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SPAIN

Population: 40 million
Size: 504,788 sq. km.
Official Language: Castilian Spanish, as well as Catalan, Valencian, Basque and Galician
Capital: Madrid
Currency: Euro. 1 Euro (EUR) = 1.44 Canadian Dollar (CAD) as of August, 2006.

Spain straddles the greater part of the Iberian Peninsula that juts out at the south-eastern tip of Europe and is almost surrounded by water. Spain is bounded to the north by the Bay of Biscay, France, and Andorra; to the east by the Mediterranean Sea; on the south by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; and on the west by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. In the 13km wide Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain from Africa. The Pyrenees separate Spain from France and are the country's principal mountain range. The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa are governed as provinces of Spain. Also, Spain administers Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan mainland. Spain has been a crucial crossroads in the history of cultures and civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean world.

Along the northern Atlantic coast the climate is usually quite damp and cool. The central plateau has very hot, dry summers and drought is common. On the southern Mediterranean coast a subtropical climate prevails enjoying an average winter temperature of 14°C (57°F).

Every region has its share of Spain's richly diverse array of geography, climate and scenery. The evergreen estuaries of Galicia could hardly be more different from the high, arid plains of Castile, or the gulch-like desert landscapes of Almería. Agriculture makes its mark in the patterned hillsides of the wine – and olive-growing regions and the rice fields of the Levante. Spain is also one of the most mountainous countries in Europe, and there is superb walking and wildlife in a dozen or more sierras – above all in the Picos de Europa and Pyrenees. On the Costa del Sol on the southern coastline, beaches and tourism resorts prevail

Visit this link for more information about Spain:
The Lonely Planet Guide - Spain

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