Cortes of Cádiz

The Cádiz Cortes was the first national assembly to claim sovereignty in Spain.[1] It represented the abolition of the old kingdoms.[2] The opening session was held on 24 September 1810, in the building now known as the Real Teatro de las Cortes. It met as one body and its members represented the entire Spanish empire.[3] The sessions of the national legislative body (traditionally known in Spain as the Cortes) met in the safe haven of Cádiz during the French occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. The Cádiz Cortes were seen then, and by historians today, as a major step towards liberalism and democracy in the history of Spain. The liberal Cortes passed the Spanish Constitution of 1812, which established a constitutional monarchy and eliminated many basic institutions that privileged some groups over others.[4]

Monument in Cádiz to the Cortes and the 1812 constitution


Cortes de Cadiz
Deputies of Cádiz Cortes by territories

From the first days of the Peninsular War, juntas appeared as the underground opposition to the French-imposed government. They were established by army commanders, guerrilla leaders or local civilian groups. Convinced that unity was needed to co-ordinate efforts against the French and to deal with British aid, several provincial juntas, in Murcia, Valencia, Seville and Castile and León, called for the formation of a central body. After a series of negotiations that included the discredited Council of Castile, a Supreme Central Junta met in Aranjuez on 25 September 1808.[5] Serving as surrogate for the absent royal government, it called for representatives from local provinces and overseas possessions to meet in an "Extraordinary and General Cortes of the Spanish Nation", which was so called because it would be both the legislative body for the empire and the body that would write a constitution for it. By the beginning of 1810, the forces under the Junta's command had suffered serious military reverses at the battles of Ocaña and Alba de Tormes. The French inflicted large losses on the Spanish, took control of southern Spain and forced the government to retreat to Cádiz, its last available redoubt on Spanish soil. In light of that, the Central Junta dissolved itself on 29 January 1810 and set up a five-person regency, charged with convening the Cortes. By the time the delegates were to be chosen, some of Spain's American provinces had successfully established their own juntas, which did not recognise the authority of either the central junta or the regency and so did not send representatives although many other regions in America did. When the Cortes convened for the first time on 24 September 1810, 104 deputies were present, 30 representing overseas territories, although only one of the 36 American deputies arrived in time for the opening session. Eventually, about 300 deputies, including 63 from the New World, participated. The composition of the Cortes de Cádiz was diverse, with about one-third clergymen, one-sixth nobles and the remainder from the "third estate", the middle class.[3] Its first regulation includes one of the first proofs of steady seasonally times which came into the time change.[6][7]

Reforms and constitution

In the first session, the Cortes promulgated the proposition that it, rather than the king, was the national sovereign since it represented the people. Then, the national assembly divided the government into legislative, executive and judiciary branches. Given the contingencies of war that resulted from the forced displacement of Fernando VII, the regency announced that it would act as the executive until his return. However, the legislative was dominant, and when the regency opposed what it viewed as an infringement on its power, the Cortes arrested its members and removed them from their positions, establishing a second regency.[8]

The national assembly restructured the government while prosecuting a war in Spain and maintaining control overseas. Once deliberations started, the delegates split into liberal and conservative factions. Conservative Spaniards saw the Cortes at Cádiz as, at best, an interim solution until "the Desired One", as Fernando VII was called by his supporters, could return. Most regalists, however, did not admit that a parliamentary body could legislate in the absence of a king. The liberals carried on the reformist philosophy of Carlos III and added to it many of the ideas of the French Revolution. They wanted equality before the law, a centralized government, an efficient civil service, a reform of the tax system, the replacement of feudal privileges by freedom of contract and the recognition of property rights. As the liberals were the majority, they were able to transform the assembly from an interim government to a constitutional convention.

