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The Spain Portal

Coat of Arms of Spain.svg

Spain (Spanish: España [esˈpaɲa] (About this soundlisten)), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España), is a country in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of Spanish territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

With an area of 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the European continent. By population (about 47 million), Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and the fifth in the European Union. Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Málaga and Bilbao.

Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. Iberian cultures along with ancient Phoenician, Greek, Celtic and Carthaginian settlements developed on the peninsula until it came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania, based on the earlier Phoenician name Sp(a)n or Spania. At the end of the Western Roman Empire the Germanic tribal confederations migrated from Central Europe, invaded the Iberian peninsula and established relatively independent realms in its western provinces, including the Suebi, Alans and Vandals. Eventually, the Visigoths would forcibly integrate all remaining independent territories in the peninsula, including Byzantine provinces, into the Kingdom of Toledo, which more or less unified politically, ecclesiastically and legally all the former Roman provinces or successor kingdoms of what was then documented as Hispania.

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A group of stone buildings seen in the distance, across a plowed field and through a row of bare wintry trees. The buildings have red tile roofs. A stone bell tower rises amid the group.

Santa María de Óvila is a former Cistercian monastery built in Spain beginning in 1181 on the Tagus River near Trillo, Guadalajara, about 90 miles (140 km) northeast of Madrid. During prosperous times over the next four centuries, construction projects expanded and improved the small monastery. Its fortunes declined significantly in the 18th century, and in 1835 it was confiscated by the Spanish government and sold to private owners who used its buildings to shelter farm animals.

American publisher William Randolph Hearst bought parts of the monastery in 1931 with the intention of using its stones in the construction of a grand and fanciful castle at Wyntoon, California, but after some 10,000 stones were removed and shipped, they were abandoned in San Francisco for decades. These stones are now in various locations around California: the old church portal was erected at the University of San Francisco, and the chapter house was reassembled by Trappist monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, California. Other stones are serving as simple decorative elements in Golden Gate Park's botanical garden. To support the chapter house project, a line of Belgian-style beers was produced by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company under the Ovila Abbey brand. Read more...

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Selected biography

Baltasar Garzón Real

Baltasar Garzón Real (born October 26, 1955 in Torres, Jaén, Spain) is a prominent judge (investigating magistrate) of Spain. Garzón currently sits on Spain's second highest criminal court, Sala 5 of the Audiencia Nacional). Garzón is known in Spain as "Super Judge" or "Judge-Star."

Garzón rose to international prominence on October 10, 1998 for his issuance of an arrest warrant for former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet over the deaths and torture of Spanish citizens during Pinochet's regime, using the Chilean Truth Commission (1990–91) report as the basis for the warrant. He has repeatedly expressed a desire to investigate former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in connection with a plot in the 1970s known as Operation Condor. Garzón also opened the gates to charges of genocide being filed in Spain against Argentine military officers of genocide on the disappearance of Spanish citizens during Argentina's 1976–1983 dictatorship. In April 2001, he requested that the Council of Europe remove the immunity from prosecution enjoyed by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of as a member of the Council's parliamentary assembly.

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A view of Barcelona Free Port.
Credit: Lofor

The Barcelona Free Port or Zona franca de Barcelona is a tariff-free industrial park that has developed within the Port of Barcelona, across the flat land of the Llobregat delta between the city of Barcelona and Barcelona International Airport to the south.

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In the news

24 January 2020 – Morocco–Spain relations
The foreign ministries of Spain and Morocco announce they will hold talks to resolve a dispute over territorial water rights in the North Atlantic, caused by the Moroccan parliament passing two laws that extended its claims to the coast of Western Sahara earlier this week. Spain expressed concerns that these laws would encroach on its claims near the Canary Islands. (Reuters)
20 January 2020 – Trial of Catalan police leaders
The trial against the Mossos d'Esquadra leadership begins in the National Audience for the role of the regional police in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum and the 2017–18 constitutional crisis. Then-Major of the Mossos Josep Lluís Trapero, Pere Soler and Cèsar Puig face 11 years of imprisonment for rebellion, while Teresa Laplana is accused of sedition, facing four years of imprisonment. (El Periódico) (La Vanguardia) (The New York Times) (The Oklahoman)
14 January 2020 –
An explosion at a chemical plant in Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain, kills two members of staff and another man 3 km away. Seven other people are injured. (BBC)
9 January 2020 – Trial of Catalonia independence leaders
The Spanish Supreme Court revokes the immunity of jailed Oriol Junqueras declared by the European Court of Justice in a sentence on 19 December. This happens after the board of European Parliament recognized the former Vice President of Catalonia as a MEP since 3 July and was elected president of the Greens–European Free Alliance parliamentary group. (The New York Times)

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