A civilization in Civilization Revolution 2
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The Kingdom of Spain is located in the extreme southwest of the European continent, and occupies approximately 85 percent of the Iberian Peninsula. Spain is bordered on the west by Portugal, in the northeast by France, and by the great wall of the Pyrenees Mountains. Throughout its history the Iberian Peninsula that the Spanish inhabited was occupied by various other civilizations, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. Following the Roman collapse, in the eighth century BC the Muslims in turn invaded the peninsula, overrunning virtually the entire country in just a few short years. The Muslims rule of Spain would last some seven centuries, during which time culture flourished and the capital city of Cordoba became a center of learning and the arts, and one of the richest cities in medieval Europe.
Over time the great Muslim empires of North Africa began to fragment, and in Spain pressure from Christian Europe drove the Muslims steadily southward. By the fifteenth century much of the peninsula was under native rule, and under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand Spain was united and the last of the Muslims were driven out of the country.
As a ruler, Isabella pursued policies of expansion of Spanish power and trade. Her wise decision to back the explorer Christopher Columbus's venture to find a shortcut to India gained for Spain a huge empire in the New World, where gold and silver looted from the natives would make Spain the wealthiest and most powerful nation for decades to come.
Other European nations viewed Spain's growing wealth and power with envy, and Spain's treasure ships and American possessions were under near constant assault from pirates and privateers. Spain retaliated against its enemies' overseas possessions, and the low-grade war continued unabated for decades. In 1588 King Philip II launched an ambitious invasion of England, but his "Invincible Armada" was defeated by the young English navy.
Thereafter, Spain declined in power quickly; the enormous influx of gold and silver from the Americas debased the Spanish currency and most of the nation's treasure and military might was wasted in the quagmire of religious conflict known as the Thirty Years' War (1618–48). By the beginning of the 18th century, Spain had become somewhat marginal in international politics, even though it continued to hold vast territories in the Americas.
Spain was gobbled up by France during the Napoleonic Wars, during which time she lost virtually all of her overseas possessions to the English or to native independence movements. By the twentieth century the Spanish monarchy was on its last legs; the bloody Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) saw the Fascist General Francisco Franco defeat the socialist Republicans. Franco wisely remained neutral during the Second World War, and thus he was able to remain in power following the Allied victory in Europe.
Upon Franco's death in the 1970s Spain adopted a democratic constitutional monarchy form of government somewhat similar to that of Great Britain. In the years since it has undergone something of an economic resurgence, and is an important member of the European Union.
One out of every four words in Spanish is derived from Arabic, due in large part to the nation's seven-hundred year occupation by the Moors.
Despite being the third most widely spoken language in the world, Spanish is actually the primary language of only 60% of Spanish citizens. The remainder speak Catalan, Galego and Euskera, Spain's three other official languages. The majority of the world's Spanish speakers live in the western hemisphere.
Galicians, citizens of northwestern Spain, tend to have much more in common with the natives of Ireland and Scotland than the remainder of Spain. Known to play bagpipes and wear kilts, this common heritage stems from Galicia's first civilized settlers: the Celts, the same people who colonized much of Scotland and Ireland.