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The Spain Portal

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Spain (Spanish: España [es'pa?a] ), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España), is a European country located in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of Spanish territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

With an area of 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the European continent. By population (about 47 million), Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and the fifth in the European Union. Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Málaga and Bilbao.

Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. Iberian cultures along with ancient Phoenician, Greek, Celtic and Carthaginian settlements developed on the peninsula until it came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania, based on the earlier Phoenician name Sp(a)n or Spania. At the end of the Western Roman Empire the Germanic tribal confederations migrated from Central Europe, invaded the Iberian peninsula and established relatively independent realms in its western provinces, including the Suebi, Alans and Vandals. Eventually, the Visigoths would forcibly integrate all remaining independent territories in the peninsula, including Byzantine provinces, into the Kingdom of Toledo, which more or less unified politically, ecclesiastically and legally all the former Roman provinces or successor kingdoms of what was then documented as Hispania.

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Typical costume of a family belonging to the Principalía of the late 19th century Philippines. Exhibit in the Villa Escudero Museum, San Pablo, Laguna.

The Principalía or noble class was the ruling and usually educated upper class in the pueblos of the Spanish Philippines, comprising the Gobernadorcillo, who was later referred to as Capitan Municipal (who had functions similar to a town mayor), Lieutinants of Justice, and the Cabezas de Barangay (heads of the barangays) who governed the districts, former Gobernadorcillos or Municipal Captains, and Municipal lieutenants in good standing during their term of office.

The distinction or status of being part of the Principalía was originally a hereditary right. However, the royal decree of 20 December 1863 (signed in the name of Queen Isabella II by the Minister of the Colonies, José de la Concha), made possible the creation of new principales under certain defined criteria, among which was the proficiency in Castilian language. Later, wider conditions that define the Principalía were stipulated in the norms provided by the Maura Law of 1893, which were never changed until Spain lost the Archipelago to the Americans. The Law also redefined the reference to the head of municipal government in colonial Philippines from Gobernadorcillo to Capitan Municipal, and extended the distinction as principales to citizens paying 50 pesos in land tax. Read more...

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Selected biography

Federico Mayor Zaragoza

Federico Mayor Zaragoza (1934 in Barcelona) is a Spanish scholar and politician. He served as Director-General of UNESCO from 1987 to 1999. Mayor obtained a doctorate in pharmacy from the Complutense University of Madrid in 1958. In 1963 he became professor of biochemistry at the School of Pharmacy of the University of Granada, and in 1968 was elected rector of that university, a post he held until 1972. The following year he was appointed professor in biochemistry at the Community of Madrid. In 1974 he co-founded the Severo Ochoa Centre of Molecular Biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid and of the High Council for Scientific Research.

Selected picture

A view of Barcelona Free Port.
Credit: Lofor

The Barcelona Free Port or Zona franca de Barcelona is a tariff-free industrial park that has developed within the Port of Barcelona, across the flat land of the Llobregat delta between the city of Barcelona and Barcelona International Airport to the south.

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In the news

18 October 2019 - Trial of Catalan independence leaders; 2019 Catalan protests
Catalonia goes to a general strike in protest of the prison sentence of the Catalan independentists leaders. Thousands of demonstrators arrive walking to Barcelona from the whole region. (The Guardian)
In Barcelona, a water cannon is used for the first time against protesters in Spain. (La Vanguardia)
18 October 2019 -
Former President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont is released with charges by the Brussels prosecutor's office after surrendering on Thursday to the Belgian authorities following the issuing of the European Arrest Warrant on Monday. (The Guardian) (Euronews)
17 October 2019 -
The fourth night of violence in the streets of Catalonia in protest of the sentence of the Catalan independence leaders leaves 33 arrested and 80 injures. In Tarragona, the main door of the city hall is burnt. (El País) (La Vanguardia)

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