The product of the Cortes' deliberations reflected the liberals' dominance, and the Spanish Constitution of 1812 came to be the "sacred code" of liberalism; during the 19th century, it served as a model for liberal constitutions of Latin nations. The national assembly created a unitary state with equal laws across the Spanish Empire. The principal aim of the new constitution was the prevention of arbitrary and corrupt royal rule; it provided for a limited monarchy that governed through ministers subject to parliamentary control. It established that the unicameral legislature would meet annually in the capital. The constitution maintained that suffrage was not to be determined by property qualifications, and it favoured the position of the commercial class in the new parliament since there was no special provision for the Catholic Church or the nobility.[9] The constitution set up a rational and efficient centralised administrative system, based on newly-formed provinces and municipalities, rather than following historic boundaries. The repeal of traditional property restrictions gave the liberals the freer economy that they wanted. However, the Spanish Constitution of 1812 denied people of African ancestry political rights and representation.[3]


A revolutionary document, the Spanish Constitution of 1812 marked the initiation of the Spanish tradition of liberalism, and when Fernando VII was restored to the throne in 1814, he refused to recognize it. He dismissed the Cortes Generales on 4 May and ruled as an absolute monarch. These events foreshadowed the long conflict between liberals and traditionalists that marked Spanish history in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Cádiz Cortes declared that the people of Spain have the sovereignty of all kingdoms of the Monarchy of Spain (including those of the Crown of Castile in the Americas) and proclaimed the extinction of the system of kingdoms and provinces of Spain and the Indies. The Criollo people of Latin America rejected the pretensions of the Spaniards and assumed the sovereignty of the former American kingdoms of the Crown of Castile, over which the King of Spain had been sovereign.[10]

Spain's American colonies took advantage of the postwar chaos to proclaim their independence. Most established republican governments. The fact that the Constitution was considered too liberal by the conservative elements in the colonies only precipitated their decision to join the effort for independence from Spain. When Ferdinand was restored to the throne in Madrid, he expended wealth and manpower in a vain effort to reassert control over the colonies. The move was unpopular among liberal officers assigned to the American wars. By the second half of 1826 only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under the Spanish flag in the New World.


  1. ^ Ezquerra, Jaime Alvar (2001). Diccionario de historia de España. Ediciones Akal. pp. 209–. ISBN 978-84-7090-366-3. Cortes of Cádiz (1812) was the first parliament of Spain with sovereign power
  2. ^ El "Manifiesto de los persas"una alternativa ante el liberalismo español.Alexandra Wilhelmsen.1979
  3. ^ a b c Rodríguez O., Jaime E. (13 May 1998). The Independence of Spanish America. Cambridge University Press. pp. 82–. ISBN 978-0-521-62673-6. citation: "It met as one body, and its members represented the entire Spanish world"
  4. ^ James Lockhart and Stuart Schwartz, Early Latin America. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press 1983, pp. 414-415.
  5. ^ (in Spanish) Documents of the Junta Era. Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes
  6. ^ Luxan, Manuel (1810). Reglamento para el gobierno interior de las Cortes (PDF). Congreso de los Diputados. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  7. ^ Martín Olalla, José María (3 September 2018). "La gestión de la estacionalidad". El Mundo (in Spanish). Unidad Editorial. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  8. ^ Benson. Mexico and the Spanish Cortes.
  9. ^ Articles 18–26 of the Constitution. Spain, The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy. Alicante: Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, 2003.
  10. ^ Chiaramonte, José Carlos (2010). Fundamentos intelectuales y políticos de las independencias: Notas para una nueva historia intelectual de Iberoamérica. Teseo. pp. 113–. ISBN 978-987-1354-56-6. For Hispanic America, [...], the Creoles claimed that their political connection was with the Castilian monarchy, not the Spanish nation, and that the throne being vacant, they had recovered their sovereignty. [...] The new sovereign entities, which considered themselves heirs to the sovereignty of the Castilian crown, [...] the sovereign bodies considered representative of the cities, and the provinces, or Latin American States, rejected decisions made without their consent.


  • Benson, Nettie Lee, ed. Mexico and the Spanish Cortes. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966.
  • Lovett, Gabriel. Napoleon and the Birth of Modern Spain. New York: New York University Press, 1965.
  • Rieu-Millan, Marie Laure. Los diputados americanos en las Cortes de Cádiz: Igualdad o independencia. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1990. ISBN 978-84-00-07091-5
  • Rodríguez O., Jaime E. The Independence of Spanish America. Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-521-62673-0
  • Rodríguez, Mario. The Cádiz Experiment in Central America, 1808 to 1826. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. ISBN 978-0-520-03394-8
  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website – Spain
1824 Constitution of Mexico

The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824 (Spanish: Constitución Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1824) was enacted on October 4 of 1824, after the overthrow of the Mexican Empire of Agustin de Iturbide. In the new constitution, the republic took the name of United Mexican States, and was defined as a representative federal republic, with Catholicism as the official and unique religion. It was replaced by the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857.

