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Spain (Spanish España), constitutional monarchy of southwestern Europe, occupying the greater part of the Iberian Peninsula, and bounded on the north by the Bay of Biscay, France, and Andorra; on the east by the Mediterranean Sea; on the south by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; and on the west by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. The British dependency of Gibraltar is situated at the southern extremity of Spain. The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa are governed as provinces of Spain. Also, Spain administers two small exclaves in Morocco—Ceuta and Melilla—as well as three island groups near Africa—Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera and the Alhucemas and Chafarinas islands. The area of Spain, including the African and insular territories, is 504,750 sq km (194,885 sq mi). Madrid is the capital and largest city.

Land and Resources 

Spain occupies about 85 percent of the Iberian Peninsula and is bounded by water for about 88 percent of its periphery; its Mediterranean coast is about 1660 km (about 1030 mi) long, and its Atlantic coast is about 710 km (about 440 mi) long. The long, unbroken mountain chain of the Pyrenees, extending about 435 km (about 270 mi) from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea, forms the border with France on the north; in the extreme south the Strait of Gibraltar, less than 13 km (less than 8 mi) wide at its narrowest extent, separates Spain from Africa. The most important topographical feature of Spain is the great, almost treeless, central plateau, called the Meseta, sloping generally downward from north to south and from east to west, and with an average elevation of about 610 m (about 2000 ft) above sea level. The tableland is divided into northern and southern sections by irregular mountain ranges, or sierras, of which the most important are the Sierra de Guadarrama, the Sierra de Gredos, and the Montes de Toledo. Between many of the mountains are narrow valleys, drained by rapid rivers. The coastal plain is narrow, rarely as much as 30 km (20 mi) wide and, in many areas, broken by mountains that descend to the sea to form rocky headlands, particularly along the Mediterranean coast, where the sole excellent harbor is Barcelona. The northwestern coastal area has several good harbors, particularly along the Galician coast. The six principal mountain chains have elevations greater than 3300 m (greater than 11,000 ft). The highest peaks are the Pico de Aneto (3404 m/11,168 ft) in the Pyrenees and Mulhacén (3478 m/11,411 ft) in the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain. The highest point in Spain and its insular territories is Pico de Teide (3718 m/12,198 ft) on Tenerife Island in the Canary Islands. The lowest point is sea level along the coast. The principal rivers of Spain flow west and south to the Atlantic Ocean, generally along deep, rocky courses that they have cut through the mountain valleys. The Duero (Douro), Miño, Tagus, and Guadiana rivers rise in Spain and flow through Portugal to the Atlantic. The Guadalquivir River, flowing through a fertile plain in the south, is the deepest river in Spain and the only one navigable for any extent. The Ebro River, in northeastern Spain, flows into the Mediterranean Sea, and is navigable by small craft for part of its course. Most Spanish streams are too small for interior navigation, and, with courses below the general ground level, are of little use for irrigation. The rivers are, however, a good source of electric power.


The climate of Spain is marked by extremes of temperature and, except in the north, generally low rainfall, and the variegated physical features of the country ensure pronounced climatic differences. The climate is most equable along the Biscayan and Atlantic coasts, which are generally damp and cool. The central plateau has summers so arid that nearly all the streams dry up, the earth parches, and drought is common. Most of Spain receives less than 600 mm (less than 24 in) of precipitation per year; the northern mountains get considerably more moisture. At Madrid, winter cold is sufficient to freeze surrounding streams, while summer temperatures in Seville rise as high as 49° C (120° F). By contrast the southern Mediterranean coast has a subtropical climate. Málaga, in the extreme south, has an average winter temperature of 14° C (57° F).

Natural Resources

The most valuable natural resource of Spain is the soil, with nearly one-third of the land suitable for cultivation. The country also has many mineral resources, including hard and brown coal, small petroleum and natural gas deposits, iron ore, uranium, mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, and potash.

Plants and Animals

Only a small part of Spain is forested, and forests are located mainly on mountain slopes, particularly in the northwest. A common Spanish tree is the evergreen oak. Cork oak, from which the bark may be stripped every ten years, is abundant, growing chiefly as second growth on timbered land. Poplar trees are grown throughout the country and the cultivation of olive trees is a major agricultural activity. Other Spanish trees include the elm, beech, and chestnut. Shrubs and herbs are the common natural vegetation on the central plateau. Grapevines flourish in the arid soil. Esparto grass, used for making paper and various fiber products, grows abundantly in both the wild and cultivated state. On the Mediterranean coast sugarcane, oranges, lemons, figs, almonds, and chestnuts are grown. The Spanish fauna includes the wolf, lynx, wildcat, fox, wild boar, wild goat, deer, and hare. Among the more famous domesticated animals are the bulls bred near Seville and Salamanca for bullfighting, the Spanish national sport. Birdlife is abundant, with varieties of birds of prey. Insect life abounds. Mountain streams and lakes teem with such fish as barbel, tench, and trout.


Although Spanish soils need careful irrigation and cultivation, they are a rich and valuable resource. Semiarid chestnut-brown soils cover the central plateau, and red Mediterranean soils cover the southern area and the northeastern coastal region. A gray desert soil, often saline, is found in the southeast. The forest of northern Spain has gray-brown forest soils, and the forest in the Cantabrian Mountains has leached podzolic soils.


The Spanish people are essentially a mixture of the indigenous peoples of the Iberian Peninsula with the successive peoples who conquered the peninsula and occupied it for extended periods. These added ethnologic elements include the Romans, a Mediterranean people, and the Suevi, Vandals, and Visigoths (see Goths), Teutonic peoples. Semitic elements are also present. Several ethnic groups in Spain have kept a separate identity, culturally and linguistically. These include the Catalans (16 percent of the population), who live principally in the northeast and on the eastern islands; the Galicians (8 percent), who live in northwestern Spain; the Basques, or Euskal-dun (2 percent), who live chiefly around the Bay of Biscay; and the nomadic Spanish Roma (Gypsies), also called Gitanos.

Population Characteristics

The population of Spain at the 1991 census was 38,872,268. The estimate for 1995 is 39,276,000, giving the country an overall density of about 78 persons per sq km (about 202 per sq mi). Spain is increasingly urban, with more than 80 percent of the population in towns and cities.

Political Divisions

Spain comprises 50 provinces in 17 autonomous regions: Andalusia, Aragón, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Country (País Vasco), Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile-La Mancha, Castile-León, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra, and Valencia.

Principal Cities  

The capital and largest city is Madrid (population, greater city, 1991, 3,010,492), also the capital of Madrid autonomous region; the second largest city, chief port, and commercial center is Barcelona (1,643,542), capital of Barcelona province and Catalonia region. Other important cities include Valencia (752,909), capital of Valencia province and Valencia region, a manufacturing and railroad center; Seville (683,028), capital of Seville province and Andalusia region, a cultural center; Saragossa (594,394), capital of Saragossa province and Aragón region, another industrial center; and Bilbao (369,839), a busy port.


Roman Catholicism is professed by about 97 percent of the population. The country is divided into 11 metropolitan and 52 suffragan sees. In addition, the archdioceses of Barcelona and Madrid are directly responsible to the Holy See. Formerly, Roman Catholicism was the established church, but the 1978 constitution decreed that Spain shall have no state religion, while recognizing the role of the Roman Catholic church in Spanish society. There are small communities of Protestants, Jews, and Muslims.


Most of the people of Spain speak Castilian Spanish. In addition, Catalan is spoken in the northeast, Galician (Gallego, akin to Portuguese) is spoken in the northwest, and Basque (Euskara, a pre-Indo-European language) is spoken in the north. See Spanish Language, Catalan Language, and Basque Language.


The golden age of Spanish education occurred during the Middle Ages, when the Moors, Christians, and Jews established strong interreligious centers of higher education in Córdoba, Granada, and Toledo. The University of Salamanca (1218) served as a model for the universities of Latin America from the 16th century on, thereby extending the international influence of Spanish education. During the 16th century the University of Alcalá (founded in Alcalá de Henares in 1508 and moved to Madrid as the University of Madrid in 1836) was famous for its multilingual, parallel translations of the Bible. Important Spanish educators of that period include Juan de Huarte, a pioneer in the application of psychology to education; the humanist and philosopher Juan Luis Vives, who interpreted new ideas on education and, in particular, advocated the education of women; and Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (see Jesuits). Others who made important contributions to education in the 19th and 20th century include Francisco Giner de los Rios, who sought reforms in higher education and the schooling of women; Francisco Ferrer Guardia, the nationalistic educator who advocated reform and democratization of education; and the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, whose writings on the mission of the university have been translated into several languages. The Royal Spanish Academy (founded 1713) and the Royal Academy of History (1738) are well known for scholarly publications.

