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Spain
Overview
Background
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). In the second half of the 20th century, Spain has played a catch-up role in the western international community; it joined the EU in 1986. Continuing concerns are Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorism and further reductions in unemployment.
Natural resources
coal, lignite, iron ore, uranium, mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land
Land use
arable land: 28.6%
permanent crops: 9.56%
other: 61.84% (1998 est.)
Population
40,217,413 (July 2003 est.)
Ethnic groups
composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types
Religions
Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%
Languages
Castilian Spanish 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%
note: Castilian is the official language nationwide; the other languages are official regionally
Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 98.7%
female: 97.2% (2003 est.)
Capital
Madrid
Government type
parliamentary monarchy
Independence
the Iberian peninsula was characterized by a variety of independent kingdoms prior to the Moslem 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
National holiday
Hispanic Day, 12 October
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