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Spain

Introduction

Spain, Span. España āspäˈnyä, officially Kingdom of Spain, constitutional monarchy (2005 est. pop. 40,341,000), 194,884 sq mi (504,750 sq km), including the Balearic and Canary islands, SW Europe. It consists of the Spanish mainland (190,190 sq mi/492,592 sq km), which occupies the major part of the Iberian Peninsula; of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea; and of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Continental Spain extends from the Pyrenees, which separate it from France, and from the Bay of Biscay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, southward to the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates it from Africa. (Gibraltar itself is a British possession, although Spain has long claimed sovereignty over it.) The eastern and southeastern coast of Spain, from the French border to the Strait of Gibraltar, is washed by the Mediterranean. In the west, Spain borders on the Atlantic Ocean both north and south of its frontier with Portugal. The small republic of Andorra is wedged between France and Spain in the Pyrenees. The five enclaves in Morocco are the only remnants of Spain's former empire. Two of the enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, are Spanish municipalities. Morocco disputes Spain's possession of the enclaves and in 2002 briefly occupied an islet off Ceuta, sparking a bloodless confrontation with Spain. Madrid is the nation's capital and largest city.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Spanish and Portuguese Political Geography

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