Countries of the world


June 12, 2012, 11:27 am
Source: CIA World Factbook
Content Cover Image

The Picos de Europa in Northern Spain. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Spain is a nation of fourty-seven million people in southwestern Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and the Bay of Biscay.

It occupies about 84% of the Iberian Peninsula. The Pyrenees Mountains provide a natural boundary with France to the northeast.

Its major environmental issues include:

The Iberian Peninsula was characterized by a variety of independent kingdoms prior to the Muslim occupation that began in the early 8th century A.D. and lasted nearly seven centuries. 

Te small Christian redoubts of the north began the reconquest almost immediately, culminating in the seizure of Granada in 1492 AD; this event completed the unification of several kingdoms and is traditionally considered the forging of present-day Spain.

Spain's powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England.

Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. As of 2012, Spain is amidst a national debt crisis, having pursued policies of exuberant state spending and committing to public employee salaries and pensions which have proven unsustainable.

Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II but suffered through a devastating civil war (1936-39).

A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the European Union in 1986) gave Spain a dynamic and rapidly growing economy and made it a global champion of freedom and human rights.

The government's major focus for the immediate future will be on measures to reverse the severe economic recession that started in mid-2008.

Spain has a strategic location along approaches to Strait of Gibraltar. It controls a number of territories in northern Morocco including the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and the islands of Penon de Velez de la Gomera, Penon de Alhucemas, and Islas Chafarinas.

In 2002, Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly by referendum to reject any "shared sovereignty" arrangement; the government of Gibraltar insists on equal participation in talks between the UK and Spain. Spain disapproves of UK plans to grant Gibraltar greater autonomy.

Morocco protests Spain's control over the coastal enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and the islands of Penon de Velez de la Gomera, Penon de Alhucemas, and Islas Chafarinas, and surrounding waters. Both countries claim Isla Perejil (Leila Island); Morocco serves as the primary launching site of illegal migration into Spain from North Africa.

Portugal does not recognize Spanish sovereignty over the territory of Olivenza based on a difference of interpretation of the 1815 Congress of Vienna and the 1801 Treaty of Badajoz.


Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Biscay, and Pyrenees Mountains; southwest of France

Geographic Coordinates: 40 00 N, 4 00 W

Area: 505,370 sq km (land: 498,980 sq km; water: 6,390 sq km) Note: there are two autonomous cities - Ceuta and Melilla - and 17 autonomous communities including Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, and three small Spanish possessions off the coast of Morocco - Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera

Land Boundaries:  1,917.8 km (Andorra 63.7 km, France 623 km, Gibraltar 1.2 km, Portugal 1,214 km, Morocco (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Morocco (Melilla) 9.6 km

Coastline: 4,964 km

Maritime Claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (applies only to the Atlantic Ocean)

Natural Hazards: periodic droughts, occasional flooding

Volcanism: Spain experiences volcanic activity in the Canary Islands. Located off Africa's northwest coast; Teide (elev. 3,715 m) has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations. La Palma (elev. 2,426 m), which last erupted in 1971, is the most active of the Canary Islands volcanoes. Lanzarote is the only other historically active volcano.

Terrain:  large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees Mountains in north; Sierra Nevada range, highest point of continenal Spain in the south. The highest overall point is Pico de Teide (Tenerife) on Canary Islands (3,718 m).

Climate: temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast

Topology od Spain: Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Ecology and Biodiversity

See: Ecoregions of Spain

Source: World Wildlife Fund

  1. Cantabrian mixed forests
  2. Northwest Iberian montane forests
  3. Iberian sclerophyllous and semi-deciduous forests
  4. Pyrenees conifer and mixed forests
  5. Northeastern Spain and Southern France Mediterranean forests
  6. Iberian conifer forests
  7. Southeastern Iberian shrubs and woodlands
  8. Southwest Iberian Mediterranean sclerophyllous and mixed forests

See also

See Natural World Heritage Sites:

People and Society

Population: 47,042,984 (July 2012 est.)