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Education in Spain is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 16. The school system consists of preprimary schools (for children 3 to 5 years old), primary (6 to 11), and secondary (ages 12 to 16, in 2 two-year cycles). Students may then take either a vocational training course for one or two years, or the two-year Bachillerato course in preparation for university entrance. The university system has three cycles. The first, leading to the degree of Diplomatura, lasts for three years. The second cycle lasts for two or three years and leads to the degree of Licenciatura. Students earning the degree of Doctor must complete the two-year third cycle and write a thesis. In the early 1990s Spain's preprimary schools were attended by approximately 1 million pupils, primary schools by about 4.5 million, and secondary schools (including high schools and technical schools) by approximately 1.8 million. About 30 percent of all children receive their education in the Roman Catholic school system.

Higher Education

Spanish institutions of higher education enrolled nearly 1.3 million students in the early 1990s. The major universities of Spain include the University of Madrid, the Polytechnical University of Madrid (1971), the University of Barcelona (1450), the University of Granada (1526), the University of Salamanca, the University of Seville (1502), and the University of Valencia (1510).


Any consideration of Spanish culture must stress the tremendous importance of religion in the history of the country and in the life of the individual. An index of the influence of Roman Catholicism is provided by the fervent mystical element in the art and literature of Spain, the impressive list of its saints, and the large number of religious congregations and orders. The Catholic marriage is the basis of the family, which in turn is the foundation of Spanish society. Fiestas (festivals) are an outstanding feature of Spanish life. They usually begin with a high mass followed by a solemn procession in which venerated images are carried on the shoulders of the participants. Music, dancing, poetry, and singing often enliven these colorful occasions. The fiesta at Valencia, the April fair in Seville, and the San Fermín fiesta at Pamplona are several of the more important ones. In contrast, the feast of Corpus Christi in Toledo and Granada and the Holy Week observances in Valladolid, Zamora, and Cuenca are solemn affairs. The bullfight, so important a part of Spanish tradition, has been called a fiesta brava. It is far more than a mere spectator sport; fans applaud not only the bravery of the toreros but their dexterity and artistry as well.


A number of great painters have lived and worked in Spain. Among the most famous are El Greco, noted for his late 16th-century painting View of Toledo (Metropolitan Museum, New York City); Diego Velázquez, known for his depictions of the 17th-century Spanish court; Francisco Goya, whose work in the late 18th and early 19th centuries greatly influenced the development of modern art; Salvador Dalí, surrealist painter; and Pablo Picasso, one of the most prolific artists in history and a major figure of 20th-century art.

Libraries and Museums

The National Library in Madrid, founded in 1712 as the Royal Library, is the largest in Spain; it contains more than 4 million bound volumes. Rare books, maps, prints, and the magnificent Sala de Cervantes, devoted to the writings of the great Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, are among the special collections of the library. The Library of the Royal Palace (1760) in Madrid has many rare editions from the 16th century as well as fine collections of manuscripts, engravings, and music. One of the most complete libraries in Spain is the Madrid University Library, which was founded in 1341; it contains nearly 1.7 million bound volumes and more than 270,000 pamphlets. The Escorial Library near Madrid is known for its collection of rare books. The Archives and Library of the Cathedral Chapter in Toledo is famous for its collection of some 3000 manuscripts from the 8th and 9th centuries and more than 10,000 documents of the 11th century. One of the greatest art collections in the world is in the National Museum of Paintings and Sculpture (known as the Prado) in Madrid. The collection is particularly rich in works by El Greco, Velázquez, the Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and Goya; by the Italian painters Sandro Botticelli and Titian; and by the Dutch painter Rembrandt. The National Museum of Modern Art in Madrid specializes in Spanish painting after 1800. Spanish pottery, brocades, tapestries, and ivory carvings are in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, which houses also the most notable library on archaeology in the country. The National Ethnological Museum in Madrid contains objects from former Spanish possessions, including Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, and Bolivia. Other museums in Madrid include the Natural Science Museum and the Museum of the Spanish People. Situated in Barcelona are the Maritime Museum and the Archaeological Museum, which has a large collection of prehistoric, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, and Visigothic art.


Spanish music has a vitality and a rhythm that reflect the many influences on the culture by the Christians and the Moors. The zarzuela, a form of opera, was introduced in the 17th century. A leading composer during the 18th century was Antonio Soler, and, during the 20th century, Joaquín Turina and Manuel de Falla were noted for their advanced styles. Famous Spanish performers of the 20th century include the guitarist Andrés Segovia and cellist Pablo Casals. Popular Spanish instruments include the guitar, tambourine, castanets, and the gaita, a kind of bagpipe. Spanish dance styles (each with its own music) include the bolero, the flamenco, the jota, and the fandango. See Spanish Dance.


Spain has traditionally been an agricultural country and is still one of the largest producers of farm commodities in Western Europe, but since the mid-1950s industrial growth has been rapid. A series of development plans, initiated in 1964, helped the economy to expand, but in the later 1970s an economic slowdown was brought on by rising oil costs and increased imports. Subsequently, the government emphasized the development of the steel, shipbuilding, textile, and mining industries. Spain derives much income from tourism. The gross domestic product in 1993 was about $478.6 billion. The annual budget in the early 1990s included revenues of about $97.7 billion and expenditures of about $128 billion. On January 1, 1986, Spain became a full member of the European Community (now the European Union, or EU).


Agriculture is a mainstay of the Spanish economy, employing, with forestry and fishing, about 10 percent of the labor force. The leading agricultural products, in order of value, are grapes and olives, used to make olive oil. In the early 1990s annual production of grapes was 5.7 million metric tons and of olive oil was 597,000 metric tons. Other important commodities included potatoes (5.3 million tons), barley (6 million), wheat (4.5 million), almonds (425,000), tomatoes (2.6 million), oranges and mandarins (4.2 million), sugar beets (7.5 million), and onions (995,000). Climatic and topographical conditions make dry farming obligatory for a large part of Spanish agriculture. The Mediterranean provinces, particularly Valencia, have irrigation systems that represent the work of many generations, and the formerly arid coastal belt has become one of the most productive areas of Spain. Combined irrigation and hydroelectric projects are found particularly in the valley of the Ebro River. Large sections of Extremadura are irrigated by means of government projects on the Guadiana River. Small-farm irrigation from wells is common. The raising of livestock, especially sheep and goats, is an important industry. In the early 1990s livestock on farms included about 24.6 million sheep, 17.2 million pigs, 4.9 million cattle, and 240,000 horses.

Forestry and Fishing

The cork-oak tree is the principal forest resource of Spain, and the annual production of cork, more than 52,000 metric tons in the late 1980s, placed Spain among the world leaders. The yield of Spain's forests is insufficient for the country's wood-pulp and timber needs. The fishing industry is important to the Spanish economy. The annual catch was about 1.4 million metric tons in the early 1990s and consisted primarily of sardines, mussels, tuna, hake, and squid.


The mineral wealth of Spain is considerable. In the early 1990s annual production, in metric tons, included hard and brown coal (about 35.7 million), iron ore (1.5 million), zinc concentrates (255,000), lead (58,400), copper (10,700), and gypsum (5 million). In addition, 5.9 million barrels of petroleum were extracted. The principal coal mines are in the northwest, near Oviedo; the chief iron-ore deposits are in the same area, around Santander and Bilbao; large mercury reserves are located in Almadén, in southwestern Spain, and copper and lead are mined in Andalusia.


Among the leading goods manufactured in Spain are textiles, iron and steel, motor vehicles, chemicals, clothing, footwear, ships and boats, refined petroleum, and cement. Spain is one of the world's leading wine producers, and the annual output in the early 1990s was about 3.7 million cu m (983 million gallons). The iron and steel industry, centered in Bilbao, Santander, Oviedo, and Avilés, produced about 12.7 million metric tons of crude steel and 5.7 million tons of pig iron annually in the early 1990s.


