Key facts: Spain

by World Grain Staff
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Capital: Madrid Population: 46,505,963 (July 2010 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%.

Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France.

Government: Parliamentary monarchy. Chief of state: King Juan Carlos I (since Nov. 22, 1975); head of government: President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (since April 17, 2004).

Economy: Spain’s mixed capitalist economy is the 12th largest in the world, and its per capita income roughly matches that of Germany and France. However, after almost 15 years of above average GDP growth, the Spanish economy began to slow in late 2007 and entered into a recession in the second quarter of 2008. Spain’s unemployment rate rose from a low of about 8% in 2007 to more than 19% in December 2009 and continues to rise. Its fiscal deficit worsened from 3.8% of GDP in 2008 to about 7.9% of GDP in 2009, more than double the European Economic and Monetary Union limit. GDP contracted by 3.6% from 2008, ending a 16-year growth trend. The economy is projected to resume modest growth late in 2010, making Spain the last major economy to emerge from the global recession. The reversal in Spain’s economic growth reflects a significant decline in the construction sector, an oversupply of housing, falling consumer spending, and slumping exports. Government efforts to boost the economy through stimulus spending, extended unemployment benefits and loan guarantees have not prevented a sharp rise in the unemployment rate, which was the highest in the E.U. in 2009. Spain’s banking sector has been relatively insulated from the global financial crisis, due in part to conservative oversight by the Bank of Spain. Government intervention to rescue banks on the scale seen elsewhere in Europe in 2008 and 2009 was not necessary in Spain, although Spanish banks’ high exposure to the collapsed domestic construction and real estate market poses continued risks for the sector. The government intervened in one regional savings bank in 2009, and others have merged out of necessity.

GDP per capita: $33,600 (2009 est.); inflation: -0.8% (2009 est.); unemployment 18% (2009 est.).

Currency: Euros (EUR); 1 euro equals 0.7338 U.S. dollar (Nov. 15, 2010).

Exports: $226.8 billion (2009 est.): machinery, motor vehicles; foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, medicines, other consumer goods.

Imports: $290.4 billion (2009 est.): machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, semi-finished goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, measuring and medical control instruments.

Major crops/agricultural products: Grain, vegetables, olives, wine grapes, sugar beets, citrus; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products, fish.

Agriculture: 3.3% of GDP and 4.2% of the labor force.

Internet: Code. .es; 3.822 million (2010) hosts and 25.24 million (2008) users.

Source: CIA World Factbook