Official Name: Kingdom of Spain (Espana)
Location: Spain is located in western Europe (the 40th parallel North runs through its center). It is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea. Mainland Spain touches France and Andorra to the north and Portugal to the west. Spain controls the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, and five places of sovereignty (plazas de soberania) on and off the coast of Morocco, chief among them the enclaves Ceuta & Mellila.
Land Area: 499,542 sq km (192,823 sq mi).
Coast: 4,964 km (3,083 mi) of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
Climate: The Mediterranean coastal region visited by BikeAbout on their journey through Spain has a temperate climate, with moderate, cloudy summers and cool, cloudy summers.
Population: Almost 40 million inhabitants, of which 15% are younger than 15, and 68% are between 15 and 64 years old.
Language: Castilian Spanish is the official language of Spain, but the Catalan and Galician dialects are also spoken in some regions and Basque is spoken by many in the País Vasco and Navarra regions.
Religion: The Spanish people have a long and interesting relationship with the Roman Catholic church, and most Spanish citizens claim to be Roman Catholic.
Government: Spain is a parliamentary monarchy. The Executive Branch consists of the king, a president and two vice presidents, the Council of Ministers and the Council of State. The Legislative Branch consists of the The General Courts/National Assembly (Las Cortes Generales), which is divided into the 259-member Senate (Senado) and the 350-member Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados). The Judicial Branch consists of the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo). The president is proposed by the king and elected by the National Assembly. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the president. The majority of Senate members are popularly elected, with the remainder appointed by the regional councils. The members of the Congress of Deputies are popularly elected from lists based on proportional representation.
Executive (President or King): King Juan Carlos I; Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
Currency: On January 1, 2002, the sole currency of most member countries of the European Union, including Spain, became the euro (€), available in notes worth 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro, and coins worth 1 and 2 euros, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents (100 cents equal to one euro). Spain's previous currency was the peseta (Pta), which was divided into 100 centimos. There were 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10,000 peseta notes, as well as 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 peseta coins. The exchange rate was approximately 135 peseta (Pta) for every $1 in January of 1997 (the time of the BikeAbout journey).
Find out how many Spanish pesetas there are in your local currency!
Resources and Industry: Spain lists a number of ores among its natural resources, including coal, iron ore, uranium, tungsten, and copper. Not surprisingly, metals and manufacturing are important industries. Textiles are also important, as are some of the other agriculture-based industries you would expect to find in the Mediterranean: olive, wine, citrus fruit, fish, for example. But service industries, including tourism, account for the bulk of the Spanish economy.
Transport: 346,858 km (215,399 mi) of road; 13,950 km (8,663 mi) of train tracks.
Electric current: 220 volts (some places still use 125 or 110 volts).
Time Zone: GMT +1 hour in winter; GMT +2 hours from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in September
Sources: CIA World Factbook 2000, Mediterranean Europe on a shoestring (Lonely Planet), Lonely Planet
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Internet access and Web hosting while in Spain were provided by Nova Internet.
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