Spain: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Spain.



Location--In southwest Europe, forming more than 4/5 of the Iberian peninsula. It is bounded to the northeast by France and Andorra, to the west by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. To the east is the Mediterranean and, 20 mi. to the south across the Strait of Gibraltar, Africa.

How Created--Settled gradually by successive migrations of Celts, Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians; it took the Romans to unify the peninsula, ca. 218 B.C. By 1492 the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile were united through the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella; the kingdom of Granada was then released by the Moors to Spain.

Though the Pyrenees Mountains form a natural border with France, it was only in the 17th century that Spain relinquished territories in southern France (and in the Low Countries). Portugal, part of which was a gift from King Leon of Castile to Count Henri of Burgundy, proclaimed itself an independent state in 1140.

Size--195,985 sq. mi. (504,750 sq. km.).

Population--35,600,000: Spanish, 72.8%; Catalan, 16.4%; Galician, 8.2%; Basque, 2.3%; other, 0.3%. 97.5% Roman Catholic.

Who Rules--Constitutionally, Spain is a monarchy, at present without a monarch. Legislation is initiated by the Council of Ministers, and General Franco, as Head of State, has the power of veto.

Who REALLY Rules--Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who has ruled Spain since 1939, has other titles: Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and leader of the "National Movement." Franco rules Spain not through a monolithic power machine, but through the skillful balancing and suppressing of forces which include the following:

--The Falange--extreme right. Now divided and discredited, but still the only legal political organization in Spain. The Falange's power was eclipsed in the '60s by . . .

--Opus Dei, a Catholic lay organization whose influence has now slightly declined.

--Monarchists, in a position of expectant semilegality.

--Christian Democrats (has both Conservative and Radical branches).

--Socialists, communists, and anarchists (underground).

In 1973 Franco relinquished the post of Prime Minister to the ultraconservative Adm. Luis Carrero Blanco who was subsequently blown to bits later that year (the Basque separatist association took credit for the assassination). Instead, Senor Arias Navarro was sworn into this 2nd-in-line office in January, 1974.

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