Castile and León

Castile and León (UK: , US: ; Spanish: Castilla y León [kasˈtiʎa i leˈon] (listen); Leonese: Castiella y Llión [kasˈtjeʎa i ʎiˈoŋ]; Galician: Castela e León [kasˈtɛla e leˈoŋ]) is an autonomous community in north-western Spain. It was constituted in 1983, although it existed for the first time during the First Spanish Republic in the 19th century. León first appeared as a Kingdom in 910, whilst the Kingdom of Castile gained an independent identity in 1065 and was intermittently held in personal union with León before merging with it permanently in 1230. It is the largest autonomous community in Spain and the third largest region of the European Union, covering an area of 94,223 square kilometres (36,380 sq mi) with an official population of around 2.5 million (2011).

From the beginning of the federalist debate in Spain in the 19th century during the First Spanish Republic there were projects of autonomy for a Castile and León region, as the project of Castilian Mancomunity, Bases de Segovia, Castilian Provincial League or Castilian Federal Pact, but also including current Cantabria and La Rioja. Same project that continued to exist during the Second Spanish Republic and that was finally carried out after the Constitution of 1978 , but without Cantabria and La Rioja that, although it was considered to include them, finally formed uniprovincial autonomies.

Its Statute of Autonomy declares in its preamble:

The Autonomous Community of Castile and León arises from the modern union of the historical territories that composed and gave name to the old crowns of León and Castile. Eleven hundred years ago, the Kingdom of León was constituted, from which that of Castile and Galicia were dislodged as kingdoms throughout the 9th century, and, in 1143, that of Portugal. During these two centuries the monarchs who held the government of these lands attained the dignity of emperors, as attested by the terms of Alfonso VI and Alfonso VII.

In Castile and León, more than 60% of all of Spain's heritage sites are found (architectural, artistic, cultural, etc.). All of which translate into: 8 World Heritage sites, almost 1800 classified cultural heritage assets, 112 historic sites, 400 museums, more than 500 castles, of which 16 are considered of high historical value, 12 cathedrals, 1 concathedral, and the largest concentration of Romanesque art in the world. With 8 World Heritage sites, Castile and León is the region of the world with more cultural assets distinguished by the highest protection figure granted by UNESCO, ahead of the Italian regions of Tuscany and Lombardy, both with 6 sites.Also, the Montes de Valsaín mountains and the Béjar and Francia mountain ranges, in the Sistema Central, the valleys of Laciana, Omaña y Luna and the Picos de Europa and Los Ancares, in the Cantabrian Mountains, and the Iberian Plateau, in the border area with Portugal, have been declared biosphere reserve by UNESCO, which also recognizes the geopark of La Lora with this figure of protection. In addition, Castile and León is strongly related to two of the records of the Memory of the World Programme of UNESCO which are the Decreta of the Cortes of León of 1188, curia regia considered the birthplace of worldwide parliamentarism by the institution itself, and the Treaty of Tordesillas.The Index of development of social services reflects that the community has one of the best social services in the country, positioning itself as the third autonomy that offers the best benefits to its citizens, after the Basque Country and Navarre. Its education, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment report of 2015, leads the scores in reading and sciences with a score comparable to that of the ten best countries in the study.23 April is designated Castile and León Day, commemorating the defeat of the comuneros at the Battle of Villalar during the Revolt of the Comuneros, in 1521.

Daylight saving time

Daylight saving time (DST), also daylight savings time or daylight time (United States), also summer time (United Kingdom and others), is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months so that evening daylight lasts longer, while sacrificing normal sunrise times. Typically, regions that use daylight saving time adjust clocks forward one hour close to the start of spring and adjust them backward in the autumn to standard time. In effect, DST causes a lost hour of sleep in the spring and an extra hour of sleep in the fall.George Hudson proposed the idea of daylight saving in 1895. The German Empire and Austria-Hungary organized the first nationwide implementation, starting on April 30, 1916. Many countries have used it at various times since then, particularly since the energy crisis of the 1970s.

DST is generally not observed near the equator, where sunrise times do not vary enough to justify it. Some countries observe it only in some regions; for example, southern Brazil observes it while equatorial Brazil does not. Only a minority of the world's population uses DST, because Asia and Africa generally do not observe it.

