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Business Proposal: Spain

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Spain dates back to the fifth century A.D., when the Visigoth established a Germanics successor state in the former Roman diocese of Hispania. In the late fifteenth century, Spain acquired its current borders and was united under a personal union of crowns by Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Recurrent political instability, military intervention in politics, frequent breakdowns of civil order, and periods of repressive government has characterized modern Spanish history. The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), claimed more than 500,000 lives, recapitulated on a larger scale and more brutal conflicts that had erupted periodically for generations. These conflicts centered on social and political roles of the Roman Catholic Church, class differences, and struggles for regional autonomy on the part of Basque and Catalan nationalities.

Today, Spain is the second largest country in Europe. For more than 30 years, it was cut off from the rest of the world under the dictatorship of General Franco. During that time, laws were very strict and people not allowed to criticize the government in any way. At the end of his life, General Franco brought back the monarchy now King Juan Carlos is the head of the democratic monarchy.

Spain forms the main part of the Iberian Peninsula, with it shares with Portugal. It is the second most mountainous country in Europe, after Switzerland. In the north is "Green Spain", which includes the Basque country, Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia. This area hugs the northern and western coasts of Spain facing the Atlantic Ocean. The large, rocky creeks are known as Rias. Northern Spain as a whole is quite wild and mountainous and very sparsely populated. The famous Picos de Europa which translates to, "Peaks of Europe", in Asturias reaches 8,586 feet and form part of the Cantabrian Mountains, where the Ebro River rises.

The Ebro River is Spain's longest river at 564 miles. It is the only Spanish river that flows into the Mediterranean. All the others flow into the Atlantic. Spain's mountain areas are riddled with naturally formed caves which are more than 10,000. One of the most famous is at the Altamira in Cantabria which is 887 feet long. Its walls are covered with rock paintings dating from 13,000 B.C.

The east coast of Spain faces the Mediterranean. This area includes the regions of Catalonia, Valencia, and Murcia. Northern Catalonia is dominated by the Pyrenees, which extend westward into Navarra and form Spain's border with France. The highest point at 11,176 feet is Pico de Aneto. Catalonia's coastline includes the Cosra Brava with its rocky cliffs and small sandy coves, some of which have been destroyed by tourism. South of Catalonia are Valencia and Murcia, with the long white beaches of the Costa Blanca. Southwest of Murcia is Andalusia, home to both the white sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol and the mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

Gibraltar is opposite the coast of Andalusia. Gibraltar is a limestone island only 3 miles long and 1.3 miles wide, rising to a height of 121 feet and linked to the mainland by a narrow Isthmus, but is still considered British territory. Inland Spain is covered by a high central plateau known as the Meseta, little tables. This area is the old kingdom of Castile and has been divided into Castile-Leon and Castile-La Mancha. The area has vast plains, broken by rocky outcrops, such as the stunning gorge of Cuenca. Also within inland Spain are Aragon and Navarra, extending southward from the foothills of the Pyrenees an area of spectacular mountains countryside.

The population as of January 2005 is 44,530,100 people. The central language of Spain is Castilian. The best known regional language is Basque, which is different from any other language in the world. No one knows its origins but it is believed to be very ancient and may have been the language of the original inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. Many Basque people work in the numerous factories and mines in the region. Other Basque people live more traditional lives, such as the farmers who move their herds of sheep, goats, and cows into the mountains in spring and down to the valley in the winter.

Barcelona is the main city of Catalonia and the capital of the Catalan language, which appears on road signs in this region together with Castilian Spanish. Catalonia has a strong media environment, such as television, radio stations and internet access. There are other areas such as Galicia in the northwest, where Galician is a mixture of two languages; Spanish and Portuguese. The Galician enjoy their own rather Scottish sounding music, they play bagpipes and dancing jigs. Around Valencia in eastern Spain, Catalan is mixed with Spanish, while Majorca in the Balearic Islands there is a strong French influence on the language.

There are other differences beside language. Andalusia is the traditional home of flamenco dancing but can be heard and seen all over Spain, believed originated by the Moors, who invaded Spain from North Africa in A.D. 711. Houses in Andalusia still have the Moorish thick



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