Spain is located on the Iberian Peninsula. It’s a sovereign state bordered by the Mediterranean Sea (south and east), France, Andorra and the Bay of Biscay (north and northeast), and Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean (west and northwest) – it’s the only European country to share a border with an African country ( Morocco). The country's territory extends to the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands off the African coastline, as well as two cities (Ceuta and Melilla) on the African mainland; Spain also lays claim to a number of small islands in the Alboran Sea.
Spain holds several titles relating to its size – it’s the largest country in Southern Europe at 195,360 square miles, as well as the second largest in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest on the European continent. The capital city of Spain is Madrid.
Spain is a country rich in history, featuring the third-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is a secular parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy under King Felipe VI. Spain is a highly developed country with the world's fourteenth largest economy by nominal GDP; it’s a major player internationally, retaining membership in the United Nations, European Union, NATO, World Trade Organization and the annual G20 summits, among others.
The Spanish Government
The Government of Spain, led by the Prime Minister and Ministers, spearheads the executive branch and the General State Administration of Spain; it is a parliamentary system under the Constitution of 1978. The Prime Minister of Spain – currently Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party – oversees the Governments Ministers, and can appoint or terminate them at will. The Government, Prime Minister and Ministers are responsible to Parliament, which has the authority to elect or dismiss the Prime Minister.
The General State Administration, under the control of the central government, is the only Spanish administration with powers across the national territory. It includes the Central Organization (Government, Council of Ministers, Government Delegated Commissions, Ministries, General Commission of Secretaries of State and Undersecretaries and Interministerial Commissions), the Peripheral Organization (Delegations of the Government in the Autonomous Communities, the Subdelegates of the Government in the Provinces, and the Insular Directors of the General State Administration, and the State Administration Abroad (Embassies and consulates).
The Government is composed of the Prime Minister, the Vice President of the Government (there can be more than one person in this role at a time), the Ministers, and other members; the overall performance of the Government and its members is measured using five key operating principles: the Principle of presidential direction, Principle of responsibility, Principle of collegiality, Principle of solidarity, and the Departmental principle.
The official title of the Prime Minister is the President of the Government – he is essentially the first Minister, and is elected by the Congress of Deputies. The Prime Minister appoints one or a number of vice-presidents ranked numerically by their level of responsibility in their major ministries such as Finance, Foreign affairs, etc. The current Vice President is Carmen Calvo Poyato, who was appointed on 7 June 2018.
The Council of Ministers, which is traditionally overseen by the Prime Minister, meets on a weekly basis (currently on Friday mornings) at Moncloa Palace, but can meet in any Spanish city depending on circumstances. Meetings are chaired by the Prime Minister or Vice Presidents if the Prime Minister is unavailable. The cabinet can also be chaired by the monarch of Spain in exceptional situations.
The Spanish Government is advised on legal matters by the Council of State; the Economic and Social Council advises the Government in socioeconomic and work matters.
The Monarchy of Spain is a largely-ceremonial, hereditary role (daughters can only inherit the throne if no sons are born to the reigning monarch). The King or Queen is the constitutional head of state – they have no executive role and exist primarily to appoint officials, receive reports of official activities, and represent Spain on special occasions. The monarch serves as the commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armed Forces.
The current monarch is Felipe VI, who has been king since 19 June 2014 after his predecessor, Juan Carlos I, abdicated.
The Military Chief of Staff, currently Fernando Alejandre Martínez, is General of the Army.