COUNTRIES

SPAIN

Programs Offered

Barcelona: Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona

Seville: Centro de Lenguas e Intercambio Cultural

A few facts about the country:

OFFICIAL NAME: Kingdom of Spain

GOVERNMENT TYPE: Parliamentary monarchy

CHIEF OF STATE: King JUAN CARLOS I (since 22 November 1975); Heir Apparent Prince FELIPE, son of the monarch, born 30 January 1968

HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: President of the Government (Prime Minister Equivalent) Jose Luis RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO (since 17 April 2004)

POPULATION: 40,491,052

LOCATION: Southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France

TERRAIN AND CLIMATE: Large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees in north. Temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%, are official regionally

GENERAL HISTORY: Spain's powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II but suffered through a devastating civil war (193639). A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of Dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the EU in 1986) have given Spain one of the most dynamic economies in Europe and made it a global champion of freedom. Continuing challenges include Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorism, illegal immigration, and slowing economic growth.

ECONOMY: The Spanish economy boomed from 1986 to 1990 averaging 5% annual growth. After a Europeanwide recession in the early 1990s, the Spanish economy resumed moderate growth starting in 1994. Spain's mixed capitalist economy supports a GDP that on a per capita basis is equal to that of the leading West European economies. The centerright government of former President Jose Maria AZNAR successfully worked to gain admission to the first group of countries launching the European single currency (the euro) on 1 January 1999. The AZNAR administration continued to advocate liberalization, privatization, and deregulation of the economy and introduced some tax reforms to that end. Unemployment fell steadily under the AZNAR administration but remains high at 7.6%. Growth averaging more than 3% annually during 200307 was satisfactory given the background of a faltering European economy. The Socialist president, RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, has made mixed progress in carrying out key structural reforms, which need to be accelerated and deepened to sustain Spain's economic growth. Despite the economy's relative solid footing significant downside risks remain including Spain's continued loss of competitiveness, the potential for a housing market collapse, the country's changing demographic profile, and a decline in EU structural funds.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Spain and Andorra share with the rest of the world an increased threat of international terrorist incidents. Like other countries in the Schengen area, Spain's open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering and exiting the country with anonymity. Spain’s proximity to North Africa makes it vulnerable to attack from Al Qaeda of the Maghreb terrorists. Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution.