Useful Notes: Spain


"Plus Ultra!"
National Motto

Spain (Spanish: España), officially known as the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España), is a south-western European country inhabited by 47 million Spaniards, home of the Conquistadores and the language spoken by 330 million people. The modern day Spanish trace their descent from many peoples, including but not limited to Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, Visigoths, Jews, and Muslims, and the modern nation-state was formed with the union of the Kingdom of Castille and the Kingdom of Aragon in the XV century by the marriage of their respective monarchs, Queen Isabella and King Fernando and the end of the siege of Granada, which would end the Reconquista and 700 years of muslim occupation. An empire soon grew and stayed strong until its collapse in 1699, but Spain still managed to keep some colonies until the very end of the 19th Century. This, along with the failure of the conquest of Morocco and the feuds between political factions led to the last and bloodiest of five Civil Wars. The winner of the war ruled the country for no less than 36 years until his death, when the current Constitutional Monarchy now led by King Felipe VI was installed.

Spain is bordered by France and the tiny Andorra in the north-east and Portugal in the west. It is bathed by the Mediterranean Coast at its east, The Atlantic Ocean at the west and North and the Straits of Gibraltar at the South, where the Mediterranean Joins the Atlantic. There is also the matter of the little British colony known as Gibraltar.

Spain's Government consists of a Prime Minister (Presidente del Gobierno or president of the government) elected democratically, appointed by the King and who is the Head of the Cabinet (Consejo de Ministros or council of ministers). He resides in the Moncloa Palace, Madrid.

Spain is Divided in 17 Autonomous Communities or Comunidades Autónomas

  • Andalucía
  • Aragón
  • Asturias
  • Cantabria
  • Castilla y León
  • Castilla La Mancha
  • Catalunya
  • Extremadura
  • Galicia
  • La Rioja
  • Madrid
  • Murcia
  • Navarra
  • Pais Vasco (Euskadi in Basque)
  • Valencia

As well as the islands

  • Baleares
  • Canarias

And the city enclaves in Northern Africa

  • Ceuta
  • Melilla

The Cities of Spain

  • Madrid, Capital of Spain and largest city.
  • Barcelona Spain's second largest city, holds a rivalry with the former.
  • Valencia, Third largest city
  • Sevilla
  • Bilbao

History of Spain

General Spain

Spain in popular culture

The Spanish Flag
Red and yellow are traditional colors of Spain dating back to the Reconquista, with the yellow stripe being twice as large as the two red stripes; near the hoist side is the coat of arms, dominated by a crowned shield containing (from upper left clockwise) the arms of Castile (gold castle on red field), León (purple lion on silver field), Navarre (array of golden chains on red field), Granada (a pomegranate fruit on a white field) and Aragon (nine alternating yellow and red stripes), as well as that of the Anjou branch of the House of Bourbon, Spain's royal family (blue field containing five fleur-de-lis with a red border), added by King Philip V (himself French-born and titled Duke of Anjou) in 1700; on either side of the shield are a pair of columns standing on watery bases, symbolizing the Pillars of Hercules, a pair of promontories guarding the Strait of Gibraltar, surrounded by ribbons which read "Plus Ultra" ("Further Beyond" in Latin) and topped by the crowns of the Holy Roman Empire and the Spanish Kingdom, the former alluding to Emperor Charles V, also titled King Charles I of Spain, under whose reign Spain expanded its territories to South America and the Philippines.