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Spain Country Guide

Explore Spain in Europe

Spain with the capital city Madrid is located in Europe (Southwestern Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea). It covers some 504,782 square kilometres (slightly more than twice the size of Oregon) with 40,491,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Spain

The landscape offers large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills with Pyrenees Mountains in north. The average density of population is approximately 80 per km². The notable climate conditions in Spain can be described as temperate with clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast and cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast. Potential threats by nature are periodic droughts, occasional flooding.

To reach someone in Spain dial +34 prior to a number. There are 20,057,000 installed telephones. And there are 50,991,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900/1800 MHz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".es". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 230V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Spain

Spain Flag Icon

Three horizontal bands of red (top), yellow (double width), and red with the national coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band; the coat of arms is quartered to display the emblems of the traditional kingdoms of Spain (clockwise from upper left, Castile, Leon, Navarre, and Aragon) while Granada is represented by the stylized pomegranate at the bottom of the shield; the arms are framed by two columns representing the Pillars of Hercules, which are the two promontories (Gibraltar and Ceuta) on either side of the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar; the red scroll across the two columns bears the imperial motto of "Plus Ultra" (further beyond) referring to Spanish lands beyond Europe; the triband arrangement with the center stripe twice the width of the outer dates to the 18th century note: the red and yellow colors are related to those of the oldest Spanish kingdoms: Aragon, Castile, Leon, and Navarre.

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. 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 EU in 1986) gave Spain a dynamic and rapidly growing economy and made it a global champion of freedom and human rights. More recently the government has had to focus on measures to reverse a severe economic recession that began in mid-2008. Austerity measures implemented to reduce a large budget deficit and reassure foreign investors have led to one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe.

Geography Quick-Facts

SummaryContinent: Europe
Neighbours: Andorra, Portugal, Gibraltar, France, Morocco
Capital: Madrid
Size504,782 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 194,897 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly more than twice the size of Oregon
CurrencyName Euro, Currency Code:EUR
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).es
Telephone Country Prefix+34
Mobile Phone Connections50,991,000
Landline Phone Connections20,057,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Area505,370 (sq km)52

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population47,370,542 28
Population growth rate0.73 (%)140
Birth rate10.14 (births/1,000 population)192
Death rate8.94 (deaths/1,000 population)69
Net migration rate6.14 (migrant(s)/1,000 population)17
Maternal mortality rate6.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)172
Infant mortality rate3.35 (deaths/1,000 live births)214
Life expectancy at birth81.37 (years)16
Total fertility rate1.48 (children born/woman)191
Health expenditures9.50 (% of GDP)33
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.40 (%)75
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS130,000 35
HIV/AIDS - deaths1,600 59
Obesity - adult prevalence rate26.60 (%)45
Education expenditures5.00 (% of GDP)77
Unemployment, youth ages 15-2446.40 (%)6


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)1,434,000,000,000 15
GDP - real growth rate-1.40 (%)202
GDP - per capita (PPP)31,100 47
Labor force23,110,000 28
Unemployment rate26.00 (%)175
Distribution of family income - Gini index32.00 104
Investment (gross fixed)20.60 (% of GDP)87
Taxes and other revenues35.90 (% of GDP)63
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-7.40 (% of GDP)191
Public debt85.30 (% of GDP)20
Inflation rate (consumer prices)2.40 (%)50
Central bank discount rate1.75 (%)122
Commercial bank prime lending rate8.09 (%)114
Stock of narrow money775,200,000,000 8
Stock of broad money1,969,000,000,000 8
Stock of domestic credit2,849,000,000,000 10
Market value of publicly traded shares1,172,000,000,000 14
Industrial production growth rate5.90 (%)51
Current account balance-18,800,000,000 181
Exports303,800,000,000 19
Imports322,700,000,000 18
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold50,300,000,000 38
Debt - external2,311,000,000,000 10
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home663,100,000,000 8
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad739,200,000,000 10


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production279,600,000,000 (kWh)15
Electricity - consumption249,700,000,000 (kWh)15
Electricity - exports13,520,000,000 (kWh)13
Electricity - imports5,169,000,000 (kWh)38
Electricity - installed generating capacity102,500,000 (kW)12
Electricity - from fossil fuels48.70 (% of total installed capacity)158
Electricity - from nuclear fuels7.60 (% of total installed capacity)24
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants13.70 (% of total installed capacity)106
Electricity - from other renewable sources24.40 (% of total installed capacity)4
Crude oil - production12,090 (bbl/day)79
Crude oil - imports1,046,000 (bbl/day)10
Crude oil - proved reserves150,000,000 (bbl)68
Refined petroleum products - production1,211,000 (bbl/day)20
Refined petroleum products - consumption1,384,000 (bbl/day)18
Refined petroleum products - exports240,700 (bbl/day)28
Refined petroleum products - imports528,400 (bbl/day)11
Natural gas - production52,000,000 (cu m)83
Natural gas - consumption33,550,000,000 (cu m)28
Natural gas - exports1,698,000,000 (cu m)40
Natural gas - imports35,490,000,000 (cu m)13
Natural gas - proved reserves2,548,000,000 (cu m)97
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy316,400,000 (Mt)20


