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COUNTRY INVENTORY: SPAIN

Country Inventory: Spain


Spencer A. Brown
Regent University College of Arts & Sciences
GEOG 101

COUNTRY INVENTORY: SPAIN

Country Inventory: Spain


Introduction
At one point in history a powerful world empire where much
of the activity of the global economy took place, Spain has gone
through several periods of change and adjustment, economically and
politically speaking (Pulsipher and Pulsipher, 2014). Several of these
changes came, unfortunately, too late. For example, Spain failed to
take advantage of the mercantile and industrial revolutions that
swept up regional neighbors like Britain, France, and Germany,
which lessened its economic and political power (CIA, 2015). There
were times when it benefitted Spain to take a second chair to global
action, as it did by remaining neutral throughout World War I and
World War II. Any advantage this abstention from fighting may have
given Spain was quickly negated by a devastating civil war from
1936 until 1939. Unlike many of its neighbors, Spain transitioned
peacefully into a democratic nation in the 1970s, at which point it
caught up with the rest of the modernizing world, overtaking several
other countries to become a bastion of freedom and human rights.
Currently, Spain is battling a new kind of enemy in its economic

COUNTRY INVENTORY: SPAIN

problems. Like many other European countries affected by the 2008


economic recession, Spain has been forced to take significant action
toward shoring up its budget in order to prevent a complete free
fall. Like in Greece and France, Spain adopted a strict austerity
package which has given it the unfortunate superlative of one of the
highest unemployment rates in Europe (CIA, 2015).
Physical Geography
Spain is blessed with amazing natural resources and geographic
features. In regard to water assets, Spain has nearly 5,000 kilometers of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean,
and Bay of Biscay, and it occupies slightly more than 500,000 square
kilometers of land in Southwestern Europe (CIA, 2015). In the north,
the Pyrenees Mountains provide another facet to Spains diverse
landscape. It is bordered by the territories of Andorra, France,
Gibraltar, Portugal, and Morocco, and terrain-wise occupies a large
plateau ringed with hills and the aforementioned Pyrenees Mountains. Besides its visual beauty. Spain features a diverse portfolio of
natural resources including coal, iron ore, copper, lead, gypsum and
other mined resources. Above ground, roughly 54% of Spains land

COUNTRY INVENTORY: SPAIN

use is agricultural, the largest subset (20%) being used for permanent pasture (CIA, 2015). The agricultural success is due to Spains
temperate climate with clear, hot summers and cloudy, cold winters
in the interior, and more moderate cloudy, cool seasons along the
coasts (CIA, 2015). Its lowest point is located along the Atlantic
coast (0 meters), and its highest point is Pico de Teide (3,718 meters) (CIA, 2015).
Cultural Geography
The Spaniards have a rich culture, thanks in part to the composite
ethnic identity of Mediterranean and Nordic types (CIA, 2015). The
estimated population of Spain is around 48.15 million, of these, language and religion are fairly consistent. The main and official language, Castilian Spanish, is spoken by nearly three-fourths of the
population, with Catalan, Galician, and Basque representing 17%,
7%, and 2%, respectively (CIA, 2015). Catholicism is prevalent (94%
claiming the religion), compared to the measly 6% of other religions (CIA, 2015). The large percentage of agricultural land use
means that a large majority (79.6%) of Spains population is urban.
Political Geography

COUNTRY INVENTORY: SPAIN

The government of Spain, still officially the Kingdom of Spain is a


parliamentary monarchy with its seat in Madrid. The current head of
state is King Felipe the Sixth, who ascended to the throne in June of
2014 (CIA, 2015). The government is led by one person, called either
the President of the Government or Prime Minister, a position currently held by Mariano Rajoy, assisted by Vice President and Minister
of the Presidents Office Soraya Saenz de Santamaria. Like the United States, the Spanish cabinet is populated by the president. The
legislative system in Spain is, also like the US, bicameral. The General Courts, as the full body is known, is made up of the Senate
(with 257 members) and the Congress of Deputies (with 350 members) (CIA, 2015). The highest court in Spain is the Supreme Court,
on which sit a court president and nine magistrates (CIA, 2015). The
rest of the nations court proceedings are handled by the Penal Room
which has a president and 14 magistrates, the Administrative Room
which has a president and 32 magistrates, the Social Room which has
a president and 12 magistrates, and the Military Room which as a
president and 7 magistrates (CIA, 2015).Spain joined the European

COUNTRY INVENTORY: SPAIN

Economic Community (EEC) in the 1980s, which later became the European Union (EU) (Pulsipher and Pulsipher, 2014).
Christianity
As I pointed to earlier, Spain is dominated by Catholicism. By
the year 300 AD Christianity was found in all parts of the Roman
Empire, including central Italy, southern Gaul and Spain (All About
Religion, 2015). The expansion of Christianity was sped up considerably after the Edit of Milan in 313 AD, which effectively legalized
Christianity, making if even easier to evangelize and openly practice
the religion. Christianity and Catholicism had a large role in the history of Spains growth with over two dozen synods being held in
Spanish cities to respond to issues of the early fourth and fifth centuries. As with much of southern Europe and the mideast, the expansion of Islam led by Muslim fighters and conquerers tested the Christian roots of Spain, but the people of God held strong, and eventually
the power and control of the Muslim governance receded back across
the Mediterranean, leaving Spain and western Europe to recover
through the period of the Crusades. Unfortunately, the Crusades led
into the inquisition, certainly a black mark on the Church in Spain.

COUNTRY INVENTORY: SPAIN

The motivation to cleanse the region of heretics is clear, but the


practices were barbaric. It reinforced the religious practices of the
Catholic Church, and certainly purified the church, albeit not in the
most Christ-like methods. As Spain became a colonial force, this devotion to catholicism was carried forward into the New World. Subsequent attempts to purify the Catholic Church and subdue to
protestantism were again unfortunate, but the motivations were
clear: Spain was benefitting monetarily from the Catholic Churchs
coffers (Lynch, 1989). During the civil war I mentioned earlier on,
many religious artifacts, churches, and volumes of Christian and
Catholic literature were destroyed (Herr, 1974). Since then, the
church has advanced and receded a number of times, at certain
points being a great help and hope to the Spanish people, and at
others being cast aside as outdated and ineffective.
The church in Spain has clearly had a turbulent history, but this
is not too dissimilar from any other nations history. Going forward,
more steps need to be taken to expand religious freedom that still
has scars from the inquisition and the civil war. The number of people claiming Catholicism is a hopeful key that many people know the

COUNTRY INVENTORY: SPAIN

tenets of their faith, whether they still adhere to the tenets of the
religion. What is seemingly needed is a revival and a reawakening of
the Spanish peoples souls to the goodness of God and the hope of
the Gospel. Current and past troubles have failed to shake the foundations of the faith, but if they will remember 2 Chronicles 7:14
(KJV), If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble
themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked
ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will heal their land, God
can and will use the Spanish people for his glory and purpose.
Word Count:
1,337

COUNTRY INVENTORY: SPAIN

References
Central Intelligence Agency. (2015). Spain. In The World Factbook.
Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/theworld-factbook/geos/sp.html
Herr, Richard. (1974). An Historical Essay on Modern Spain.
Lynch, John. (1989). Bourbon Spain: 1700-1808.
Pulsipher, Lydia, and Alex A. Pulsipher. (2014). World Regional Geography:

Global Patterns, Local Lives (Sixth Edition). W.H. Free-

man & Co.: New

York.