In first half of the 1900's Spain was one of the most underdeveloped countries in Europe. But Spain has made a remarkable industrial and economic recovery especially over the past twenty years. Today's Spanish economy is vibrant and quite diversified off its original agricultural base. It is now the seventh largest economy in the world. Motor vehicles & car parts are now the biggest export earners for Spain, although the food industry is still very important.
As official per capita income is still bellow the EU average, the economy benefits from very large EU "convergence funding". This is basically a transfer of EU funds to enable Spain to grow faster than other EU countries, and therefore gradually reach the EU average. Much convergence funding has gone into infrastructure developments. Over 2500 Kms of motorways have been opened in the last three years, a new high speed train line built to Seville, new airports built at Barcelona and all the major tourist centres and new ports constructed.
Extremadura too seeks to improve its economy and increase her trade and tourist industry.
Spain is the second tourism destination in the World after France. They welcome 52 million tourists per year.
Tourism in Spain includes The two largest cities of Madrid and Barcelona. Very interesting places are Cordoba, Sevilla, Granada (cultural places) and Malaga, Huelva, Cadiz, Almeria (beaches) in Andalusia. Santiago de Compostela, Salamanca, Toledo, Segovia are beautiful places in the rest of the country. Important touristics places (with incredibles beaches) are Salou, Benidorm, Mallorca, Ibiza (Balearic islands), Canary Islands, Valencia, Catalonia and The Cantabrico (north of Spain).
Review of Spain
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The familiar images of Spain is flamenco dancing, bullfighting, tapas bars, and solemn Easter processions. However these do no more than hint at the diversity of this country. Spain has four official languages, two major cities of almost equal importance, and a greater range of landscapes than any other European country.
These contrasts make Spain an endlessly fascinating place to visit.
Separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees, Spain reaches south to the coast of North Africa, and has both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. The country's climate and ,scenery vary dramatically, from the snowcapped peaks of the Pyrenees, through the green meadows of Galicia and the orange groves of Valencia, to the dry, barren regions in the south.
Madrid, Spain's capital, lies geographically in the center of the country. The city's inhabitants have an individualistic spirit and a sardonic sense of humor that set them apart from other Spaniards. Madrid may be the nominal capital, but it is rivaled in commerce, sport, and the arts by Barcelona, the main city of Catalonia.
After the death of the dictator General Franco in 1975, Spain became a constitutional monarchy under King Juan Carlos I. Spain's entry to the European Community in 1986 triggered a spectacular increase in the country's prosperity.
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The Spanish are known for their natural sociability and zest for living. They commonly put as much energy into enjoying life as they do into their work. Many people fit their work around the demands of their social life, rather than be ruled by the clock. Eating out is an important social activity, with friends and family often meeting up in a pavement cafe or restaurant for a chat and a meal.
ALTHOUGH MANY VISITORS to Spain come for the beaches alone, increasingly tourists are drawn by the country's rich cultural heritage. The most popular destinations are Madrid and Barcelona, which boast world-class museums and a wealth of medieval and modern architecture For those with time to travel further afield, Seville, Granada, and Cordoba in the far south are the best places to see relics of Spain's Moorish past. Spain is Europe's third largest country, so getting around can be time-consuming. However, there is a reliable network of trains, as well as good highways and bus services.
Much of Spain's vast central plateau, is covered with wheat fields or dry, dusty plains, but there are many attractive places to explore. Spain's largest region, Castilla y Leon, has a rich history. It boasts some of the country's most splendid architecture, from Segovia's famous Roman aqueduct, to the Gothic cathedrals of Burgos and Leon and the Renaissance grandeur of Salamanca's monuments.
Avila's medieval city walls are a legacy of the long struggles between the Christians and the Moors. Dotted with windmills and medieval castles, Castilla-La Mancha is home to the historic town of Toledo, another popular destination.
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Madrid is Spain's capital, a city of over three million people, is situated close to the geographical center of the country, at the hub of both road and rail networks. The origins of the city date back to AD 852, when the Moors built a fortress near the Manzanares river and a small community grew up around it. It was not until 1561, however, that the city became the capital of a newly formed nation state. In the following centuries, under the Habsburgs and then the Bourbons, the city acquired some of its most notable landmarks, including the splendid Plaza Mayor and the Palacio Real. At the same time, the blossoming city attracted some of Spain's most outstanding artists, such as court painters Velizquez and Goya, whose works can be admired in the world-famous Museo del Prado.
Northern Spain encompasses a variety of landscapes and cultures. In the far northwest of the peninsula, the Galicians are fiercely proud of their customs and language.
Spain's greenest region, Galicia boasts some of the most attractive stretches of Atlantic coast, as well as the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela. Popular with hikers and naturalists, the spectacular Picos de Europa massif sits astride the border between Asturias and Cantabria.
The Basque Country is a unique part of Spain whose main attractions include superb cuisine, fashionable seaside resorts, and the cultural center of Bilbao, with its famous Guggenheim Museum.
Basque culture is possibly Europe's oldest race, the Basque's are thought to be descended from Cro-Magnon people, who lived in the Pyrenees 40,000 years ago. Long isolated in their mountain villages, the Basques preserved their unique language (Euskera), myths, and art for millennia, almost untouched by other influences. Many families still live in the stone buildings or farmhouses built by their forefathers. The fueros, or ancient Basque laws, were suppressed under General Franco, but since 1975 the Basque region (Euskadi) has had its own parliament. Nevertheless there is still a strong separatist movement seeking to sever links with the government in Madrid.
Bilbao is the center of Basque industry and Spain's leading commercial port, yet it has many cultural attractions worth visiting. In the city s medieval quarter the Casco Viejo, the Museo Arqueologico, Etnografico e Historico Vasco displays Basque art and folk artifacts.
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In the newer town, the Museo de Bellas Artes is one of Spain's best art museums. The jewel in Bilbao's cultural crown, however, is the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, which has a superb collection of Modern and contemporary art. The building that houses the museum is just one of the city's many pieces of modern architecture, which also includes the striking Palacio de la Musica y Congresos Euskalduna.
A nation within a nation, Catalonia has its own semi autonomous regional government. It has its own language spoken by more than eight million people. Catalan has supplanted Castilian Spanish as the first language of the region, and is used on road signs and in place names everywhere.
Barcelona is the regions, capital, rivaling Madrid in economic and cultural importance Catalonia offers a variety of attractions. The flower-filled valley, of the Pyrenees offer a paradise for naturalist, and walkers, while inland are medieval towns, Roman ruins and spectacular monasteries, such as Montserrat .