About 52 percent of Spain's electricity is generated in conventional thermal plants primarily using coal or refined petroleum. Hydroelectric facilities produce 13 percent, and nuclear installations, 35 percent. In the early 1990s Spain had an installed electricity-generating capacity of some 46.6 million kilowatts, and annual output was about 157 billion kilowatt-hours.

Currency and Banking

The unit of currency is the peseta (127.2 pesetas equal U.S.$1; 1996), issued by the Bank of Spain (1829). The country is served by a large number of commercial banks. The principal stock exchanges are in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia. In early 1995 Spain's currency was devalued 7 percent against eight other European currencies, in part to slow selling by currency traders concerned about the country's internal politics and continued high budget deficit. The devaluation was the fourth in less than four years and raised doubts about achieving the goal of producing a unified European currency by 1997, as called for by the Treaty on European Union.

Foreign Trade

In the early 1990s, Spain annually imported goods valued at about $92.5 billion and exported goods valued at about $72.8 billion. Principal imports include machinery, mineral fuels, transportation equipment, food products, metals and metal products, and textiles. Exports include motor vehicles, machinery, basic metals, vegetable products, chemicals, mineral products, and textiles. Spain's chief trading partners are France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Portugal, the United States, the Netherlands, Japan, and Belgium and Luxembourg.


The climate, beaches, and historic cities of Spain are an attraction for tourists, which make a significant contribution to the country's economy. More than 57 million people visit Spain each year, making it one of the world's top tourist destinations. The $20 billion tourists spend each year helps make up for Spain's considerable trade deficit.


Spain had about 332,000 km (about 206,300 mi) of roads and about 13.1 million passenger cars in the early 1990s. Rail service over about 15,430 km (about 9590 mi) of track is provided by both government-owned and private companies. In 1992, a high-speed railway line from Madrid to Seville began operating; an extension of the line to Barcelona is scheduled to open by 1997. The government-controlled Iberia Airline operates domestic and international services. The airline, which needed financial rescue by the government in the mid-1990s, also serves Spain through a number of subsidiaries. In the early 1990s the merchant marine consisted of some 2190 vessels; the total capacity of the fleet was about 3.2 million gross tons.


Radios in use in Spain in the early 1990s totaled about 12.1 million along with 15.2 million television sets. The country also had about 90 daily newspapers, with a combined daily circulation of about 5 million. Influential dailies include El País and A.B.C., both published in Madrid, and La Vanguardia and El Periódico, issued in Barcelona.


In the early 1990s the Spanish labor force included about 15.2 million people. About 2.8 million were employed in manufacturing; 1.3 million in agriculture, forestry, and fishing; 7.1 million in service industries; and 1.2 million in construction. Unemployment soared as high as 22 percent during this period. In the early 1990s, about 10 percent of Spain's workforce was unionized.


In the late 1970s the government of Spain underwent a transformation from the authoritarian regime of Francisco Franco (who ruled from 1939 to 1975) to a limited monarchy with an influential parliament. A national constitution was adopted in 1978.


The head of state of Spain is a hereditary monarch, who also is the commander in chief of the armed forces. Executive power is vested in the prime minister, who is proposed by the monarch on the parliament's approval and is voted into office by the Congress of Deputies. Power is also vested in a cabinet, or council of ministers. There is also the Council of States, a consultative body.


In 1977 Spain's unicameral Cortes was replaced by a bicameral parliament made up of a 350-member Congress of Deputies and a Senate of 208 directly elected members and 47 special regional representatives. Deputies are popularly elected to four-year terms by universal suffrage of people 18 years of age and older, under a system of proportional representation. The directly elected senators are voted to four-year terms on a regional basis. Each mainland province elects 4 senators; another 20 senators come from the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Ceuta, and Melilla.

Political Parties

Spain has many political parties. The two major groups in the 1993 general election were the Spanish Socialist Workers Party and the Popular Party (a conservative party that had absorbed the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party). Other significant parties in the legislature include the United Left (a coalition of left-wing parties) and the Catalan and Basque nationalist parties.

Local Government

The 1978 constitution allowed for two types of autonomous regions, each with different powers. Catalonia, the Basque provinces, and Galicia were defined as "historic nationalities" and used a simpler process to achieve autonomy. The process for other regions was slower and more complicated. While the autonomous regions have assumed substantial powers of self-government, the issue of regional versus central governmental power is still under negotiation. Each of Spain's 17 autonomous regions elects a unicameral legislative assembly, which selects a president from among its own members. Seven autonomous regions are composed of only one province, the other ten are formed of two or more provinces. Each of the provinces, 50 in all, has an appointed governor and an elected council. Each of the more than 8000 municipalities is governed by a directly elected council, which elects one of its members as mayor.


The judicial system in Spain is governed by the General Council of Judicial Power, presided over by the president of the Supreme Court. The country's highest tribunal is the Supreme Court of Justice, divided into 7 sections; it sits in Madrid. There are 17 territorial high courts, one in each autonomous region, 52 provincial high courts, and several lower courts handling penal, labor, and juvenile matters. The country's other important court is the Constitutional Court, which monitors observance of the constitution.

Health and Welfare

The Law of Family Subsidy, enacted in 1939, provides Spain's workers with monthly allowances proportionate to the number of children in the family; the necessary funding is collected from employers and employees. A program of old-age pensions and health and maternity benefits has been in effect since 1949. A fund derived from public collections provides for the support of the poor, nursery schools, and health clinics. In the early 1990s Spain had about 153,300 physicians and 175,400 hospital beds.


Spain maintains armed services equipped with modern weapons; military service of nine months is compulsory for males aged 21 to 35. In the early 1990s the country had an army of 138,900, a navy of 32,000, and an air force of 29,800. A paramilitary Civil Guard had a strength of 66,300. The Spanish government has close defense ties with the United States, which maintains naval and air bases in Spain. The country became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1982, and reaffirmed that alliance in a public referendum in 1986.


The earliest records of an aboriginal past in the Iberian Peninsula are Paleolithic cave paintings, found in the region of the Bay of Biscay and the western Pyrenees, which exhibit a remarkable degree of animation and skill. Distinctly different from this development in the north was the later Neolithic Almerian culture (3000? BC) of southeastern Spain, which was akin to that of prehistoric Africa. The southern region became the first invasion point for the Iberians, originally a North African people, who, about 1000 BC, became the most prominent ethnologic element in the peninsula and gave it its name. The second most important people in the peninsula were the Celts, who entered it in a mass migration from France. The Celts almost completely absorbed the indigenous inhabitants of the central region and, to a lesser extent, those of the northern mountains. A subsequent intermingling of Celts and Iberians formed the so-called Celtiberians, living chiefly in the central region, the west, and along the northern coast.

Antiquity and Middle Ages  

The first of the eastern Mediterranean peoples known to have voyaged to the peninsula were the seafaring Phoenicians, probably in the 11th century BC. The Phoenicians established a colony on the site of present-day Cádiz. Traders from Rhodes and the Greek cities followed, establishing colonies on the Mediterranean coast and occasionally venturing into the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar, then known as the Pillars of Hercules. In the second half of the 3rd century BC the African state of Carthage began to exploit the peninsula. Under the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, a large part of the peninsula was conquered in a campaign from 237 to 228 BC, and in the latter year Carthage founded the city of Barcelona. Other colonies were established, notably Carthago Nova (now Cartagena). The expansion of Carthage in the peninsula was viewed unfavorably by Rome. In 219 BC, violating a previous Carthage-Rome agreement delimiting Carthaginian territory, the Carthaginian general Hannibal destroyed the Greek colony of Saguntum (now Sagunto) and precipitated the second of the Punic Wars. Carthage was forced to evacuate the peninsula in 206 BC. Nine years later Rome divided the peninsula into two provinces, Hispania Citerior, in the valley of the Ebro River (northeast), and Hispania Ulterior, in the plain penetrated by the Guadalquivir River (south). The tribes of the extreme north did not surrender their independence to Rome until 19 BC. Under the Romans, Hispania took its final form as three provinces: Lusitania, approximating modern Portugal; Baetica, in the south, approximating western Andalusia; and Hispania Tarraconensis, the central plateau and the north, northwest, and the eastern coast above Cartagena. From the final submission of the Iberian tribes until the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire in the late 5th century AD, Hispania was one of the most prosperous areas of Roman power. Its farms were a major source of Roman grain, and from its mines came iron, copper, lead, gold, and silver.

Visigothic Spain

In AD 409 Teutonic invaders crossed the Pyrenees. Alans, Vandals, and Suevi swept over the peninsula. The unity of Hispania under Rome was destroyed, not to be entirely recreated for more than a thousand years. In an attempt to stem the havoc brought by the invasions, Rome appealed to the Visigoths, who in AD 412 brought their armies into the region and within seven years became the dominant power. The Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse, a nominal vassal of Rome, was established in 419, and at its fullest extent included the territory from the Strait of Gibraltar north to the Loire River in present-day France. For three centuries (419-711) the king of Toulouse implanted Roman culture and Christianity in the peninsula. Euric ruled at the height of Visigothic power in the 5th century and codified the Roman and Gothic law. Leovigild, who reigned from 569 to 586, effected the final subjugation of the Suevi tribes and united the Roman and Visigothic elements of the peninsula into a single people. Between 586 and 601, Leovigild's son Recared established Roman Catholicism as the official state religion.

Spain Under the Moors

In 711 a Berber Muslim army, under their leader Tariq ibn-Ziyad, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from northern Africa into the Iberian peninsula. Roderick, last of the Visigothic kings of Spain, was defeated at the Battle of Río Barbate. By 719 the invading forces were supreme from the coast to the Pyrenees. Their progress northward was arrested at a battle fought in France, between Tours and Poitiers, in 732 by the Frankish ruler Charles Martel. The first years of their rule, the Moors, as the Berber conquerors came to be known, held the peninsula (except for Asturias and the Basque country) as a dependency of the Province of North Africa, a division of the caliphate of Damascus. After 717 the country was ruled by emirs, appointed by the caliphs, who were frequently neglectful of their duties; misrule resulted in the appointment and deposition of 20 successive emirs during the subsequent 40 years. This state of affairs was ended by a struggle between the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties for control of the caliphate. The last of the Spanish emirs, Yusuf, favored the Abbasids, but the local officials of the empire supported the Umayyads. The Umayyad faction invited Abd-ar-Rahman I, a member of the family, to become the independent ruler of Spain. In 756 Abd-ar-Rahman founded the powerful and independent emirate, which later developed into the caliphate of Córdoba. During the establishment of Moorish power, a remnant of Christian rule was preserved in the northern portion of the peninsula. The most important Christian state of the northern peninsula, the small kingdom of Asturias, was founded about 718 by Pelayo, a Visigothic chieftain. Pelayo's son-in-law, Alfonso, conquered nearly all the region known as Galicia, recaptured most of León, and was then crowned Alfonso I, king of León and Asturias. Alfonso III greatly extended these territories during his reign, which ended in 910. During the 10th century the region of Navarre became an independent kingdom under Sancho I. As the kings of León expanded their domains to the east in the early 10th century, they reached Burgos. Because of the castles built to guard the frontiers of newly acquired territory, this region became popularly known as Castilla, or Castile. Under Count Fernán González the region became independent of León, and in 932 the count declared himself the first king of Castile. In the 11th century a considerable part of Aragón was captured from the Muslims by Sancho III, king of Navarre, who also conquered León and Castile, and in 1033 he made his son, Ferdinand I, king of Castile. This temporary unity came to an end at Sancho's death, when his domains were divided among his sons. The most prominent of Sancho's sons was Ferdinand, who acquired León in 1037, took the Moorish section of Galicia, and set up a vassal county in what is now northern Portugal. With northern Spain consolidated, Ferdinand, in 1056, proclaimed himself emperor of Spain (from the Latin Hispania), and he initiated the period of reconquest from the Muslims.

The Christian Reconquest

The Umayyad dynasty had ruled Muslim Spain for about three centuries. The greatest of its rulers was Abd-ar-Rahman III, who in 929 proclaimed himself caliph. His capital, Córdoba, became the most splendid city in Europe except for Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), and Spanish civilization during the Moorish supremacy was far in advance of that of the rest of the continent. Numerous schools were built, many of them free and for the education of the poor. At the great Muslim universities medicine, mathematics, philosophy, and literature were cultivated; the work of Greek philosopher Aristotle was studied there long before it was well known to Christian Europe. An extensive literature developed, the caliphs themselves being poets and authors of note, and art and architecture flourished (see Islamic Art and Architecture). The Umayyads also encouraged commerce and agriculture and constructed effective irrigation systems throughout the southern region. The Umayyad dynasty ended with the death of Hisham III in 1036 and the caliphate split into a number of independent and mutually hostile Moorish kingdoms, including Córdoba, Granada, Seville, Toledo, Lisbon, Saragossa, Murcia, and Valencia. The dissolution of the central Moorish power enabled the Christian kings of northern Spain to gain the advantage, subduing some Moorish states and making others tributary. A temporary revival of central power was instituted by the Abbadids of Seville between 1023 and 1091. Alfonso I of Castile led his attacking armies south and by 1086 was master of Toledo. Abbad al-Mutamid, as Abbad III of Seville, then asked the aid of the Almoravids, a Muslim sect of North Africa. The Almoravids crossed to Spain, but after defeating Alfonso in 1086 they turned against the Spanish Moors, and by the beginning of the 12th century the Almoravid ruler was the sovereign of Muslim Spain. The Almoravid dynasty was, however, short-lived, and its power passed to a second African sect, the Almohads, who invaded Spain in 1145 and became masters of the Muslim areas within five years. The Christian kings, meanwhile, continued their advance. In a great battle fought on the plains of Toledo in July 1212, the Almohads were defeated by the united Christian power and expelled from Spain shortly thereafter. The Moorish power was then limited to some ports around Cádiz and to the kingdom of Granada, which endured until 1492 and was one of the greatest and most splendid of Muslim realms. Except for these regions, Spain for the next two centuries consisted of two great kingdoms: in the west Castile and León, including Asturias, Córdoba, Extremadura, Galicia, Jaén, and Seville; and in the east, Aragón, including Barcelona, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. Both realms were characterized, as a legacy of their previous history, by a diversity of dialects, by composite populations (including Christians, Moors, and Jews), and by divergent political forms.

Spain in the Early Modern Era

In 1469 the marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand V of Aragón initiated the developments that made Spain a great power. They became joint rulers of Castile in 1474 and of Aragón in 1479, although no actual union of the two kingdoms occurred and each monarch exercised sovereign power only in his or her own realm. Aragón, the smaller and poorer kingdom, tended to be neglected. Attention was focused instead on strengthening royal authority in richer and more populous Castile. Also important for the pious monarchs (who took the title "Catholic Kings") was the establishment in 1478 of the Inquisition to enforce purity of the faith. The Inquisition was also a powerful tool for increasing and consolidating royal power. Inquisitors were royally appointed, invested with both civil and church power, exempt from normal jurisdiction, and served by a multitude of informants and bodyguards. Proceedings were secret and the property of the condemned was consfiscated and distributed among the crown, the Inquisition, and the accusers. In 1480 Isabella convoked a great Cortes (parliament) at Toledo, which laid the legislative basis for royal absolutism in Castile. Laws were recodified, the judicial system was reformed, and the power of the nobility was weakened. Moreover, administrative structures and methods of recruiting state officials were professionalized, making Castile perhaps the most modern large state of its time. Royal power was consolidated further during a ten-year war against Granada, the last Moorish stronghold, on the Iberian Peninsula. These efforts culminated in 1492, when first Granada fell, politically unifying all of Spain, and then religious uniformity was imposed through the forcible conversion or expulsion of Jews, some 150,000 of whom chose to leave, and the remaining Moors. Still, a seemingly minor act, the sponsoring of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus to find a westward route to the Indies, had the greatest historical consequences.

