Background Notes: Spain

PA/PC Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Date: Apr 30, 19914/30/91 Category: Country Data Region: Europe Country: Spain Subject: Military Affairs, Cultural Exchange, Travel, History, Trade/Economics, International Organizations [TEXT] Official Name: Kingdom of Spain


Area: 504,750 sq. km. (194,884 sq. mi.) including the Balearic and Canary Islands; about the size of Arizona and Utah combined. Cities: Capital-Madrid (pop. 3.1 million in 1987, the most recent official Spanish estimate). Other cities-Barcelona (1.7 million, 1987), Valencia (732,491, 1987), Seville (655,435, 1987), Zaragoza (575,317, 1987), Bilbao (382,413, 1987), Malaga (566,330, 1987). Terrain: High plateaus and mountains. Climate: Seasonably variable, dry; temperate in northwest.
Nationality: Noun-Spaniard(s). Adjective-Spanish. Population: 39 million (1990 est.). Annual growth rate: 0.3%. Density: 202/sq. mi. Ethnic group: Mediterranean and Germanic composite. Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic. Languages: Spanish (official), Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%. Education: Compulsory to age 16; literacy-97%. Work force (14.8 million, 1989): Agriculture- 16.7%; industry-24.8%; construction-7.4%; services-51.1%.
Type: Constitutional monarchy (Juan Carlos I proclaimed king November 22, 1975). Branches: Executive-prime minister nominated by monarch, subject to approval by democratically elected Congress of Deputies. Legislative-bicameral Cortes: Congress of Deputies, 350 seats elected by the d'Hondt system of proportional representation; Senate, 4 senators elected in each of 47 peninsular provinces and 16 from the 3 island provinces; Ceuta and Melilla elect 2 each (total 208). The 17 autonomous regions also appoint 1 senator and 1 additional senator for each 1 million inhabitants within their territory (about 20). Judicial-Constitutional Tribunal has jurisdiction over constitutional issues. Supreme Tribunal heads system comprising territorial, provincial, regional, and municipal courts. Subdivisions: 47 peninsular, 3 island provinces; 2 enclaves on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco (Ceuta and Melilla); and 3 island groups along that coast-Alhucemas, Pelon de Velez de la Gomera, and the Chafarinas Islands. Political parties: Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), Popular Party (PP), Social and Democratic Center (CDS), and three communist parties, the largest of which is the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) grouped in the United Left coalition (IU). Key regional parties are the Convergence and Union (CIU) in Catalonia and the Basque National Party (PNV) in the Basque country. Central government budget (1988): Revenues-$67.9 billion. Expenditures-$77.5 billion. Defense: 9.1% of FY 1988 budget. Flag: Two red horizontal bands separated by a wider yellow band; the national coat of arms, centered, shows the royal seal framed by the Pillars of Hercules (the two promontories on either side of the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar).
GDP (1989): $380 billion. 1990 projected: $489 billion. Annual growth rate (1989): 4.9%. Per capita GDP (1989): $9,708. 1990 projected: $12,442. Natural resources: Coal, lignite, iron ore, uranium, mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, kaolin, hydroelectric power. Agriculture (5.3% of GDP): Products-grains, vegetables, citrus and deciduous fruits, wine, olives and olive oil, sunflowers, livestock. Industry (30.3% of GNP): Types-processed foods, textiles, footwear, petrochemicals, steel, automobiles, consumer goods, electronics. Trade (1989): Exports-$45 billion: automobiles, fruits, minerals, metals, clothing, footwear, textiles. Major markets-EC 67%, US 7%. Imports-$71 billion: petroleum, oilseeds, aircraft, grains, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, fish. Major sources-EC 57%, US 9%. Official exchange rate (as of 9/90): 98 pesetas = US $1. Fiscal year: Calendar year.
Membership in International Organizations
UN and its specialized agencies, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Western European Union (WEU), European Community (EC), European Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), INTELSAT, World Tourism Organization (WTO-headquartered in Madrid), and the Council of Europe.


Spain's population density, lower than that of most European countries, is roughly equivalent to New England. In recent years, following a long-standing pattern in the rest of Europe, rural populations are moving to cities. Spain has no official religion. The constitution of 1978 disestablished the Roman Catholic Church, while recognizing the role it plays in Spanish society. More than 90% of the population are nominally Catholic.
