Spain’s location at the crossroads of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean means it has richly diverse history and culture.
Its 1978 constitution enshrines respect for this cultural diversity, and the country is divided into 17 regions, each with their own directly elected authority. The population is 46.7 million.
Spain’s recent history was marred by the bitter civil war of 1936-39, and the ensuing 36-year dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. After his death in 1975 it made a successful transition to a democratic state and built a successful economy.
It joined the EU in 1986, having applied for membership in 1977.
Spain is a very popular holiday destination for British tourists, as well people from across the European mainland, and the UK government estimates there are 800,000 Britons living in Spain.
Spanish food is as diverse as its history and regions, from tasty tapas to traditional paella. In the Valencia region, they claim you can eat a different rice dish every day of the year.