The Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España, or Spain (España) is a country located in southwestern Europe. It is located on the Iberian Peninsula (Pyrenean Peninsula), where Portugal, Gibraltar, and Andorra are also located. To the northeast , along the ridge of the Pyrenees Mountains, is the border with France and the small principality of Andorra. Just 14 kilometers south of Spain is the coast of Morocco. Spain includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the cities of Ceuta and Melilla in the North Africa.
The name Spain comes from the Latin Hispania, with which the Romans named not only the lands of ancient Iberia, but also the entire Iberian Peninsula.
With an area of 504,645 km², Spain is the fourth largest country in Europe after Russia, Ukraine and France and the second largest in the European Union. With an average altitude of 650 m, the country is among the most mountainous countries on the continent.
Due to its geographical position, the territory of Spain has been subjected to many external influences since prehistoric times. The first peoples who inhabited the peninsula were the Iberians and the Celts. Besides them, Basque tribes inhabited the western Pyrenees. Between 500 and 300 BC, the Phoenicians and the ancient Greeks established their colonies along the Mediterranean coast of the peninsula. Later, the Carthaginians conquered all of southern Spain. Their main strongholds there are Gader (Cádiz) and Novi Carthagen (Cartagena). During the Punic Wars (264 BC – 146 BC) Carthage was defeated by the Romans who displaced them.
From 19 BC The Iberian Peninsula became an integral part of the Roman Empire under the name Hispania. The Romans established control over almost the entire country for more than 500 years, introducing their language, laws, ways. Gradually, the local population became Romanized and the local leaders became part of the Roman aristocracy.
During the decline of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, Germanic tribes invaded the country. The Romanized Visigoths settled there in 415. They converted to Christianity and created the Visigothic Kingdom, which covered most of the peninsula.
Between 711 – 718, almost the entire Iberian Peninsula was conquered by Muslim Berbers, also known as Moors. Torn by internal contradictions, the Visigothic kingdom became an easy prey for the Islamic invaders. Only some isolated mountainous regions in the northern part of the peninsula, such as Asturias, Navarre and a few counties in the Pyrenees managed to maintain their independence.
In Islam, Christians and Jews are recognized as "Peoples of the Book" and can practice their religion under certain discriminatory conditions. However, there were several waves of mass Islamization, especially in the 10th and 11th centuries.
In the 10th century, Cordoba, the capital of the caliphate, became the largest and richest city in medieval Europe. Mediterranean trade and culture flourished. Muslims contributed to the intellectual traditions of the Middle East, and Islamic and Jewish philosophers from Al-Andalus revived the classical ancient Greek school in Western Europe. The culture of the Romanized local population combined in a unique way with that of Muslims and Jews, which helped to flourish architecture and literature. The invaders introduced new crops and built an extensive network of irrigation canals, leading to a sharp increase in agricultural production. Al Andalus - this is what the Arabs call the entire Iberian Peninsula. Today, only the southernmost part of the peninsula – Andalusia – has retained this name.
By the 11th century, the caliphate disintegrated into numerous warring states, which allowed the small Christian kingdoms in the north to expand their territories and consolidate their positions.
At the end of the 15th century, Spain was united. With the discovery of America and subsequent colonization, the country became the first global empire and the most powerful country in the world. The cultural and historical legacy is still visible today, with Spanish being the second most widely spoken language in the world and official in 21 countries.
The territory of Spain falls within three climatic zones - temperate, subtropical and tropical. The climate in northern Spain is temperate maritime. This climate is characterized by wet weather throughout the year. In the rest of mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands, the climate is subtropical – continental in the central regions with hot summers, cold winters and large temperature amplitudes, and Mediterranean in the south, characterized by dry and hot summers and wet, mild winters. In the high parts of the Pyrenees and other mountains, the climate is mountainous. In the Canary Islands, the climate is tropical, dry in the east and more humid in the west.
Animal and plant life are the most diverse in Europe. The main factors for this are the diverse relief and climatic conditions, as well as the presence of island groups and enclaves on the North African coast. The flora of Spain includes more than 8,000 species of higher plants, many of which are endemic. The Canary Islands are characterized by particularly high endemism (500 species and for the islands and another 500 for the region of Macaronesia and some regions in southern Spain. Near the town of Elche is the only natural palm forest in Europe. The fauna includes central European species, such as bear, wolf, fox, red deer, as well as numerous southern or endemic species, such as Spanish lynx, geneta, mongoose, desman and others. Almost all European birds of prey are found there.