Educational System
Spain's overall student population in 1986-87 was 10,746,172. Of these, 70% attended public schools or universities. The remainder (3,205,314) attended private schools or universities (35,545), the great majority of which are operated by the Catholic Church. Compulsory education begins with primary school or general basic education (EGB) for ages 6-14 and is free in public schools and in many private schools, most of which receive government subsidies. Following EGB graduation, students attend either a secondary school offering a general high school diploma or a School of Professional Education (corresponding to grades 9-11 in the United States) offering a vocational training program. The Spanish university system offers degree programs in law, sciences, humanities, and medicine, and the Superior Technical Schools offer programs in engineering and architecture.
Regional and Municipal Government
The 1978 constitution authorized the creation of regional autonomous governments. By 1985, 17 regions covering all of peninsular Spain, the Canaries, and the Balearic Islands had negotiated autonomy statutes with the central government. In 1979, the first autonomous elections were held in the Basque and Catalan regions, which have the strongest regional traditions by virtue of their history and separate languages. Since then, autonomous governments have been created in the remainder of the 17 regions.


From the ninth century BC to 700 AD, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Celts entered the Iberian peninsula, followed by the Romans, who arrived in the second century BC. Spain's present language, religion, and laws stem from the Roman period. Although the Visigoths arrived in the fifth century AD, the last Roman strongholds along the southern coast did not fall until the seventh century. In 711 AD, North African Moors sailed across the straits, swept into Andalusia, and, within a few years, pushed the Visigoths up the peninsula to the Cantabrian Mountains. The Reconquest- efforts to drive out the Moors-lasted until 1492, the year Columbus made his voyage to the New World. By 1512 the unification of present-day Spain was complete. In the 16th century, Spain became the most powerful nation in Europe, due to the immense wealth derived from the Americas. Subsequently, a series of long, costly wars and revolts, capped by the defeat by the English of the "Invincible Armada" in 1588, caused the steady decline of Spanish power in Europe. Controversy over succession to the throne consumed the country during the 18th and 19th centuries leading to occupation by France in the early 1800s. The 19th century saw the revolt and independence of most of the American colonies; three wars over the succession issue; the brief ousting of the monarchy and establishment of the First Republic (1873-74); and, finally, the Spanish-American War (1898), in which Spain lost Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the United States. A period of dictatorial rule (1923-31) ended with the establishment of the Second Republic. It was dominated by increasing political polarization, culminating in the leftist Popular Front electoral victory in 1936. Pressures from all sides, coupled with growing and unchecked violence, led to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936. Following the victory of his nationalist forces in 1939, Gen. Francisco Franco ruled a nation exhausted politically and economically. Spain was officially neutral during World War II but followed a pro-Axis policy. The victorious Allies isolated Spain at the beginning of the postwar period, and the country did not join the United Nations until 1955. Spain's economy began to recover in the 1950s, but large- scale modernization and development did not occur until the 1960s.


Upon the death of Gen. Francisco Franco in November 1975, Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon, Franco's personally designated heir, assumed the titles of king and chief of state. Dissatisfied with the slow pace of post-Franco liberalization, in July 1976, the King replaced Franco's last prime minister with Adolfo Suarez. Suarez entered office promising that elections would be held within one year, and his government moved to enact a series of decree laws to liberalize the new regime. Spain's first elections to the Cortes (parliament) since 1936 were held on June 15, 1977. Prime Minister Suarez's Union of the Democratic Center (UCD), a moderate center-right coalition, won 34% of the vote and the largest bloc of seats in the Cortes. Under Suarez, the new Cortes set about drafting a democratic constitution which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in a December 1978 national referendum. The democratic constitution established Spain as a parliamentary monarchy, with the prime minister responsible to the bicameral Cortes elected every 4 years. After the constitution entered into force at the end of 1978, Prime Minister Suarez called for new national elections. The elections of March 1979 gave Suarez's UCD a large plurality but the coalition of parties backing Suarez soon began to disintegrate. In January 1981, Suarez resigned, and the King nominated Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo to replace him. On February 23, while the Congress of Deputies was voting on the Calvo Sotelo