Official Name: Kingdom of Spain
Area: 504,750 sq. km. (194,884 sq. mi.) including the Balearic
and Canary Islands; about the size of Arizona and Utah combined.
Cities: Capital -- Madrid (pop. 5.0 million est). Other cities -- Barcelona (2.0 million), Valencia (753,000), Seville (659,000), Zaragoza (586,000), Bilbao (369,000), Malaga (512,000).
Terrain: High plateaus and mountains.
Climate: Seasonably variable, dry; temperate in northwest.
Nationality: Noun -- Spaniard(s). Adjective -- Spanish.
Population: 40 million.
Annual growth rate: 0.3%.
Ethnic groups: Distinct ethnic groups within Spain include the Basques, Catalans, and Gallegos.
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic.
Languages: Spanish (official), Catalan-Valenciana 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%.
Education: Years compulsory -- to age 16. Literacy -- 97%.
Work force (16.0 million): Services -- 55%. Agriculture -- 8.2%. Construction -- 9.5%. Industry -- 17.9%.
Type: Constitutional monarchy (Juan Carlos I proclaimed King November
Branches: Executive -- President of government nominated by monarch, subject to approval by democratically elected Congress of Deputies. Legislative -- bicameral Cortes: a 350-seat Congress of Deputies (elected by the d'Hondt system of proportional representation) and a Senate. Four senators are elected in each of 47 peninsular provinces, 16 are elected from the three island provinces, and Ceuta and Melilla elect two each; this accounts for 208 senators. The 17 autonomous regions also appoint one senator as well as one additional senator for every 1 million inhabitants within their territory (about 20 senators). Judicial -- Constitutional Tribunal has jurisdiction over constitutional issues. Supreme Tribunal heads system comprising territorial, provincial, regional, and municipal courts.
Subdivisions: 47 peninsular and three island provinces; two enclaves on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco (Ceuta and Melilla); and three island groups along that coast -- Alhucemas, Penon de Velez de la Gomera, and the Chafarinas Islands.
Political parties: Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), Popular Party (PP), and the United Left (IU) coalition. Key regional parties are the Convergence and Union (CIU) in Catalonia and the Basque National Party (PNV) in the Basque country.
GDP (1996): $582 billion (seventh-largest OECD economy).
Annual growth rate: 2.2%.
Per capita GDP: $14,500.
Natural resources: Coal, lignite, iron ore, uranium, mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, kaolin, hydroelectric power.
Agriculture (3.5% of GDP): Products -- grains, vegetables, citrus and deciduous fruits, wine, olives and olive oil, sunflowers, livestock.
Industry (31.5% of GDP): Types -- processed foods, textiles, footwear, petrochemicals, steel, automobiles, consumer goods, electronics.
Trade (1996): Exports -- $102.8 billion: automobiles, fruits, minerals, metals, clothing, footwear, textiles. Major markets -- EU 70%, U.S. 4.2%. Imports -- $122.5 billion: petroleum, oilseeds, aircraft, grains, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, fish. Major sources -- EU 64.7%, U.S. 6.3%.
Average exchange rate: Year 1996: 126.66 pesetas= U.S. $1
Spain's population density, lower than that of most European countries, is roughly equivalent to New England. In recent years, following a long-standing pattern in the rest of Europe, rural populations are moving to cities.
Spain has no official religion. The constitution of 1978 disestablished the Roman Catholic Church as the official state religion, while recognizing the role it plays in Spanish society. More than 90% of the population are at least nominally Catholic.
About 70% of Spain's student population attends public schools or universities. The remainder attend private schools or universities, the great majority of which are operated by the Catholic Church.
Compulsory education begins with primary school or general basic education for ages 6-14. It is free in public schools and in many private schools, most of which receive government subsidies. Following graduation, students attend either a secondary school offering a general high school diploma or a school of professional education (corresponding to grades 9-11 in the United States) offering a vocational training program. The Spanish university system offers degree programs in law, sciences, humanities, and medicine, and the superior technical schools offer programs in engineering and architecture.
The Iberian Peninsula has been occupied for many millennia. Some of Europe's most impressive Paleolithic cultural sites are located there-the famous caves at Altamira contain spectacular paintings which date from about 15,000-25,000 years ago. The Basques are the first identifiable people of the peninsula and are the oldest surviving group in Europe. Iberians arrived from North Africa during a more recent period.
