We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!



Country Profile

Area: 504,782 km², of which 499,542 km² is land and 5,240 km² is water.
Population: 46.9 million (source INE Spanish National Statistics Office 2010)
Capital City: Madrid
Languages: Castilian Spanish, Catalan - 17%, Galician - 7%, Basque - 2%
Life Expectancy: 78 male, 84 female (source World Health Organisation)
People: Approximately 12% of the Spanish population are foreign nationals. Top foreign nationalities in Spain are Romanian (861k), Moroccan (777k), Ecuadorian, (380k), British (226k registered with the police and 1 million who spend at least part of the year in Spain) and Colombian (227k).
Religions: Roman Catholic - 94%; Protestant/other - 6% (source CIA World Factbook)
Currency: Euro
Government: Spanish elections were held on 20 November 2011 and won by the Popular Party (PP). The new Government was appointed on 22 December.

Spain is a democratic constitutional monarchy with a National Parliament (Cortes Generals), formed by the Congress of Deputies and the Senate, that is elected every 4 years. Spain is divided in to 17 regions – Andalusia, Aragón, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile and León, Castile-La-Mancha, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Community of Madrid, Region of Murcia, Basque Country, Community of Valencia, Navarra and two autonomous cities – Ceuta and Meillla. These autonomous communities have varying powers, but each has its own parliament, government and administrative apparatus.
Major political parties:
-- Popular Party (PP) leader: Mariano Rajoy;
-- Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) leader: Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba;
-- Convergence and Union (CiU) leader: Artur Mas;
-- Basque National Party (PNV) leader: Iñigo Urkullu.
Head of State: King Juan Carlos I
Prime Minister: Mariano Rajoy (PP)
Minister of Foreign Affairs: José Manuel García-Margallo
Composition of current Parliament: Total seats: 350. Partido Popular (PP) centre right (186), PSOE, centre left (110), others (47).
Membership of international groupings/organisations: European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), United Nations (UN), Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe (CoE).

Back to the Top


Basic economic facts (all figures 2009 unless stated)

GDP: €268.850 millions (Q4 2011)
GDP per head: €20,106 (2010)
Sectors contribution to GDP (2010):

2.42% Agriculture

-- 2.98% Energy

11.79% Industry

-- 10.92% Construction

41.34% Services

Annual growth: 0.7% (2011)
Inflation: 2.0% (January 2012)
Unemployment: Unemployment in Spain rose to 22.8 % in Q4 2011.
Major industries: agriculture, fishing, construction, wine, cement, chemicals, engineering, petroleum refining, forestry and timber, iron and steel automobiles, textiles, telecommunications
Major trading partners: EU, Latin America.
Total Exports: +16.3% (2011).
Total Imports: +10.4% (2011).

Back to the Top


BBC Timeline of Spain (

The Spanish Democracy

The transition from dictatorship to democracy began with Franco’s death on 20 November 1975; its completion was marked by the electoral win of the socialist PSOE Party on 28 October 1982 in free democratic elections. The Spanish monarch King Juan Carlos was instrumental in the promotion of democracy; he intervened in the coup attempt in attempt known as “23-F” causing the plot to fail.

After the political transformation Spain changed radically adopting liberal values and free market practices, whilst maintaining the Spanish way of life.

Recent History

Spain joined the EEC (now EU) in 1986,hosted the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and Seville Expo´92. These three events confirmed the world view of Spain as a modern economic power on the world stage.

Spain exchanged the peseta for the Euro in 2002.

Spain became the first country in the world to give full marriage and adoption rights to homosexual couples in 2005.

Spain held the EU Presidency from 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2010.


The modern day guitar was invented in Spain, when a sixth string was added to the Arab lute.

Back to the Top


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.

Like the UK, Spain is an important presence in Afghanistan. Some 1,500 Spanish troops are deployed in Afghanistan as part of NATO's international peacekeeping force. Spain has committed €10million over 3 years to the Afghanistan Reintegration Trust Fund.

One of the most successful bilateral projects in recent years is ‘Operation Captura’, a joint initiative with Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and the Crimestoppers charity designed to locate the most wanted British fugitives in Spain. Since its launch in 2006, seven campaigns have yielded the arrest of 41 serious criminals (out of the 65 publicised). In total more than 120 British criminals have been apprehended in Spain (with the help of SOCA) over the past five years.

Parliamentary Links

The British-Spanish All Party Parliamentary Group meets regularly with their Spanish opposite numbers. Meetings alternate between the UK and Spain. The Chair of the British Group is Lord Brennan.

Cultural Relations with the UK

British cultural relations in Spain are led by the British Council. The British Council connects people with learning opportunities and creative ideas from the UK to build lasting relationships around the world.

The British Council office in Spain is the organisation's largest in the world, excluding the aid-driven India programme.

British Council Spain
The Anglo-Spanish Society is a registered charity, whose objects are to promote friendship and understanding between the peoples of Britain and Spain through knowledge of each other’s customs, institutions, history and way of life. It is a non-political organisation, and membership of the Society is open to people of any nationality who have an interest in and a love of Spain and her culture. The Anglo-Spanish Society (


Spain is the most popular destination for British holiday makers. Around 14 million Britons visit Spain every year (Source: Instituto de Estudios Turisticos - IET). Around 1 million Britons now live all or part of the year in Spain. Some 2.1 million Spanish residents visited the UK in 2009.