nomination, rebel elements among the security forces seized the congress and tried to impose a military-backed government. However, the great majority of the military forces remained loyal to King Juan Carlos, who used his personal authority to put down the coup. The bloodless coup attempt was over in 18 hours. On February 25, the Congress of Deputies reconvened to approve Calvo Sotelo's nomination as prime minister. In October 1982, the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (PSOE), led by Felipe Gonzalez Marquez swept both the Congress of Deputies and Senate, winning an absolute majority; the government was reelected in June 1986. On December 14, 1988, the two largest labor union confederations, the Socialist-affiliated General Workers Union and the communist-led Confederation of Workers Commissions, sponsored a successful 1-day nationwide work stoppage. The general strike was seen as an expression of labor union dissatisfaction with the governing PSOE's leadership as well as a move to highlight specific union grievances. It marked a widening split between the labor unions and the Socialist government. The strike was interpreted as a sign that the government had lost some support, especially among blue-collar workers, a sector of the electorate traditionally pro-socialist. Prime Minister Gonzalez again called for a general election in October 1989. Although the PSOE retained control of the Senate the party lost ground, both to the Popular Party on the right and the Communist-led United Left. On December 4, 1989, the Spanish parliament approved King Juan Carlos' nomination of Felipe Gonzalez as prime minister for a third term. The year 1992 promises to be a banner year in Spain. The summer Olympics are scheduled for Barcelona. A world's fair, Expo 92, will be held in Seville. There will be nationwide celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America and to celebrate the contribution of Jewish and Arab cultures to Spain. Also, Madrid has been designated the cultural capital of Europe for 1992.
The government of Spain is involved in a long-running campaign against Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), a terrorist organization founded in 1959 and dedicated to promoting Basque independence. ETA regularly targets Spanish government officials, members of the military and security forces, and moderate Basques for assassination. The group has carried out numerous bombings against Spanish government facilities and economic targets. In recent years, the Spanish government has had more success in controlling ETA due in part to increased security cooperation with French authorities. In early 1989, the Spanish government held a series of meetings in Algeria with ETA representatives in an attempt to reach an agreement ending the campaign of terrorism. However, the talks broke down and ETA resumed its terrorist operations with a series of bombings on April 7, 1989, effectively ending a 3-month cease-fire. The spring and summer of 1990 saw another significant wave of terrorist operations, with ETA and the radical leftist group GRAPO claiming responsibility for bombings against various public installations throughout the country.


The late 1950s marked an important turning point in Spain's modern economic history. Beginning in 1959, under an IMF stabilization plan, the country liberalized trade and capital flows, particularly foreign direct investment. In the 3 years following implementation of the plan, real growth in gross domestic product exceeded 10%, and from 1965-1974 Spain's 7% average annual real growth was the second fastest in the industrialized world. Spain was transformed into a modern industrial economy with a thriving tourism sector. The economic expansion led to improved income distribution, and helped develop a large middle class. Social changes brought about by economic prosperity and the inflow of new ideas helped set the stage for Spain's transition to democracy during the latter half of the 1970s. Despite the success of economic liberalization, Spain remained the most closed economy in Western Europe, judged by the small measure of foreign trade to economic activity. Moreover, the pace of reform slackened during the 1960s as the state remained committed to "guiding" the economy. Considerable public investments were made in heavy industries such as shipbuilding and steel. As one of the industrial world's most energy import- dependent economies, Spain was hard hit by the oil price shocks of 1973 and 1979. During the mid-1970s Spain was also undergoing a political transition to democracy. Political uncertainties associated with the transition kept the country from implementing policies to adjust to the oil price shocks. From 1975-79 foreign borrowing doubled, and the peseta was allowed to appreciate 35% to offset the impact of the oil price rise on domestic prices and incomes. At a time when economic conditions warranted a moderation of labor costs because of trade loss, labor conflicts proliferated and real wages climbed rapidly. After 1975, Spain suffered 9 years of double-digit inflation. Real economic growth slowed dramatically to an annual average of 1.6%. In the face of economic and political uncertainty investment fell. Employment contracted by over 2 million jobs from 1975- 1985, and the unemployment rate rose from 4% to 22%.
Government Policy
When the PSOE took office in late 1982, the Spanish economy was in deep crisis. Balance-of-payments problems were chronic, with the current account deficit at 2.3% of GDP. Inflation was 14% and the unemployment rate 16.5%. The government deficit reached 5.6% of GDP. Perhaps as serious, the economy suffered from structural rigidities in labor and capital markets, which greatly exacerbated the crisis. The first priority of the socialist government was to reduce the external imbalance and to control inflation. Its methods were orthodox stabilization measures: a tightening of monetary policy, sharp devaluation of the peseta, some reduction in the public deficit, and a move toward wage moderation. The adjustment program began to bear fruit in terms of lower inflation and a current account surplus, so that austerity measures were eased after 1984. At the same time, the government developed programs for significant structural economic reforms leading to industrial restructuring, greater labor market flexibility and changes in social security financing. While the structural reform process is ongoing, especially since Spain joined the European Community (EC) in 1986, the progress achieved has gone a long way toward accommodating the economy to EC membership and to sustain relatively strong economic growth over the long term.
Industrial Reconversion
Several inefficient and uncompetitive industries were part of the structural problems afflicting the Spanish economy. A law on reconversion and reindustrialization was approved in 1984 to strengthen these industries. The law provided public funds, subsidized credits, and loan guarantees to help affected firms rationalize employment and modernize capital in sectors including appliances, certain machinery and capital equipment, electronics, telecommunications, fertilizers, steel, shipbuilding and textiles, which employed more than 280,000 workers. Although the reconversion program extends until 1991 in some sectors, by the end of 1988 over 90% of the 89,000 superfluous jobs targeted had been cut, and 83% of the projected cost had been spent on the program.
Labor market rigidities are another serious structural problem. In particular, the Spanish system of job security, which makes it difficult to lay off workers without substantial indemnities, tends to discourage firms from hiring, exacerbating the unemployment problem. In 1984, labor agreed to legal changes which permitted hiring for new positions under temporary contracts. Such contracts may extend up to 3 years before an employer incurs an indefinite commitment to the employee. Since 1984, the vast majority of new hirings have occurred under the temporary hiring provision. Unemployment in 1989 declined more than 2% to 17.3%, but as the momentum of economic expansion slows, job creation is expected to slow as well.
Current Performance
By 1985, economic reforms and significant improvement in the terms of trade associated with a fall in oil prices contributed to a rebound in employment, investment, and economic growth. Since then, the economy has experienced a strong, investment-led expansion. Investment, averaging nearly 16% per annum in real terms in 1986-88, has been stimulated by a sharp recovery in business profitability, growing foreign investor interest in Spain, and rising domestic business confidence. GDP growth averaged 4.7% per annum over the same period, rising to over 5% 1987-88 and 4.9% in 1989. Following the slow down which commenced in late 1989, projected growth for 1990 is 4.1%. The expansion must continue with above average growth rates through the turn of the century in order to achieve the government's primary economic objectives of eliminating the serious problem of unemployment and raising the Spanish standard of living to the level of more advanced European economies. While Spain expects to grow moderately faster than the rest of Europe over the longer term in order to catch up, the government considers the current rate of growth, almost 5% in real terms in 1989, to be too strong. After initial success in the battle to lower inflation, strong demand pressure contributed to an acceleration of inflation in 1988 and 1989, which the government attempted, unsuccessfully, to check with a tighter monetary policy. The subsequent rise in interest rates caused an appreciation of the peseta, which exacerbated a growing trade deficit. Spain's trade deficit was the industrial world's third largest in 1988-89, but it is not an immediate problem because economic growth is investment-led, and rapid growth in foreign investment assures adequate financing. Nevertheless, the government has become concerned over the speed of deterioration in the trade account, as well as the threat high domestic inflation poses to Spain's international competitiveness. Consequently, it tightened monetary policy further in mid-1989 and slapped on credit controls in order to cool the "heated" pace of economic activity and thereby assure a more moderate, but more sustainable rate of growth over the long term. One of the current problems is that the political dialogue over economic policy among government, business, and labor has weakened. Reacting to the sharp increase in profits business has enjoyed during the current expansion, labor has become impatient to share in the benefits and is more critical of the official emphasis on economic growth vs. redistribution. The dispute has prevented renewal of an economic and social agreement, such as those signed by government, business, and labor prior to 1987, in order to establish guidelines for wage moderation in collective bargaining.
Spain and the European Community
The government's economic policies must also advance the process of integration into the European Community. Spain's decision to join the EC in 1986 represented a broadly supported political determination to identify Spain with Western European democracy and free market policy. The economic consequences mean that Spain must continue to open its economy, upgrade infrastructure, and adapt economic legislation to EC norms. Spain has been successful in most cases. Strong economic growth has greatly eased this process of integration. The coincidence of Spain's transition period with the implementation of the EC single market adds to the challenge of integration and increases the prospects for long term economic advantages as a result of the decision to join the EC. Since joining the EC, Spanish trading patterns have shifted dramatically. Imports from the EC increased to 58% of the total in 1990-from 37% in 1985. The share of Spanish exports going to EC countries rose to 67% in 1989, up from 52% in 1985. The US share in Spain's trade declined sharply. The import share is recovering (9% for 1989, up from 8.3% in 1987). The 1989 exports share was 7.4%, down from 8% in 1987. The United States continues to maintain a large trade surplus with Spain ($6.5 billion exports vs. $3.3 billion imports in 1989). EC participation in foreign investment in Spain has climbed significantly to 55% of registered new foreign direct investment, while the US share has slipped even as US investment in absolute terms has steadily increased. With Spain's economic future now closely linked to the European Community and Spain's integration into the EC proceeding smoothly, the Spanish government has become one of the community's most committed advocates of deeper European integration. In June 1989, at the end of a successful 6 months in the EC presidency, the government agreed to commit the peseta to stabilization within the European monetary system's (EMS) exchange rate mechanism, as a first step toward eventual European monetary integration. The firm commitment to integration, however, leaves the Spanish government little margin to diverge from an orthodox mix of economic policies. In particular, participation in the EMS requires Spain to expand its range of economic policies by increasing fiscal discipline and reducing reliance on monetary policy.
Spain's leading industries are automobiles, steel, chemicals, shoes and leather goods, clothing, and rubber products. Tourism is also a major industry as well as a vital source of foreign exchange. With 50 million foreign visitors per year, Spain is one of the world's leading tourist countries. Most visitors are Europeans attracted to Spain's Mediterranean coast. Tourism receipts were up slightly, from $16.2 billion to $18 billion in 1990, despite a 4% drop in tourist entries. Basic industries such as iron and steel, shipbuilding, machine tools, and metalworking are located in the north on the Atlantic coast, in the areas of Bilbao, Santander, Oviedo, and La Coruna/Ferrol, as well as in the south near Cadiz. Industries such as electronics, textiles, and plastics have gravitated to the Catalonia region around Barcelona. Madrid is the financial capital, the administrative center for corporate headquarters, and a nexus for light industry and high technology. Government coordinated efforts have dispersed some industry into southern Spain and other less industrialized areas, in conjunction with regional development and diversification programs which now benefit from EC development funds. A long-term objective of the Spanish government is to increase the efficiency of state commercial enterprises such as the national railroad (RENFE) and the state-owned holding company, the Instituto Nacional de Industria (INI), which suffer from heavy losses. INI was responsible for an earlier period of heavy industrialization in steel production, shipbuilding, civil aviation, defense industries, and many other areas. More recently, INI has been heavily involved in the process of industrial reconversion. Current plans for INI call for an end to government subsidies after 1992. The Spanish government has also moved to privatize a number of unprofitable public enterprises and others not essential to its commercial strategy. In some cases minority participation in public enterprises, such as the state petroleum company, has been sold through shares to the public.
Foreign Investment
Foreign investment has been important to Spain's industrialization. This is especially so in the automotive sector, where the investments of Ford in Valencia and General Motors in Zaragoza and Cadiz have contributed to making Spain the world's sixth largest automobile exporter. Since Spain joined the EC, foreign investment regulations have been liberalized to satisfy EC standards, and foreign investment in new and established plants has increased dramatically. Volkswagen's purchase of the Spanish automobile manufacture SEAT from the government was one of the most significant foreign investments. Net foreign investment rose 11% between 1989 and 1990 from $15 billion to $16.7 billion. The United States accounted for 4% of the 1989 total, down from 22% in 1985.
