Spain Essay, Research Paper
Spain a country in southwestern Europe, occupying a big part of the Iberian Peninsula. Bounded on the north by the Bay of Biscay, France, on the east by the Mediterranean Sea; on the south by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; and on the west by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. Madrid is the capital and largest city.
Spain occupies about 85 percent of the Iberian Peninsula and is surrounded by water for about 88 percent of its boundary; its Mediterranean coast is about 1660 km long, and its Atlantic coast is about 710 km long. The most important environmental feature of Spain is the great, almost treeless, central plateau, called the Meseta Central, sloping generally downward from north to south and from east to west, and with an average elevation of about 2000 ft above sea level. Between many of the mountains are narrow valleys, drained by rapid rivers. The coastal plain is narrow. The highest point in Spain is Pico de Teide 3715 m/12,188 ft on Tenerife Island in the Canary Islands. The lowest point is sea level along the coast. The principal rivers of Spain flow west and south to the Atlantic Ocean, usu. along deep, rocky river banks that they have cut through the mountain valleys. Most Spanish streams are too small for interior navigation, and, with courses below the general ground level, are of little use for irrigation. The rivers are, however, a good source of electric power.
The climate of Spain is marked by extremes of temperature and, except in the north, generally low rainfall, and the varied physical features of the country make for climatic differences. The climate is most enjoyable along the Atlantic coasts, which are usu. damp and cool. The central plateau has summers so arid that nearly all the streams dry up, the earth parches, and drought is common. Most of Spain receives less than 24 in of precipitation per year; the northern mountains get a lot more moisture. Madrid the capitol of Spain in winter cold can freeze surrounding streams, while summer temperatures can rise as high as 120. F.
The most valuable natural resource of Spain is her soil, with nearly one-third of Spain suitable for crop growing. The country also has many mineral resources, including hard and brown coal, small petroleum and natural gas deposits, iron ore, uranium, mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, and potash.
The Spanish people are a mixture of peoples of the Iberian Peninsula with the successive peoples who conquered the peninsula and occupied it for extended times. These added people include the Romans, and the Suevi,. Several ethnic groups in Spain have kept a separate identity. These include the Catalans (16 percent of the population), who live mostly in the northeast and on the eastern islands. The Galicians (8 percent), who live in northwestern Spain.
Spain at the 1991 census was 38,872,268. The estimate for 1997 is 39,107,912, giving the country an overall density of 77 persons per 200 per sq. mi. Spain is increasingly urban, with 77 percent of the population in towns and cities.
Roman Catholicism is believed by about 97 percent of the population. The country is divided into 11 metropolitan and 52 voting areas. Formerly, Roman Catholicism was the established church, but the 1978 constitution decreed that Spain should have no state religion, while recognizing the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Spanish society. There are small communities of Protestants, Jews, and Muslims.
In the 1994-1995 school year Spain s preprimary schools were attended by 1.1 million pupils, primary schools by 2.4 million, and secondary schools (including high schools) by 4.7 million. About 30 percent of all children receive their education in the Roman Catholic school system.
Any information on Spanish culture must stress the importance of religion in the history of the country and in the life of each person. Spain is an influence of Roman Catholicism and provided the mystical element in the art and literature of Spain, the impressive list of its saints, and the large number of religious peoples and orders. The Catholic marriage is the basis of the family, which in turn is the foundation of Spanish society. Fiestas are an outstanding feature of Spanish life. They usually begin with a High Mass followed by a procession in which images are carried on the shoulders of the participants. Music, dancing, and singing often enliven these colorful occasions. The bullfight, so important a part of Spanish tradition, has been called a fiesta brava. It is far more than a mere spectator sport to Spaniards; fans applaud not only the bravery of the toreros but their style and artistry also.
Spain has traditionally been an agricultural country and is still one of the largest producers of farm products in Western Europe, but since the mid-1950s industrial growth has been rapid. A series of development plans, initiated in 1964, helped the economy to expand, but in the later 1970s an economic slowdown was brought on by rising oil costs and increased imports. The government emphasized the development of steel, shipbuilding and mining industries. Spain derives much income from tourism. The gross domestic product in 1996 was $ 581.6 billion. The national budget in 1994 included revenues of $150.6 billion and expenditures of $184.7 billion. On January 1, 1986, Spain became a full member of the European Community now the European Union.
In the late 1970s the government of Spain underwent a transformation from the authoritarian regime of Francisco Franco (who ruled from 1939 to 1975) to a limited monarchy with an influential parliament. A national constitution was adopted in 1978.
The climate, beaches, and historic cities of Spain are an attraction for tourists, which make a significant contribution to the country s economy. Spain received 41.3 million visitors in 1996, making it one of the world s top tourist destinations. The $4.9 billion tourists spent helped make up for Spain s considerable trade deficit.
The Spanish labor force included 16.8 million people. Some 33 percent were employed in manufacturing, mining, and construction; 12 percent in agriculture, forestry, and fishing; and 55 percent in services. Unemployment soared as high as 22.9 percent during this period. In the early 1990s, about 10 percent of Spain s workforce were unionized.