The Making of a World Power

The new strength of Castile became evident in its ability to simultaneously create a huge overseas empire and achieve control in Europe. Columbus's voyages, which aroused great excitement, brought disappointing results for the next two decades. Then Spain's spectacular expansion in the Americas began. The most important events were the destruction of the Aztec empire in Mexico by Hernán Cortés from 1519 to 1521, the conquest of the Inca empire of Peru by Francisco Pizarro from 1531 to 1533. By the 1550s Spain controlled most of the South American continent, Central America, Florida, Cuba and, in Asia, the Philippine Islands. The empire was the means by which Christianity first spread across the Atlantic. It also brought enormous wealth to Spain when, after the 1530s, rich silver and gold mines were discovered. Spain's expansion in Europe began even before this wealth became available. Relying on brilliant diplomacy as well as on the military commanders and techniques forged in the war against Granada, King Ferdinand was chiefly responsible for making Spain into a major European power. The main opponent was France, both along the frontiers that separated the two states and also in Italy, where Aragón's traditional interests were threatened by French efforts to dominate the peninsula. The struggle began with the successful campaign of 1495 to 1497 in southern Italy and continued intermittently for two decades, until Ferdinand's death. By then Spain had won control of southern Italy, all Navarre south of the Pyrenees, and farther north, the regions of Cerdagne and Roussillon. Ferdinand also arranged strategic alliances with other royal houses hostile to France, marrying one daughter to the heir to the English throne and another, Joanna, to a Habsburg, Philip of Burgundy, later King Philip I of Castile. Isabella's death in 1504 nearly upset the process of expansion as Castile's crown passed to Joanna, who had become mentally deranged. Ferdinand, anxious to keep Castile united with Aragón, tried to gain the regency on the grounds of her madness. He was circumvented by Philip who, supported by the Castilian nobles, became ruler in his wife's stead. In 1506, however, Philip died and Ferdinand again assumed sole direction of the two kingdoms. Ferdinand died in 1516 and was succeeded by his grandson, Charles, son of Joanna and Philip, who, as legal heir to both kingdoms became the first king of a united Spain.

Charles V

The accession of Charles brought the Habsburg dynasty to the Spanish throne. Charles was the most powerful Christian monarch of his time. In addition to Spain and its possessions in Italy and the Americas, he inherited the Netherlands and Burgundy through his father. He also had strong ties to the Austrian branch of the Habsburg family and in 1519 was elected, as Charles V, Holy Roman emperor. Charles had been reared in Flanders, could not speak Spanish, and tried to rule Spain through foreign advisers. In 1520 and 1521, Spanish resentment against this precipitated a revolt in Toledo, Segovia, and other Castilian cities demanding greater municipal liberties. The revolt was defeated with help from the nobility; three centuries would pass before royal absolutism was again challenged in Spain. Even though Charles continued to spend much time outside Spain, he became increasingly popular with his Spanish subjects. This apparent paradox can be explained by Castile's great prosperity during his reign, sparked partly be American treasure but also reflecting growth in manufacturing and in population, and by pride in Spain's great imperial accomplishments. During Charles's reign Cortés, Pizarro, and others explored and conquered the Americas. Ferdinand's anti-French strategy was continued in a series of wars (1521-1529, 1535-1538, 1542-1544, 1551-1559) that made Spain a dominant power in northern as well as southern Italy. Charles led the Catholic attempts first to conciliate, then to suppress the Protestant Reformation sweeping northern Europe. In the south, he mounted expeditions against Tunis (1535) and Algiers (1541), defending the western Mediterranean against Turkish efforts to expand.

Philip II

In 1556 Charles relinquished the Spanish throne to his son, Philip II, who had served as regent during Charles's many absences. As Philip's reign began, tranquillity prevailed in Spain. The American empire was now fully consolidated, and unprecedented quantities of silver poured into Castile. The exhausting French wars were ended by the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559, and for the next four decades France was so divided by religious conflict as to be unable to challenge Spanish interests. So began Spain's "Golden Age" of culture and art, which would continue for a century. In 1571 Spain took the lead in the Holy League, which defeated the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto, permanently weakening Turkish maritime power. Nine years later, the death of King Henry of Portugal gave Philip, (through his mother) a strong claim to that throne. Rival claimants were overcome, and Portuguese resentment against foreign rule was softened through concessions. Since Portugal controlled territories in Asia, Africa, and Brazil, its union with Spain meant the creation of the largest and most far-flung empire in the world. Still, troubles gradually accumulated. Philip had a zealous devotion to Roman Catholicism and to the preservation of absolute rule. This combination proved disastrous in the Low Countries. Philip's persecution of Protestants and his attempts to rule the Netherlands as a province of Spain, without regard for its traditional rights, led to open revolt in 1566. This conflict continued for a half-century, draining Spanish resources. It also led to war with England. Under Queen Elizabeth I, England had become a Protestant power whose foreign policy included unofficial support for the Dutch rebels and for the English mariners who raided Spanish colonies and treasure fleets in the Americas. Philip sent a huge fleet against England in 1588, but the great Spanish Armada was defeated in the English Channel; most of the surviving ships were wrecked in a storm off the Hebrides. Meanwhile, the domestic situation was deteriorating. American treasure alone could not support Spain's wars; taxation became oppressive, and the state defaulted on loans. Also upsetting to economic stability were the epidemics that swept Spain in the 1590s, significantly reducing the population. In addition, as Philip strengthened the Inquisition, intellectual life became narrower and less open to new currents of thought. At his death in 1598 Philip left a country that was declining domestically and internationally.

Decline and Crisis

Philip III halted the campaigns against the Dutch and cut back Spain's other foreign ventures. In 1609 he expelled some 250,000 Moriscos (Christianized Moors), further depopulating Spain and disrupting its economy. Philip IV, who succeeded to the throne after his father's death in 1621, preferred culture to politics; Spain's Golden Age reached its height during his reign. He allowed Gaspar de Guzmán, conde de Olivares, to run the government. Olivares sought to restore and even expand Spanish power abroad. He resumed the Dutch conflict and involved Spain in the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), which in turn led to war with France after 1635. At first generally successful abroad, Spain's military effort could no longer be sustained at home. Olivares's efforts to increase taxation and conscription led to revolt in 1640, first in Catalonia and then in Portugal. With the home front in chaos, Spain also began to fail abroad. Olivares was ousted, but the wars and revolutions his policies had helped engender haunted Spain for another three decades. Catalonia was recovered in 1652, but Dutch independence had to be recognized in 1648. Roussillon and Cerdagne were returned to France in 1659, and the independence of Portugal was finally accepted in 1668. Spain was weakened further by the rapid exhaustion of the American silver mines after 1640. Economically, politically, and even culturally, Spain entered a long period of decline. Its new ruler, Charles II, could not govern effectively because of physical and mental infirmities. Factional strife characterized Spain at home; lost wars typified it abroad. At Charles's death, the male line of the Spanish Habsburgs became extinct. Charles willed his throne to his grandnephew, Philip V, Duke of Anjou and grandson of the Bourbon King Louis XIV of France, who was the most powerful monarch of his time. Much of Europe viewed the Bourbon acquisition of Spain's still vast territories with alarm, and thus favored the Habsburg claims to the throne, as represented by the younger son of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. England, the Netherlands, Austria, Prussia, and several smaller countries formed a coalition against Louis XIV. This resulted in 1701 in the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1711 support of the Habsburg claimant also threatened to upset the European balance of power when, as Charles VI, he became Holy Roman emperor after the death of his brother and inherited the Austrian domains. A compromise was reached in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) whereby most of Spain's remaining European possessions went to Austria, but the Bourbon claimant was recognized as King Philip V of Spain and the overseas empire passed intact to him.

The First Bourbons

Bourbon rule was notable for domestic changes and internal development. Schooled in the absolutism of Louis XIV, Philip brought Catalonia and Aragón, which still preserved traces of their medieval status as independent states, under central bureaucratic control. Administrative and fiscal reforms of the Bourbon kings made government more effective and reduced the privileges of the church and the nobility. Large programs of public works were begun, and commerce, industry, and agriculture received royal encouragement. Intellectual life gradually revived, as did economic and population growth. The American colonies were also reorganized, and Spain's commercial ties with them were improved. In foreign affairs, the early Bourbons usually were allied with France and hostile to Great Britain, Spain's chief naval and colonial rival. Spain joined France against Austria in the wars of the Polish Succession (1733-1735) and the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). As a result, Spain regained some of the Italian influence it had lost in 1713. In 1762 Spain entered the Seven Years' War as an ally of the French against Britain; it lost Florida when the British won, but received Louisiana from France as compensation. The two nations allied again in 1779 to support the American Revolution against Britain, and by the Treaty of Versailles in 1783 Spain recovered Florida. The Spanish presence now extended over much of the North American continent. Under Charles III, an enlightened ruler responsible for many foreign and domestic achievements, Spain regained some of its former greatness.