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use19,867,000 14
Telephones - mobile cellular52,598,000 26
Internet hosts4,228,000 26
Internet users28,119,000 14


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports152 36
Railways15,293 (km)18
Roadways681,298 (km)10
Waterways1,000 (km)64
Merchant marine132 44


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Military expenditures1.20 (% of GDP)118

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada
Rising above the modern lower town, the Alhambra and the Albaycín, situated on two adjacent hills, form the medieval part of Granada. To the east of the Alhambra fortress and residence are the magnificent gardens of the Generalife, the former rural r ...
Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
The Aranjuez cultural landscape is an entity of complex relationships: between nature and human activity, between sinuous watercourses and geometric landscape design, between the rural and the urban, between forest landscape and the delicately modula ...
Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida
The colony of Augusta Emerita, which became present-day Mérida in Estremadura, was founded in 25 B.C. at the end of the Spanish Campaign and was the capital of Lusitania. The well-preserved remains of the old city include, in particular, a large brid ...
Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco
Tárraco (modern-day Tarragona) was a major administrative and mercantile city in Roman Spain and the centre of the Imperial cult for all the Iberian provinces. It was endowed with many fine buildings, and parts of these have been revealed in a series ...
Archaeological Site of Atapuerca
The caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca contain a rich fossil record of the earliest human beings in Europe, from nearly one million years ago and extending up to the Common Era. They represent an exceptional reserve of data, the scientific study of whi ...
Burgos Cathedral
Our Lady of Burgos was begun in the 13th century at the same time as the great cathedrals of the Ile-de-France and was completed in the 15th and 16th centuries. The entire history of Gothic art is summed up in its superb architecture and its unique c ...
Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí
The narrow Vall de Boí is situated in the high Pyrénées, in the Alta Ribagorça region and is surrounded by steep mountains. Each village in the valley contains a Romanesque church, and is surrounded by a pattern of enclosed fields. There are extensiv ...
Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville
Together these three buildings form a remarkable monumental complex in the heart of Seville. The cathedral and the Alcázar – dating from the Reconquest of 1248 to the 16th century and imbued with Moorish influences – are an exceptional testimony to t ...
Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain
Seventeen decorated caves of the Paleolithic age were inscribed as an extension to the Altamira Cave, inscribed in 1985. The property will now appear on the List as Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain. The property represents ...
Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana
The Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana located on a sheer-sided mountain range parallel to the north-western coast of the island of Mallorca. Millennia of agriculture in an environment with scarce resources has transformed the terrain and ...
Doñana National Park
Doñana National Park in Andalusia occupies the right bank of the Guadalquivir river at its estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. It is notable for the great diversity of its biotopes, especially lagoons, marshlands, fixed and mobile dunes, scrub woodland an ...
Garajonay National Park
Laurel forest covers some 70% of this park, situated in the middle of the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands archipelago. The presence of springs and numerous streams assures a lush vegetation resembling that of the Tertiary, which, due to cli ...
Historic Centre of Cordoba
Cordoba's period of greatest glory began in the 8th century after the Moorish conquest, when some 300 mosques and innumerable palaces and public buildings were built to rival the splendours of Constantinople, Damascus and Baghdad. In the 13th century ...
Historic City of Toledo
Successively a Roman municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V, Toled ...
Historic Walled Town of Cuenca
Built by the Moors in a defensive position at the heart of the Caliphate of Cordoba, Cuenca is an unusually well-preserved medieval fortified city. Conquered by the Castilians in the 12th century, it became a royal town and bishopric endowed with imp ...
Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture
Ibiza provides an excellent example of the interaction between the marine and coastal ecosystems. The dense prairies of oceanic Posidonia (seagrass), an important endemic species found only in the Mediterranean basin, contain and support a diversity ...
La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia
Built between 1482 and 1533, this group of buildings was originally used for trading in silk (hence its name, the Silk Exchange) and it has always been a centre for commerce. It is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The grandiose Sala de Cont ...
Las Médulas
In the 1st century A.D. the Roman Imperial authorities began to exploit the gold deposits of this region in north-west Spain, using a technique based on hydraulic power. After two centuries of working the deposits, the Romans withdrew, leaving a deva ...
Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid
Built at the end of the 16th century on a plan in the form of a grill, the instrument of the martyrdom of St Lawrence, the Escurial Monastery stands in an exceptionally beautiful site in Castile. Its austere architecture, a break with previous styles ...
Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias
In the 9th century the flame of Christianity was kept alive in the Iberian peninsula in the tiny Kingdom of the Asturias. Here an innovative pre-Romanesque architectural style was created that was to play a significant role in the development of the ...