The Strait of Gibraltar provides a natural physical barrier between the countries of Spain (north) and Morocco (south). This photo shows the mountainous northern coast of Morocco and the coastal mountains of southern Spain, including the dagger-shaped, snow-covered Sierra Nevada Mountains of southeastern Spain. The British territory of Gibraltar is located on the thin, wedge-shaped peninsula on the east side of the bay in the southernmost protrusion of Spain. The city of Ceuta is a Spanish enclave on the extreme northeastern coast of Morocco. Image courtesy of NASA.
Algeciras, Spain (left), the Bay of Gibraltar (Bahia de Algecira), and Gibraltar itself (right) are featured in this detailed vertical view over the European side of the Strait of Gibraltar. Ship traffic in the bay can easily be seen. Image courtesy of NASA.

Spain's population density, lower than that of most European countries, is roughly equivalent to New England's. In recent years, following a longstanding pattern in the rest of Europe, rural populations are moving to cities. Urban areas are also experiencing a significant increase in immigrant populations, chiefly from North Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe.

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. According to the National Institute of Statistics (April 2010), 73.2% of the population are Catholic, 2.3% belong to another religion, 14.6% are agnostic, and 7.6% are atheists.

Ethnic Groups: composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types

Age Structure:

0-14 years: 15.1% (male 3,646,614/female 3,435,311)
15-64 years: 67.7% (male 16,036,556/female 15,637,090)
65 years and over: 17.1% (male 3,389,681/female 4,609,532) (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate: 0.654% (2012 est.)

Birthrate: 10.4 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death Rate: 8.88 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

Net Migration Rate: 5.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth: 81.27 years 

male: 78.26 years
female: 84.47 years (2012 est.)

Total Fertility Rate: 1.48 children born/woman (2012 est.)

Languages: Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, and Basque 2% Note: Catalan is official in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and the Valencian Community (where it is known as Valencian). In the northwest corner of Catalonia (Vall d'Aran), Aranese is official along with Catalan. Galician is official in Galicia. Basque is official in the Basque Country

Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write)97.9% (2003 est.)

Educational System: About 70% of Spain's student population attends public schools or universities. The remainder attends 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 9-12 in the United States) offering a vocational training program. The Spanish university system offers degree and post-graduate programs in all fields--law, sciences, humanities, and medicine--and the superior technical schools offer programs in engineering and architecture.

Urbanization: 77% of total population (2010) growing at an annual rate of chnage of 1% (2010-15 est.)


The Iberian Peninsula has been settled for millennia. Some of Europe's most impressive Paleolithic cultural sites are located in Spain, including the famous caves at Altamira that contain spectacular paintings dating from about 15,000 to 25,000 years ago. Beginning in the ninth century BC, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Celts entered the Iberian Peninsula. The Romans followed in the second century BC and laid the groundwork for Spain's present language, religion, and laws. 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.

View of Cordoba showing the Roman Bridge and the massive Mesquita complex on the left.

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 English defeat 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 century, leading to an occupation by France during the Napoleonic era in the early 1800s and a series of armed conflicts throughout much of the 19th century.

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, General Francisco Franco ruled a nation exhausted politically and economically. Spain was officially neutral during World War II but followed a pro-Axis policy. Therefore, the victorious Allies isolated Spain at the beginning of the postwar period. The country signed the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with the U.S. on September 26, 1953 and joined the United Nations in 1955. In 1959, under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) stabilization plan, the country began liberalizing trade and capital flows, particularly foreign direct investment.

Despite the success of economic liberalization, Spain remained for years 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, Franco's personally-designated heir Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon assumed the titles of king and chief of state. Dissatisfied with the slow pace of post-Franco liberalization, he replaced Franco's last prime minister with Adolfo Suarez in July 1976. Suarez entered office promising that elections would be held within 1 year, and his government moved to enact a series of laws to liberalize the new regime. Spain's first elections since 1936 to the Cortes (Parliament) 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 that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in a national referendum in December 1978.

On February 23, 1981, rebel elements among the security forces seized the Cortes 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 bloodless coup attempt.

In October 1982, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), led by Felipe Gonzalez, swept both the Congress of Deputies and Senate, winning an absolute majority. Gonzalez and the PSOE ruled for the next 13 years. During that period, Spain joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Community.