DST clock shifts sometimes complicate timekeeping and can disrupt travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns. Computer software often adjusts clocks automatically, but policy changes by various jurisdictions of DST dates and timings may be confusing.

First Mexican Republic

For the current entity named United Mexican States, see Mexico.The First Mexican Republic, known also as the First Federal Republic (Spanish: Primera República Federal), was a federated republic and nation-state officially designated the United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos, listen ). "Independence transformed Mexico from Spain's largest and most prosperous colony to a sovereign nation suffering economic decline and political strife." The First Mexican Republic lasted from 1824 to 1835, when conservatives under Antonio López de Santa Anna transformed it into a centralized state, the Centralist Republic of Mexico.

The republic was proclaimed on November 1, 1823 by the Constituent Congress, months after the fall of the Mexican Empire ruled emperor Agustin I, a former royalist military officer-turned-insurgent for independence. The federation was formally and legally established on October 4, 1824 when the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States came into force.It was bordered on the north by the United States and Oregon Country (or Columbia District); on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Federal Republic of Central America, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico.The Federal Republic lasted almost twelve years with constant struggles between the main political parties: the Conservatives, landowners and former monarchists, favoring a strong central government and a confessional state; and the Liberals, republicans favoring a limited government power divided among the federated states and a secular nation. The conflict caused severe political instability and violence.

The republic was ruled by two triumvirates and nine presidents. Guadalupe Victoria was the only president who completed his full term in this period and in almost 30 years of independent Mexico.On October 23, 1835, after the repeal of the Constitution of 1824, the Federal Republic was changed to a Centralist Republic. The unitary regime was formally established on December 30, 1836, with the enactment of the seven constitutional laws.

Florencio del Castillo

Florencio del Castillo (October 17, 1778 – November 26, 1834) was a Costa Rican cleric and politician.

Guadalupe Victoria

Guadalupe Victoria (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡwaðaˈlupe βikˈtoɾja]; 29 September 1786 – 21 March 1843), born José Miguel Ramón Adaucto Fernández y Félix, was a Mexican general and political leader who fought for independence against the Spanish Empire in the Mexican War of Independence. He was a deputy in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies for Durango and a member of the Supreme Executive Power following the downfall of the First Mexican Empire. After the adoption of the Constitution of 1824, Victoria was elected as the first President of the United Mexican States.As President he established diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom, the United States, the Federal Republic of Central America, and Gran Colombia. He also abolished slavery, founded the National Museum, promoted education, and ratified the border with the United States of America. He decreed the expulsion of the Spaniards remaining in the country and defeated the last Spanish stronghold in the castle of San Juan de Ulúa.

Victoria was the only president who completed his full term in more than 30 years of an independent Mexico. He died in 1843 at the age of 56 from epilepsy in the fortress of Perote, where he was receiving medical treatment. On 8 April of the same year, it was decreed that his name would be written in golden letters in the session hall of the Chamber of Deputies.

José Casado del Alisal

José María Casado del Alisal (1830/32 – 8 October 1886) was a Spanish portrait and history painter.

Martín Fernández de Navarrete

Martín Fernández de Navarrete y Ximénez de Tejada (November 9, 1765 - October 8, 1844), was a Spanish noble, grand son of the Marquess of Ximenez de Tejada, knight of the Order of Malta, politician and historian. He was a spanish Senator and Director of the Spanish Royal Academy of History (1824-1844).

He rediscovered Las Casas' abstract of the journal Columbus made on his first voyage. His main work is the "Colección de los viages y descubrimientos que hicieron por mar los españoles desde fines del siglo XV" - Collection of the voyages and discoveries made by the spaniards since the late 15th century- which is a vast work published in five volumes Fernández de Navarrete wrote by appointment of the Spanish Crown.

This circumstance made him deserve the name of the "Marino Historiador" tarnslated as "The Marine Historian".

He was a member of all major spanish and international Science and Arts Academies of his time.

Ministry of the Interior (Spain)

The Ministry of the Interior of Spain (Spanish: Ministerio del Interior) which historically could be known as Ministerio de la Gobernación, Ministerio del Orden Público, Ministerio del Interior y la Gobernación or Ministerio del Interior y Justicia is the executive branch responsible for policing, national security, immigration matters, prisons and road traffic safety.

