|PIP: Spain is a constitutional monarchy with a population of 38.3 million growing at .5%/year. The most striking topographical features are the high plateaus and internal compartmentalization by mountain and river barriers. Nearly 3/4 of the country is arid. The Iberian peninsula was the scene of successive invasions and warfare for centuries.
Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Moors, Celts, Romans, and Visigoths all invaded at some time. The present language, religion, and laws stem from the Roman Period. The Reconquest from the North African Moors lasted over 700 years until they were driven out in 1492. The unification of present day Spain was complete by 1512. A period of dictatorial rule from 1923-31 ended with establishment of the Second Republic which saw increasing political polarization culminating in the Spanish Civil War.
Franco's victory in 1939 was followed by official neutrality but pro-Axis policies during World War II. Spain's economy began to recover during the 1950s, but large scale modernization and development did not occur until the 1960s. Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon, Franco's personally designated heir, assumed the title of king and chief of state with Franco's death in 1975.
Franco's last prime minister was replaced in July 1976 in order to speed the pace of post-Franco liberalization. Spain's 1st parliamentary elections since 1936 were held in 1977, and a new constitution protecting human and civil rights and granting due process was overwhelmingly approved in 1978. The constitution also authorized creation of regional autonomous governments. By the mid-1970s, Spain had developed a strong and diversified industrial sector and a thriving tourist industry.
From 1975-83, there were 8 years of double-digit inflation, an average growth rate of 1.5% in real terms, and an increase in unemployment from about 4.7% to 18.4%. By 1984 there was substantial improvement in inflation and the balance of payments. Goals of current government economic policy include structural adjustment, industrial reconversion, labor flexibillty, reexamination of the social security program, and reduction of the government budget deficit. The 1984 gross domestic product (GDP) was $160.4 billion, growing at an annual rate of 2.5%.
Per capita GDP was $4180. Agriculture contributes 6.5% to the GDP and industry, including processed foods, textiles, footwear, petrochemicals, steel, automobiles, consumer goods, and ships, contributes 27%. Exports in 1984 were valued at $22.2 billion compared to $28.7 billion for imports.