Considering Relocating to Spain?
Spain, a country lying along the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. Once continental Europe’s greatest power, Spain shares commonalities—geographic and cultural—with the countries of both northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Its cold, rocky northern coast and mountainous interior are sparsely settled, scenic, and wild, while the country’s south, Andalusia, is warm and fertile.
The rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains, which lie between the Tagus and Guadalquivir rivers, contain the highest point of mainland Spain. In the 1st millennium BCE, the Celtic Iberians entered the Iberian Peninsula and settled the land, and many traces of their influence remain.
According to national legend, though, Madrid, the national capital, was founded not by Celts but by the ancient Greek warrior Odysseus, who was said to have arrived at a rocky headland near what is the present-day city after leaving his homeland to wander the world and who, liking what he saw, stayed there for a while; his departure was said to have broken the heart of the nymph Calypso, who, the legend goes, turned herself into a snake, her coils becoming the seven hills of Madrid. Of course, had Odysseus actually come to Spain, he would have found the land already well-settled by the Iberians.
Iberian tribes battled the Romans for generations before acceding to empire, whereupon Rome established several important towns and ports; the Roman presence can be seen in the very name of the country, which derives from Hispalis, a settlement near the present-day city of Seville. Later, the descendants of Romans and the Iberians would live under Moorish rule for several centuries until several independent kingdoms were established.
In constant battle and rivalry with France, its northern neighbour, Spain then turned to the sea and, after Henry the Navigator’s establishment of a school of navigation at Palos de la Frontera, in time founded a vast overseas empire that would become Europe’s largest and richest. Much of that empire was quickly lost, but even then Spain retained sizable holdings along the African coast, in southern and eastern Asia, and in the Americas. Spain remained a colonial power until the early 19th century, when a series of wars transformed the country’s colonial presence.
Long among the poorest countries of Europe, Spain modernised in the last decades of the 20th century, expanding its economy from one based primarily on agriculture and tourism to include a range of manufactures and services.