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Spain


Spain covers an area of 505,955 square kilometres, which places it amongst the fifty largest countries in the world.
The largest part of the territory is located in the Iberian Peninsula, the remainder, approximately 12,500 square kilometres, are islands, -Balearics and the Canary Islands- plus 32 square kilometres that are accounted for by the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, situated on the coast of Africa. The situation of the Iberian Peninsula in the extreme south west of Europe and only 14 kilometres away from the African continent, endows Spain with a great strategic value: projecting into the Mediterranean on one side and acting as an intersection on the path to Africa and America on the other. The fact that a large part of Spain is peninsular also explains the length of its coastline, which runs along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. As a result of its position, between 36 and 43 degrees North latitude, the climate ranges from the mild oceanic climate in the North, to the continental Mediterranean in the centre and the Mediterranean in the East and South, factors which combine to create a wet Spain in the North and mountainous areas, green Spain with luxuriant forests and a dry Spain in the Mediterranean.
Spain: a country of great and varied landscape and geographical wealth.
Spain is geographically divided into very distinct territories. Its average altitude is high at 660 metres, in other words, two times the European average. Its highest peaks are Teide (3,718 metres), on the island of Tenerife; Mulhacén (3,478 m), in Granada; and Aneto (3,404 m), in the Pyrenees. The coasts have very diverse outlines, as they belong to different climatic systems and are surrounded by different seas and oceans. The overall structure of the Peninsula could be described as follows. A great central high plateau (the Castilian Meseta) cut into two sub-plateaux (north and south) and divided by the Central and Toledo mountains. This plateau is surrounded by other mountainous structures on its periphery: the Galician massif, the Cantabrian mountain range, the Iberian Mountains and the Sierra Morena. Three exterior ranges define the mountainous structure of the Peninsula; they are the Pyrenean, Andalusian and Catalan mountains. The Canary Islands is the region with the longest coastlines (1,546 km) and its land rises up over volcanic accumulations. The Balearics, on the other hand, have a varied relief composed of the Tramuntana mountain range in Majorca, the low lands of the island of Minorca -where the land level does not exceed 300 metres, except in El Toro (357 m)- and the gentle relief of Ibiza, where the highest altitudes are Sa Talaiassa (475m) and the Puig Gros (415 m).
Although Spain’s economic structure is still significantly rural, its population is concentrated mainly in large cities.
The Spanish population in 2010 is estimated at just over 47 million.

The capital, Madrid, has more than 3 million inhabitants, although , this figure rises to more than 6 million if we take into account the outlying area. Barcelona is the second largest city, with an official population of 1.6 million. As in Madrid's case, Barcelona's outlying area raises this figure to more than 5 million. These are followed by Valencia (814,208 inhabitants), Seville (703,206 inhabitants), Zaragoza (674,317 inhabitants), Malaga (568,305 inhabitants) and Bilbao (354,860 inhabitants).

Although the trend has slowed in recent years, the process of population relocation from rural areas to the major cities continues to be a constant factor.

Cultural spaces

Spain has a very extensive network of libraries and museums throughout the Spanish territory where some of the most valuable cultural and world art treasures are held.
The most important library is the National Library in Madrid, inaugurated in 1712.


There are 25 million items in its collection, of which many are unique, singular, ancient and incunabular books. It also holds an extraordinary collection of recordings and manuscripts.

Other libraries of great importance are the library of the Complutense University, the library of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial and the Archivo de Indias.

The network of public libraries is extensive and admission is generally free, or almost free of charge. They offer numerous facilities to students and researchers who wish to consult books that are not available to the general public.

This also applies to the museums. In Spain there are over 1.400 museums and graphic museum collections. The most famous museum of all is the Museo del Prado, although there are many more that offer immeasurable heritage value.

Admission to many museums in Spain is free and those that charge entrance fees offer discounts for students, old age pensioners and citizens of the European Union.
The members of the Spanish royal family enjoy the affection and respect of the Spanish people.

Politics and administration

The Spanish royal family is made up of H.M. the King Juan Carlos, H.M. the Queen Sofía, the Prince and Princess of Asturias, Felipe and Letizia, and their daughters, Leonor and Sofía. Also members of the family are the following: H.R.H. Princess Elena; H.R.H. Princess Cristina; H.R.H. Iñaki Urdangarín, and the children of the princesses, Felipe Juan Froilán de Todos los Santos, Victoria Federica, Juan Valentín de Todos los Santos, Pablo Nicolás, Miguel and Irene. His Majesty the King, son of Don Juan de Borbón y Battenberg, Count of Barcelona and Doña María de las Mercedes de Borbón y Orleans, was born on 5 January 1938 in Rome. He was educated in Spain and made Officer in the Academies and Military Colleges of the three armies. He also gained the title of military pilot and studied Political and International Law, Economics and Public Finances. On 14 May 1962 he married HM. the Princess Sofia of Greece and was appointed successor to the Chief of State in 1969.

He was proclaimed King on 22 November 1975 and throughout his reign has received numerous international prizes in recognition of his pro-European stance and his role in the re-establishment of democracy in Spain. The Queen Doña Sofía, daughter of the King and Queen of Greece Pablo I and Federica, was born in Athens on 2 November 1938. Her education was oriented toward childcare, music and archaeology. In addition to participating in institutional and official acts, she dedicates a great part of her time to social and aid-related acts, which enables direct contact with the Spanish people, whose affection she has enjoyed throughout all these years. His Royal Highness, the Prince of Asturias, Don Felipe de Borbón y Grecia, is the third child and only son of Their Majesties the King and Queen. He was born in Madrid on 30 January 1968 and became heir to the Crown since his father was proclaimed King. He holds the title of Prince of Asturias, Prince of Gerona and Prince of Viana, as well as the titles of Duke of Montblanc, Count of Cervera and Lord of Balaguer.
1 January 1986 Spain became a full member of the European Union.



 

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