Spain

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.

Spain
Spain
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

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,[15] 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.

Culture

The culture of Spain is based on a variety of historical influences, primarily based on Roman, Celtic and Iberian culture.[citation needed] Other ancient peoples such as Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Greeks also had some influence. In the areas of language and also religion, the Ancient Romans left an essential legacy in the Spanish culture because Rome created Hispania as a political, legal and administrative unit.[1] The subsequent course of Spanish history added other elements to the country's culture and traditions.

The Visigothic Kingdom left a united Christian Hispania that was going to be welded in the Reconquista. The Visigoths kept the Roman legacy in Spain between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Early Middle Ages. Around 75% of modern Spanish language is derived from Latin. Ancient Greek has also contributed substantially to Spanish vocabulary, especially through Latin, where it had a great impact.[3] Spanish vocabulary has been in contact with Basque, Iberian, Celtic, Gothic, Nahuatl, Quechua, Taino or Arabic (around 8% of its vocabulary has this origin). Another influence was the minority Jewish population in some cities

Art

Artists from Spain have been highly influential in the development of various European and American artistic movements. Due to historical, geographical and generational diversity, Spanish art has known a great number of influences. The Mediterranean heritage with Greco-Roman and some Moorish and influences in Spain, especially in Andalusia, is still evident today. European influences include Italy, Germany and France, especially during the Renaissance, Spanish Baroque and Neoclassical periods. There are many other autochthonous styles such as the Pre-Romanesque art and architecture, Herrerian architecture or the Isabelline Gothic.

During the Golden Age painters working in Spain included El Greco, José de Ribera, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and Francisco Zurbarán. Also in the Baroque period Diego Velázquez created some of the most famous Spanish portraits, such as Las Meninas and Las Hilanderas. Francisco Goya painted during a historical period that includes the Spanish Independence War, the fights between liberals and absolutists, and the rise of contemporary nations-states. Joaquín Sorolla is a well-known modern impressionist painter and there are many important Spanish painters belonging to the modernism art movement, including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Juan Gris and Joan Miró.

Climate

The climate in Spain varies across continental Spain. Spain is the most climatically diverse country in Europe with 13 different Köppen climates, excluding the Canary Islands, and is within the 10 most climatically diverse countries in the world. Five main climatic zones can be distinguished, according to the country's Köppen-Geiger climate classification and orographic conditions:

- The hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa) which is also characterized by dry and warm/hot summers and cool to mild and wet winters. According to the Köppen climate classification, this climate is dominant on the Iberian Peninsula, particularly the variety with summer droughts, covering all but the far northern part of the country where the Oceanic climate predominates. The hot-summer Mediterranean climate is further divided into the "Standard Mediterranean" of lowland regions and "Continentalized Mediterranean" of the interior, according to altitude and the mildness or harshness of the winter season. The Standard Mediterranean covers coastal areas (excluding the northern Atlantic coast) the Guadalquivir river basin and the lower reaches of the Tagus and Guadiana basins to the west of the country. The Continentalized Mediterranean climate predominates in Spain's vast table lands, Meseta Central, of the interior.

- The warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Csb) which predominates in parts of northwestern Spain and mostly inland in central-northern Spain at altitudes above 900-1000 masl.

- The oceanic climate (Cfb) is located in the northern part of the country, especially in the regions of Galicia, Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabria, and Navarre. This region has regular snowfall in the winter months

- The semiarid climate (Bsh or Bsk) is predominant in the south eastern part of the country (Almeria province in Eastern Andalusia, Murcia region and Alicante province in Southern Valencia) and in the middle reaches of the Ebro valley to the north east (Zaragoza province), reaching as far west as southern Navarre. It is also present in large areas of the central table lands (primarily in La Mancha region which includes parts of Cuenca, Guadalajara, Madrid and Toledo provinces) and some of the driest areas of Extremadura. In contrast to the Mediterranean climate, the dry season continues beyond the end of summer and the vegetation is less dense.

Fauna and flora

The fauna presents a wide diversity that is due in large part to the geographical position of the Iberian peninsula between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and between Africa and Eurasia, and the great diversity of habitats and biotopes, the result of a considerable variety of climates and well differentiated regions.

The vegetation of Spain is varied due to several factors including the diversity of the relief, the climate and latitude. Spain includes different phytogeographic regions, each with its own floristic characteristics resulting largely from the interaction of climate, topography, soil type and fire, biotic factors.