The history & society of Spain

Valley of the Fallen, near Madrid, Spain

History of Spain

Early Spanish history
The first settlers to enter Spain's history were the Iberians, sometime between 4000 and 3500 BC.  They were later followed by Phoenicians, Celts, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors, all which had varying control over Spain.

Roman Rule
Spain became part of the Roman Empire in the 2nd Century BC.  Spain provided the Romans with food, olive oil, wine and metal, while the Romans supplied the Spain with Latin, religious belief and laws.

Muslim Rule
The Moors arrived in 711 AD from North Africa and managed to take control of Spain within a few years.  Spain was (with the exception of regions now known as Asturias, Navarre and Aragon who became separate kingdoms) under Muslim rule for the next 800 years until the expansion of the Christian kingdoms

Medieval Spain - The Reconquista
The expansion of the Christian kingdoms led to the complete reclamation of Spain in 1492 and is known as the Reconquista.  Muslims were expelled from Spain and Roman Catholicism was established as the official religion.  Other religions were not tolerated and believers had to choose between converting to Catholicism or be expelled from Spain.

The Spanish Empire
It was also in 1492 that Christopher Columbus set out to discover the Americas, funded by Spain’s rulers.  Most regions of Spain were politically unified by 1512 and the Spanish Empire was growing with the conquest of Mexico by 1521 and Peru by 1533.  Spanish kings controlled all or parts of what are now Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy and France, and were a great power in Europe for a long time.

Loss of the Spanish Empire
Power and prosperity of Spain slowly decreased under the rule of the Habsburgs and Bourbons due to continuing war and other internal problems.  Spain lost its colonies one by one.

20th Century
Economic crisis and social issues in the beginning of the 20th century saw military dictate established for a decade.  The Spanish Civil War and the two World Wars also affected the country.  However, things began to look up after attempts at improving international relations yielded positive results.  Spain joined the EU, the European Community and NATO; it’s secure world position was regained and today Spain is a developed democratic state with an economy ranking 8th in the world.

Society, culture and religion

Culture and society of Spain
Spain is known for Flamenco music and dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches and lots of sunshine, but there is so much more to the country.  It was, and remains one of the cultural centres of Europe.

There are plenty of remnants of Spain’s long history – from prehistoric monuments, to Roman ruins, Gothic cathedrals, castles, modernist monuments and Gaudi’s unique creations.  A number of Spanish artists influenced the art world in the early 20th century - Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí.

The people of Spain love to party and this is one of the reasons people flock to the country.  There are bars and clubs catering to every kind of taste and budget, from jazz to techno.

There is no official religion, but the majority of the population is Roman Catholic.

*The Small Print
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