Useful country information
Total area: 194,896 sq mi (504,782 sq km)1
Population (2014 est.): 47,737,941 (growth rate: 0.81%); birth rate: 9.88/1000; infant mortality rate: 3.33/1000; life expectancy: 81.47; density per sq mi: 240
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Madrid, 6.574 million
Other large cities: Barcelona, 5.57 million; Valencia, 797,000
Monetary unit: Euro (formerly peseta)
National name: Reino de Espaa
Languages: Castilian Spanish 74% (official nationwide); Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2% (each official regionally)
Ethnicity/race: composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types
Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%
National Holiday: October 12, Hispanic Day.
Literacy rate: 97.7% (2010 est.)
Disparate societies and the tribal organization of the Iberian inhabitants slow down the conquest of "Hispania" by the Romans, lasting from 218 B.C. to 19 B.C.
With the decline of the Roman empire, Suebi, Vandals and Alans took control of parts of Hispania. They were followed by the Visigoths, who conquered all of Hispania in the 5th century AD and established a kingdom lasting until 711, when it fell to an invasion by Islamic North African Moors. The Reconquista, the battle between the Christian kingdoms and the Moors lasted until 1492, and in 1512 the unification of present-day Spain was completed.
During the 16th century, Spain became the most powerful nation in Europe, due to the immense wealth derived from their possessions in the Americas. The steady decline of Spanish power in Europe began at the end of the 16th century, in the 19th century Spain suffered the loss of most of its colonies.
After the victory of his nationalist forces in 1939, General Francisco Franco ruled a nation exhausted politically and economically, isolated by the Allies.
In 1955 Spain joined the United Nations. General Franco named Prince Juan Carlos in 1969 as Spain's next ruler, and in 1975, Juan Carlos assumed the position of king and head of state.
Spain joined NATO in 1982 and became a member of the European Union in 1986.
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