Where Exactly Is Spain Located?
Spain is located in southern Europe with the Mediterranean Sea along the majority of its coastline, although on the western coast, all the way from Tarifa on the Costa de la Luz right up to Portugal, is the Atlantic Ocean. In the north of the country you will also find the Bay of Biscay, a connection point for ferries from the UK to Santander and Bilbao. These seas are known to be notoriously rough, especially during the winter months, so much so that the ferries used to cease services during those times.
Spain is actually the second largest country in southern Europe with a total area of over 500,000 square kilometers (505,992 km2 to be precise) and is swathed in history, the influences of which are still clearly visible today. (See Spanish History)
Being such a large country it is no wonder Spain borders more then one other country (or territory). To the north / north-east it borders France and Andorra, to the west Portugal and on the most southerly point it borders the controversial British territory of Gibraltar. Another unique feature about Spain is its proximity to another continent, North Africa which is just a few kms in some places (Tarifa being the closest point).
Spain is predominatly a very religious country with the main denomination being Catholic. During its history many of the wars were fought over religion. There is still a fairly large Islamic community living in Spain and many of the cities still have a Jewish quarter as well. One of the things people seem to love about Spain is the multi-cultural influences that still blossom today.
To the east of mainland Spain are the Balearic Islands consisting of the Gimnesias (Mallorca Majorca, Menorca and Cabrera and the Pitiusas (Ibiza and Formentera). To the south west of mainland Spain off the coast of Africa are the Canary Islands made up of Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma and Gomera.
There are 19 autonomous communities throughout Spain. These are made up of Andalucia, Aragon, Asturias, Baleares (Balearic Islands), Ceuta, Canarias (Canary Islands), Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Cataluna, Communidad Valenciana, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Melilla, Murcia, Navarra, Pais Vasco (Basque Country)
Spain’s Prime Minister since 2011 is Mariano Rajoy of the Partido Popular (PP) or People’s Party. He has seen the country slip into one of the worst financial situations since the introduction of the Euro and has implemented some unpopular austerity measures and taxes in order to bail the country and its banking system out. After the most recent general election no party was able to secure a majority. With the threat of yet another general election, something that all political parties were keen to avoid, Rajoy was asked to form a new government and therefore remains in power.
Growth in Spain is continuing but unemployment, especially amongst the youth, remains very high with the worst affected area being Andalucia.
King Juan Carlos II was the monarch and up until 2014 the head of state for Spain but on 2 June 2014 he abdicated and handed over the throne to his son Felipe, who continues to reign as the King today. Juan Carlos was at most times a popular King having during the dictatorship of much of Franco’s power, been exiled to Portugal.