Introduction to Spain
The Kingdom of Spain, as the country is officially called, occupies about 85% of Iberian Peninsula, sharing it with Portugal. Its mainland is located in Europe’s Southwest. Besides Portugal, its area of 505,990 km2 borders France, Andorra, Gibraltar and Morocco. Spain’s territory is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Having developed a mixed capitalist economy, in 2016 Spain has been granted a prosperity index, which put it on the 21st place of 149. Spain’s economic growth of the same year was the fastest in the eurozone. In 2017 Spain was ranked 69th by the Heritage Foundation’s guide, which uses the index of economic freedom when measuring economies of 186 countries.
In case you are looking for an opportunity to relocate to this country – see more options here.
History of Spain
Modern civilization first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. Iberian cultures along with ancient Greek, Phoenician, and Carthaginian settlements developed on the peninsula until it came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania. In the middle ages, the area was conquered by Germanic tribes and later by the Moors.
Spain was established as a unified country in the 15th century, following the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs and the completion of the eight centuries-long reconquest, or Reconquista from the Moors in 1492. Over time, Spain emerged into one of the first global colonial empires, leaving a vast cultural and linguistic legacy that includes over 500 million Spanish speakers, making Spanish the world’s second most spoken first language, after Mandarin Chinese.
The country has gone through Spanish-American War of 1898, which resulted in gaining independence of Spain’s overseas colonies, and a period of dictatorial regime, lasted from 1923 to 1931, when the Second Republic was established.
In 1936 Spanish citizens were forced to survive the Civil War, which ended after three years, when General Francisco Franco, supported by Nationalist forces of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, took the lead, becoming a dictator, who then was followed by Juan Carlos, becoming a king of Spain in 1975 and beginning Spanish transition to democracy.
Economy of Spain
There was a Spanish property bubble recorded in 2008, which caused a financial crisis, resulting in high levels of unemployment, government budget cuts and corruption. Today about 61% of Spanish people have jobs and about 53 thousand job vacancies are available in the country.
Spain is ranked 9th in the world as the receiver of direct, foreign investments (634 billion USD, according to the latest UNCTAD report, World Investment Report, July 2012). There are currently over 8,600 foreign companies in Spain, employing over 1.2 million people, with a business turnover more than 400 billion EUR a year. Spain is the 7th largest service exporter in the world (3.04% of the total) and the 4th in the EU. It is ranked as the 17th largest exporter of goods worldwide.
Main industries, supporting economic growth, are machinery, metals, textiles, agriculture, chemicals, vehicles, shipbuilding and tourism. Spain is considered one of the largest railroads and transport equipment manufactures in the world. 6 of the 10 most well-known vehicle construction companies are based in Spain. By the end of 2016 about 33% of the Spain’s total gross domestic product (GDP) was registered from its exports. Starting from 2014, it is viewed as a country which has the 2nd world’s largest foreign-tourist industry, accounting about 11% of Spain’s GDP.
Euro was fully adopted in Spain since 2002. Spanish euro coins, designed by Garcilaso Rollán and Begoña Castellanos, have a portrait of the King Felipe VI on them.
According to nation’s ranking on business, which indicates „the ease of doing business index”, at present (2017) Spain occupies a 32nd place in the world (among 190 countries), stated as a high income country after recovering from economic crisis of 2008-2014. Current Spanish law protects property rights and enforces anticorruption measures. Procedures for setting up businesses have been streamlined in the country, reducing some licensing requirements to make labour regulations less restrictive. Most Spain’s business sectors are open to foreign investment, treating foreign and domestic investors equally according the law.
Politics and government of Spain
Spain has 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities, each of them having their own political background, which consists of elected parliaments, public administrators and budgets, all together controlled by the Spanish government. Country’s basic form of government is parliamentary monarchy. The Head of the state since the 19th of June, 2014, is King Felipe VI. The Head of the government is Mariano Rajoy Brey, being the Prime Minister of Spain starting from 2011.
Participation in international organizations
Spain joined the United Nations in 1955, after signing the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with the United States. In 1982 the country joined NATO and completed integrating its military structure in 1997-2014, sending troops on peace-establishing missions to African countries. After Spain joined the European Community in 1986, its role in international affairs has grown rapidly. Today it is also a member of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In 2014 the country became a Forum Dialogue Partner of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Spanish culture was formed by its land owners: Catalonians, Castilians, Galicians, Romans, Basques, Arabs, Jews and Gypsies, who invented a form of flamenco dance (cante jondo). Spanish people have such cultural traditions as siesta (daybreak), traditional drinks like sangria (wine mixed with fruit, spices and lemonade), cultural norms such as physical contact during social interaction, which is not considered as an invasion of personal space, and staying flexible, when it comes to timekeeping, while managing business meetings and establishing working hours of offices, shops and other institutions.
The Spanish are 51st largest nation in the world and has the 6th largest population in Europe. Presently (2017) there are about 46.4 million people living in the country, 49.4 % of them are male, 50.6% are female.
Over 72% of people in Spain have Spanish as their first language. There are several dialects spoken in different regions of the country: Castilian (considered a standard form of Spanish language), Catalan, Basque, Valencian and Galician. All of them have official status.
Immigration in Spain
By the end of the 2016 there were 74 million tourists having visited the country, 6 millions of which have been integrated in country’s national environment. In Spain immigration is not considered a cultural threat as it is in some other countries. The largest immigrant groups are Romanians, Ecuadoreans (the widest immigrant population) and Moroccans. All travelers are advised to obtain an NIE and security number, when visiting Spain in order to be able to open a bank account, apply for a job or have an access to medical care.