Spain has seen a tenfold increase in immigration in the past 10 years.

Approximately 12% of the Spanish population are foreign nationals. Top foreign nationalities in Spain are Romanian (861k), Moroccan (777k), Ecuadorian, (380k), British (226k registered with the police and 1 million who spend at least part of the year in Spain) and Colombian (227k).


The Basque terrorist group ETA has been responsible for over 800 deaths in Spain and the Basque Country over the last 43 years. However,on 20 October 2011 ETA announced a "definitive cessation of its armed activity" and a commitment to seek a democratic solution to its cause.

Spain remains a target for international terrorism. On 11 March 2004 a co-ordinated terrorist attack killed 191 people and wounded 1,755. A series of bombs detonated on commuter trains with routes in to Madrid. On 31 October 2007 21 people were convicted of involvement in the attack, which was wholly attributed to Al-Qaeda inspired terrorism.



Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister, February 2012

-- Elena Salgado, Finance and Economy Minister August 2011

-- Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister, July 2011

-- Valeriano Gómez, Labour & Immigration Minister, April 2011

-- Trinidad Jimenez, Foreign Minister, February 2011


-- David Lidington, Minister for Europe, February 2012

-- Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, to Madrid, December 2011

-- Gregory Barker, Minister of Climate Change, October 2011

-- James Brokenshire, Minister for Security and Crime Prevention, to Madrid October 2011

-- Theresa May, Home Secretary, to Madrid, June 2011

-- Jeremy Browne, FCO Minister of State, to Malaga, June 2011

-- Mark Hoban, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, April 2011

-- Gerald Howarth, Minister for International Security Strategy, March 2011

-- Stephen Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, February 2011

Back to the Top


Spain is the second largest country in the EU after France. It has a total surface area of 504,000 square kilometres. It comprises about 84% of the Iberian Peninsula. Spain’s borders are Andorra (63.7 km), France (623 km), Gibraltar (1.2 km), Portugal (1,214 km), Morocco (Ceuta) (6.3 km), Morocco (Melilla) (9.6 km).

As well as the mainland, the territory includes two island archipelagos – the Balearics and the Canaries – and two enclaves on the North African coast, bordering Morocco – Ceuta and Melilla.
The Spanish climate is temperate with hot summers but more moderate and cloudy along the coast; and cold winters in the interior, and partly cloudy and cool along the coast.

Back to the Top


Spain is a highly developed, competitive market. Almost anything sold in the UK is likely to sell well in Spain. It's also an open market for overseas companies and an important gateway to Latin American markets. UK-Spain commercial bilateral relations are very strong:


The main UK Exports to Spain include medicinal and pharmaceutical products, inorganic chemicals and various manufactured articles. Imports from Spain are largely in the same sectors with the addition of fruit and vegetables.

Spain is the UK’s 7th largest export market. In 2009 exports (good & services) were valued at ₤14.55bn, and Spain is the 8th largest import source (₤18.62bn) in 2009.


Spanish companies are becoming increasingly competitive and are looking more and more outside their home base for opportunities to enable them to globalise their business. Spain is one of the leading investors in the UK in recent years. Approx 400 Spanish companies are registered in the UK.

The UK is the second largest foreign investor in Spain. From 2000-09 we were the largest foreign investor in Spain. There are around 700 UK companies already in Spain.

For further information on the Spanish market please visit the UK trade and investment website.

Back to the Top


The Spanish Government is a constitutional monarchy. The current Head of State is King Juan Carlos. The role is largely ceremonial and policy is dictated, as in the UK, by a democratically elected Prime Minister (known in Spanish as Presidente del Gobierno). The Prime Minister resides over a bicameral parliament, which is separated in to two houses - the Lower House Congreso de los Diputados, and the Senate, Senado. The Congreso is primarily responsible for legislative matters and is very much the centre of political attention. The Congress has 350 deputies elected at least every four years by proportional representation and the Senateis a mix of 208 members elected by provinces in parallel with the Congreso (elections are simultaneous) and 48 selected by Autonomous Communities according to population.

Political parties participate in Parliament as parliamentary groups. Each party has a spokesman, portavoz, appointed according to each party's rules. The spokesman acts both as manager of the group, and speaks for the party at major debates.

There are two concurrent annual sessions for both chambers - September to December and February to June. Plenary sessions are public and are often carried on the media.

Recent Political Developments

General elections were held on 20 November 2011. Mariano Rajoy leader of The Partido Party (PP) centre right as confirmed as Prime Minister on 22 December.

Regional Elections 2011

In May 2011, Partido Popular (PP), secured their best regional and local election results since Spain’s return to democracy in 1978. They won the most seats in 11 of the 13 regions where elections were held, winning an overall majority in 8. The PP secured control of regions such as Castilla La Mancha and Extremadura which had traditionally been bastions of Socialist (PSOE) support. PSOE also lost control of several important town halls, including Barcelona and Seville. The left-wing Basque nationalist coalition Bildu, which was created in the run-up to the elections, did much better than expected, finishing a close second to centre-right nationalists (PNV) in the Basque Country.

Information about the current Government of Spain can be found here ( .

Back to the Top

Last Updated: February 2012

Spain Main Page Country Profiles Main Page


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(€) Euro (EUR)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map