Spain is an independent nation in Southern Europe. With the capital city of Madrid, Spain 2020 population is estimated at 46,754,789 according to countryaah. 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.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: 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. For Spain political system, please check computerminus.
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 Granada.
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 1492.
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 Spain.
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 century.
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 1925.
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 them.
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 executed.
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 resistance.
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 freely.
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 collapsing.
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.