The marriage of 1479 between the regents Isabella
and Ferdinand united the kingdom of Spain. At the same
time, Columbus "discovered" America, which laid the
foundation for Spain's 300 years as a great power. At
the beginning of the 20th century, the country was
characterized by worry and economic stagnation. A civil
war was fought in 1936-1939, which was followed by just
over 30 years of dictatorship under General Francisco
Franco who reigned until his death in 1975.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Spain, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The Iberian Peninsula has a long history. In several
caves, paintings have been found that are believed to
have been made between 16,000 and 10,000 years BC. The
cave Altamira on the north coast is best known.
Agriculture began in the area around 4,000 BC.
The Iberians are the first known people in Spain.
Over the centuries, the Iberians have been mixed up with
other peoples. Kelter immigrated from the north during
the 9th and 7th centuries BC. Phoenicians and Greeks
built colonies on the east coast and then came cartoons
from North Africa.
In 133 BC the Romans conquered the country. Spain
played an important role in the Roman Empire, which was
dissolved in the 4th century AD by prominent Germanic
tribes. Vandals, gliders and western goths then invaded
the Iberian Peninsula. The vandals continued to North
Africa, while the Western Goths fought for over 100
years before defeating the gliders in 585 and gaining
control of the peninsula.
The Moors invade
In the 600s, West Gothic monarchs ruled the Iberian
peninsula. Their kingdom was relatively united and the
majority of the subjects were Christian. The kingdom was
crushed by the Moors (Arabs and Berbers), who invaded
711 from North Africa and within two years had taken
control of the entire peninsula. The Moorish empire
became a cultural heyday. Countless monuments bear
witness to this, especially the Alhambra castle area in
Just a few years after the Moors conquered the area,
the Christian recapture, la reconquista, began from the
mountains in the northeast. But it was not until the
15th century that the disputed Christian small states
managed to unite in the fight against the Moors. In 1479
Castile, a feudal agricultural state, and Aragon, a
craft and trade power, were united in a union through
the marriage between Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of
Castile. During this Catholic kingdom the last remnant
of the Moorish empire, the Kingdom of Granada, fell in
Through the Inquisition a search for heretics of all
kinds was carried out. The Moors were forced to leave
the country. Jews who did not convert to Christianity
were also expelled. An estimated 150,000 Jews fled
At the same time, Christofer Columbus "discovered"
America in the name of the Spanish crown. The conquests
there laid the foundation for Spain's position as a
great power. In 1494, the pope divided the "new world"
between Spain and Portugal. Most of Latin America went
to Spain, while Portugal got Brazil.
Spanish War of Succession
Under King Ferdinand's descendants, Spain developed
into a great power, which included the Netherlands,
large parts of Italy and colonies in Latin America and
the Philippines. But Philip II's (1556-1598) fanatical
Catholicism and the success of Protestantism in Northern
Europe resulted in the Dutch War of Independence.
Spain's attempt to "crush England", which had become a
competitor on the seas, ended with Spanish defeat in
1588. The war led to a state bankruptcy.
In the Spanish War of Succession (1701-1714), both
France and Austria claimed the Spanish throne. Through
the peace of Utrecht in 1713, Spain lost all European
sounding countries and also had to resign from Gibraltar
to Britain, who participated in the war. The following
year, the great powers recognized Philip V as Spanish
regent. Philip and his son Charles III saw the British
as the main threat, and together with France Spain
fought several loss-making wars against them in the 18th
During the French Revolution of 1789, Spain was drawn
into war with France, but after several Spanish defeats,
the countries struck peace in 1795 and entered into a
new alliance. In 1805, the United Kingdom defeated the
Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar. The French emperor
Napoleon forced the Spanish king to abdicate in 1808 and
replaced him with his brother Josef Bonaparte. This
triggered a war of liberation in Spain. With the help of
British soldiers, the French were expelled and the
Spanish king Ferdinand VII reinstated to the throne in
1814. At the same time, Spain's already poor economy
deteriorated when the colonies of America liberated
themselves in 1810-1824.
Military coups and economic crisis
Ferdinand VII's reactionary regime was subjected to
an officer rebellion in 1820 and until 1936 followed 44
revolutions and military coups. No parliamentary
democracy ever took root in the country and the economic
downturn continued. The last remnants of the former
Spanish empire - Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico -
were lost in 1898 in war against the United States.
Spain tried to offset the losses by colonizing parts
of Morocco and being drawn into a protracted war against
the Barbican tribes. The Spaniards eventually won in
The war in Morocco exacerbated the domestic political
contradictions that arose at the beginning of the
century. The anarchists had grown strong and to prevent
them from taking power, General Miguel Primo de Rivera,
with King Alfonso XIII's support, carried out a military
coup in 1923 and introduced dictatorship. When the
depression hit Spain in 1929, the people turned to the
regime and Primo de Rivera was forced to resign in 1930.