Effects of the French Revolution

The next king, Charles IV, was a weak ruler, prey to intrigues and corruption particularly after 1792, when he gave Manuel de Godoy the direction of the government. The extraordinary upheavals that the French Revolution engendered throughout Europe after 1789 had especially adverse effects on Spain. Fear that revolutionary ideology might spread to Spain caused the revival of repressive policies. In 1793, after the French Bourbon king was executed, Spain joined other European powers in declaring war against the revolutionary government, but soon had to admit defeat as French armies ravaged its northern provinces. As revolutionary fervor diminished in France, Godoy reversed course in 1796 and formed an alliance with that country against Britain. British naval supremacy could not be overcome, however, and for the next decade Spain was usually cut off from its American colonies, with disastrous economic consequences. Worse still, France began to act more like a master than an ally once Napoleon gained effective control over it in 1799. Louisiana was ceded back to France in 1800, and by the War of the Third Coalition in 1805, Spain, its fleet lost in the Battle of Trafalgar, had become a French puppet (see Napoleonic Wars). Resentment grew among the Spanish people, who in March 1808 overthrew Godoy and forced Charles to abdicate in favor of his son, Ferdinand. Napoleon, who had already decided to assume direct control of Spain, took advantage of the disarray to oust both Ferdinand and Charles, placing his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, on the throne.

War of Independence

The Spanish people refused to recognize Joseph as king and organized resistance against French occupation. A British force came to their aid; in Britain the conflict was known as the Peninsular War because it also involved Portugal. By January 1810 the French had defeated the major Spanish armies and occupied most of the country, but Spanish guerrilla bands effectively harassed the French forces and kept them from either smashing the British army in Portugal or completely taking over Spain. Thus, a national assembly (1810-1813) could meet in Cádiz and proclaim a constitution that ended absolutist rule, established parliamentary government, suppressed the Inquisition, limited the power of the nobles and clergy, and instituted other reforms. Very advanced for its time, the constitution became a paramount issue in subsequent Spanish politics. The war against Napoleon was a heroic period for Spain and contributed to his eventual downfall in Europe. Six years of warfare, however, greatly harmed the economy of Spain, and its American colonies began to win their independence. By 1826 only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule; the mainland colonies had all gained their freedom, and their resources were lost to Spain.

The Troubled Monarchy

Ferdinand VII returned to Spain after Napoleon's defeat in 1814. He at once abrogated the Cádiz constitution, restored absolutist rule, and instituted repressive policies against the liberals. Six years later a revolution led by army officers restored the constitution, but the liberals were unable to install effective rule, and Spain remained politically divided. Because the members of the Holy Alliance feared that revolution might spread across Europe, in 1823 they authorized French armies to quell the liberal regime. Thus, Ferdinand and absolutism were again restored.

The Carlist War

In 1831 Ferdinand, who had no male heir, designated his infant daughter, Isabella, as his successor. His brother Carlos, however, appealed more to the political extremists; in 1833 they insisted that Carlos, rather than Isabella II, inherit the throne. This dynastic split resulted in civil war, with the Carlists ranged against the Cristinos, named for Isabella's mother, Maria Christina, who acted as regent. To win over the liberals, Maria Christina in 1834 granted a royal charter in lieu of a constitution. Carlist support came from rural areas of northern Spain (notably the Basque provinces and Catalonia), where the clergy's influence was strong and centralized rule was resented. Spain's more advanced areas were opposed to the Carlists, as were Portugal, Britain, and France, which aided the Cristinos. After a long struggle, the main Carlist forces were defeated in 1839. Victory had come slowly because continuous political conflict had weakened the anti-Carlist forces. Popular revolts had compelled Maria Christina in 1837 to grant a more liberal constitution than the 1834 charter. Her court was disrupted by intrigues, and she tried to maneuver the factions to her own advantage. In 1840, following a joint military-civilian revolt, Maria Christina resigned her regency and left Spain. Isabella was declared legally of age in 1843.

Dissension and Crisis

The reign of Isabella was marked by the continued struggle between progressive and conservative liberals. Favored by the court, the conservative side governed for most of the period from 1843 to 1866. Isabella's absolutist tendencies and incompetence eventually alienated all major factions; they united to depose her in the "Glorious Revolution" of September 1868. The revolution, which culminated in the democratic constitution of 1869, was soon overtaken by troubles. Cuba revolted against Spanish rule (see Ten Years' War). Several foreign princes rejected the invitation to assume the Spanish crown before Amadeus, son of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, accepted it in December 1870. The Carlist movement reemerged, and a radical Federal Republican movement gained ground. Beset by army and political intrigues, social conflict, popular hostility against him, and the strain of the Cuban and Carlist insurrections, Amadeus abdicated in February 1873. Lacking viable alternatives, the parliament proclaimed the first Spanish republic. Political anarchy ensued. The republicans, a minority group, were deeply divided among themselves, with the radicals trying to impose by force their program of extreme decentralization. Army intervention maintained a precarious balance until December 1874, when a group of generals turned against the republic and restored the Bourbon monarchy with Isabella's son, Alfonso XII, as king.

Restoration of the Monarchy

The government was determined not to repeat the errors of earlier years. The new constitution of 1876 was more flexibly applied than earlier documents; Conservative and Liberal parties alternated in office; the court and the army stopped interfering in politics. Under the new conditions, the Carlist (1876) and Cuban (1878) insurrections were soon defeated, and for two decades Spain enjoyed greater political stability and economic prosperity than it had known since the 18th century. In 1895 another revolt began in Cuba. Much larger in scale than the 1868 to 1878 uprising, it was supported by the United States and led, in 1898, to the Spanish-American War. Badly defeated, Spain withdrew from Cuba and ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands to the United States. After this defeat, antidynastic movements became more powerful. Republican parties reemerged; a large anarchist movement took root among farm laborers in Andalusia and industrial workers in Barcelona; a small but solid socialist movement appeared in factories and mines in the Basque region and Asturias; and regionalist sentiments in Catalonia grew into demands for autonomy. Conflict also arose within the dynastic parties; after Conservative politician Antonio Maura took office in 1907, he alienated the Liberals by his imperious policies. In 1909 Maura tried to reinforce Spain's military expedition against Morocco with worker conscripts from Barcelona, Spain's most volatile city. This sparked a bloody rebellion that destroyed Maura's career and deepened class antagonisms. A Liberal ministry under José Canalejas y Méndez replaced Maura, but its reform program was cut short when Canalejas was assassinated in November 1912.

World War I

Despite many pressures to become involved in World War I (1914-1918), Spain remained neutral, and the nation experienced an economic boom. Its industries, mines, and farms sold unprecedented quantities of their products abroad at record prices. At the same time, inflation arose and workers increased their demands for better wages and working conditions. Army personnel, upset over inadequate earnings and other grievances, formed military juntas to press their demands on the state. In Catalonia, regionalists agitated for home rule. Republican parties also gathered force throughout Spain. Beginning in 1917, various movements created crisis conditions. Labor protests in Barcelona and other cities degenerated into urban terrorism by the anarcho-syndicalists (see Syndicalism). The crisis was exacerbated after 1919 by a struggle for independence in the Spanish sector of Morocco. Ruinously expensive, the Moroccan war became particularly unpopular when the rebels badly defeated Spanish forces at Anual in July 1921.

Primo de Rivera's Dictatorship

In September 1923 General Miguel Primo de Rivera led a military coup that gave vent to the widespread disillusionment with the parliamentary regime. Rather than resisting, King Alfonso XIII accepted the coup and made Primo de Rivera head of the government. The Cortes was dissolved, and a military directorate took charge. Although there were few arrests and little police or army brutality, political parties were banned and Catalonia lost the few home-rule privileges it had acquired. Socialist trade unions continued to operate, however, and Primo de Rivera insisted that his dictatorship was only a temporary measure. One of his main achievements was the conclusion, with French help, of the costly Moroccan war in 1926. Economic development became the chief concern of the new civilian government he had appointed. An extensive road network was built, and major irrigation works were undertaken. Opposition to his administration increased in 1928 and 1929, in part because of his extravagant fiscal policies. Alfonso accepted Primo de Rivera's resignation in January 1930, but the onus attached to the dictatorship had weakened the crown. Even Conservative politicians no longer enthusiastically supported the monarchy; Alfonso had betrayed them by accepting dictatorial rule. The socialist, anarcho-syndicalist, and Catalan regionalist movements began to cooperate with the Republicans, as did numerous former monarchists and army officers. Efforts to overthrow the monarchy by force in December 1930 failed, but municipal elections in April 1931 gave such overwhelming majorities to Republican candidates in urban areas that Alfonso left Spain. The second Spanish republic was proclaimed at once, with Niceto Alcalá Zamora y Torres as president.

