Spain, officially Kingdom of Spain, a country in southwestern Europe. It occupies about four-fifths of the Iberian Peninsula and borders on Portugal, France, Andorra, and Gibraltar. Across the Strait of Gibraltar lies Morocco on the north coast of Africa. The Atlantic Ocean, including the Bay of Biscay and the Gulf of Cdiz, adjoins Spain on the north and southwest; the Mediterranean Sea washes the southern and eastern coasts. Spain includes the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic, and the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean Sea.

In many ways Spain is distinctive among European nations, mainly because of its unique cultural and regional differences. It is a nation of highly individualistic and diverse people, such as the Basques, Catalonians, and Galicians, many of whom retain to a considerable degree their separate ways. The terrain, too, is unusually varied. It includes snowcapped alpine mountains, barren plains, and sunny coasts.

Sharp contrasts also exist between the old Spain and the new. Old Spain, dating back to antiquity, is still evidenced by Roman aqueducts and ruins, Moorish palaces, and splendid medieval cathedrals. More numerous, and equally impressive, are the many buildings of the 16th- and 17th-century colonial period, when Spain had great wealth and a large empire in the New World. Spain's modern side is seen in sprawling new industrial areas in many parts of the country and in such cosmopolitan cities as Barcelona and the capital, Madrid.

Spain in brief
General information
Capital: Madrid.
Official language: Castilian Spanish; Catalan, Galician, and Basque are official languages in provinces where they are widely spoken. About 17 percent of population speaks Catalan, 8 percent Galician, and 2 percent Basque; most people also speak Spanish.
National anthem: "Marcha Real" ("The Royal March").
Flag and coat of arms: Spain's state flag, adopted in 1981, has three horizontal stripes of red, yellow, and red. The coat of arms is to the left of the flag. The civil flag, used by the people, has no coat of arms. The coat of arms, adopted in 1981, is a shield with the symbols that represent Aragon, Castile, and other historic kingdoms of Spain.
Largest cities: (2001 census) Madrid (2,938,723); Barcelona (1,503,884); Valencia (738,441); Seville (684,633); Saragossa (614,905); Malaga (524,414).
Land and climate
Land: Spain occupies five-sixths of the Iberian Peninsula in far southwestern Europe. The other one-sixth is occupied by Portugal. Spain also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The country borders France, Portugal, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. A plateau called the Meseta is the largest land region of Spain. Hills and mountains rise throughout the plateau. North of the plateau, mountains extend across the country. The Pyrenees Mountains in the northeast form Spain's border with France. Spain's chief rivers include the Ebro, Guadalquivir, and Tagus.
Area: 195,365 mi2 (505,992 km2), including Balearic and Canary Islands. Greatest distances—east-west, 646 mi (1,040 km); north-south, 547 mi (880 km). Coastline—2,345 mi (3,774 km).
Elevation: Highest—Pico de Teide, 12,198 ft (3,718 m) above sea level, in Canary Islands. Lowest—sea level along the coast.
Climate: Most of Spain has hot, sunny summers and cold winters. In the interior, average temperatures rise above 80 degrees F (27 degrees C) in July and fall below 30 degrees F (–1 degree C) in January. The northern mountains have somewhat cooler summers and warmer winters. The Mediterranean coast, Balearic Islands, and Canary Islands have warmer weather than the rest of the country.
Form of government: Parliamentary monarchy.
Head of state: King.
Head of government: Prime minister.
Legislature: Parliament of two houses--the Chamber of Deputies (350 members) and the Senate (about 260 members). The Chamber of Deputies is more powerful than the Senate.
Executive: Prime minister; Cabinet selected by the prime minister.
Political subdivisions: 50 provinces in 17 regions.
Population: Current estimate—44,687,000. 2001 census—40,847,371.
Population density: 229 per mi2 (88 per km2).
Distribution: 77 percent urban, 23 percent rural.
Major ethnic/national groups: About 95 percent Spanish (including Catalans, Basques, and others who have long lived in Spain). Some citizens of other European countries, Moroccans, and Latin Americans.
Major religion: About 95 percent Roman Catholic.
Chief products: Agriculture—barley, hogs, milk, olives, oranges, potatoes, sheep, sugar beets, tomatoes, wheat, wine. Fishing—mussels, sardines, squid. Manufacturing—automobiles, chemicals, iron and steel, machinery, ships, shoes, textiles..
Money: Basic unit—euro. One hundred cents equal one euro. The peseta was taken out of circulation in 2002.
International trade: Major exports—automobiles, fruit, iron and steel, petroleum products, textiles. Major imports—automobiles, chemicals, corn, electrical equipment, machinery, petroleum, primary metals, soybeans. Major trading partners—China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States.