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The Spain Portal

Spain (Spanish: España, [es'pa?a] ), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España), is a country in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of 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 archipelagos: the Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, makes 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 respectively.

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 by area on the European continent. With a population exceeding 47.3 million, Spain is the sixth-most populous country in Europe, and the fourth-most populous country in the European Union. Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza, 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 BC, 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, Germanic tribal confederations migrated from Central Europe, invaded the Iberian peninsula and established relatively independent realms in its western provinces. One of them, the Visigoths, forcibly integrated all remaining independent territories in the peninsula, including the Byzantine province of Spania, into the Visigothic Kingdom.

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Map of the 2015 Vuelta a España route, from Marbella to Madrid.(stage courses in red)

The 2015 Vuelta a España was a three-week Grand Tour cycling race. The race was the 70th edition of the Vuelta a España and took place principally in Spain, although two stages took place partly or wholly in Andorra, and was the 22nd race in the 2015 UCI World Tour. The 3,358.1-kilometre (2,086.6 mi) race included 21 stages, beginning in Marbella on 22 August 2015 and finishing in Madrid on 13 September. It was won by Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team), with Joaquim Rodríguez (Team Katusha) second and Rafa? Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) third.

The early leaders of the race were Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin), who exchanged the leader's red jersey several times during the first ten days of racing, with both riders winning summit finishes in the first week. Aru took over the race lead following the mountainous Stage 11, which took place entirely within Andorra. He kept his lead for five stages as the race entered the mountains of northern Spain, but lost it to Rodríguez on Stage 16. Dumoulin took the lead back on Stage 17 - the race's only individual time trial - with Aru three seconds behind in second place. Aru attacked throughout the final stages and, on the penultimate day, finally dropped Dumoulin, who fell to sixth place overall. Aru therefore took the first Grand Tour victory of his career. Read more...

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Spain has two time zones and observes daylight saving time. Spain mainly uses Central European Time (GMT+01:00) and Central European Summer Time (GMT+02:00) in Peninsular Spain, the Balearic Islands, Ceuta, Melilla and plazas de soberanía. In the Canary Islands, the time zone is Western European Time (GMT±00:00) and Western European Summer Time (GMT+01:00). Daylight saving time is observed from the last Sunday in March (01:00 GMT) to the last Sunday in October (01:00 GMT) throughout Spain.

Spain used Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±00:00) before the Second World War (except for the Canary Islands which used GMT-01:00 before this date). However, the time zone was changed to Central European Time in 1940 and has remained so since then, meaning that Spain does not use its "natural" time zone under the coordinated time zone system. Some observers believe that this time zone shift plays a role in the country's relatively unusual daily schedule (late meals and sleep times). Read more...

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Remains of the Alconétar Bridge with its flattened arches

The Alconétar Bridge (Spanish: Puente de Alconétar), also known as Puente de Mantible, was a Roman segmental arch bridge in the Extremadura region, Spain. The ancient structure, which featured flattened arches with a span-to-rise ratio of 4-5:1, is one of the earliest of its kind. Due to its design, it is assumed that the bridge was erected in the early 2nd century AD by the emperors Trajan or Hadrian, possibly under the guidance of Apollodorus of Damascus, the most famous architect of the time.

The almost 300 m long Alconétar Bridge served as a crossing point for the Roman Via de la Plata, the most important north-south connection in western Hispania, over the Tagus, the longest river of the Iberian peninsula. It presumably remained in service until the Reconquista, after which numerous early modern reconstruction attempts by Spanish engineers failed. The ruins, which were mainly to be found on the right river bank, were relocated from their original position in 1970 when the Alcántara reservoir was created. Read more...

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An artists portrait of Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés (also known as Hernán(do) Cortés Pizarro, 1st Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca; born 1485–December 2, 1547) was a Spanish conquistador who initiated the conquest of the Aztec Empire on behalf of Charles V, king of Castile and Holy Roman Emperor, in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.[1]

Born in Medellín, Extremadura, in Castile, to a family of lesser nobility, Cortés chose to pursue a livelihood in the New World. He went to Hispaniola and later to Cuba, where he received an encomienda and, for a short time, became alcalde (mayor) of a small town. In 1519, he was elected captain of the third expedition to the mainland, an expedition which he partly funded. His enmity with the governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, resulted in the latter recalling the expedition at the last moment, an order which Cortés ignored. Arriving on the continent, Cortés executed a successful strategy of allying with some indigenous peoples against others. He also used a native woman, Doña Marina, as interpreter; she would later bear Cortés a son. When the Governor of Cuba sent emissaries to arrest Cortés, he fought them and won, using the extra troops as reinforcements. Cortés wrote letters directly to the king asking to be acknowledged for his successes instead of punished for mutiny. After he overthrew the Aztec empire, Cortés was awarded the title of Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca, while the more prestigious title of Viceroy was given to a high-ranking nobleman, Antonio de Mendoza. Cortés returned to Spain in 1541 where he died peacefully but embittered.

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Timanfaya National Park
Credit: Yummifruitbat

Timanfaya National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional de Timanfaya) is a national park, covering the southern area of Tinajo, Las Palmas and the northern area of Yaiza, Las Palmas. The parkland is made up of volcanic soil, with the strongest recorded eruptions occurring between 1730 and 1736.

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In the news

19 September 2020 -
A 1634 edition of The Two Noble Kinsmen, the last play written by English playwright William Shakespeare, is discovered at the Royal Scots College's library in Salamanca, Spain. It is believed to be the oldest copy of any of his works in the country. (BBC)
18 September 2020 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Spain
COVID-19 pandemic in the Community of Madrid
The Madrid regional government announces new restrictions aimed at curbing the rising number of cases in the region. The order will go into effect on September 21 and last for at least two weeks, affecting more than 855,000 people, or 17% of the region's population. (El Pais in English)

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