Agricultural Production and Trade
Although it has declined in relative importance in the overall Spanish economy in recent decades, agriculture still accounts for more than 6% of GDP, 13% of total employment, and 17% of total export value. Harsh terrain and limited rainfall have contributed to the traditionally low productivity of Spanish agriculture. However, the significant expansion of irrigation and other technological advances in recent years has resulted in considerable gains in productivity, although Spain still lags behind most other European countries. Agricultural productivity and the ability to compete with other nations has taken on renewed importance following Spain's accession to the EC. After a transition period of up to 10 years, Spain will be fully integrated into the EC's common agricultural policy, and agricultural trade will be permitted to flow freely between Spain and other EC countries. The relatively inefficient Spanish livestock sector suffers from competition from EC imports but Spanish fruit and vegetable producers should benefit from greater access to northern European markets. Crop growing comprises nearly 60% of the value of Spain's total agricultural production. Grains are the most important crop, accounting for 7.8 million hectares of the 20.1 million cultivated. Other major crops are olives and winegrapes, with 2.1 and 1.5 million hectares, respectively. Livestock and poultry production account for the remaining 40% of agricultural production value. Per capita meat consumption is about 86 kilograms per year, with pork comprising about 52% of the total. Spain is one of the most important markets for US agricultural products, with imports in 1989 totaling $862 million. Corn and sorghum have been especially important US exports to Spain. The EC's failure to adequately compensate the United States for the loss of these exports as a result of Spanish accession to the community precipitated a major trade dispute. A negotiated settlement obligates Spain to import 2 million tons of corn and 300,000 tons of sorghum from non-EC countries per year through 1990. Other important Spanish agricultural imports from the United States are soybeans, tobacco, forest products, corn gluten feed, and cotton. Spain's principal agricultural exports are citrus fruits, other fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, wines, and olive oil.


After the return of democracy to Spain following the death of Gen. Franco in 1975, Spain's foreign policy priorities were to break out of the diplomatic isolation of the Franco years and universalize its diplomatic relations, to enter the EC, and to define its security relations with the West. Important developments in all these areas took place in 1986. With the normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel and Albania, Spain virtually completed the process of universalizing its diplomatic relations. The only country with which it now does not have diplomatic relations is North Korea. Spanish entry into the EC was officially accomplished on January 1, 1986, completing a sometimes difficult process of negotiations over several years. With the March 1986 referendum on NATO membership, Spain reconfirmed its 1982 decision to become the 16th member of the NATO alliance, under specified conditions. Spain's EC membership is now an important part of its foreign policy. Even on many international issues beyond Western Europe, Spain prefers to coordinate its efforts with its EC partners through the European political cooperation mechanism. Spain has maintained its special identification with Latin America. Its policy emphasizes the concept of Hispanidad, a mixture of linguistic, religious, ethnic, cultural, and historical ties binding Spanish-speaking America to Spain. Spain has been an effective example of transition from authoritarianism to democracy, as shown in the many trips that the Spain's king and prime ministers have made to the region. Spain maintains economic and technical cooperation programs and cultural exchanges with Latin America, both bilaterally and within the EC. Spain also continues to focus attention on North Africa, especially on Morocco. This concern is dictated by geographic proximity and long historical contacts, as well as by the two Spanish enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Africa. While Spain's departure from its former colony of Western Sahara ended direct Spanish participation, Spain maintains an interest in the peaceful resolution of the conflict brought about by decolonization. Spain has gradually begun to broaden its contacts with sub-Saharan Africa and consistently speaks out against apartheid in South Africa. Spain has a particular interest in its former colony of Equatorial Guinea, where it maintains a large aid program. In its relations with the Arab world, Spain frequently supports Arab positions on Middle East issues. The Arab countries are a priority interest for Spain because of oil and gas imports and because several Arab nations have substantial investments in Spain. Spain has been successful in managing its relations with its two European neighbors, France and Portugal. The accession of Spain and Portugal to the EC has helped ease some of their periodic trade frictions by putting them into an EC context. Bilateral cooperation against Basque ETA terrorism has also given a boost to Franco-Spanish relations. Ties with the United Kingdom are generally good, although the question of Gibraltar remains a sensitive issue. The two countries agreed in 1984 to discuss all subjects, including sovereignty, in their talks on the future of the British colony. This has led to a relaxation of border controls and greater movement of people and goods.


