The country shares its borders with France, PortugalAndorraMorocco, and Gibraltar. Spain and Portugal make up what is known as the Iberian Peninsula.

The Romans had Spain as part of their Empire for 500 years and helped shape many of its cities, and towns. From the 8th century onwards (the next 500 years) most of Spain came under Islamic rulers, a fragment of which survived as late as 1492, when the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon completed the 770 year long process of recapturing the country, known as the Reconquista.

In the same year, Christopher Columbus reached the New World, which led to the creation of the world-wide Spanish Empire, and soon made Spain the most powerful country in Europe. However it wasn’t to last long as continued wars and other problems gradually reduced Spain to a lower status.

The 20th century was dominated in the middle years by The Franco dictatorship. Things picked up with the start of a stable democracy in 1978, and then in 1986 Spain joined what is now known as the European Union, bringing an economic and cultural renaissance.

Spain is a developed country and a democracy – organised as a parliamentary monarchy. It is also the world’s eighth-largest economy.