Autonomous Communities of Spain

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  • Topic: Spain, Autonomous communities of Spain, Catalonia
  • Pages : 8 (2045 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Spain

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.

Population

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.

Religion

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).

Culture

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.

Economy

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

Agriculture is a mainstay of the Spanish economy, employing, with forestry and fishing, about 10 percent of the labor...
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