Spain is the third country in Europa as for it’s size and fifth as for population numbers. It has a surface of about 505.955 square kilometers. This includes all the islands above mentioned. Spain counts more than 40 million people, most of them living in the cities or along the Costa’s. Spain is divided into 19 autonomous areas, including the areas outside the Iberian peninsula. The most prosperous areas are Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country. Extremadura is the poorest area of Spain, adjacent to Portugal, Andalucia, Castilla La Mancha and Castillia y Léon.
There are 5 large mountain ranges which cross the country and about 50% of the land lies considerably higher than sea level.
The sceneries vary from almost desert-like to a fertile and green land and of course there are the long coastal strips, in the east along the Mediterranean (from the Pyrenees to Gibraltar), next in the south and west to Portugal along the Atlantic Ocean. Although historical sites and unique cultural features have always made Spain attractive to foreign visitors, the tourist boom that began in the mid-1950s was based primarily on the recreational assets of the Mediterranean seashore areas. The most popular areas are the Costa Brava, Costa del Maresme, Costa Dorada in the east and Costa del Sol in the south of Spain. The popularity of the Costa de la Luz in the south along the Atlantic Ocean is growing fast over the last few years. But the government tries to prevent too much building of supersized luxurious hotels and apartments (like the Mediterranean coast) because the biggest and most beautiful nature reserve of Europe is also in this area, the Coto Doñana. Every year, millions of migratory birds stay here for the winter. But the winter of 1999 was so dry that most of the swamps dried out and the birds left to another place.
Next to it’s beautiful climate, beaches and nature, Spain als has a rich cultural history. The many beautiful cities, like Sevilla and Córdoba in Andalucia and Barcelona, are very popular among tourists who want to see something more than only sea and beaches.