About Spain



Spain is located on the Iberian Peninsula (which it shares with neighboring Portugal) in the southwestern part of Europe. With Spain taking up most of the Iberian Peninsula, it has both the Atlantic coast and the Mediterranean coast. It includes the string of Balearic islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera), as well as the Canary Islands (located off the coast of Morocco & Western Sahara).

Spain’s history goes back to the Roman era, when it was a western province of the Roman Empire. The Romans were also responsible for bringing the Romantic language system to the local population (resulting in the creation of various Spanish-speaking dialects – from the dominant Castellano to Gallego and Catalán – the Basque language of northern Spain being the one exception).

Aside from the Roman period, Spain was also known for its medieval period, when the Moors from North Africa took over what is now the southern half of Spain (with a major presence in southern Spanish towns like Cordoba, Sevilla, Toledo and Granada). 1492 was an important year for Spain. The country was unified as a Catholic country – driving the Islamic Moors out of the peninsula. The same Spanish crown responsible for Spain’s unification also sponsored explorer Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas that year (paving the way for Spain to establish an empire there soon thereafter).

Those visiting Spain will likely come across sights from these periods, as well as others from the country’s medieval period. With the Spanish Empire rising and falling in the Americas and elsewhere (the Philippines) by the turn of the 20th century (with the Spanish-American War), the country went through political changes with the fall of its monarchy and rise of military leader Francisco Franco as dictator in 1936 (with Franco’s death in 1975, his years in power, as a Fascist, marked the longest period that any dictator ruled in modern Europe). With Spain joining the European Union (EU) during the 1980s (as part of its efforts to economically integrate itself with that region), the country’s tourism sector has grown over the years. Spain has succeeded in offering fun and (almost year-round) sun to those from colder parts of the European continent and elsewhere, making it (along with countries like the USA and France) one of the largest tourism destinations in the world. That also explains why tourism is 11% of Spain’s GDP (gross domestic product).