Spain, a country occupying the greater part of the Iberian Peninsula, and bounded on the north
by the Bay of Biscay, France, and Andorra, and on the east by the Mediterranean Sea. 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. The area of Spain, including the African and insular territories, is 194,885 sq mi. Madrid is the
capital and largest city.
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,
Teutonic peoples. Semitic elements are also present.
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 202 per sq mi. Spain is increasingly urban, with more than 80
percent of the population in towns and cities.
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, capital
of Barcelona province and Catalonia region. Other important cities include Valencia, capital of Valencia
province and Valencia region, a manufacturing and railroad center; Seville, a cultural center; Saragossa,
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
Currency and Banking
The unit of currency is the peseta (126 pesetas equal U.S.$1; 1995), 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