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Apr 29, 2009


We continue our study of different countries of the world with Spain. This fascinating country makes up most of the Iberian Peninsula that forms the southwestern tip of Europe. Portugal is on its west, and France is on its northeastern border. Though Spain is famous for its beaches along its three coasts, the rest of the land is very varied. More than half of the land is hot and dry, in the central region called the Meseta. It is surrounded by several mountain ranges, from which come three very important rivers: the Tagus, the Douro, and the Guadiana. This country has many mountainous areas, from the Pyrenees in the north, the Sierra Morena, and the Sierra Nevada with its highest mountain, Mulhacen, at about 3,500 meters. About one tenth of Spain is heavily forested. These areas are found in the north where it is wetter. Farming and crop growing are, therefore, mainly found in the north. Spain is one of Europe's biggest producers of wine. Other major industries are: car manufacturing, steelmaking, shipbuilding, chemical manufacturing, and fishing.


The history of Spain is no less varied than its geography. It's position on the map has made it vunerable over the centuries to invasion. The Romans first subdued Spain in the third century BC. It remained a colony until, during the fifth century AD, the Visigoths (Germanic) from the north claimed Spain. During this time, Spain was Christianized. In 711 the Moors invaded from Africa and established an Islamic civilization that lasted six centuries. In the ninth century, invaders from the north started the process of expelling the Moors, which was completed in 1492 when the royals Ferdinand and Isabella from the north unified Spain as a Catholic country. That same year, Columbus, under Spanish sponsorship,  reached the New World. Spain conquered much of Central and South America and other parts of the world, gained great wealth, and became a super power. This ended at the battle of the Armada against England.

For the past two hundred years, Spain has gone through tremendous changes: wars with France and the United States, loss of colonies, removal of the royal family, civil war, a fascist dictatorship, and finally the reinstating of the royal family and the establishment of a parliamentary democracy in 1978. Phew! That is a lot of history in a couple of paragraphs. The spaniards are known for their friendship, warmth, great food, and love of life, art, and music. Their historical turmoils, and all the cultural influences they have had, have produced a rich and colorful national culture.

Grammar notes.

Vocabulary: varied, vunerable, to claim, to expel, sponsorship, dictatorship, to reinstate.


The school's curriculum is so varied; they have art, science, dance, music, and sports.

The baby Kangaroo is completely vunerable; it is tiny and defenseless.

He claimed that the car crash was the other man's fault; it was a lie.

They expelled the boys from school for destroying property.

I need sponsorship from someone to get money for this sports group.

Is this family a dictatorship, or can we all have a say?

The policeman was reinstated after he was found to be innocent.