Background Note: Spain
Area: 504,750 sq. km. (194,884 sq. mi.), including the Balearic and Canary
Islands; about the size of Arizona and Utah combined.
(5.5 million). Other cities-- Barcelona (4.9 million), Bilbao (353,950),
Malaga (1.3 million), Seville (1.8 million), Valencia (2.3 million), Zaragoza
Terrain: High plateaus, lowland areas such as narrow coastal plains,
and mountainous regions.
Climate: Temperate. Summers are hot in the interior
and more moderate and cloudy along the coast; winters are cold in interior and
partly cloudy and cool along the coast.
Time zone: Spanish mainland and Balearic
Isles--local time is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in winter and 2
hours ahead in summer. Canary Islands are on GMT.
Nationality: Noun--Spaniard(s). Adjective--Spanish.
Annual growth rate: 1%
Ethnic groups: Distinct ethnic groups
within Spain include the Basques, Catalans, and Galicians.
Languages: Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan-Valenciana 17%,
Galician 7%, Basque 2%.
Education: Years compulsory--to age 16. Literacy—98%
Work force (19.2 million): Services—65.1%; agriculture—5.2%;
construction—12.5%; industry—17.2% (2005 est.).
Type: Constitutional monarchy (Juan Carlos I proclaimed King November
Branches: Executive--president of
government nominated by monarch, subject to approval by democratically elected
Congress of Deputies. Legislative--bicameral Cortes: a 350-seat Congress
of Deputies (elected by the d'Hondt system of proportional representation) and
a Senate. Four senators are elected in each of 47 peninsular provinces, 16 are
elected from the three island provinces, and Ceuta and Melilla elect two each;
this accounts for 208 senators. The parliaments of the 17 autonomous regions also
elect one senator as well as one additional senator for every 1 million inhabitants
within their territory (about 20 senators). Judicial--Constitutional Tribunal
has jurisdiction over constitutional issues. Supreme Tribunal heads system comprising
territorial, provincial, regional, and municipal courts.
peninsular and three island provinces; two enclaves on the Mediterranean coast
of Morocco (Ceuta and Melilla) and three island groups along that coast--Alhucemas,
Penon de Velez de la Gomera, and the Chafarinas Islands.
Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), Popular Party (PP), and the United Left
(IU) coalition. Key regional parties are the Convergence and Union (CIU) in Catalonia
and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) in the Basque country.
(2005): $955.1 billion in current prices (seventh-largest Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development--OECD--economy).
Annual growth rate: 3.5%.
capita GDP: $22,421.
Natural resources: Coal, lignite, iron ore, uranium,
mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, kaolin, hydroelectric
Agriculture and fisheries (2.9% of GDP, 2004 est.): Products--grains,
vegetables, citrus and deciduous fruits, wine, olives and olive oil, sunflowers,
Industry (17.3% of GDP, 2004 est.): Types--processed foods,
textiles, footwear, petrochemicals, steel, automobiles, consumer goods, electronics.
Trade (2004): Exports--$137.8 billion: automobiles, fruits, minerals,
metals, clothing, footwear, textiles. Major markets--EU 71.8%, U.S. 4.12%.
Imports--$184.1 billion: petroleum, oilseeds, aircraft, grains, chemicals,
machinery, transportation equipment, fish, consumer goods. Major sources--EU
63.9%, U.S. 3.7%.
Average exchange rate (2004): 0.8038 euros=U.S.$1.
Spain's population density, lower than that of most European countries,
is roughly equivalent to New England's. In recent years, following a longstanding
pattern in the rest of Europe, rural populations are moving to cities.
has no official religion. The constitution of 1978 disestablished the Roman Catholic
Church as the official state religion, while recognizing the role it plays in
Spanish society. More than 90% of the population are at least nominally Catholic.
70% of Spain's student population attends public schools or universities. The
remainder attend private schools or universities, the great majority of which
are operated by the Catholic Church. Compulsory education begins with primary
school or general basic education for ages 6-14. It is free in public schools
and in many private schools, most of which receive government subsidies. Following
graduation, students attend either a secondary school offering a general high
school diploma or a school of professional education (corresponding to grades
9-12 in the United States) offering a vocational training program. The Spanish
university system offers degree and post-graduate programs in all fields--law,
sciences, humanities, and medicine--and the superior technical schools offer programs
in engineering and architecture.