In March 1996, Jose Maria Aznar's Popular Party (PP) won a plurality of votes. Aznar moved to decentralize powers to the regions and liberalize the economy, with a program of privatization, labor market reform, and measures designed to increase competition in selected markets. During Aznar's first term, Spain fully integrated into European institutions, qualifying for the European Monetary Union, and participated, along with the United States and other NATO allies, in military operations in the former Yugoslavia. President Aznar and the PP won reelection in March 2000, obtaining absolute majorities in both houses of parliament.

After the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, President Aznar became a key ally in the fight against terrorism. Spain backed the military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan and took a leadership role within the European Union (EU) in pushing for increased international cooperation on terrorism. The Aznar government, with a rotating seat on the UN Security Council, supported the intervention in Iraq.

Spanish parliamentary elections on March 14, 2004 came only 3 days after a devastating terrorist attack on Madrid commuter rail lines that killed 191 and wounded over 1,400. With large voter turnout, PSOE won the election and its leader, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, took office on April 17, 2004. Carrying out campaign promises, the Zapatero government immediately withdrew Spanish forces from Iraq but continued to support Iraq reconstruction efforts. The Zapatero government supported coalition efforts in Afghanistan, including increasing Spanish troop strength in Afghanistan by 50% in February 2010 as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troop surge, bringing Spain to its current commitment of 1,500 troops. The Zapatero administration also provided assets, including use of the Moron air base and Rota naval base, in support of Operation Unified Protector in Libya in 2011.

In 2010 Spain’s real estate bubble, the main driver of economic growth for more than a decade, started to collapse. Zapatero's administration was slow to recognize the extent of the problem and did not take aggressive measures until mid-2010, by which time his popularity had plummeted. In May 2011, Zapatero’s PSOE party suffered a heavy defeat in regional elections, losing the majority of regional and municipal governments to the PP. Bowing to PP pressure, Zapatero called for early national elections, moving them up from March 2012 to November 2011. In the November 20 elections, the PP won 187 parliamentary seats, the most ever for a PP government, giving it an absolute parliamentary majority. The PP's Mariano Rajoy became the president of the government (prime minister).

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 Spanish security forces, military personnel, Spanish Government officials, politicians of the Popular Party and the Socialist Party (PSOE), and business people and civilian institutions that do not support ETA. The group has carried out numerous bombings against Spanish Government facilities and economic targets, including a car bomb assassination attempt on then-opposition leader Aznar in 1995 in which his armored car was destroyed but he was unhurt. The Spanish Government attributes over 800 deaths to ETA terrorism since its campaign of violence began. In recent years, the government has had more success in controlling ETA, due in part to increased security cooperation with French authorities.

In November 1999, ETA ended a cease-fire it declared in September 1998. Following the end of that cease-fire, ETA conducted a campaign of violence and has been blamed for the deaths of some 50 Spanish citizens and officials. Each attack has been followed by massive anti-ETA demonstrations around the country, clearly demonstrating that the majority of Spaniards, including the majority of Spain's Basque populace, have no tolerance for continued ETA violence. In March 2006, ETA declared another cease-fire, which it ended in June 2007 as a number of bombings and assassinations continued. In December 2007, two undercover Spanish police officers were killed in Capbreton, in France's southwestern region, by suspected ETA gunmen. Days before Spain's general elections in March 2008, former councilman Isaias Carrasco was murdered outside of his home by an ETA gunman. It was seen by many as a political move by ETA to try and influence the elections. Ignacio Uria Mendizabal, head of the Altuna y Uria company, was assassinated on December 3, 2008. The company was involved in the construction of a high-speed rail network in the region, a project opposed by ETA.

In 2009, ETA marked its 50th anniversary with a series of high-profile and deadly bombings. On July 29, ETA detonated an explosive-laden, stolen van outside a Civil Guard barracks in Burgos. The blast injured more than 60 Civil Guards, spouses, and children. The following day, ETA murdered two Civil Guards in Mallorca with a car bomb. ETA had claimed its first victim of the year weeks earlier when it used a car bomb on June 19 to assassinate a national police officer in the Basque Region.

Also in 2009, the Basque regional government underwent a change of administration. The Socialist Party, under Patxi Lopez's regional leadership, assumed power as the first non-Basque nationalist government to administer the Basque country since the restoration of democracy in Spain 3 decades earlier. Lopez's administration implemented a more unequivocal counterterrorism policy to confront ETA. Meanwhile, Spain was pleased to see that the European Court of Human Rights in June upheld Spain's 2003 ban on the political party Batasuna for its ties to ETA.