Second Spanish Republic

The new republic had far wider support than its predecessor of 1873 and 1874, but some of its early adherents expected it to be conservative, while others wanted revolutionary change. Unfortunately, the republic came into being at a time not only of deepening worldwide economic depression, but also of intense ideological conflict throughout Europe. At first, a coalition of left-wing Republican parties and the Socialists, headed by Manuel Azaña, gave the republic a progressive tone. Falsified elections and other corrupt practices of the monarchy were ended, women gained the right to vote, Catalonia was granted autonomy, and the principle of home rule was extended to the Basque provinces. Major social reforms were instituted, taxation became more equitable, and in 1932 a land-reform effort began to redistribute the large estates in southern Spain to the peasantry. A large-scale program of irrigation and other public works was undertaken. Education was secularized, the Jesuit order was dissolved, and all church-state ties were ended. So ambitious a program was difficult to carry out, and the process alienated many groups that had at first accepted the republic. Azaña's coalition began to crumble in 1933. Moderates saw the pace of social reform as too rapid; Socialists considered it indecisive. Opposition also increased among Roman Catholics, who resented Republican anticlericism, and radicals, who wanted immediate social revolution. In the elections of November 1933 rightist and center-right parties won a majority. The result was a partial revival of rightist power, modification of the anticlerical measures, and a weakening of land reform and other social legislation. Leftist forces reacted strongly against these changes. The tension exploded in October 1934, when a Socialist-led workers' insurrection swept Asturias, and Catalonia proclaimed its independence from Madrid. After two weeks of savage fighting, the Asturian revolt was crushed. A further shift to the right then occurred, but only negative policies were pursued; the governing coalition fell apart in late 1935. A new leftist coalition, the Popular Front, scored a narrow victory in the elections of February 1936. This coalition, also headed by Azaña, was less moderate than the previous one because the Socialists had become more radical and it now included the Communists. The leftist reform legislation was restored, and Azaña applied it with great vigor. Tension mounted as street battles between rival groups spread, peasants seized land, and strikes swept Spain. A conspiracy to overthrow the government took shape under General Emilio Mola, and by early July it had gained the support of thousands of military officers.

Civil War

On July 18, 1936, a military revolt against the government began, but it was soon defeated in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and several other eastern and northern cities. Thus, the country was divided between a rebel-held or Nationalist zone, generally in the agricultural areas, and a Republican or Loyalist zone, encompassing most industrial and other urban areas. A long civil war ensued. At first the rebel forces made great advances, reaching the outskirts of Madrid in November. The government, expecting the capital to fall, fled to Valencia. In a series of epic battles Madrid held firm, enabling the Loyalists to go on fighting. Both sides soon received help from abroad. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany sent troops, arms and airplanes to aid the Nationalists. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) furnished military equipment and advisers to the Loyalists, who were also aided by the International Brigades, made up of idealistic volunteers from Europe and the Americas. Britain and France remained neutral. The Nationalists displayed great unity and soon found a strong leader in General Francisco Franco. The Loyalists were more divided. Their forces included moderate and extreme Socialists, Catalan and Basque regionalists, and Communists, whose power rapidly expanded because of their organizational skills and Soviet aid. The Republican leader for most of the war was Juan Negrin, a moderate Socialist. Following their failure at Madrid, Nationalist forces launched a difficult campaign (April-October 1937) to conquer the Basque Country, Asturias, and other industrial regions of northern Spain. The infamous German bombing of Guernica occurred during this campaign. The Loyalists began a counteroffensive in December at Teruel. Initially successful, it was beaten back by February 1938. The Nationalists then began an advance that reached the Mediterranean by mid-April, splitting the Republican zone in two. The Loyalists attacked Franco's armies from the rear at the Ebro River, stopping the insurgent drive toward Valencia for several months; weakened by battle, however, they were unable to capitalize on their success. After the Munich Pact they could no longer realistically hope for British or French intervention on their behalf. When the insurgents resumed their offensive in December, the Loyalists retreated toward Barcelona, which fell on January 26, 1939. Deeply divided and utterly exhausted, they were incapable of further resistance. Madrid fell on March 28, and the civil war ended on April 1.

The Franco Dictatorship

The savage war was followed by an unusually vindictive peace. Franco made no attempt at national reconciliation; Loyalists were seen as "reds" who had been "anti-Spain." Hundreds of thousands were imprisoned, and perhaps 37,000 were executed during the first four years after the war. The Spanish people suffered greatly because of wartime damage and economic dislocation. Most of the Republican legislation favoring workers and peasants was immediately revoked. The main political forces of this period were the army, the church (which had developed close ties with Franco during the war), and the Falange, the small Spanish Fascist Party that Franco had converted into an official state party in 1937. The army and the Falange often clashed, and during the early years of World War II (1939-1945), when Nazi Germany seemed unbeatable, the Falange tried to use its ideological affinity with the Axis Powers to make itself dominant. By 1942, however, Franco had achieved complete control over both the army and the Falange. His strong leadership was felt also in foreign affairs. Although he sympathized with the Axis Powers and was indebted to them for their help during the civil war, Franco resisted the pressures of German chancellor Adolf Hitler to enter the world war. A cautious, pragmatic ruler, Franco shifted policy as the Allies began winning the war. Imprisonments dropped sharply, and executions practically ceased after 1943. The role played by the Falange was diminished, and some of the Fascist symbolism used by the regime was dropped. In 1947 Spain was declared a monarchy, although no king could assume the throne unless Franco died, was incapacitated, or decided to step down in his favor. The reform measures did not spare Franco from the Allies' wrath in the years after the war. From 1946 to 1950 the United Nations (UN) ostracized his regime, and many countries cut off diplomatic and other relations with Spain. With the complicity of France, guerrilla warfare revived in northern Spain. In addition, a severe drought aggravated the misery and hunger that Spaniards had been enduring since 1939.

The Reemergence of Spain

With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, Franco began to be seen as an important ally against Communism. The UN ban was lifted in November, U.S. banks made loans to Spain, and the papacy openly recognized the regime's legitimacy. In September 1953 the United States gave Spain important military and economic aid in return for the right to use several Spanish air and naval bases. Finally, in December 1955, Spain was admitted to the UN. The origins of Franco's dictatorship were not completely forgotten; many European nations remained unfriendly, and Spain was refused membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Still, open hostility ended, and Spain was again allowed to function within the international arena. The regime also underwent gradual normalization at home. Agricultural and industrial production returned to pre-civil war levels in 1952. A crisis marked by student agitation and labor unrest in 1955 and 1956 led first to a further diminution of Falangist power and then, in February 1957, to a major cabinet reorganization that increased business and labor representation. Hundreds of restrictive state controls over business were dropped as Spain attempted to integrate itself into the world economy. Labor relations also were eased after strikes by coal miners in March 1958 led the regime to grant workers the right to negotiate directly with employers on wages and working conditions. The great irrigation projects started earlier and continued by Franco began to bear fruit in the late 1950s. The possibility that these positive domestic trends might be upset by decolonization struggles abroad was avoided when the regime disengaged itself from Spanish Morocco in 1958. The decade culminated in the stabilization plan of 1959. Severe austerity measures brought hardships to workers and many others, but they succeeded in controlling the Spanish economy.