Spain’s Iberian Peninsula has been settled for millennia. In fact, some of
Europe's most impressive Paleolithic cultural sites are located in Spain, including
the famous caves at Altamira that contain spectacular paintings dating from about
15,000 to 25,000 years ago. The Basques, Europe’s oldest surviving group, are
also the first identifiable people of the peninsula.
in the ninth century BC, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Celts entered
the Iberian Peninsula. The Romans followed in the second century BC and laid the
groundwork for Spain's present language, religion, and laws. Although the Visigoths
arrived in the fifth century AD, the last Roman strongholds along the southern
coast did not fall until the seventh century AD. In 711, North African Moors sailed
across the straits, swept into Andalusia, and within a few years, pushed the Visigoths
up the peninsula to the Cantabrian Mountains. The Reconquest—efforts to drive
out the Moors—lasted until 1492. By 1512, the unification of present-day Spain
During the 16th century, Spain
became the most powerful nation in Europe, due to the immense wealth derived from
its presence in the Americas. But a series of long, costly wars and revolts, capped
by the defeat by the English of the "Invincible Armada" in 1588, began a steady
decline of Spanish power in Europe. Controversy over succession to the throne
consumed the country during the 18th century, leading to an occupation by France
during the Napoleonic era in the early 1800s, and led to a series of armed conflicts
throughout much of the 19th century.
19th century saw the revolt and independence of most of Spain's colonies in the
Western Hemisphere: three wars over the succession issue; the brief ousting of
the monarchy and establishment of the First Republic (1873-74); and, finally,
the Spanish-American War (1898), in which Spain lost Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the
Philippines to the United States. A period of dictatorial rule (1923-31) ended
with the establishment of the Second Republic. It was dominated by increasing
political polarization, culminating in the leftist Popular Front electoral victory
in 1936. Pressures from all sides, coupled with growing and unchecked violence,
led to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936.
the victory of his nationalist forces in 1939, General Francisco Franco ruled
a nation exhausted politically and economically. Spain was officially neutral
during World War II but followed a pro-Axis policy. Therefore, the victorious
Allies isolated Spain at the beginning of the postwar period, and the country
did not join the United Nations until 1955. In 1959, under an International Monetary
Fund stabilization plan, the country began liberalizing trade and capital flows,
particularly foreign direct investment.
the success of economic liberalization, Spain remained the most closed economy
in Western Europe—judged by the small measure of foreign trade to economic activity—and
the pace of reform slackened during the 1960s as the state remained committed
to "guiding" the economy. 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. Social changes brought about by economic prosperity and the inflow of new
ideas helped set the stage for Spain's transition to democracy during the latter
half of the 1970s.
Upon the death of General
Franco in November 1975, Franco's personally designated heir Prince Juan Carlos
de Borbon y Borbon assumed the titles of king and chief of state. Dissatisfied
with the slow pace of post-Franco liberalization, he replaced Franco's last Prime
Minister with Adolfo Suarez in July 1976. Suarez entered office promising that
elections would be held within one year, and his government moved to enact a series
of laws to liberalize the new regime. Spain's first elections since 1936 to the
Cortes (Parliament) were held on June 15, 1977. Prime Minister Suarez's Union
of the Democratic Center (UCD), a moderate center-right coalition, won 34% of
the vote and the largest bloc of seats in the Cortes.
Suarez, the new Cortes set about drafting a democratic constitution that was overwhelmingly
approved by voters in a national referendum in December 1978.
The Government of Spain is involved in a long-running campaign against
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), a terrorist organization founded in 1959
and dedicated to promoting Basque independence. ETA targets Spanish security forces,
military personnel, Spanish Government officials, and politicians of the Popular
Party and the Socialist Party (PSOE.) The group has carried out numerous bombings
against Spanish Government facilities and economic targets, including a car bomb
assassination attempt on then-opposition leader Aznar in 1995, in which his armored
car was destroyed but he was unhurt. The Spanish Government attributes over 800
deaths to ETA terrorism since its campaign of violence began. In recent years,
the government has had more success in controlling ETA, due in part to increased
security cooperation with French authorities.