Beginning in the ninth century BC, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Celts entered the Iberian Peninsula, followed by the Romans, who arrived in the second century BC. Spain's present language, religion, and laws stem from the Roman period. Although the Visigoths arrived in the fifth century AD, the last Roman strongholds along the southern coast did not fall until the seventh century AD. In 711, North African Moors sailed across the straits, swept into Andalusia, and, within a few years, pushed the Visigoths up the peninsula to the Cantabrian Mountains. The Reconquest-efforts to drive out the Moors-lasted until 1492. By 1512, the unification of present-day Spain was complete.
During the 16th century, Spain became the most powerful nation in Europe, due to the immense wealth derived from its presence in the Americas. But a series of long, costly wars and revolts, capped by the defeat by the English of the "Invincible Armada" in 1588, began a steady decline of Spanish power in Europe. Controversy over succession to the throne consumed the country during the 18th and 19th centuries, leading to occupation by France in the early 1800s.
The 19th century saw the revolt and independence of most of Spain's colonies in the Western Hemisphere; three wars over the succession issue; the brief ousting of the monarchy and establishment of the First Republic (1873-74); and, finally, the Spanish-American War (1898), in which Spain lost Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the United States. A period of dictatorial rule (1923-31) ended with the establishment of the Second Republic. It was dominated by increasing political polarization, culminating in the leftist Popular Front electoral victory in 1936. Pressures from all sides, coupled with growing and unchecked violence, led to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936.
Following the victory of his nationalist forces in 1939, Gen. Francisco Franco ruled a nation exhausted politically and economically. Spain was officially neutral during World War II but followed a pro-Axis policy. The victorious Allies isolated Spain at the beginning of the postwar period, and the country did not join the United Nations until 1955. In 1959, under an International Monetary Fund stabilization plan, the country began liberalizing trade and capital flows, particularly foreign direct investment.
Despite the success of economic liberalization, Spain remained the most closed economy in Western Europe-judged by the small measure of foreign trade to economic activity-and the pace of reform slackened during the 1960s as the state remained committed to "guiding" the economy.
Nevertheless, in the 1960s and 1970s, Spain was transformed into a modern industrial economy with a thriving tourism sector. Its economic expansion led to improved income distribution, and helped develop a large middle class. Social changes brought about by economic prosperity and the inflow of new ideas helped set the stage for Spain's transition to democracy during the latter half of the 1970s.
Upon the death of General Franco in November 1975, Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon, Franco's personally designated heir, assumed the titles of king and chief of state. Dissatisfied with the slow pace of post-Franco liberalization, in July 1976, the King replaced Franco's last prime minister with Adolfo Suarez. Suarez entered office promising that elections would be held within one year, and his government moved to enact a series of laws to liberalize the new regime.
Spain's first elections to the Cortes (parliament) since 1936 were held on June 15, 1977. Prime Minister Suarez's Union of the Democratic Center (UCD), a moderate center-right coalition, won 34% of the vote and the largest bloc of seats in the Cortes.
Under Suarez, the new Cortes set about drafting a democratic constitution which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in a December 1978 national referendum.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The 1978 constitution established Spain as a parliamentary monarchy, with the prime minister responsible to the bicameral Cortes elected every four years. The elections of March 1979 gave Suarez's party a large plurality, but the coalition of parties backing Suarez soon began to disintegrate. In January 1981, Suarez resigned, and the King nominated Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo to replace him. On February 23, while the Congress of Deputies was voting on the Calvo Sotelo nomination, rebel elements among the security forces seized the Congress and tried to impose a military-backed government. However, the great majority of the military forces remained loyal to King Juan Carlos, who used his personal authority to put down the coup. The bloodless coup attempt was over in 18 hours. On February 25, the Congress of Deputies reconvened to approve Calvo Sotelo's nomination as Prime Minister.
In October 1982, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), led by Felipe Gonzalez Marquez, swept both the Congress of Deputies and Senate, winning an absolute majority; the government was reelected in June 1986.
Prime Minister Gonzalez called for a general election in October 1989. Although the PSOE retained control of the Senate, the party lost ground, both to the Popular Party on the right and the communist-led United Left. Gonzalez won a fourth term in 1993 with a minority government supported by the regional Catalan party.
