Spain

The country of Spain lies on the continent of Europe. It is located forty
degrees north and four degrees west. The capital of Spain, Madrid, is located in
the central region known as the Centro-Meseta. The country of Spain is made up
of four regions: El norte, El este, El sur, and Centro-Meseta. Spain\'s large
area of 195,988 square miles covers about five sixths of the Iberian Peninsula.
It is one of the largest countries in Western Europe. At its widest point, Spain
stretches 635 miles from east to west. It stretches about 550 miles north to
south. Spain\'s longest coastline lies along the Mediterranean Sea and stretches
for almost 1700 miles from the eastern end of the Pyrenees mountain chain to the
strait of Gibraltar. The Pyrenees, one of Europe\'s largest mountain chains, is
270 miles long. They are practically impassable to humans because are formed
from only steep gorges that lead higher summits.

Spain is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean called the Gulf of Cadiz. The Huelva,
Rota, and Cadiz ports lie on this coast and further up the Guadalquivir River is
the ancient transportation center Seville. Some other major rivers in Spain are
the Douro, Tagus, and Ebro rivers. Spain\'s currency is the peseta and is
currently equal to one hundred centimos. The exchange rate has one U. S. Dollar
for 134.61 pesetas.

More that thirty-nine million people reside in the country of Spain. That is
because it is made up of a large ethnic diversity. Its location between Europe
and Africa has resulted in a great mixing of races and cultures. The only
distinct minority group generally recognized as outside the racial-cultural
mainstream of Spanish society is made up of Gypsies, many of whom still follow
nomadic life-style along the roads and highways. Fairly large communities of
settled Gypsies are found in the cities of Mucia, Granada, Barcelona, and Madrid.


Spain is overwhelmingly urban, with seventy-six percent of its people living in
towns and cities. This concentration of Spain\'s people heightens the impression
of emptiness that so often is commented on by the travelers, specially those who
cross the Meseta.

Most of the Spanish portion of the Iberian Peninsula is very thinly populated.
In the Centro-Meseta region only the areas around Madrid and Saragossa have
dense settlement.

There are many different kinds of languages spoken in Spain. Modern Spanish also
referred to as Castilian, is spoken throughout Spain and is the official
language. Castilian is often a second language, not a mother tongue. In el norte
two regional languages are widely spoken. One, the language of Basque people, is
called Euskara. It is on of Europe\'s oldest languages but is different from the
Indo-European and Uralic languages spoken across the rest of Europe. The
constitution of 1978 made Euskara an official local language and afforded
increased political autonomy to the Basque provinces.

In the region of Galicia a language known as Gallego is widely used, and also
since 1978 it too has been recognized as an official language to be taught in
schools. Modern Portuguese evolved from Gallego, which resembles a cross between
Portuguese and Spanish. From eighty to eighty five percent of Galicia\'s three
million inhabitants speak Gallego. Attempt have been made to standardize the
spelling and grammar, but they have not been entirely successful. A kind of
common Galician language is beginning to emerge as a spoken tongue in the
province\'s larger towns.

Catalan is another language that enjoys a special status under Spain\'s
constitution. It is a "romance" language with highly developed literature. Most
of the seven million people who speak Catalan are located in El este. It is the
official language in the three communities Catalonia, Valencia, and Balearics.
Catalan Speakers also live in the eastern fringe of Aragon, Andorra,
southwestern France, and part of Sardinia. Catalonia\'s government promotes its
official language both at home and in other countries.

Religion is very important to most Spaniards. Many Spanish people are baptized,
married and buried as members of the Roman Catholic church. Under the 1978
constitution the church is no longer Spain\'s official or established faith,
though financial support is still provided by the state. As a result, the
church\'s influence in Spanish society has declined sharply, though officially
more than ninety four percent of the population is reported as being Roman
Catholic. The church supported the democratic movement and so helped foster the
new attitude of tolerance and personal freedom found in present-day Spain.

Many of Spain\'s non-Catholic citizens are members of some Protestant Church.
Small Eastern Orthodox congregations are found along with Muslim and Jewish
groups. Among non-Christian Jews form the major community.

Spain\'s culture revolves around many different things.