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A few facts about Spain

Spain is the largest nation in the Iberian peninsula, an area that it dominates with an eighty five percent geographical share leaving a mere fifteen percent to neighbour Portugal. Spain is divided up into a series of regions called autonomous communities, each of which has its own local government and law making powers. While associated with sun and hot weather by most English speaking holiday makers, Spain faces not just the Mediterranean, but also the Atlantic Oceans. It also has ski resorts in some of its northern provinces including one of the four provincial areas of Galicia. Despite its current prosperity and economic growth (last year the Spanish economy grew at three times the rate of that of France), it remains a net beneficiary of the European Union.

That status has also been extended to the year 2013 ensuring Spain's wealth is not only kept in house, but further supplemented by the British and German tax payers. Although most visitors to Spain try to pick up a few "Spanish" phrases before they vacation there, the country has several dialects which are not simply accents, but unique regional tongues. Spain has a socialist government headed by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. He and his party deposed the more right wing "Popular Party" in 2004 by breaking an unwritten agreement to cease electoral campaigning 48 hours before the election to allow voters some unhindered time for thought. This was done in order to exploit the terrorist bombings of trains and question the existing government's conclusion that Islamic terrorists were to blame. The ploy, although ultimately proven to be untrue, worked.

Spain has a monarchy, re-instated after the death of General Franco and the current incumbent is King Juan Carlos I. Unlike the Queen in the UK, the Spanish King is popular with most citizens. Although large geographically Spain's people population is around forty million with an average life expectancy of almost eighty years of age. Spain's population work amongst the longest hours of any of the EU's member states, but also manage the lowest levels of productivity - a great concern to the Spanish government. Spain is still a Christian state and approximately ninety five percent of its population are Catholic.

The church going community is however a very small representation of this overall figure. Spain's two largest cities are Madrid, the capitol, and Barcelona. The latter has a population of over one and a half million inhabitants, whilst the former, Madrid, exceeds three million. .

By: Martin Lambert

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