In March 1996, elections were held and a plurality of votes were won by Jose Maria Aznar's Partido Popular (PP). Since PP did not have an absolute majority, it took two months to form a government with the support of the Catalan parties partnership (CIU), the Basque national party, PNV, and the Canary Islands Coalition. Once in power, Aznar moved to decentralize certain powers to the regions, gained the support of the parliament for Spain's entry into NATO's integrated military structure, continued the privatization of a number of government-held industries, persuaded the European Union to toughen its stance toward Cuba, and took measures enabling Spain to meet the Maastricht requirements to qualify as one of the first countries in the European Monetary Union. During the PP's first year, labor and management conducted successful negotiations to reform Spain's cumbersome labor laws.
The 1978 constitution authorized the creation of regional autonomous governments. By 1985, 17 regions covering all of peninsular Spain, the Canaries, and the Balearic Islands had negotiated autonomy statutes with the central government. In 1979, the first autonomous elections were held in the Basque and Catalan regions, which have the strongest regional traditions by virtue of their history and separate languages. Since then, autonomous governments have been created in the remainder of the 17 regions.
The Government of Spain is involved in a long-running campaign against Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), a terrorist organization founded in 1959 and dedicated to promoting Basque independence. ETA targets primarily Spanish security forces, military personnel, and Spanish Government officials. The group has carried out numerous bombings against Spanish Government facilities and economic targets. In recent years, the Government of Spain has had more success in controlling ETA, due in part to increased security cooperation with French authorities.
In early 1989, the Spanish Government held a series of meetings in Algeria with ETA representatives in an effort to reach an agreement ending the campaign of terrorism. But the talks broke down, and ETA resumed its terrorist operations with a series of bombings on April 7, 1989, effectively ending a three-month cease-fire. The spring and summer of 1990 saw another significant wave of terrorist operations, with ETA and the radical leftist group GRAPO claiming responsibility for bombings against public installations throughout the country.
A series of highly successful Spanish police counter-terrorist operations conducted in coordination with French authorities, including the arrest of the ETA leadership, had reduced that organization's activities by the close of 1992. However, a core of hardliners saw to it that the ETA's agenda of violence continued, orchestrating two assassinations in January 1993.
As for GRAPO, while not responsible for any deaths during 1992, its members procured the equivalent of $622,000 from armored-car heists. The group carried out an armored-car robbery in early January 1993, an act which was expected to boost the morale of members of Spain's Communist Party, the political arm of GRAPO.
In 1996 and 1997, France and Spain both stepped up police activites against ETA and had a series of successful arrests, some of high-level officials. For its part, ETA began 1997 with a greater number of murders than in recent years, having killed nine people by the middle of June.
Principal Government Officials
Chief of State, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces -- King
Juan Carlos I
President of the Government (Prime Minister) -- Jose Maria Aznar
Minister of Foreign Affairs -- Abel Matutes
Ambassador to the United States --Antonio de Oyarzabal
Spain maintains an embassy in the United States at 2375 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037 (tel. 202-728-2340) and consulates in many larger U.S. cities.
Following peak growth years in the late 1980s, the Spanish economy entered into recession in mid-1992. Both investment and private consumption were negative during 1993, while registered unemployment surged to nearly 25%. Four devaluations of the peseta since 1992 have made Spanish exports more competitive and have contributed to a boom in tourism revenues. A modest export-led recovery began in 1994. Late that year, investment also picked up, but consolidation of the recovery will require a return of consumer confidence and domestic private consumption.
Spain's accession to the European Community-now European Union (EU)-in January 1986 has required the country to open its economy, modernize its industrial base, improve infrastructure, and revise economic legislation to conform to EU guidelines. The Spanish Government has announced its commitment to meet the Maastricht Treaty requirements for economic and monetary union; the fundamental challenges for Spain are to reduce the public sector deficit and to lower inflation.
During the first five months of 1997, the Government had remarkable success in meeting these objectives. The inflation rate was the lowest in 25 years at 1.7%, and the deficit was down to a rate of around 3% for the year.
After the return of democracy following the death of General Franco in 1975, Spain's foreign policy priorities were to break out of the diplomatic isolation of the Franco years and expand its diplomatic relations, enter the European Community, and define its security relations with the West.
As a member of NATO since 1982, Spain has established itself as a major participant in multilateral international security activities. Spain's EU membership represents an important part of its foreign policy, and even on many international issues beyond Western Europe, Spain prefers to coordinate its efforts with its EU partners through the European political cooperation mechanism.
With the normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel and Albania in 1986, Spain virtually completed the process of universalizing its diplomatic relations. The only country with which it now does not have diplomatic relations is North Korea.