The Spanish Government pursues a vigorous counterterrorist policy and has worked closely with its international allies to foil several suspected ETA attacks. In May 2008, Francisco Javier Lopez Pena, the political-military head of ETA, was arrested in Bordeaux. In November 2008, French authorities arrested reputed ETA military chief Miguel De Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, alias "Txeroki", closely followed by the arrest of his successor on December 8, 2008. These arrests struck a severe blow to the leadership of ETA. France and Spain have stepped up cooperation to crack down on ETA since a special accord was signed in January 2008 allowing Spanish agents to operate in southwestern France. Arrests by security forces have continued to decimate ETA, with 375 arrests since January 2008 (including 244 in Spain and 115 in France). These arrests have included those of key leaders, such as a March 11, 2011 raid in which ETA leader Alejandro Zobran Arriola and three other suspects were arrested by French police in a remote village near the Belgian border. ETA declared a permanent cease-fire in October 2010 and again in January 2011, followed by a “definitive cessation of armed activity,” but has yet to disarm or disband.

Radical Islamic terrorists are known to operate cells in Spain. On March 11, 2004, only 3 days before national elections, 10 bombs were detonated on crowded commuter trains during rush hour. Three were deactivated by security forces and one was found unexploded. Evidence quickly surfaced that jihadist terrorists were responsible for the attack that killed 191 people. Spanish investigative services and the judicial system have aggressively sought to arrest and prosecute suspected Al Qaeda-linked members and actively cooperate with foreign governments to diminish the transnational terrorist threat. A Spanish court convicted 18 individuals in September 2005 for their role in supporting Al Qaeda, and Spanish police disrupted numerous Islamist extremist cells operating in the country. The trial against 29 people for their alleged participation in the Madrid March 11, 2004 terrorist attack started in February 2007. One of the 29 was absolved during the trial. The prosecutor asked for sentences as high as 30,000 years of jail for some of them. In October 2007 three of the suspects were convicted of murder for their roles in the 2004 attack and received over 42,000 years in prison. Overall, 21 of 28 defendants were found guilty of some offense for their role in the bombings. In July 2008 the Spanish Supreme Court announced the acquittal on appeal of four of the 21 convicted defendants. The Supreme Court also upheld the lower court's acquittal of the suspected mastermind of the attacks, agreeing with the lower court's decision that because he had already been sentenced in Italy for belonging to a terrorist organization he could not be tried for the same crime twice. In a separate case, the Supreme Court overturned 14 of the 20 convictions, and reduced four other sentences, of a cell sentenced in February 2008 for plotting to truck-bomb the National Court.

In January 2008, Spanish authorities in Barcelona arrested 14 people believed to be connected to a Pakistani terrorist cell allegedly sympathetic to Al Qaeda. The group, potentially linked to Islamic terrorist activities, was believed to be on the verge of a terrorist bombing campaign against Barcelona's transportation network and possibly other targets in Europe. An informant working for the French intelligence services notified Spanish authorities of the pending attack. Spanish security forces have arrested 85 suspected violent extremists since April 2008.


Government Type: Parliamentary monarchy

Parliamentary democracy was restored following the 1975 death of General Franco, who had ruled since the end of the civil war in 1939. The 1978 constitution established Spain as a parliamentary monarchy, with the prime minister responsible to the bicameral Cortes (Congress of Deputies and Senate) elected every 4 years.

Capital: Madrid - 5.762 million (2009)

Other Major Cities:  Barcelona 5.029 million; Valencia 812,000 (2009)

Administrative divisions:
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. Successive central governments have continued to devolve powers to the regional governments, especially health care, education, and other social programs.

