Spain is a constitutional monarchy in Western Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered by Portugal to the west, France and Andorra to the northeast, and the British territory of Gibraltar to the south. Additionally, the Spanish-owned cities of Ceuta and Mellila border Morocco. Spain is a member of the United Nations and the European Union.
Spain was first settled by Celtic tribes coming south from Gaul. Later, Phoenician traders established towns along the Mediterranean coast. In the third century BC, eastern Spain was incorporated into the empire of Carthage. After the Second Punic War, most of the Spanish coast was taken by Rome.
The rest of Spain was conquered between the first century BC and the first century AD. Spain became an integral part of the Roman Empire, with Emperor Trajan being born there. Towards the end of the empire, Spain was taken by the Visigoths, and became a base for attacks on Rome.
The Visigothic Kingdom in Spain was conquered by Umayyad invaders in the 8th century, and Cordoba was established as a center of Muslim learning and religious tolerance. The border between Muslim Spain, or Al-Andalus, and the Franks was established at the Pyrenees after an Arab excursion into France was stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732.
After the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate in 750, the Umayyads fled to Spain and established a rival caliphate to the Abbasids. Their kingdom quickly splintered into many taifa, and Christian forces began to reconquer Spain.
By the 15th century, all of Spain was owned by the Christian kings of Castile, Aragon, and Navarre, except for the Kingdom of Granada in the very south. In 1492, Granada was finally conquered, and the Kingdom of Spain was established. In the same year, Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas and claimed a number of Caribbean islands for Spain.
From 1519 to 1521, Hernan Cortes defeated the Aztec Empire and conquered Mexico. In the 1530s, Francisco Pizarro decimated the Inca Empire and claimed Peru for Spain. By 1600, much of Latin America was under Spanish control.
At the same time, Spain remained Catholic while much of Europe became Protestant. Spanish rule in the Netherlands was challenged by Dutch rebels in the Eighty Years' War, which was also supported by the Kingdom of England. The Spanish Armada sent in 1588 to invade England was devastated at Gravelines and failed.
In the 17th century, Spain became a part of the Habsburg dynasty that also ruled Austria. When the Habsburgs threatened to take over the French throne in the early 1700s, a coalition of European powers defeated them in the War of the Spanish Succession.
In the 18th century, Spain steadily became weaker as her colonies yielded less and less treasure. Spain was ravished by the Peninsular War starting in 1807, and colonial rebels took advantage of her weakness to proclaim independence. By 1830, Spain only retained Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.
These possessions would be taken in 1898 by the United States after the Spanish-American War. Cuba was given independence, while Puerto Rico and the Philippines became a part of the U.S. Spain remained neutral during World War I.
The Great Depression hit Spain hard, and in 1936 a revolt broke out among the Army of Africa. Led by Francisco Franco, and backed by Nazi Germany, the Nationalist forces prevailed over the Republican, supported by the Soviet Union, and in 1939 Franco established a fascist dictatorship over Spain.
The Spanish economy boomed in the 2000s. Large public works projects were undertaken, and government spending increased. However, the 2007 economic recession hit Spain hard, and austerity measures were introduced. Nonetheless, the Spanish economy remains a major force in the Eurozone and around the world.