November 1999, ETA ended a cease-fire it declared in September 1998. Since that
time, ETA has conducted a campaign of violence and has been blamed for the deaths
of some 46 Spanish citizens and officials. Each attack has been followed by massive
anti-ETA demonstrations around the country, clearly demonstrating that the majority
of Spaniards, including the majority of Spain's Basque populace, have no tolerance
for continued ETA violence. The government continues to pursue vigorous counterterrorist
Spain also contends with a resistance
group, commonly known as GRAPO. GRAPO is an urban terrorist group that seeks to
overthrow the Spanish Government and establish a Marxist state. It opposes Spanish
participation in NATO and U.S. presence in Spain and has a long history of assassinations,
bombings, and kidnappings mostly against Spanish interests during the 1970s and
In a June 2000 communiqué following
the explosions of two small devices in Barcelona, GRAPO claimed responsibility
for several terrorist attacks throughout Spain during the past year. These attacks
included two failed armored car robberies, one in which two security officers
died, and four bombings of political party offices during the 1999/2000 election
campaign. In 2002 and 2003, Spanish and French authorities were successful in
hampering the organization’s activities through sweeping arrests, including some
of the group’s leadership.
Al Qaeda is known
to operate cells in Spain. On March 11, 2004, only three days before national
elections, 10 bombs were detonated on crowded commuter trains during rush hour.
Three were deactivated by security forces and one was found unexploded. Evidence
quickly surfaced that jihadist terrorists with possible ties to the al Qaeda network
were responsible for the attack that killed 191 people. Spanish investigative
services and the judicial system have aggressively sought to arrest and prosecute
suspected al Qaeda members and actively cooperate with foreign governments to
diminish the transnational terrorist threat.
Chief of State, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces--King
Juan Carlos I
President of the Government (Prime Minister)--Jose Luis Rodriguez
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Miguel Angel Moratinos
to the United States--Carlos Westendorp y Cabeza
maintains an embassy in
the United States at 2375 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037 (tel. 202-728-2340)
and consulates in many larger U.S. cities.
Spain's accession to the European Community--now European Union (EU)--in
January 1986 required the country to open its economy, modernize its industrial
base, improve infrastructure, and revise economic legislation to conform to EU
guidelines. In doing so, Spain increased gross domestic product (GDP) growth,
reduced the public debt to GDP ratio, reduced unemployment from 23% to 15% in
3 years, and reduced inflation to under 3%. The fundamental challenges remaining
for Spain include decreasing unemployment further, reforming labor laws lowering
inflation, and raising per capita GDP.
peak growth years in the late 1980s, the Spanish economy entered into recession
in mid-1992. The economy recovered during the first Aznar administration (1996-2000),
driven by a return of consumer confidence and increased private consumption, although
growth has slowed in recent years. Unemployment remains a problem at 8.42% (2005
est.), but this still represents a significant improvement from previous levels.
Devaluations of the peseta during the 1990s made Spanish exports more competitive,
but the strength of the euro since its adoption has raised recent concerns that
Spanish exports are being priced out of the range of foreign buyers.
After the return of democracy following the death of General
Franco in 1975, Spain's foreign policy priorities were to break out of the diplomatic
isolation of the Franco years and expand diplomatic relations, enter the European
Community, and define security relations with the West.
a member of NATO since 1982, Spain has established itself as a major participant
in multilateral international security activities. Spain's EU membership represents
an important part of its foreign policy. Even on many international issues beyond
Western Europe, Spain prefers to coordinate its efforts with its EU partners through
the European political cooperation mechanism.
the normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel and Albania in 1986, Spain
virtually completed the process of universalizing its diplomatic relations. The
only country with which it now does not have diplomatic relations is North Korea.
Spain has maintained its special identification
with Latin America. Its policy emphasizes the concept of Hispanidad, a mixture
of linguistic, religious, ethnic, cultural, and historical ties binding Spanish-speaking
America to Spain. Spain has been an effective example of transition from authoritarianism
to democracy, as shown in the many trips that Spain's King and Prime Ministers
have made to the region. Spain maintains economic and technical cooperation programs
and cultural exchanges with Latin America, both bilaterally and within the EU.
