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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

Spain History and Culture


Spain's location at the crossroads of European and African civilizations has given it a rich and complex history. Throughout its history Spain has been invaded and inhabited by members of many different European and non-European civilizations Archeological evidence shows that the first settlers came from North Africa and Western Europe. These groups were Iberians, Celts, and Basques.
The country's strategic location at the narrow Gibraltar made it the focus of interaction with many pre-classical and classical civilizations.
Along Spain's shores Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians set up settlements and trading posts. During the second century BC the Romans arrived in the peninsula, and brought with them their distinctive socio-political institutions and traditions.
It took nearly two centuries for this new wave of invaders to pacify the fierce Iberian people, but with that task completed, the Romans succeeded in unifying the land under one political authority, and the Spanish State began to take shape.
In the fifth century, Bellicose Visigoths from Northern Europe took the Peninsula by storm. The imposition of the Catholic faith on the whole land was King Leovigild's principal contribution to Spanish civilization.
Visigothic rule did not last long, however in 1711, Muslim Arabs invaded and quickly expelled these Germanic tribesmen. Moorish influence gave Spain it's unique cultural twist, and merits special attention.
Muslim Spain, or also known as Al-Andalus in Arabic was a very dynamic and culturally rich place. The moors conquered Spain in a matter of years and established control over all but the most remote regions of the nation.
Muslim rulers generally tolerated Christians and Jews, and as a consequence of this peaceful climate, the arts and sciences flourished in Spain while the rest of Europe wallowed in the dark ages. Trade was healthy and large cities predominated.
The Poet-King Mu-Tamid established in his court an assembly of some of the greatest intellectuals of the time, and Arab poetry from this period is world famous. The caliph fled Syria for Toledo in 750, and the center of the Islamic world was briefly transported to Spain.
This led to an increased Moorish presence in the peninsula and occasioned the construction of beautiful palaces, mosques, and fortresses which still remain in the southern regions of the country.
The tiny Christian states that survived in the rugged mountains of the North recuperated from their defeat, gradually became powerful kingdoms, and eventually started the reconquest of Spain.
When the kingdoms of Castilla and Aragon rose to preeminence in the peninsula and through a dramatic serious of battles, which lasted for hundreds of years, this protracted conflict forced the Moors back into Southern Spain.
Through the famous marriage of Ferdinand II and Isabella I, one hundred years later, these kingdoms unified and fully consolidated their political power. With greater internal cohesion, Spain was able to expel the last of the Moors from Granada in 1492 and focus its attention on becoming a world power.
The discovery of the New World in 1492 and the influx of precious metals in the subsequent centuries made Spain the most powerful nation in Europe, and gave rise to the country's golden age renaissance.
As the 17th century began, Spain reached its political, economic, and cultural apex. Spanish military power was unrivaled, its diplomacy feared, and its literature celebrated. From the golden age came the famous works of Cervantes and Lope de Vega.
By the end of this century, however, Spain had mismanaged its wealth and through a series of costly wars and failed economic policies, it was a nation in decline.
Although not untouched by industrialization and political modernization, Spain fell fall behind its European neighbors in these regards and entered the 20th century an all-too-traditional nation.
The conditions were ripe for revolution, and the radical political ideologies of the day took hold in Spain, resulting in a civil war, and then the regime of the dictator Franco, which lasted until his death.

The Spanish state encompassed numerous distinct ethnic and cultural minorities. In the new 1978 Constitution recognizes and guarantees autonomy of nationalities and regions making up Spanish state, and seventeen autonomous communities existed in late 1980s.
Major ethnic groups that existed are such as Basques, Catalans, Galicians, Andalusians, Valencians, Asturians, Navarrese, Aragonese and also a small number of Gypsies.


Acknowledgements: ASIATRAVELMART.COM

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