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Introduction: 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 (1936-39). A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the EU in 1986) gave Spain a dynamic and rapidly growing economy and made it a global champion of freedom and human rights. The...

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Foreign Policy: Since emerging from its relative international isolation during the Franco era, Spain has steadily become an important figure in international affairs. It joined the European Community in 1986 and is strongly pro-Europe.

Spain became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1982, with its full integration into the military structure of NATO completed in 1997. It has around 1500 personnel involved in the NATO-led operation ISAF in Afghanistan, and has sent troops on peace-keeping missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti and Lebanon, and as observers in the former Yugoslavia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the ...

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History: The Iberian Peninsula has been settled for millennia. Some of Europe's most impressive Paleolithic cultural sites are located in Spain, including the famous caves at Altamira that contain spectacular paintings dating from about 15,000 to 25,000 years ago. Beginning in the ninth century BC, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Celts entered the Iberian Peninsula. The Romans followed in the ...

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International Relations: Spain's relations with the UK

Relations with the UK are strong and deep.

There is extensive and valuable co-operation on health (including the recruitment of hundreds of highly-qualified Spanish medical staff now working in the UK), defence, climate change, international development, counter-terrorism, immigration and education. These areas of co-operation are reflected in regular bilateral conferences and seminars including the annual Tertulias Conference which brings together influential decision-makers and opinion-formers from the fields of politics, academia and business.

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The people who were later named Iberians (or dwellers along the Rio Ebro) by the Greeks, migrated to Spain in the third millennium B.C. The origin of the Iberians is not certain, but archaeological evidence of their metallurgical and agricultural skills supports a theory that they came from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The Iberians lived in small, tightly knit, sedentary tribal ...

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