The history of Spain differs from the rest of the countries in Europe; it covers the prehistoric Iberia, the rise and decline of a global empire, and the recent history of Spain as a member of the European Union. According to the earliest record of first hominids settlements, the first inhabitants were Cro-Magnons that came from north of the Pyrenees some 35,000 years ago.
Some of the most important rests found in Spain are the famous paintings in northern Spanish cave of Altamira and the archeological evidence in Los Millares in Almería and in El Argarin Murcia with Neolithic and Bronze Age styles.
Cultures in Spain
Many cultures were developed in the territory of Spain, such as: Iberians, the Tartessians, Celts and Celtiberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Suebi and Visigoths. It’s said that they are responsible for the name Iberia, apparently after the river Iber (Ebro in Spanish).
With the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthago, Carthaginians invaded Spain; after that, Romans also invaded the colonies in Spain, and ended up conquering the entire peninsula, which is evident even today in their language.
Gothic tribes invaded the peninsula and established their kingdom after the decline of the Roman Empire.
After the Arabs conquest, The Christian Kings ruled Spain by a process called the Reconquista; they started the largest empire, reaching its peak with King Felipe II and the conquest of the Americas.
However, the Kingdom became victim of its own wealth and success and began to decline, specially its economy and politics, with the civil revolts, the independence achieved by the Spanish territories of the Americas.
One of the most important revolutions was the revolution of 1868 that forced Isabel II to renounce the throne, and the First Republic was proclaimed. It lasted just one year because Isabel's son, Alphonse XII, restored the kingdom; at the same time other revolutions took place around the world and this caused the economic crisis of 1920´s.
Recent Spain's history
In the following years the country was under a military dictature until 1930. Then the first municipal elections took place in April 12th, 1931, which meant a triumph for the political left wing and produced that Alphonse XIII left the country. A period of growing political instability that began in 1936, ended with a bloodycivil war (1936-1939).
The Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco controlled the Spanish government until 1975, when Francisco Franco died and the Bourbon monarchy returned, headed by Prince Juan Carlos. After World War II the country was relatively stable, and experienced a rapid economic growth.
The new presidential elections in 1982 had the socialist Felipe Gonzalez as the winner. After the European community formed, Spain became a member in 1986. And after many important events, Spain impressively appeared at the world stage with the Olympic Games of 1992 in Barcelona and the EXPO'92 in Seville.
Nowadays, Spain is a member state of the European Union and the country is a democracy organized with high living standards. The country comprises 17 autonomous communities (Andalucía, Aragón, Asturias, Islas Baleares, Islas Canarias, Cantabria, Castile and León, Castile-La Mancha, Cataluña, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Community of Madrid, Region of Murcia, País Vasco, Comunidad, Valenciana, and Navarra) and two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla); each autonomous community can be divided into provinces and municipalities.