Spain#3 in Best Countries: Adventure
#16 in Best Countries
Maritime strength and colonial wealth established Spain’s position as a global leader through the 16th and 17th centuries, a standing that declined as the nation lagged behind great global movements such as the industrial revolution. A civil war brought dictator Francisco Franco into power in 1939, and it was only after his death in 1975 that Spain could make strides to level itself with international progress.
Ascension into the European Union in 1986 was a jump-start to the modernization of Spain’s infrastructure, industry and economic policy. More open trade brought high demand for a diverse set of exports, including textiles, footwear, machinery, olives and wine.
Continued growth built the nation’s tourism, housing and construction industries up into bubbles that eventually burst during the global financial crisis, throwing Spain into a severe economic recession in 2009. However, a resilient export market, as well as a European Union-funded restructuring effort in 2014, have helped Spain on its way to recovery. Efforts have been made to implement labor, pension, health, tax and education reforms, but unemployment continues to beset about a quarter of the population.
Spain is a parliamentary democracy, with a popularly elected legislature led by a prime minister and a monarch as chief of state. However, each of the 17 autonomous regions within Spain has its own authority and many have their own language. A growing separatist sentiment, especially in the Basque region to the north and Catalonia in the northeast, which includes Barcelona, challenges national unity.
Cultural achievements, from the artistic mastery of Velazquez, Goya and Picasso to the globally renowned novel “Don Quixote” by Cervantes, and traditions like flamenco music and dance are a source of unity and national pride.
Spain is party to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and a member of the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the World Trade Organization, among others.
$1.4 trillion GDP 46.4 million POPULATION $33,711 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP