Year of EU entry: 1986 / Capital city: Madrid / Population: 43.8 million
High plateaux and mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada dominate Spain. Running from these heights are several major rivers such as the Ebro, the Duero and the Guadalquivir. The Balearic Islands lie offshore in the Mediterranean, while the Canary Islands are to be found off the African coast.
Spain is a constitutional monarchy divided into 17 autonomous communities
(regions) which all have their own directly elected authorities. Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia have special status with their own language and other rights which enshrines respect for linguistic and cultural diversity within Spain. Spain’s main economic sectors include agriculture, fish, textiles, automobiles and tourism.
From Velázquez in the 17th century, through Goya in the 18th and 19th, to Picasso, Dali and Miro in the 20th, Spain has a rich artistic culture. Spanish Flamenco music and dance are widely admired around the world while Cervantes' novel Don Quixote is one of the landmarks of modern European literature.
Spanish cuisine is known for its “paella” (made with rice, chicken, seafood and vegetables), “tortilla” (omelette with potatoes) and “sangria” (refreshing wine with fruit).