Spain is a diverse country with a lively culture and a rich history. It’s also one of the largest economies in Europe, with a diversified manufacturing, services, and pharmaceuticals sector that includes many international companies. The country has also established itself as a leader in the arts, particularly flamenco and architecture.
Its capital, Madrid, offers a mix of modern city life with traditional neighborhoods such as Barrio del Chueca and the Royal Palace. In the north, Barcelona attracts tourists to its famous landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia and Las Ramblas. Ibiza draws clubbers with its nightlife and breathtaking coves, while the Cantabrian coast features monumental towns, historic villages, and delicious seafood.
The country’s enduring Catholicism is reflected in its churches and museums, as well as daily life. The majority of Spaniards celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, while each city and town has its own patron saint.
In the 16th Century, the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon conquered the emirate of Granada, ending 800 years of Muslim rule. Later, Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas and Spain became a dominant global power. The 19th Century saw political unrest and revolution in the Spanish mainland, as well as a loss of all its Latin American colonies in the wake of the disastrous Spanish-American War.
Following General Francisco Franco’s death in November 1975, his successor Adolfo Suarez launched a program of liberalization. Spain began to open its economy to foreign investment, and the number of regional autonomous communities rose. In 1977, Suarez named the first Prime Minister of a freely elected parliament since 1936.
Since then, a series of coalitions have formed and fallen apart, but the center-left Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) has been in power for nearly 20 years. The government removed a rogue Catalonian independence government in 2017 and has been in conflict with the radical left Podemos.
The Embassy conducts a broad range of cultural and educational exchange programs, including a binational Fulbright program for graduate students and professionals. It also supports the work of the U.S.-Spain Joint Committee on Cultural and Educational Cooperation, which promotes activities that highlight the best of both nations.
Getting around is easy, especially in cities with fast, frequent trains and buses. A car is essential for exploring rural areas. There are many rental agencies in major cities and airports, as well as car-sharing sites like Zipcar and RelayRides. The Embassy’s website has links to all of these and other information about transportation in the country.