Spain Essay Research Paper Introduction

Spain Essay, Research Paper


“When you cross the mountains that divide France from Spain you step into another world. Europe ends at the Pyrenees, and the land beyondthe mountains has a character and personality that are strikingly different. The sun beats down mercilessly on a country that is beautiful.”



The Civil War in the late 1930’s brought General Franco to power as dictator. He ruled the country until he died in 1975. Spain became a democracy after the death. Until the mid 1900’s, Spain was one of the most undeveloped countries in Europe. Spain mostly contained small, unsuccessful, farms because of the dry soil. During the 50’s and 60’s, Spain took on a rapid stage of economic development and is now an industrial nation. Today more people work in construction and manufacturing than on farms.

Basic Timeline History of Spain

1000’s BC 400’s BC 200’s BC 400’s AD 711-18 1000’s 1479 1492 1512 1556-98 1588 1808 1808-14 1810-25 1898 1931 1936-39 1950’s-60’s 1975 1978 1982 1998 2000 The Phoenicians began to colonize Spain. The Carthaginians conquered much of Spain. The Romans drove the Carthaginians from Spain. The Visigoths took Spain from the Romans. The Moors conquered almost all of Spain. Christian kingdoms began to drive the Moors from Spain. The kingdoms of Aragon and Castile united, bringing almost all of what is Spain now under one rule. Spanish forces conquered Granada, the last center of Moorish control in Spain. Christopher Columbus sailed to America and claimed it for Spain. Kind Ferdinand V seized the Kingdom of Navarre, completing the unification of what is now Spain. The Spanish Empire reached it’s peak, and began to decline under the reign of Philip II. The English Navy defeated the Spanish Armada. Napoleon’s armies seized Madrid. English, Portuguese, and Spanish forces drive the French from Spain during the Peninsula War. All Spain’s American colonies except Cuba and Puerto Rico revolted and declared their independence. By this time, Spain had lost almost all it’s empire. Spain loses Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines in the Spanish-American War. King Alfonso XIII fled the country and Spain became a democratic republic. The Spanish Civil War was fought, bringing General Franco to power as Dictator of Spain. Spain achieves one of the highest rates of economic growth in the world. Franco dies. Spaniards start setting up a new democratic government. Spaniards approve a new constitution based on democratic principles. Spain joins NATO. The Basque separatists movement declared a cease fire and raised hopes to end 30 years of violence. Separatists resume their terrorist attacks.

Education System

The Education System in Spain is much like that of the one in Canada. Spanish law requires all children from ages 6-13 to attend school. Many children quit school when they reached 14,and because of this, the age was extended to 16. Today only 3% of people 15+ years of age cannot read and/or write. Spain has about 30 universities, which are attended by more than 700,000 students.

Health Care System

Health care in Spain is the best in the European Union. It became more organized and had new policies after INSALUD (National Institute of Public Health Care) was created. In 1982, INSALUD covered 86% of the Spanish population and 31% of hospital beds. Today 98.9% of the population has the right to receive health services free of charge.


Spain is ranked as one of the leading fishing countries in Europe. Off the Northern Coast, anchovies, hake, octopus, squid, tuna, and many others are fished. Spaniards enjoy and specialize in seafood. This is because it is inexpensive and plentiful it the coast waters. It is prepared in a variety of ways, but the most popular is Paella. It is shrimp, lobster, chicken, ham, vegetables, and sometimes squid combined with rice.

Spaniards are accustomed to dine in several courses. These are usually as follows: As an appetizer: Cured ham, oysters, shrimp, etc. Starter: Soup, salad or vegetable dish, Main course: Meat or fish, Dessert: fruit, sweet or cheese, Coffee: Normally an expresso-type coffee.

A popular drink in Spain is called Sangria. It is made from wine, soda water, fruit juices, and tropical fruits. Another trademark beverage is a thick, strong, hot chocolate, served with deep fried strips of dough called churros.


Spaniards love to be outdoors and spend almost all their time there. Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Spain. Every year, tens of thousands of fans flood into stadiums to cheer on their country. Golf is also very popular and Bullfighting (see Traditional Ceremonies) is the best known.

In the Olympics, Spain stands out in cycling, swimming, gymnastics, and rowing. Other competitive sports include racing, horseback riding, tennis, and fishing.


Although Spain lies in the temperate zone, its rugged relief gives rise to a great diversity of climates. The Cantabrian mountains mark the first well-defined climatological dividing zone. To the north of this range, the narrow northern strip, where the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia are situated, lies what is called rainy Spain, with a maritime climate. It has slight variations in temperature, mild winters and cool summers, an almost constantly cloudy sky and frequent rainfall, although less so during the summer. This climate, which is typical of western Europe, favours a northern European type of vegetation.

To the south of the Cantabrian range lies dry Spain, which has extremely varied climates, always characterized by scarce rainfall and a pitiless burning sun in an intensely blue sky, occasionally crossed by short-lived, fierce local thunderstorms. This area has constant droughts in summer and winter. In terms of surface area, rainy Spain accounts for about a third of the country, while the other two thirds make up dry Spain.


Spain is one of the largest countries in Europe, containing 504,750km2 and a population of 39,167,700 people. The country is located in Southwestern Europe between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and Portugal and France. To the Northeastern border, the Pyrenees Mountains separate Spain from France. The capital city of Spain is Madrid, which lies in the center of the country.

Traditional Ceremonies/ Traditions

Spain is a very Religious Catholic country. About 99% of Spain is Roman Catholic, 0.4% Protestants, 0.4% Muslims, and 0.2% Jewish. As you can probably guess, the most important Spanish Holiday period is Holy Week. It is celebrated the week before Easter and includes parades and other special events. Of course, on the night before Ash Wednesday (the last festival before Lent), everyone parties hard, eating and consuming mass quantities of food and alcohol, partaking in reckless activities, and dressing in wild costumes

A trademark tradition for Spain is the Sanfermines (also known as “The Running of the Bulls) in Pamploma, which is on the Northern part of the country. Every year on July seventh, thousands of tourist and citizens gather in a large mass in the old part of the city to experience on of the most dangerous adventures of their lives. While anyone who is willing, along with many experts, put on traditional outfits and run in front of herds of wild bulls until they enter the Bullring.

The Tomatina, a town wide Tomato Fight held in Bunol (in the Valencia region of Spain), is a tradition that takes place every year on the last Wednesday of August during week long festival. A paella cook-off is held the night before the Tomatina. Pans the size of trash can lids simmer over wood fires in an outdoor lot. The Tomatina is the world’s largest food fight, and probably the messiest. It reportedly started in 1945 at an anti-Franco rally. More than 240,000 pounds of tomatoes are hurled by townspeople (about 20,000 participate, mostly boys vs. girls) at each other from 11 AM to 1 PM, then a bottle rocket goes off and together they clean up the mess. The streets are literally flooded with tomato juice, pulp, seeds, skins — the slop is ankle deep and all over the walls. This may sound like a fun event, but every year many injuries (usually to the eyes and ankles) and a few casualties take place.


Geis, Darlene. Let’s Travelin Spain. Children’s Press Inc. Chicago, 1982

Spain. The Book of Knowledge. Grolier Inc. Canada, 1991

Spain. Land and People Vol. 4. Mooney Publishing, 1989

History of Spain.

National Health Institute.



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