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, illegal immigration, and slowing economic growth.
total: 504,782 sq km land: 499,542 sq km water: 5,240 sq km note: there are two 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
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
name: Madrid geographic coordinates: 40 24 N, 3 41 W time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October note: Spain is divided into two time zones including the Canary Islands
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 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 A.D. 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
chief of state: King JUAN CARLOS I (since 22 November 1975); Heir Apparent Prince FELIPE, son of the monarch, born 30 January 1968 head of government: President of the Government (Prime Minister equivalent) Jose Luis RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO (since 17 April 2004); First Vice President (and Minister of the Presidency) Maria Teresa FERNANDEZ DE LA VEGA (since 18 April 2004) and Second Vice President (and Minister of Economy and Finance) Pedro SOLBES (since 18 April 2004) cabinet: Council of Ministers designated by the president note: there is also a Council of State that is the supreme consultative organ of the government, but its recommendations are non-binding elections: the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually proposed president by the monarch and elected by the National Assembly; election last held on 14 March 2004 (next to be held in March 2008); vice presidents appointed by the monarch on the proposal of the president election results: Jose Luis RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - 52.29%
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; each of the 50 electoral provinces fills a minimum of two seats and the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla fill one seat each with members serving a four-year term; the other 248 members are determined by proportional representation based on popular vote on block lists who serve four-year terms) elections: Senate - last held on 14 March 2004 (next to be held in March 2008); Congress of Deputies - last held on 14 March 2004 (next to be held in March 2008) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - PP 49%, PSOE 38%, Entesa Catalona de Progress 5.7%, PNV 2.8%, CC 2.4%, CiU 2%; seats by party - PP 102, PSOE 81, Entesa Catalona de Progress 12, PNV 6, CiU 4, CC 3; Congress of Deputies - percent of vote by party - PSOE 43.3%, PP 37.8%, CiU 3.2%, IU 3.2%, ERC 2.5%, PNV 1.6%, CC 0.9%, other 7.5%; seats by party - PSOE 164, PP 148, CiU 10, ERC 8, PNV 7, IU 5, CC 3, other 5
Aragonese Party or CHA [Bizen FUSTER]; Basque Nationalist Party or PNV [Inigo URKULLU]; Basque Solidarity or EA [Begona ERRAZTI]; Canarian Coalition or CC [Jose Torres STINGA] (a coalition of five parties); Convergence and Union or CiU [Artur MAS i Gavarro] (a coalition of the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia or CDC [Artur MAS i Gavarro] and the Democratic Union of Catalonia or UDC [Josep Antoni DURAN i LLEIDA]); Entesa Catalonia de Progress (a Senate coalition grouping four Catalan parties - PSC, ERC, ICV, EUA); Galician Nationalist Bloc or BNG [Anxo Manuel QUINTANA Gonzalez]; Initiative for Catalonia Greens or ICV [Joan SAURA i Laporta]; Navarra yes or Na Bai [Uxue BARKOS Berruezo] (a coalition of four Navarran parties); Popular Party or PP [Mariano RAJOY Brey]; Republican Left of Catalonia or ERC [Josep-Lluis CAROD-ROVIRA]; Spanish Socialist Workers Party or PSOE [Jose Luis RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO]; United Left or IU [Gaspar LLAMAZARES Trigo] (a coalition of parties including the PCE and other small parties)
Association for Victims of Terrorism or AVT (grassroots organization devoted primarily to opposing ETA terrorist attacks and supporting its victims); Basta Ya (Spanish for "Enough is Enough"; grassroots organization devoted primarily to opposing ETA terrorist attacks and supporting its victims); business and landowning interests; Catholic Church; free labor unions (authorized in April 1977); Nunca Mais (Galician for "Never Again"; formed in response to the oil Tanker Prestige oil spill); Socialist General Union of Workers or UGT and the smaller independent Workers Syndical Union or USO; university students; Trade Union Confederation of Workers' Commissions or CC.OO.
chief of mission: Ambassador Carlos WESTENDORP chancery: 2375 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037 telephone:  (202) 452-0100, 728-2340 FAX:  (202) 833-5670 consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
three horizontal bands of red (top), yellow (double width), and red with the national coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band; the coat of arms includes the royal seal framed by the Pillars of Hercules, which are the two promontories (Gibraltar and Ceuta) on either side of the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar
The Spanish economy boomed from 1986 to 1990 averaging 5% 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 equal to that of the leading West European economies. The center-right government of former President Jose Maria 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 7.6%. Growth averaging more than 3% annually during 2003-07 was satisfactory given the background of a faltering European economy. The Socialist president, RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, has made mixed progress in carrying out key structural reforms, which need to be accelerated and deepened to sustain Spain's economic growth. Despite the economy's relative solid footing significant downside risks remain including Spain's continued loss of competitiveness, the potential for a housing market collapse, the country's changing demographic profile, and a decline in EU structural funds.
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
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
general assessment: well developed, modern facilities; fixed-line teledensity is 45 connections for each 100 persons domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is 160 telephones per 100 persons international: country code - 34; submarine cables provide connectivity to Europe, Middle East, Asia, and US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), NA Eutelsat; tropospheric scatter to adjacent countries
total: 14,974 km broad gauge: 11,919 km 1.668-m gauge (6,950 km electrified) standard gauge: 1,099 km 1.435-m gauge (1,054 km electrified) narrow gauge: 1,928 km 1.000-m gauge (815 km electrified); 28 km 0.914-m gauge (28 km electrified) (2006)
in 2002, 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
despite rigorous law enforcement efforts, North African, Latin American, Galician, and other European traffickers take advantage of Spain's long coastline to land large shipments of cocaine and hashish for distribution to the European market; consumer for Latin American cocaine and North African hashish; destination and minor transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin; money-laundering site for Colombian narcotics trafficking organizations and organized crime