|Reino de España
||Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician
|Form of government
||UTC + 1 CET, March to October: UTC + 2 CEST
|Telephone area code
The Kingdom of Spain (Spanish España, officially
Reino de España) is located in southwestern Europe. It
shares the Iberian Peninsula with Portugal, which is
located in the west of the country. Other neighbors are
in the north-east of Andorra and France, in the south of
Gibraltar, which belongs to Great Britain. In the east
and southeast, the country is surrounded by the
Mediterranean Sea, in the southwest and northwest by the
Atlantic. Spain also includes the Balearic Islands, a
mountainous archipelago in the western Mediterranean,
the Canary Islands, which lie off the north-west coast
of Africa in the Atlantic, and the North African
possessions Ceuta on the northwest tip of Morocco and
Melilla, an enclave on the Moroccan Mediterranean coast.
The total area of the country is 504,645 km². The
country is therefore somewhat smaller than France and
about five times larger than Portugal.
The Iberian Peninsula is bordered in the north by the
Pyrenees, a fold mountain range that stretches 435 km
from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
Most of Spain occupy plains. The Meseta plateau forms
the center of the country. It is divided by the
Castilian Scheidegebirge into a southern part, about 650
m high, and a northern part, about 800 m high. Outlying
areas are located around these plateaus: the Cantabrian
Mountains in the north, the Iberian Outlying Mountains
in the east and the Sierra Morena and the Betische
Cordillere in the south. The 3,482 m high Mullhac®¶n in
the Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain on the
mainland. Between the southern mountains is the
Guadalquivir basin, which stretches towards the
Atlantic, between the Iberian outcrops and the Pyrenees
lies the fertile Ebro basin, which is separated from the
Mediterranean by the Catalonian highlands.
At 910 km, the Ebro is the longest river in Spain. It
rises in the Cantabrian Mountains and cuts through the
Catalonian highlands. It flows into a swampy delta about
100 km south of Barcelona in the Mediterranean. Other
important rivers in the country are the Tagus and Duero
as well as the Guadiana and the Guadalquivir. The Tagus
is the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula and the
second longest in Spain. It has a length of 1 007 km,
originates in the center of Spain and flows into the
Atlantic below Lisbon. The Duero is 895 km long,
originates in the Iberian outcrops and flows into the
Atlantic in Porto, Portugal. The Spanish-Portuguese
border is 122 km long.The Guadiana also originates in
Spain and flows after 778 km as a border river between
Portugal and Spain in the Gulf of Cadiz. This is where
the Guadalquivir flows, which flows over a distance of
657 km from the Andalucian mountains to the Gulf of
Cadiz. The Atlantic coast of northern Spain forms
numerous bays, on parts of the Mediterranean coast there
are so-called Albuferas (Arabic for coastal lakes).
Mallorca, Menorca, Cabrera, Ibiza and Formentera as
well as some smaller rocky islands form the Balearic
Islands. The mountainous archipelago in the western
Mediterranean is up to 1 445 m high, 5 014 km² and
autonomous region of Spain.
The Canaries consist of the islands of La Palma,
Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Gomera
and Hierro as well as other smaller islands. The
archipelago is of volcanic origin and lies in the
Atlantic. Like the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands
are an autonomous Spanish region. They have a total size
of 7 273 km², the highest mountain with 3 716 m is the
Pico de Teide, which is located on Tenerife.
The Spanish mainland has a highland climate with cold
winters and hot summers. The average temperatures in the
capital, Madrid, in the center of the country average 6
°„ C in January and 24 °„ C in July. In Barcelona, which
is more northern but on the Mediterranean Sea, the
temperature is 6 °„ C in January and 25 °„ C in July.
These values are only higher in Seville in southern
Spain (January 10.5 °„ C, July 28 °„ C). La Coruna in
northwestern Spain, on the other hand, has similarly
warm January temperatures (10 °„ C), but summers are much
cooler with an average of 19 °„ C.
