Study, Work, Volunteer and Travel in Spain
As of the 2011 census, Spain had a population of 46,815,916, although estimates show that number rose to approximately 47,306,000 in early 2012. Today the approximate population of Spain is 47.1 million—a drop of 206,000 residents and the first population decline Spain has ever experienced. Spanish (Castilian Spanish) is the official language of the country, while Catalan, Basque, and Galician are all recognized as regional languages. Roman Catholicism, while not deemed an official religion, is practiced by the majority of Spaniards.
Spain has a total land area of 505,988 square kilometers (195,363 square miles), making it the second-largest country in the European Union, the fifth-largest country in Europe, and the 51-largest country in the world. Much of the mainland is high plateau, with mountain ranges, including the Pyrenees, located in the north. Spain’s plateau-like topography makes for hot summers and cold winters—winters that are increasingly cooler and wetter the further north one travels. Madrid is the capital and largest city in Spain, with a population of approximately 3,255,950 in the city proper, and 5,843,031 in the greater Madrid Metropolitan Area, which includes several smaller towns and villages surrounding the Spanish capital. Other Spanish cities include Barcelona (1,620,943), Valencia (797,028), Seville (702,355), Zaragoza (679,624), and Malaga (567,433).
The area now known as Spain came under Roman [pic2]rule in 200 BC, and the region was given the name Hispania. It would remain under Roman control for six centuries, “laying the foundations for the Spanish language and culture.” Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century AD, Spain was ruled by the Visigoths, a Germanic people who had migrated from Central Europe. In the year 711, the Moors—Muslims from Northern Africa—invaded and conquered the country. Their presence in the region lasted more than seven centuries, while the Christian kingdoms to the north gradually increased in power over the generations. Finally, in 1492, after a centuries-long re-conquest effort known as the Reconquista, Spain emerged as a unified country, following the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. The country rapidly became a global leader, and the treasure it amassed from its vast overseas empire pushed Spain into the forefront of European countries.
Today Spain is a democracy, with a parliamentary government serving under a constitutional monarchy. The current leaders of the country are King Juan Carlos I, Head of State, and Mariano Rajoy, President of Government. A highly developed country, Spain has the 13-largest economy in the world by nominal GDP, and ranks 21st on the quality of life index rating, an instrument that measures a country’s living standards. Like in much of the European Union, the currency in Spain is the Euro. The combined life expectancy for males and females in the country is 79 years of age, and the country’s literacy rate currently stands at 98 percent. Spain is a member of the United Nations, NATO, OECD and WTO, among other national and international organizations.
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