Mudejar Architecture of Aragon
The development in the 12th century of Mudejar art in Aragon resulted from the particular political, social and cultural conditions that prevailed in Spain after the Reconquista. This art, influenced by Islamic tradition, also reflects various contem ...
Old City of Salamanca
This ancient university town north-west of Madrid was first conquered by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century B.C. It then became a Roman settlement before being ruled by the Moors until the 11th century. The university, one of the oldest in Europe, ...
Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches
Founded in the 11th century to protect the Spanish territories from the Moors, this 'City of Saints and Stones', the birthplace of St Teresa and the burial place of the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada, has kept its medieval austerity. This purity of form ...
Old Town of Cáceres
The city's history of battles between Moors and Christians is reflected in its architecture, which is a blend of Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles. Of the 30 or so towers from the Muslim period, the Torre del Bujaco is th ...
Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct
The Roman aqueduct of Segovia, probably built c. A.D. 50, is remarkably well preserved. This impressive construction, with its two tiers of arches, forms part of the setting of the magnificent historic city of Segovia. Other important monuments inclu ...
Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona
These are two of the finest contributions to Barcelona's architecture by the Catalan art nouveau architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The Palau de la Música Catalana is an exuberant steel-framed structure full of light and space, and decorated by man ...
Palmeral of Elche
The Palmeral of Elche, a landscape of groves of date palms, was formally laid out, with elaborate irrigation systems, at the time the Muslim city of Elche was erected, towards the end of the tenth century A.C., when much of the Iberian peninsula was ...
Poblet Monastery
This Cistercian abbey in Catalonia is one of the largest in Spain. At its centre is a 12th-century church. The austere, majestic monastery, which has a fortified royal residence and contains the pantheon of the kings of Catalonia and Aragon, is an im ...
Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza
The urban morphology of the two small cities of Úbeda and Baeza in southern Spain dates back to the Moorish 9th century and to the Reconquista in the 13th century. An important development took place in the 16th century, when the cities were subject ...
Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula
The late prehistoric rock-art sites of the Mediterranean seaboard of the Iberian peninsula form an exceptionally large group. Here the way of life during a critical phase of human development is vividly and graphically depicted in paintings whose sty ...
Roman Walls of Lugo
The walls of Lugo were built in the later part of the 3rd century to defend the Roman town of Lucus. The entire circuit survives intact and is the finest example of late Roman fortifications in western Europe. ...
Route of Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela was proclaimed the first European Cultural itinerary by the Council of Europe in 1987. This route from the French-Spanish border was – and still is – taken by pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. Some 1,800 buildings along the r ...
Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe
The monastery is an outstanding repository of four centuries of Spanish religious architecture. It symbolizes two significant events in world history that occurred in 1492: the Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula by the Catholic Kings and Christopher ...
San Cristóbal de La Laguna
San Cristóbal de La Laguna, in the Canary Islands, has two nuclei: the original, unplanned Upper Town; and the Lower Town, the first ideal 'city-territory' laid out according to philosophical principles. Its wide streets and open spaces have a number ...
San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries
The monastic community founded by St Millán in the mid-6th century became a place of pilgrimage. A fine Romanesque church built in honour of the holy man still stands at the site of Suso. It was here that the first literature was produced in Castilia ...
Santiago de Compostela (Old Town)
This famous pilgrimage site in north-west Spain became a symbol in the Spanish Christians' struggle against Islam. Destroyed by the Muslims at the end of the 10th century, it was completely rebuilt in the following century. With its Romanesque, Gothi ...
Teide National Park
Situated on the island of Tenerife, Teide National Park features the Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano that, at 3,718 m, is the highest peak on Spanish soil. Rising 7,500 m above the ocean floor, it is regarded as the world’s third-tallest volcanic stru ...
Tower of Hercules
The Tower of Hercules has served as a lighthouse and landmark at the entrance of La Coruña harbour in north-western Spain since the late 1st century A.D. when the Romans built the Farum Brigantium. The Tower, built on a 57 metre high rock, rises a fu ...
University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares
Founded by Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros in the early 16th century, Alcalá de Henares was the world's first planned university city. It was the original model for the Civitas Dei (City of God), the ideal urban community which Spanish missionaries brou ...
Vizcaya Bridge
Vizcaya Bridge straddles the mouth of the Ibaizabal estuary, west of Bilbao. It was designed by the Basque architect Alberto de Palacio and completed in 1893. The 45-m-high bridge with its span of 160 m, merges 19th-century ironworking traditions wit ...
Works of Antoni Gaudí
Seven properties built by the architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in or near Barcelona testify to Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These mon ...