The amount of precipitation in the country is
different. While the northern Atlantic coast in
particular is influenced by year-round west winds, which
are accompanied by precipitation of up to 3,000 mm per
year, the rest of Spain is dry, particularly in summer
and winter. During this time, high-pressure locations
prevent rain clouds from entering the interior, so that
the main precipitation is recorded in spring and autumn.
The annual rainfall in Madrid is 445 mm, in Barcelona
and Seville on the Mediterranean at 585 mm and 565 mm
and increase in La Coruna up to 935 mm.
The climate in the Canary Islands is subtropical and
characterized by a dry northeast trade wind. The climate
in the Balearic Islands shows small temperature
contrasts, in January the minimum temperature is 9 °„ C,
in August the maximum is 26 °„ C. This corresponds
approximately to the temperatures in Barcelona. The
annual rainfall, however, is lower than in the
Mediterranean city, averaging 450 mm.
Flora and fauna
The vegetation of Spain is shaped according to the
different amounts of precipitation and temperatures.
Deciduous forests stand on the rainy Atlantic coast.
Once almost completely covered by forests, heath areas
with gorse and heather are growing in the cleared areas
that were left to their own devices. In the mountainous
regions of the northern Meseta and the Iberian and Betic
Cordilleras facing the rainy west winds, deciduous oaks
and beeches as well as sub-Mediterranean trees such as
sweet chestnut occur. The few airy forests in the
summer-dry zones are often formed from holm oaks, areas
with a little more rain are covered with cork oaks.At
greater heights, the oak forests merge into beech and
pine forests, for example in the Pyrenees and the
mountain ranges in the center of the country. The rest
of the country, about 50%, is occupied by Mediterranean
vegetation. The Ebro Basin with its grass steppes, but
also in the dry south-east of the country, shows the
first parallels to the wide steppe areas of North
Africa. Kerme oaks and lavender are common plants in
this area. The Mediterranean vegetation in Spain has two
forms, both of which are the result of centuries of
human influence. Macchie is the name of the vegetation
that has taken the place of cleared evergreen forests,
typical plants are the myrtle, laurel and strawberry
tree.Garigue vegetation arises on even drier soils,
which has even lighter vegetation than the Macchia and
from knee to man-high shrubbery with rock roses,
The volcanic soils of the Canary Islands allow a wide
range of plants to thrive, especially those in the
lowlands that are used to hot and dry climates. A
Mediterranean-looking flora flourishes at a height of
more than 400 m and holly, laurel, myrtle and other
trees can be found at higher altitudes at lower
temperatures. The Balearic Islands have a typical
Not only culturally, Spain has been particularly
influenced by Africa in its fauna. In addition, the
Pyrenees were an effective barrier to the rest of
Europe. As a result, there are still European wolves and
brown bears in Spain in the natural zones of the north
(such as in the Pyrenees), animals that have since been
exterminated in other Western European countries. In
contrast, the gorse cat with its dark-spotted fur is a
predator that migrated from Africa early on.
In addition to these extraordinary animals, wild
boar, ibex and wild goats as well as red deer are found
in the country. Spain is also an important migration and
nesting area for numerous bird species. In the
Guadalquivir region in particular, but also throughout
Spain, eagles, owls, buzzards and pheasants can be
found. Another special feature are the swarms of locusts
that fly in from time to time and are carried from North
Africa across the Mediterranean to southern Spain.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 46.24 million people live in Spain. The
largest city in the country is the capital Madrid (3.27
million residents). It lies in the center and is the
political, cultural and economic center of Spain.
Another city of millions is Barcelona (1.62 million
residents). It is an important port city on the
Mediterranean coast surrounded by mountains. Valencia in
the coastal cordillera has around 798,000 residents. The
most important city in the Balearic Islands is Palma de
Mallorca with around 405,000 residents. The capital Las
Palmas de Gran Canaria has 383,000 residents in the
The Iberian Peninsula was populated by both North
African and European peoples, so that the ethnic origin
of the people is diverse. Today the following sub-groups
can be distinguished: Around three quarters belong to
the Castilian-speaking population. These include
Castilian, Asturian, Aragonian and Andalusian. Catalans
who speak their own language make up almost a fifth of
the population. The Galician ethnic group (7%) is close
to the Portuguese and has developed its own folk culture
and language. The Basques, a small minority, also have
their own pre-Indo-European language.