The same year, Republicans and socialists formed an
alliance, which in the municipal elections the following
year gained the majority in all major cities. Alfonso
XIII resigned and Republic was declared.
Despite mass unemployment and economic stagnation,
the Republican government tried to implement social
reforms and Catalonia was given autonomy. But the years
in the early 1930s were characterized by social unrest,
strikes, violent party contradictions, protests against
the Catholic Church and ongoing government crises.
The Spanish Civil War, Franco takes power
After the 1936 parliamentary elections, power was
taken over by a front-left government, consisting of
left-wing Republicans, syndicalists, socialists and
communists. However, the coalition could not maintain
the general order. The Falangist Party, founded on
fascist patterns, received increased support. The murder
of the monarchist José Calvo Sotelo in July 1936
triggered a long-planned military coup. The
half-successful coup - many militaries still loyal to
the government - became the starting point for the
Spanish civil war.
Initially, the government, which distributed weapons
to workers' militia, took over. But the leadership was
divided and soon the rule of law ceased to function. The
Nationalist side, led by General Francisco Franco, had
better cohesion. In the fall of 1936, Franco was
appointed head of state with dictatorial power. Franco,
who was called el caudillo (the leader), was supported
both financially and militarily by Nazi Germany and
fascist Italy, while the People's Front government
received assistance from the Soviet Union. On the
government side, the international brigade, some 40,000
foreign volunteers, also fought about 500 Swedes among
On April 1, 1939, the war ended after a complete
victory for the Franco side. Hundreds of thousands of
people had been killed by then. After the war, around
200,000 people who supported the opposition side were
After the Second World War, in which Spain did not
participate, the victorious forces demanded
democratization of the country. However, Spain remained
a centralized dictatorship and was isolated
internationally. It was not until 1955 that the country
became a member of the UN.
Franco relied on the military and the National
Movement (Movimiento Nacional) developed from the
Falangist Party. The Catholic layman Opus Dei had an
increasing influence from the 1960s. The Catholic Church
initially supported the regime but gradually began to
advocate for social justice. However, opposition to
Franco was weak. Despite severe oppression, the regime
was passively accepted by large sections of the people.
The disappointment was great that the Republic had
failed to create democracy in the 1930s. The economic
upswing in the early 1960s improved the Spanish standard
of living. There were no conditions for armed
The only exception was in the Basque Country, where
in 1959 students formed the separatist and resistance
movement ETA (see Basque Country). In 1973, ETA
assassinated Prime Minister Luís Carrero Blanco,
appointed by Franco to continue the dictatorship.
Two years later Francisco Franco passed away. The
dictator had then expected the monarchy to be
reintroduced and Prince Juan Carlos, grandson of King
Alfonso XIII, had been brought up to his successor. But
when Juan Carlos became king, he surprised the outside
world by steering Spain towards Western European
democracy. Adolfo Suárez was elected prime minister in
1976 and political parties were again allowed to operate
Over one million in protest of bill on free abortion
Over one million people are demonstrating in Madrid against the Socialist
government's proposal for free abortion from the age of 16 up to the 14th week
of pregnancy. Behind the protests are the conservative political opposition and
the Catholic Church.
Spain's Foreign Minister visits Gibraltar
Spain's Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, visits the British Crown
Colony of Gibraltar for tripartite talks with the local government and the
British Foreign Minister. It is the first time in nearly 300 years - since
Britain took over Gibraltar in 1713 - that a Spanish minister visits Gibraltar,
which Spain still claims. The opposition People's Party (PP) condemns the visit
which they consider to be below Spain's dignity.
Several dead in ETA deeds
In connection with ETA's 50th anniversary, the Basque guerrillas carry out a
pair of bombings, killing two people and injuring many. Burgos police station in
northern Spain is blasted with about 50 injured as a result, and two civilian
guards are killed when their car is blown up in a tourist resort in Mallorca.
Rescue package for banks
The government allocates nine billion euros to save hard-pressed banks from
The government is taking a stimulus policy to curb the crisis
The financial crisis is hitting the Spanish economy hard and the government
is trying to meet the rising unemployment with stimulus measures. Small
companies that do not lay off their employees receive reduced taxes, subsidized
purchases of new cars and increased tourism support for the tourism industry.
ETA members arrested in France
A number of ETA members are arrested in France, including the man suspected
of being ETA's new military leader.
The government takes over regional bank
In the wake of the international financial crisis, the government is forced
to take over a bank that has gone bankrupt.
Basque nationalist party loses power
In the Basque region elections, the Basque Nationalist Party PNV loses power.
It is the first time since regional self-government was introduced in 1978 that
PNV was voted down. The National Spanish Socialist Party PSOE and the National
Spanish Right Party PP, which both oppose Basque nationalism, join forces in a
regional coalition government. As a result of the elections and the formation of
the government in the Basque country, the Basque PNV decides to no longer
support the Spanish Socialist Party at national level. This will weaken the
PSOE's minority government.