)


total: 666,292 km
paved: 659,629 km (including 12,009 km of expressways)
unpaved: 6,663 km (2003)


1,000 km (2003)

Merchant marine:

total: 165 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,307,471 GRT/2,283,181 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 9, cargo 15, chemical tanker 14, container 23, liquefied gas 9, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 44, petroleum tanker 15, refrigerated cargo 5, roll on/roll off 22, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 5
foreign-owned: 33 (Australia 1, Cuba 1, Denmark 1, Germany 11, Italy 2, Mexico 3, Norway 7, US 6, Uruguay 1)
registered in other countries: 98 (The Bahamas 11, Belize 2, Brazil 6, Cape Verde 1, Cuba 1, Cyprus 5, Ireland 1, Malta 1, Marshall Islands 2, Panama 48, Portugal 17, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Venezuela 1, unknown 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Algeciras, Barcelona, Cartagena, Gijon, Huelva, La Coruna, Tarragona, Valencia

Military branches:

Army, Navy (Armada Espanola, AE; includes Marine Corps), Air Force (Ejercito del Aire, EdA) (2006)

Disputes - international:

in 2003, Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly by referendum to remain a British colony and against a "total shared sovereignty" arrangement while demanding participation in talks between the UK and Spain; Spain disapproves of UK plans to grant Gibraltar greater autonomy; Morocco protests Spain's control over the coastal enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and the islands of Penon de Velez de la Gomera, Penon de Alhucemas and Islas Chafarinas, and surrounding waters; Morocco serves as the primary launching site of illegal migration into Spain from North Africa; Portugal does not recognize Spanish sovereignty over the territory of Olivenza based on a difference of interpretation of the 1815 Congress of Vienna and the 1801 Treaty of Badajoz

Illicit drugs:

key European gateway country and consumer for Latin American cocaine and North African hashish entering the European market; destination and minor transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin; money-laundering site for Colombian narcotics trafficking organizations and organized crime