17 autonomous communities (comunidades autonomas, singular - comunidad autonoma) and 2 autonomous cities* (ciudades autonomas, singular - ciudad autonoma); Andalucia, Aragon, Asturias, Baleares (Balearic Islands), Ceuta*, Canarias (Canary Islands), Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Cataluna (Catalonia), Comunidad Valenciana (Valencian Community), Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Melilla*, Murcia, Navarra, Pais Vasco (Basque Country)

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Note: the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla plus three small islands of Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera, administered directly by the Spanish central government, are all along the coast of Morocco and are collectively referred to as Places of Sovereignty (Plazas de Soberania)

The small Spanish enclave of Ceuta occupies a narrow isthmus of land on the African side of the Strait of Gibraltar; the rest of the surrounding territory is Morocco. Densely populated Ceuta occupies the center of the image, its pink and white residential and industrial rooftops occasionally broken by patches of green - city parks and athletic fields. North of the city, seawalls enclose a small bay and harbor. On the beach, bright blue patches are large water parks. The Spanish fort at Monte Hacho on the eastern isthmus tip commands a clear view of the Strait. Image credit: NASA.

Independence:  1492.

Legal System:  civil law system with regional variations. Spain accepts compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction with reservations; and accepts International criminal court (ICCt) jurisdiction

International Environmental Agreements

Spain is party to international agreements on: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, and Whaling. It has signed, but not ratified an international agreement on Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants.


Total Renewable Water Resources: 111.1 cu km (2005)

Freshwater Withdrawal:    37.22 cu km/yr (13% domestic, 19% industrial, 68% agricultural)

Per Capita Freshwater Withdrawal:


Agricultural products: grain, vegetables, olives, wine grapes, sugar beets, citrus; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish

Irrigated Land: 38,000 sq km (2008)


Natural Resources: coal, lignite, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, tungsten, mercury, pyrites, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land

Land Use:

arable land: 27.18%
permanent crops: 9.85%
other: 62.97% (2005)


Spain's mixed capitalist economy is the 13th largest in the world, and its per capita income roughly matches that of Germany and France.

Spain's accession to the European Community--now European Union (EU)--in January 1986 required the country to open its economy to trade and investment, modernize its industrial base, improve infrastructure, and revise economic legislation to conform to EU guidelines.

These measures helped the economy grow rapidly over the next 2 decades. Unemployment fell from 23% in 1986 to a low point of 8% in mid-2007. The adoption of the euro in 2002 greatly reduced interest rates, spurring a housing boom that further fueled growth.

However, after almost 15 years of above average GDP growth, the Spanish economy began to slow in late 2007 and entered into a recession in the second quarter of 2008. GDP contracted by 3.7% in 2009, ending a 16-year growth trend, and by another 0.2% in 2010, making Spain the last major economy to emerge from the global recession.

The reversal in Spain's economic growth reflected a significant decline in construction amid an oversupply of housing and falling consumer spending, while exports actually have begun to grow. Government efforts to boost the economy through stimulus spending, extended unemployment benefits, and loan guarantees did not prevent a sharp rise in the unemployment rate, which rose from a low of about 8% in 2007 to over 20% in 2011. The government budget deficit worsened from 3.8% of GDP in 2008 to 9.2% of GDP in 2010, more than three times the euro-zone limit.

Madrid cut the deficit to 8.5% of GDP in 2011, a larger deficit than the 6% target negotiated between Spain and the EU. Spain's large budget deficit and poor economic growth prospects have made it vulnerable to financial contagion from other highly-indebted euro zone members despite the government's efforts to cut spending, privatize industries, and boost competitiveness through labor market reforms. Spanish banks' high exposure to the collapsed domestic construction and real estate market also poses a continued risk for the sector.

The government oversaw a restructuring of the savings bank sector in 2010, and provided some $15 billion in capital to various institutions. Investors remain concerned that Madrid may need to bail out more troubled banks. The Bank of Spain, however, is seeking to boost confidence in the financial sector by pressuring banks to come clean about their losses and consolidate into stronger groups.

GDP: (Purchasing Power Parity): $1.411 trillion (2011 est.)

GDP: (Official Exchange Rate): $1.537 trillion (2011 est.)

GDP- per capita (PPP): $30,600 (2011 est.)

GDP- composition by sector:

agriculture: 3.3%
industry: 25.8%
services: 70.9% (2011 est.)

Industries: textiles and apparel (including footwear), food and beverages, metals and metal manufactures, chemicals, shipbuilding, automobiles, machine tools, tourism, clay and refractory products, footwear, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment

Currency: euros (EUR)




Agency, C., Fund, W., & Department, U. (2012). Spain. Retrieved from


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