The country has many mineral resources, particularly cobalt, copper, iron ore, lead, coal, lignite, manganese, mercury, potassium, tungsten, kaolin, gypsum, salt, silver, sulfur, tin and zinc; also it has small amounts of natural gas and oil.
In the last 60 years Spain has undergone more social change than anywhere else in western Europe. Until the 1950s, Spain was predominantly a poor, rural country, in which only 37 per cent of the population lived in towns of over 10,000 people.
Spanish cultural life has been reinvigorated in recent years. Spanish-made films – notably those of cult directors Pedro Almodóvar and Alejandro Amenabar – have been able to compete with Hollywood for audiences, and the actress Penélope Cruz won an Oscar in 2009.
The inhabitants of this very varied country have few things in common except for a natural sociability and a zest for living. Spaniards commonly put as much energy into enjoying life as they do into their work.
Spain has a population of 45 million and receives more than 58 million visitors a year. It covers an area of 504,780 sq km (194,900 sq miles). Madrid is the largest city, followed by Barcelona and Valencia.