Spain has maintained its special identification with Latin America. Its policy emphasizes the concept of Hispanidad, a mixture of linguistic, religious, ethnic, cultural, and historical ties binding Spanish-speaking America to Spain. Spain has been an effective example of transition from authoritarianism to democracy, as shown in the many trips that Spain's King and Prime Ministers have made to the region. Spain maintains economic and technical cooperation programs and cultural exchanges with Latin America, both bilaterally and within the EU.
Spain also continues to focus attention on North Africa, especially on Morocco. This concern is dictated by geographic proximity and long historical contacts, as well as by the two Spanish enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Africa. While Spain's departure from its former colony of Western Sahara ended direct Spanish participation, it maintains an interest in the peaceful resolution of the conflict brought about there by decolonization. Spain has gradually begun to broaden its contacts with sub-Saharan Africa. It has a particular interest in its former colony of Equatorial Guinea, where it maintains a large aid program.
In its relations with the Arab world, Spain frequently supports Arab positions on Middle East issues. The Arab countries are a priority interest for Spain because of oil and gas imports and because several Arab nations have substantial investments in Spain.
Spain has been successful in managing its relations with its two European neighbors, France and Portugal. The accession of Spain and Portugal to the EU has helped ease some of their periodic trade frictions by putting these into an EU context. Franco-Spanish bilateral cooperation is enhanced by joint action against Basque ETA terrorism. Ties with the United Kingdom are generally good, although the question of Gibraltar remains a sensitive issue; the two countries agreed in 1984 to discuss all subjects, including sovereignty, in their talks on the future of this British colony. This agreement has led to a relaxation of border controls and greater movement of people and goods.
Spain and the United States have a long history of official relations and are now closely associated in many fields. This association has been cemented in recent years by the exchange of high-level visitors. In April 1993, King Juan Carlos received a gold medal from the United States National Philosophical Society in Philadelphia on the occasion of its 250th anniversary, and in 1997 he was awarded the World Statesman Award by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in New York. In April 1997, President Aznar visited Washington and met with President Clinton and other key cabinet members. Among other things, they agreed to coordinate on Latin American policy. In July, President Clinton attended the NATO Summit in Madrid, where he had separate meetings with Aznar and with King Juan Carlos.
In addition to U.S. and Spanish cooperation in NATO, defense and security relations between the two countries are regulated by a 1989 agreement on defense cooperation. Under this agreement, Spain authorizes the United States to use certain facilities at Spanish military installations.
The two countries also cooperate in several other important areas. Under an agreement which will remain in force until 1997 and which is subject to renewal at that time, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Spanish National Aerospace Institute (INTA) jointly operate tracking stations in the Madrid area in support of earth orbital, lunar, and planetary exploration missions. The Madrid tracking station is one of the three largest tracking and data acquisition complexes supporting NASA operations.
An agreement on cultural and educational cooperation was signed on June 7, 1989. A new element, supported by both the public and private sectors, gives a different dimension to the programs carried out by the joint committee for cultural and educational cooperation. These joint committee activities complement the binational Fulbright program for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting professors, which, in 1989, became the largest in the world. Besides assisting in these exchange endeavors, the U.S. embassy also conducts a program of official visits between Spain and the United States.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador -- Richard N. Gardner
Deputy Chief of Mission -- Larry Rossin
Counselor for Administrative Affairs -- William Burke
Counselor for Agricultural Affairs -- Franklin Lee
Counselor for Commercial Affairs -- Rafael Fermoselle
Counselor for Consular Affairs -- Philip French
Counselor for Economic Affairs -- David Nelson
Minister for Political and Economic Affairs -- Harry Jones
Counselor for Political Affairs -- Victor Bonilla
Counselor for Public Affairs -- Brian Carlson
Chief, Office of Defense Cooperation -- Col. Judy W. George, USAF
Defense Attache -- Capt. James Tinsley, USN
Drug Enforcement Administration Attache -- Saverio Weidl
Federal Aviation Administration Representative -- David Flores
NASA Representative -- Anthony Carro
Regional Security Officer -- Kevin Barry
Science Counselor -- Marshall Carter-Tripp
Consul General, Barcelona-Maurice Parker
The US embassy is located at Serrano, 75, 28006 Madrid (tel. 34-1-587-2200; fax 34-1-587-2303). Consulate General, Barcelona, Passeig Reina Elisenda 23, Barcelona 08034 (tel. 34-3-280-2227; fax 34-3-205-5206).
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