The official language is Spanish, which is based on
the Castilian dialect. Recognized regional languages
are Catalan, Basque and Galician. 95% of the
population belong to the Roman Catholic Church, which
was the state church until the democratic revolution.
The residents of the Balearic Islands speak a Catalan
dialect. The Guanches, the indigenous people of the
Canary Islands, became part of the Spanish settlers
after the Spanish conquest in the 15th century.
The Spanish population grows by around 0.1% each year
and has an average life expectancy of 80 years. The
literacy rate is 98%.
According to the 1978 constitution, Spain is a
parliamentary monarchy. The parliamentary representation
consists of two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies
(Congreso de los Diputados), whose 350 delegates are
elected for four years, and the Senate (Senado). It
consists of 264 members, of whom 208 are elected for
four years in the provinces and autonomous communities
of the country, and 56 are appointed. The head of state
is the king (Juan Carlos I since 1975), who cannot be
held politically responsible and is the
commander-in-chief of the armed forces. It can schedule
elections and convene and dissolve parliament. He also
proposes the candidate for prime ministerial office
(since December 2011, Mariano Rajoy Brey) and appoints
the cabinet members at his suggestion.
The country's most important parties are the
Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), the People's Party
(PP), the Catalan Convergence and Union (CiU) and the
United Left (IU).
According to the constitution, the formation of
autonomous communities with internal self-government is
permitted. The country consists of 17 autonomous regions
(Comunidades autonomas), 50 provinces and two autonomous
cities (Ceuta and Melilla on the African continent).
Spain's economy is the twelfth largest economy in the
world. Structural change has transformed the former
agricultural country into a modern, competitive
industrial country. In recent years, growth has declined
significantly (2012: -1.4%), among other things as a
result of the growth cycle peak being exceeded and the
US real estate crisis and the slump in housing
construction also resulting from the real estate crisis.
This had a significant impact on the employment
situation: the unemployment rate, which fell to 8.2% in
2007 (compared to 24.2% in 1994), was 26% at the end of
2012. The government responded with numerous cuts and
The division of the Spanish economy corresponds to
European standards. 71% of gross domestic product (GDP)
is generated in the area of services. The share of
agriculture is declining and is currently just under 3%.
A significant part of the agricultural land today is
unused. Grain and viticulture is mainly carried out on
the plateaus, in the south is the center of the olive
crops, which make Spain the global market leader in
olive oil production. Maize and potatoes are grown in
the northwest, fruit, vegetables, cotton, tobacco,
lemons, nuts and almonds in the east and southeast.
Sheep breeding is mainly found on the plateaus. Fishing
still plays an important role, especially tuna and
sardines.The main fishing ports are in Galicia,
Mining focuses on the production of mercury, lead,
copper, hard and brown coal, iron ore and sulfur gravel.
Spain is one of the world's largest car manufacturers.
Other industrial core areas are shipbuilding, mechanical
engineering as well as communication and IT.
Tourism is one of the most important sources of
income for the Spanish economy. Although this has
declined slightly in recent years, Spain was still the
fourth most popular travel destination in the world in
2011 with 53 million tourists. In terms of numbers,
visitors to Spain prefer to travel to Catalonia, the
Balearic Islands, Andalusia or Valencia.
The most important trading partners are the EU member
countries, especially France and Germany. The most
important export items are automobiles, agricultural
products (especially fruit, vegetables, olive oil and
wheat), chemical products and equipment. In particular,
energy sources, automobiles, electronics, machines and
chemical products are imported.
Spain's main ports are Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia,
Gij®ģn, Seville, Avil®¶s and Las Palmas. The most
important international airports can be found near
Madrid, in Barcelona and (due to tourism) in Palma de
The currency is the euro.