The Economic Miracle

From 1961 on, unprecedented socioeconomic change occurred. The economy boomed because of rapid industrial growth and an extraordinary rise in tourism, as well as foreign investment in Spain and money sent home by Spanish workers abroad. Owing to a growing labor shortage, wages increased, unofficial trade unions were organized, and agriculture was mechanized rapidly to avoid high labor costs. Greater worker prosperity brought rapid social change: there was massive migration from rural to urban areas; secondary and university education expanded enormously; and the people became more secularized and sophisticated as their exposure to contemporary ways of life increased. The Franco regime, fundamentally pragmatic and technologically oriented after 1957, provided the framework within which growth could occur. The massive housing program the government sponsored greatly eased the social costs of Spain's transition from a rural to an urban society. Although these socioeconomic changes were accompanied by some political liberalization, the dictatorship continued to be oppressive. In 1962, reacting to strikes in Asturias and a meeting of opposition forces in Munich, Franco instituted martial law. In 1970 serious repression again threatened when several members of a new Basque separatist organization, Euskadi ta Askatasuna ("Basque Homeland and Freedom"; ETA), were sentenced to death in trials held in Burgos. In part because of international pressure, the government backed down in these crises. Martial law soon was lifted, and the ETA death sentences were commuted. Liberalization was also expressed in a series of fundamental laws enacted from 1966 to 1969. One law increased freedom of the press; another made the Cortes somewhat more representative and augmented its powers; a third recognized Spain's official status as a monarchy by naming Juan Carlos, grandson of Alfonso XIII, as successor to the throne after Franco's death. The gradual liberalization was also evident abroad: the West African colony of Spanish Guinea was granted independence as Equatorial Guinea in 1968; seven years later the government agreed to cede Spanish Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania.

Last Years of Franco's Regime

Liberalization and prosperity did not end social and political unrest. Although walkouts remained illegal, many strikes occurred in Spain during the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Students protested against overcrowded facilities and government control. Catalan regionalists again became politically active. By far the most important conflict arose in the Basque Country, where the ETA launched terrorist attacks against the police and army. The government responded with indiscriminate repression, and a vicious cycle of violence and counterviolence gripped the Basque provinces from 1969 to 1975. This contrasted sharply with the relatively infrequent violence, by either the government or its opponents, elsewhere in Spain. The regime was severely shaken in 1973 when Premier Luis Carrero Blanco was assassinated by the ETA. Instead of reverting to massive repression, however, the new premier, Carlos Arias Navarro, announced further liberalization measures, including plans for the formation of political associations, which had been forbidden since 1939. These moves sparked a revolt by hard-core Falangists, who sought a return to a strong dictatorship. For a brief period it seemed that they might succeed. Arias's attempted reforms were sabotaged. A law was passed requiring the death penalty for terrorists who killed police, and five were executed in September 1975. The possibility of further moves to the right ended when Franco died on November 20, 1975.

The Restoration of Democracy  

Franco's death and the succession of King Juan Carlos I were followed by several months of political ambiguity. The new king favored full democratization, but many powerful interests were against change. On the other hand, reform measures that had been daring under the dictatorship now seemed insufficient to most people. The deadlock was broken in July 1976 when Arias resigned at the request of Juan Carlos, who appointed Adolfo Suárez González as the new premier. A moderate Falangist, Suárez became chief architect of Spain's successful transition to democracy. Suárez convinced the Cortes to annul the restrictive legislation Franco had left behind and to accept the Political Reform Law, which was approved by referendum in December 1976. Despite strong army objections, in April 1977 he legalized the Communist Party. In June the first democratic elections in four decades reaffirmed his centrist policies. His newly formed party, the Union of the Democratic Center (UDC), won 34 percent of the vote, with the Socialists a close second. Hardly any votes went to extremists, either of the left or right. In 1978 the Cortes passed a new democratic constitution, providing for a constitutional monarchy, freedom for political parties, and autonomy for Spain's "nationalities and regions." The constitution was enthusiastically accepted by most sectors of society, but the Basque provinces still resented being tied to Spain and supported the ETA, which stepped up its terrorist activities. Meanwhile, Catalans pushed for greater control over local affairs, and demanded greater language rights. The use of Catalan and nationalist sentiments increased in and around Barcelona. The Galicians consistently distanced themselves from Madrid, though the desire for regional ethnic autonomy remained weaker in Galicia than in either Catalonia or Basque Country. Suárez governed through consensus, consulting all nonextremist parties when formulating basic policy. Catalonia and the Basque Country were granted home rule, and their languages were officially recognized. The constitution extended similar privileges to 15 other regions. Thus, the movement toward political centralization begun by Ferdinand and Isabella some 500 years earlier was reversed, and a "Spain of autonomous communities" was created. Suárez, brilliantly successful under crisis conditions, proved less effective as a day-to-day administrator, and troubles appeared after the 1979 elections. The rightist segments of the UDC, hitherto subdued, reasserted themselves. His policy of consensus with other parties broke down. The economy was deteriorating badly. In January 1981, Suárez resigned, and was succeeded by Deputy Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo. The long-simmering resentment in military circles against rapid change produced dangerous conspiracies, and on February 23, 1981, armed civil guards invaded the Cortes in an attempt to seize power. King Juan Carlos narrowly foiled the coup by convincing most of the military units to remain loyal to the government. Calvo Sotelo formed a new Council of Ministers, and during his term dealt with numerous difficult issues, including his decision to have Spain join NATO in 1982. Continued grumbling within the armed forces, political disputes, and a precarious economy left Spain less than stable for many months.

The Socialist Era

Shortly before the October 1982 elections, a plot by right-wing extremists to stage a military coup was discovered. Four military leaders were arrested and three imprisoned. The elections were won decisively by the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, led by Felipe González Márquez. Under González, the party had begun to shed its Marxist principles in 1979, and this process was completed during its first years in office. From November 1984 to the end of 1985, protests and demonstrations were staged against education reform, government restructuring policies, membership in NATO, unemployment, and social security reforms. A crucial referendum in 1986 enabled Spain to remain in NATO. Socialist policies that favored business, a worldwide economic recovery, and Spain's entry into the European Community (now European Union) in 1986 combined to spark a major economic revival. In addition, the increasingly dynamic role Spain played in European affairs and its cultural blossoming in numerous fields gave rise to greater self-confidence than Spaniards had known since the 18th century. Spain and the United States renewed their bilateral defense agreement in 1988, allowing the continued use of bases in Spain by the United States for an additional eight years. The question of sovereignty of the British dependent territory of Gibraltar remained an unresolved issue between Great Britain and Spain. Gradual deregulation of the economy, begun in 1975, continued into the 1990s. The monopolistic rights of many state-owned companies were eliminated, labor laws relaxed, and restrictions loosened on establishing new companies.

In recent years, concerns over Spain's environmental problems have grown. The country has experienced increased air-pollution problems in Madrid and along the northeastern coast, water pollution in agricultural and coastal areas, and soil erosion. Controversies arose over rapid development along the Mediterranean coast and threats to scenic attractions.

Although the Spanish Socialist Workers Party and González were reaffirmed in office in the elections of 1986 and 1989, industrial workers became the most dissatisfied sector of society because of high inflation and unemployment. In the early 1990s there were several corruption scandals involving government officials. Even so, the mood of the Spanish people improved in 1992 as the Summer Olympic Games were held in Barcelona and a world's fair was held in Seville to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus's first voyage to America. In the 1993 elections, González remained prime minister as head of a coalition government. The Socialists, however, failed to get a majority, forcing González into a more vulnerable political position.

The issue of regional ethnic autonomy continued to be an important concern. More than 800 people died as a result of ETA violence between 1968 and 1993. By January 1994, a growing peace movement helped to sway public opinion against ETA's violent tactics, and prospects for productive negotiations with the central government seemed promising. But continued terrorist attacks prevented any talks from taking place, and by May the government was refusing to consider negotiations with the Basque extremist group. However, damaging scandals within the González government throughout 1994 and into 1995 forced the prime minister to seek support from the Catalan and Basque nationalist parties in exchange for greater regional autonomy and benefits. Jordi Pujol, leader of the Catalonian nationalists, sought more financing and control of Catalan health care and police, as well as tax subsidies for regional industry. Overall, popular sentiment in the Catalan and Basque regions supported more autonomy but not complete independence from Spain.

In December 1995 González announced that he would run for reelection when his term expired, despite decreasing popularity and the numerous scandals that had plagued his most recent term of office, including accusations that his government had funded the killings of Basque guerrillas in the late 1980s. He then surprised many by setting elections for March 1996, over a year early.

In the March elections, the Socialists lost their majority to the conservative People's Party, led by José María Aznar. The People's Party failed to gain an outright majority, however, and were forced to form a coalition with Jordi Pujol's Catalan nationalists in order to govern. Aznar was officially sworn in as prime minister in May 1996.