Spain and the United States have a long history of official relations and are now closely associated in many fields. This association has been cemented in recent years by the exchange of high-level visitors. President Reagan visited Spain in May 1985, and Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez visited Washington in June 1983 and October 1989. The King and Queen of Spain have visited the United States officially on numerous occasions, most recently in 1987 when they visited the American southwest. Crown Prince Felipe visited the United States in September 1989. In addition to US and Spanish cooperation in NATO, defense and security relations between the two countries are regulated by a 1988 agreement on defense cooperation (ratified in May 1989). Under this agreement, Spain authorizes the United States to use certain facilities at Spanish military installations. The principal facilities used by the United States under the agreement are at Spanish air force installations in Zaragoza and Moron (near Seville), and at the naval base at Rota in southern Spain. By May 1992, the United States will transfer from Spain its 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Torrejon Air Base outside Madrid. In addition to the bilateral defense agreement, the two countries cooperate in several other important areas. Under an agreement which will remain in force until 1994 (and is subject to renewal at that time), the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Spanish National Aerospace Institute (INTA) jointly operate tracking stations in the Madrid area in support of earth orbital, lunar, and planetary exploration missions. The Madrid tracking station is one of the three largest tracking and data acquisition complexes supporting NASA operations. A separate agreement on scientific and technological cooperation is currently under negotiation. An agreement on cultural and educational cooperation was signed on June 7, 1989. A new element, support from both the public and private sectors, gives a different dimension to the programs carried out by the joint committee for cultural and educational cooperation. These joint committee activities complement the binational Fulbright program for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting professors, which, in 1989, became the largest in the world. Besides assisting in these exchange endeavors, the US Embassy also conducts a program of official visits between Spain and the United States.
Principal Government Officials
Chief of State, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces- King Juan Carlos I President of the Government (Prime Minister)- Felipe Gonzalez Marquez Minister of Foreign Affairs-Francisco Fernandez Ordonez Ambassador to the United States-Jaime de Ojeda y Eiseley Spain maintains an embassy in the United States at 2700 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-265-0190) and consulates in many larger US cities. In summer 1991, a new chancery will open at 2375 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20037.
Principal US Officials
Ambassador - Joseph Zappala Deputy Chief of Mission - Edward A. Casey, Jr. Chief, Office of Defense Cooperation - Brig. Gen. Antonio Maldonado, USAF Counselor for Administrative Affairs - Perry W. Linder Counselor for Agricultural Affairs - Richard T. McDonnell Counselor for Commercial Affairs - Robert Kohn Counselor for Consular Affairs - Michael L. Hancock Counselor for Economic Affairs - Pierce K. Bullen Counselor for Political Affairs - Walter S. Clarke Counselor for Politico-Military Affairs - Martin McLean Counselor for Public Affairs - Jacob Gillespie Defense Attache - Capt. Carmine Tortora, USN Drug Enforcement Agency Attache - David Herrera Federal Aviation Agency Representative - Robert J. Bernard Labor Attache - Robert Hare NASA Representative - John F. South Regional Security Officer - Stanley Bielinski, Jr. Science Attache - Robert Morris Consul General, Barcelona - Ruth A. Davis Consul, Bilbao - Heather Hodges The US Embassy is located at Serrano, 75, 28006 Madrid (tel. 34-1-577-4000; fax 34-1-577-5735). Consulate General, Barcelona, Via Layetana, 33 (tel. 34-3-319-9550; fax 34-3-319- 5621). Consulate Bilbao, Avenida del Ejercito, 11 - 3rd floor, Duesto, Bilbao, 12 (tel. 34-4-475-8300; fax 34-4-476-1240).
Customs: US citizens are permitted to enter Spain without visas as temporary visitors for business, tourism, or transit. Bearers of US diplomatic and official passports must have appropriate visas regardless of the nature of the visit. Climate and clothing: Clothes suitable for the Washington, DC, climate are recommended. Slacks are worn in public, but not shorts. Sweaters and raincoats are advisable. Health: Sanitary conditions and facilities meet European standards. Health requirements change, check latest information. Telecommunications: Local and long-distance telephone services are readily available. Government telegraph offices handle all telegrams. Madrid is six time zones ahead of eastern standard time. Transportation: Public transportation is inexpensive and widely used. Taxis are numerous and fares are reasonable. Air and rail facilities serve most cities in Spain, with connections to major cities in Europe. Rental cars are available, with or without a driver. Major highways are good. Gasoline prices are among the highest in Europe. Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC -- Series Editor: Peter Knecht--Department of State Publication Background Notes Series. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated.For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.(###)