Spain: Historical Overview                                      

32,000 years ago              

The Iberian Peninsula was first inhabited by modern humans about 32,000 years ago. Over the centuries to come, Celts, Iberians, Greeks and Romans among many others inhabited present-day Spain.

8th century                          

The Iberian peninsula was made up of independent kingdoms prior to the Muslim occupation that began in the early 8th century.

8th –15th century               

The Muslim occupation lasted nearly seven centuries.


The small Christian groups of the north began the “reconquest” by taking Granada in 1492 (image). This event completed the unification of several kingdoms and is traditionally considered the beginning of present-day Spain.


The Hapsburg dynasty (mostly known for the rulers Charles V and Philipp II) unified various kingdoms.

16th and 17th centuries   

Spain's powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately lost command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France and Germany in economic and political power.


Spain’s modern form of a constitutional monarchy was introduced in 1813.

WWI and WWII                 

Spain remained neutral in World War I and II.


Spain suffered a devastating civil war from 1936-39.


A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.


The current democratic constitution was formalized in 1978.


Spain joined the EU in 1986. Spain began a period of modernization and developed a dynamic and rapidly growing economy. It became a global champion of freedom and human rights.


The government focused on measures to reverse a severe economic recession that began in 2008. Austerity measures implemented to reduce a large budget deficit and reassure foreign investors led Spain to suffer one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe.


Spain assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2015-16 term.