Spain also continues to focus attention
on North Africa, especially on Morocco. This concern is dictated by geographic
proximity and long historical contacts, as well as by the two Spanish enclave
cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Africa. While Spain's departure
from its former colony of Western Sahara ended direct Spanish participation in
Morocco, it maintains an interest in the peaceful resolution of the conflict brought
about there by decolonization. These issues were highlighted by a crisis in 2002,
when Spanish forces evicted a small contingent of Moroccans from a tiny islet
off Morocco’s coast following that nation’s attempt to assert sovereignty over
Meanwhile, Spain has gradually
begun to broaden its contacts with Sub-Saharan Africa. It has a particular interest
in its former colony of Equatorial Guinea, where it maintains a large aid program.
In relations with the Arab world, Spain
has sought to promote European-Mediterranean dialogue. Spain strongly supports
the EU’s "Barcelona Process" which seeks to expand dialogue and trade between
Europe and the nations of North Africa and the Middle East, including Israel.
The latest meeting on this initiative was held in Barcelona on November 29, 2005.
Spain has been successful in managing its
relations with its two European neighbors, France and Portugal. The accession
of Spain and Portugal to the EU has helped ease some of their periodic trade frictions
by putting these into an EU context. Franco-Spanish bilateral cooperation is enhanced
by joint action against Basque ETA terrorism. Ties with the United Kingdom are
generally good, although the question of Gibraltar remains a sensitive issue.
and the United States have a long history of official relations and are closely
associated in many fields. In addition to U.S. and Spanish cooperation in NATO,
defense and security relations between the two countries are regulated by a 1989
Agreement on Defense Cooperation, revised in 2003. Under this agreement, Spain
authorized the United States to use certain facilities at Spanish military installations.
The two countries also cooperate in several
other important areas. Under a 1964 agreement (currently being renegotiated),
the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Spanish
National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) jointly operate the Madrid Deep
Space Communications Complex in support of Earth orbital and solar system exploration
missions. The Madrid Complex is one of the three-largest tracking and data acquisition
complexes comprising NASA's Deep Space Network.
agreement on cultural and educational cooperation was signed on June 7, 1989.
A new element, supported by both the public and private sectors, gives a different
dimension to the programs carried out by the joint committee for cultural and
educational cooperation. These joint committee activities complement the binational
Fulbright program for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting
professors, which became the largest in the world in 1989. Besides assisting in
these exchange endeavors, the U.S. Embassy also conducts a program of official
visits between Spain and the United States.
and the U.S. are strong allies in the fight against terrorism.
U.S. Embassy Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--J. Robert Manzanares
Counselor for Management
Affairs--Michael S. Hoza
Counselor for Agricultural Affairs--Stephen Hammond
for Commercial Affairs--Jim Wilson
Counselor for Consular Affairs--vacant
for Economic Affairs--Whitney Y. Baird
Counselor for Political Affairs--Kathleen
Counselor for Public Affairs--Josie Shumake
Chief, Office of
Defense Cooperation--Capt. Carlos A. Sotomayor, USN
Drug Enforcement Administration Attaché--Alfredo Christlieb
Regional Security Officer--Randall D. Bennett
General Barcelona--Juan Alsace
Border and Transportation Security Directorate
(BTS), Dept. of Homeland Security--Walter D. Cadman
Defense Communication Support
Group (DCSG)--Jackie C. Gendron
Embassy is located at Serrano, 75, 28006 Madrid (tel. 34-1-587-2200; fax 34-1-587-2303).
Consulate General, Barcelona, Paseo Reina Elisenda 23, Barcelona 08034 (tel. 34-3-280-2227;
AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information
Program provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements.
Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information
on entry requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability,
crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts
in the country. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends
that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Public Announcements
are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats
and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks
to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available
by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand
system: 202-647-3000. Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings also are
available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov/. Consular
Affairs Tips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining
passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are on the Internet and hard copies
can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office
of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies,
Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's
single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone:
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excluding federal holidays.
can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
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a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm
give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280)
is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel.
Information on travel
conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays,
and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure
from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see
"Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged
their travel via the State Department’s travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/
or at the Consular section of the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country by filling
out a short form and sending in a copy of their passports. This may help family
members contact you in case of an emergency.
Department of State Web Site. Available on
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of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
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along with the directory of key officers
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