Map of Spain

Canary Islands Canary Islands Canary Islands Canary Islands Melilla Ceuta Balearic Islands Balearic Islands Balearic Islands Andalusia Galicia Asturias Cantabria Basque Region Navarre Murcia Valencia Catalonia Aragon Madrid La Rioja Castilla y León Castilla La Mancha Extremadura




Basque Region



La Rioja

Castilla y León


Castilla La Mancha



Balearic Islands





Canary Islands

General Information on Spain

Spain, with 505,955 square kilometres and a population of nearly 43 million people, is in economic terms one of the 10 leading countries in the world.  Spain’s inhabitants have an annual per capita income of 15,311 euros, and a life expectancy of 78.71 years, one of the highest on the planet.  On 1st January 1986, Spain joined the European Union as a full member.

The Spanish political system has been defined since 1978 as a parliamentary monarchy.  The Spanish Crown is the highest institution, and H.M. King Juan Carlos I has been Spain’s Head of State for the past 30 years.  His principal functions are to arbitrate and moderate the regular functioning of the country’s institutions, and to act as the highest national representative in international relations.

The Legislative Branch is constituted by the National Assembly (Las Cortes Generales), which represents the Spanish people and controls the actions of the Government.  Parliament has two Houses: the Congress of Deputies and the Senate.  Therefore, Spain has a bicameral parliamentary system.  Deputies and senators are elected for four-year terms, although there is also the possibility of early elections at the initiative of the Prime Minister.

The Executive Branch corresponds to the Government.  The head of the Executive Branch is the Prime Minister, elected by the Congress of Deputies.  The current Prime Minister is José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in office since April 2004. His predecessors are: José María Aznar, Felipe González, Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, and Adolfo Suárez.

The Judicial Branch, according to the Spanish Constitution, emanates from the people, and is administered, in the name of the King, by Judges and Magistrates.

The Autonomous Regions

The Constitution of 1978 established a decentralised territorial model, with a national capital (Madrid) and a system of Autonomous Cities and Autonomous Regions, each endowed with its own regional Parliament and Administration, and with a series of competencies which varies from one region to another.  This singular configuration has created a channel for expressing political, social, and cultural diversity.

Spain’s territory is divided into provinces, which are part of 17 higher divisions, the Autonomous Regions: Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Region, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, Navarre, La Rioja, and Valencia. Moreover, Ceuta and Melilla, located on the northern coast of Africa, are Autonomous Cities.  Besides the National Administration and the Regional Administrations, the third Public Administration recognised by the Constitution as having autonomy to manage its own interests is the Local Administration.
Spanish is the official national language of Spain.  Moreover, some of the country’s Autonomous Regions have co-official local languages: Catalonia (Catalan), Valencia (Valencian), the Balearic Islands (the Balearic dialect of Catalan), Galicia (Galician), and the Basque Region (Basque).