Spain is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Spanish territory however, reaches into several other regions. The Spanish mainland boasts extensive coastline to the south and east and borders the Mediterranean Sea.
Mainland Spain has land boundary with Gibraltar, which is still part of the United Kingdom. France also has a border with Spain, to the north. The tax-free principality of Andorra sits quietly between within the Pyrenees mountains, en route to France. The Atlantic ocean is to the north-west.
Spanish territory includes two vast archipelagos, or “chain of islands”.
Firstly, The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean which include Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera plus many minor islands. The Balearic islands are classed as a Spanish Province.
Secondly, the Canary Islands which sit just off the African Atlantic coast, 100 km west of Morocco. There are seven principal islands: Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro.
Spain lays claim to two African cities
The regions of Ceuta and Melilla are on the African mainland. In addition, Spain possesses several small islands in the Alboran Sea, near the African coast. Consequently, these are administrated by the City Council (Ayuntamiento) of the town of Almeria. As a member of the European Union, it is the only country to have a border with an African nation because of its proximity to Morocco.
With a total area of more than 500,000 km, Spain is the most significant land mass in Southern Europe. As the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, Spain has the sixth largest population. Madrid is the capital and largest city. In addition, Barcelona in Catalonia would certainly claim to be the financial capital and is also the wealthiest city in the country.
The pride of the Roman Empire
Humans first appeared on the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. The Iberian culture developed alongside ancient Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian settlements. Spain fell under Roman rule around 200 BC.
Shortly after their arrival, the Romans started to build. During their two centuries of occupation, they created over 20,000 km of major roads and aqueducts. As a result, the country became the pride of the Roman Empire.
Later on, because of constant attack and overspending on wars, the Roman Empire began to fall apart. Henceforth, several factions started invading and fighting over Spanish territories. To begin with, Germanic tribes migrated to Spain from Central Europe. Next, Visigoths arrived on the mainland as they were slowly pushed out of France.
The Moors from North Africa followed. In the 8th-century, the Visigothic kingdom capitulated to the Moorish conquest. The Moors ruled most of the Iberian peninsula for 700 years.
European Christians started to slowly reclaim the region from the Moors. The campaign was called “The Reconquista”. By the 15th-century, Spain emerged as a fully unified country under the control of Catholic Monarchs.
In early modern times, Spain became a global empire, leaving a vast cultural and linguistic legacy. Today, this includes over 500 million Hispanics. Notably, at least 60% of the world’s population speak Spanish as their first language.
Spain is now a democracy with a constitutional monarchy. The King is Head of State, and a Prime Minister leads the government. Spain is a member of the United Nations and has become a well-developed country with a good economy.