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Last updated : Nov 2009
Spain General Info
Spain General Information -
Capital : Madrid

Area : 505,988 sq km (195,363 sq miles) and includes Spanish North Africa.

Population of Spain : 40,280,8780 (estimate 2004).

Population of Madrid : 3,092,759 (2003).

Population Density :
84.4 per sq km

Geography : Spain shares the Iberian peninsula with Portugal and is bordered to the north by the Pyrenees, which separate Spain from France.

The Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera lie 193km (120 miles) southeast of Barcelona, and the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa are part of Spain, as are the tiny enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the north African mainland.

With the exception of Switzerland, mainland Spain is the highest and most mountainous country in Europe, with an average height of 610m (2000ft). The Pyrenees stretch roughly 400km (249 miles) from the Basque Country in the west to the Mediterranean Sea. At times the peaks rise to over 1524m (5000ft), the highest point being 3404m (11,169ft).

The main physical feature of Spain is the vast central plateau, or Meseta, divided by several chains of sierras. The higher northern area includes Castille and León, the southern section comprises Castile/La Mancha and Extremadura.

In the south the plateau drops abruptly at the Sierra Morena, beyond which lies the valley of Guadalquivir. Southeast of Granada is the Sierra Nevada, part of the Betic Cordillera, which runs parallel to the Mediterranean, rising to 3481m (11,420ft) and the highest point on the Spanish peninsula (the Pico del Teide on Tenerife in the Canaries is the highest peak in Spain).

The Mediterranean coastal area reaches from the French frontier in the northeast down to the Straits of Gibraltar which is the narrow strip of water linking the Mediterranean with the Atlantic and separating Spain from North Africa.

Government : Parliamentary monarchy since 1978

Head of State: King Juan Carlos I since 1975.

Head of Government: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero since 2004.

Language : Spanish (Castillian), Catalan (in the northeast), Galician (in the northwest) and Basque (in the north).

Religion : There is no official religion, but the majority of the population is Roman Catholic.

Time : Mainland Spain and Balearics: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

The Canary Islands: GMT (GMT + 1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

Electricity : 220 or 225 volts AC, 50Hz. Generally, round two-pin plugs and screw-type lamp fittings are in use.
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