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Country summary




Andorra 63.7 km, France 623 km, Gibraltar 1.2 km, Portugal 1,214 km, Morocco (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Morocco (Melilla) 9.6 km

Government type

parliamentary monarchy


40,525,002 (July 2010 est.)[1]

Population growth

0.072% (2010 est.)[1]

Life expectancy

80.05 years[1]


18% (2009 est.)[1]

Index of Economic Freedom


Corruption Perceptions Index


Doing Business ranking


Spain's powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II but suffered through a devastating civil war (1936-39). A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the EU in 1986) gave Spain a dynamic and rapidly growing economy and made it a global champion of freedom and human rights. The government continues to battle the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist organization, but its major focus for the immediate future will be on measures to reverse the severe economic recession that started in mid-2008.[1]

Economical characteristics

  • Currency: Euro (ISO code: EUR)
  • Central bank discount rate: 3% (May 2009)[1]
  • Commercial banks lending rate: 11.02% (31 December 2008)[1]
  • is part of the Eurozone

Notable events:

  • Banking crisis: 1814-1817, July 1829, 1846-1847, 1920-1923, 1924-1925, 1931, 1977-1985[5], 2008
  • Years in inflation: 3.8% (share of years 1800-2009 with annual inflation above 20 per cent per annum)
  • Public default: 1557-1560, 1575-1577, 1596-1597, 1607, 1627, 1647, 1809, 1820, 1831-1834, 1837-1867, 1851, 1877-1882 (external), 1557-1560, 1575-1577, 1596-1597, 1936-1939 (domestic)[6]

Crisis in Spain

Spain, the euro zone's fourth largest economy, has stagnated as other European economies begin to recover from the global economic downturn. The bleak outlook for Spain, which has debt obligations three times that of Greece, has raised the specter of a broader debt crisis.[7]

Spain massively invested into production of renewable energy, creating a bubble. No other country has given such broad support to the construction and production of electricity through renewable sources. According to a study of March, 2009, for every renewable energy job that the State managed to finance, on average 2.2 jobs would be destroyed. The rising energy costs were complained about by large energy-intensive producers, some companies have frozen their expansion plans, scaled down their operations or considered leaving the country altogether.[8] In 2010, Spain has started to cut subsidies to reduce energy prices.[9]

In 2006, the height of the housing bubble, 760,000 houses were constructed; more than the 650,000 started that year in France and the United Kingdom, with a combined populations almost triple that of Spain. Between 2001 and 2008 around four million new houses have been built and the average number of housing units completed per year was 565,000, more than double the figure of 250,000 for the previous decade. This is equivalent to the construction of twelve dwellings per thousand inhabitants, far in excess of the European average of five per thousand.

In 2009, after the collapse of the construction sector caused by the bursting of the housing bubble and the effects of the global economic crisis, the number of housing units started to fall to 160,000, and there were almost 700,000 housing units in stock (that is, completed but unsold).[10]

In second quarter of 2010, Spain's unemployment rate rose to 20.09 percent, up from 20.05 percent from the previous quarter. It is the highest level in 13 years, and it comes despite a rise in seasonal jobs for the summer. The figure means 4.6 million people are jobless in Spain.[11] By 2009, unemployment among people ages 16 to 24 was 42.9 percent, the highest in Europe.[12]

In March, 2011, Moody's downgraded Spain's credit rating, citing worries over the cost of the banking sector's restructuring, the government's ability to achieve its borrowing reduction targets and grim economic growth prospects.[13]

In June, 2012, Spain's Treasury minister Cristobal Montoro said Spain's high borrowing costs mean it is effectively shut out of the bond market. He said Spanish banks should be recapitalized through "European mechanisms", departing from the previous government line that Spain could raise the money on its own.

Prime Minister Rajoy has also voiced concern that Spain cannot continue to finance itself indefinitely on the market at such high borrowing costs. He has repeatedly called for urgent action, which is understood to be aimed at the European Central Bank to revive its bond-buying program or inject more liquidity into the financial system. Spain is pressing for a direct European rescue for its banks, without the government having to go through he humiliation of asking for help, but Germany has appeared to rule out such a "bailout lite" for the euro zone's fourth biggest economy.[14]


Statistic / Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
GDP (million USD)[15] 617 880 580 673 609 108 686 247 883 667 1 044 250 1 130 200 1 232 350 1 437 910 1 604 230
Govt. debt (% of GDP)[16] 61.103 58.924 54.439 52.975 48.321 47.277 38.376 34.085 30.084 33.801
Govt. revenue (% of GDP)[17] 31.182 31.059 31.054 27.430 26.629 25.647 26.183 26.975 27.741 24.459
Govt. expenses (% of GDP)[18] 32.052 31.277 30.488 26.739 25.550 26.041 24.952 24.989 25.193 26.271
Debt to revenue (years) 1.960 1.897 1.753 1.931 1.815 1.843 1.466 1.264 1.084 1.382


Note: statistical data was rounded. Different sources may use different methodologies for their estimates. Debt to revenue is calculated by dividing the two variables from their original ('unrounded') values. It represents how long it would a government take to repay its entire debt if it used its whole revenue for this purpose.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 CIA - The World Factbook. "Spain", from The World Factbook. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  2. Heritage Foundation. "Spain", Economic Freedom Score. A lower ranking is better; but please be careful when comparing between different countries or years. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  3. Transparency International. "Spain", Corruption Perceptions Index 2009. A lower ranking is better; but please note that the numbers cannot be compared between countries or years due to different methodology. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  4. Doing Business. "Spain", Doing Business 2010 (part of The World Bank Group). A lower ranking is better; but please be careful when comparing between different countries or years. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  5. Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff. "This Time is Different", Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-14216-6, p. 382-383. (The list does not claim to be complete.) Referenced 2011-07-21.
  6. Carmen M. Reinhart. "This Time is Different Chartbook: Country Histories on Debt, Default, and Financial Crises" (pdf), March 3, 2010, p. 101 . (The list does not claim to be complete.) Referenced 2011-07-21.
  7. Ben Rooney. "Spain suffers 20% unemployment", CNN Money, April 30, 2010. Referenced 2011-03-04.
  8. Gabriel Calzada Álvarez. "Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources" (pdf), March 2009. Referenced 2011-03-02.
  9. Ben Sills. "Spain Pricks Solar Power Bubble as Greek Fate Looms", Bloomberg Business Week, April 30, 2010. Referenced 2011-03-04.
  10. Isabel Concheiro. "Spain Interrupted: On the form of the financial bubble", DAP - Digital Architectural Papers, Issue 1, 16.2.2011. Referenced 2011-02-15.
  11. CNN Wire Staff. "Spain unemployment rate at 13-year high", CNN, July 30, 2010. Referenced 2011-03-04.
  12. Nelson D. Schwartz. "In Spain, a Soaring Jobless Rate for Young Workers", New York Times, December 31, 2009. Referenced 2011-03-04.
  13. Associated Press. "Moody’s Downgrades Spain’s Debt", New York Times, published: March 10, 2011. Referenced 2011-03-21.
  14. Julien Toyer. "Spain says markets shutting it out, seeks EU help for banks", Reuters, Jun 5, 2012. Referenced 2012-07-18.
  15. World Bank. "Spain: GDP", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  16. World Bank. "Spain: government debt", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  17. World Bank. "Spain: government revenue", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  18. World Bank. "Spain: government expenses", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.