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FEATURE Layout > Spain and Portugal comprise the Iberian Peninsula in the southwestern extension of Europe, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean and pinching down just 14 kilometers away from the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa. At 505,000 square km, Spain is second only to France in size, and is separated from the rest of Europe by the towering Pyrenees. Population > With 46 million people, (the United States has 313 million) Spain has one of the lowest population densities in Europe (80/sq. kilometer, vs. 30 U.S., or 107 France). Certain areas with negative population rates are trying to lure South American families with jobs and a home. At current trends, Spain will have an average age of 55 at mid-century. Language > Espanol is a romance language like French or Italian, with roots in Latin. Spaniards often speak with what sounds like a lisp to American ears. Spain has many regional dialects such as Gallego and Catalan and Basque is a completely autochthonous language unto itself. Spanish is spoken throughout the world by more than 250 million people. Dominion > Apart from northern Aryans and a later Arab presence, dominance of the Iberian Peninsula reflected the power of ancient Mediterranean civilizations: Greeks, Phoenicians (with Carthage), and Rome which fell to the Vandal and Visigoth hordes. But, in Spain, Latin, Christianity and Roman law remained. In 711, Arabs took Spain and remained for eight centuries before Catholic monarchs unified and pushed them out. Government > Parliamentary monarchy with a president. A new constitution followed the end of Franco's 40-year dictatorship in 1975 marking Spain's "return to Europe." Generally bi-partisan, Spain is divided between the Social Democrats and the Popular Party, with the governments of autonomous regions playing in influential role, such as Basque's Partido Nacionalista Vasco and Catalonia's Convergencia i Uni—. Food > Nearly 2,000 kilometers of coastline means lots of seafood. Paella, gazpacho and chorizo are known in the U.S. But the range of Spanish tapas, and oriental influences on stews and regional specialties involve beans, sausage and vegetables in the north, roast lamb and suckling pig in the interior expanses. In the U.S., Spain is best known for Rioja, the famous winegrowing region. Religion > Modern Spain was partly forged out of struggle between Catholic monarchs and centuries of Islamic presence ending with the "Reconquest." The Spanish Inquisition sought to purge Spain of "non-believers," including political dissidents and non-Catholics. Briefly weakened by the Republican uprisings of the 1930s, the Catholic Church supported Franco's rise to power. Overwhelmingly Catholic today, less than half practice. Basque Separatism > Euskadi Ta Askatasuma (ETA), meaning Basque Homeland and Freedom in Euskara (the language likely precedes other Indo-European languages) was established under the Franco regime to fight for an independent socialist Basque state in the Pyrenees Mountains of northern Spain to the French Atlantic coast. Though declining in popularity, Basque terrorists have killed 800 in 30 years and even declared tourists in Spain as targets. Architecture > Prehistoric ruins rest on the Balearic Islands and functioning Roman aqueducts bridge the Spanish mainland. Moorish forms such as an inner ambulatory, horseshoe arches and intricate geometric patterns characterize Spanish architecture. Gothic cathedrals and castles remain as a testament to Spain's past. Gaudi, Spain's most celebrated architect combines all these influences into ingenious, organic and fantastical creations. Painting > Velazquez and Cretan born El Greco are the best and earliest examples of the great Spanish school of the 15th 17th century notable for its soulful realism. The modern period brought Picasso, Dali, Miro and Tapias, all of whom somehow managed a peculiarly southern combination of intellect and soul. 110 MacDirectory

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