Spain (Spanish: España, [esˈpaɲa] (About this soundlisten)), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España),[a][b] is a country in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagos: the Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, makes Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco).[i] Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean respectively.
With an area of 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second-largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth-largest country by area on the European continent. With a population exceeding 47.3 million, Spain is the sixth-most populous country in Europe, and the fourth-most populous country in the European Union. Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza, Málaga, and Bilbao.
Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. Iberian cultures along with ancient Phoenician, Greek, Celtic and Carthaginian settlements developed on the peninsula until it came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania, based on the earlier Phoenician name Sp(a)n or Spania. At the end of the Western Roman Empire, Germanic tribal confederations migrated from Central Europe, invaded the Iberian peninsula and established relatively independent realms in its western provinces. One of them, the Visigoths, forcibly integrated all remaining independent territories in the peninsula, including the Byzantine province of Spania, into the Visigothic Kingdom.
In the early eighth century the Visigothic Kingdom was conquered by the Umayyad Islamic Caliphate. The Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula (al-Andalus) soon became autonomous from Baghdad. A handful of small Christian pockets in the north were left out of Muslim rule, along the presence of the Carolingian Empire near the Pyrenées, eventually led to the emergence of the Christian kingdoms of León, Castile, Aragon, Portugal and Navarre. Over seven centuries, an intermittent southwards expansion of these kingdoms (metahistorically dubbed as a reconquest: the Reconquista) culminated with the Christian seizure of the last Muslim polity (the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada) in 1492, the same year Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World. A process of political conglomeration among the Christian kingdoms also ensued, and the late 15th-century saw the dynastic union of Castile and Aragon under the Catholic Monarchs, sometimes considered to be the emergence of Spain as a unified country. The Conquest of Navarre occurred in 1512, while the Kingdom of Portugal was also ruled by the Hapsburg Dynasty between 1580 and 1640.
In the early modern period, Spain ruled one of the largest empires in history which was also one of the first global empires, spawning a large cultural and linguistic legacy that includes over 570 million Hispanophones, making Spanish the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese. Spain hosts the world's third-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.