Spain spends around $ 25,5 billions (€ 22 billions) per year on security and public order, which puts it at 2% of GDP.

National Autonomous University of León

The National Autonomous University of Léon (Spanish: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, Léon), founded in 1812, is a university in Nicaragua. It was the second university founded in Central America and the last founded under the colonial rule of the Spanish Empire.

October 15

October 15 is the 288th day of the year (289th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 77 days remaining until the end of the year.

Palacio del Senado

The Palace of the Senate is the home of the Senate of Spain, the upper house of the Cortes Generales, the national parliament of Spain. It is located in the Spanish Navy Square, in the center of the City of Madrid.

Peninsular War

The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain (with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland allied with the Kingdom of Portugal), for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.

The Peninsular War overlaps with what the Spanish-speaking world calls the Guerra de la Independencia Española (Spanish War of Independence), which began with the Dos de Mayo Uprising on 2 May 1808 and ended on 17 April 1814. The French occupation destroyed the Spanish administration, which fragmented into quarrelling provincial juntas. The episode remains as the bloodiest event in Spain's modern history, doubling in relative terms the Spanish Civil War.A reconstituted national government, the Cortes of Cádiz—in effect a government-in-exile—fortified itself in Cádiz in 1810, but could not raise effective armies because it was besieged by 70,000 French troops. British and Portuguese forces eventually secured Portugal, using it as a safe position from which to launch campaigns against the French army and provide whatever supplies they could get to the Spanish, while the Spanish armies and guerrillas tied down vast numbers of Napoleon's troops. These combined regular and irregular allied forces, by restricting French control of territory, prevented Napoleon's marshals from subduing the rebellious Spanish provinces, and the war continued through years of stalemate.The British Army, under then Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the 1st Duke of Wellington, guarded Portugal and campaigned against the French in Spain alongside the reformed Portuguese army. The demoralised Portuguese army was reorganised and refitted under the command of Gen. William Beresford, who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese royal family, and fought as part of the combined Anglo-Portuguese Army under Wellesley.

In 1812, when Napoleon set out with a massive army on what proved to be a disastrous French invasion of Russia, a combined allied army under Wellesley pushed into Spain, defeating the French at Salamanca and taking Madrid. In the following year Wellington scored a decisive victory over King Joseph Bonaparte's army in the Battle of Vitoria. Pursued by the armies of Britain, Spain and Portugal, Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult, no longer able to get sufficient support from a depleted France, led the exhausted and demoralized French forces in a fighting withdrawal across the Pyrenees during the winter of 1813–1814.

The years of fighting in Spain were a heavy burden on France's Grande Armée. While the French were victorious in battle, their communications and supplies were severely tested and their units were frequently isolated, harassed or overwhelmed by partisans fighting an intense guerrilla war of raids and ambushes. The Spanish armies were repeatedly beaten and driven to the peripheries, but they would regroup and relentlessly hound the French. This drain on French resources led Napoleon, who had unwittingly provoked a total war, to call the conflict the "Spanish Ulcer".War and revolution against Napoleon's occupation led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812, later a cornerstone of European liberalism. The burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and Spain, and ushered in an era of social turbulence, political instability and economic stagnation. Devastating civil wars between liberal and absolutist factions, led by officers trained in the Peninsular War, persisted in Iberia until 1850. The cumulative crises and disruptions of invasion, revolution and restoration led to the independence of most of Spain's American colonies and the independence of Brazil from Portugal.

Seminole Wars

The Seminole Wars, also known as the Florida Wars, were three conflicts in Florida between the Seminole, a Native American tribe that formed in Florida in the early 18th century, and the United States Army. Both in human and monetary terms, the Seminole Wars were the longest and most expensive of the Indian Wars in United States history.

The First Seminole War (c. 1816–1819) began with General Andrew Jackson's excursions into West Florida and Spanish Florida against the Seminoles after the conclusion of the War of 1812. The governments of Great Britain and Spain both expressed outrage over the "invasion". However, Spain was unable to defend or control the territory, as several local uprisings and rebellions made clear. The Spanish Crown agreed to cede Florida to the United States per the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, and the transfer took place in 1821. According to the Treaty of Moultrie Creek of 1823, the Seminoles were required to leave northern Florida and were confined to a large reservation in the center of the Florida peninsula. The U.S. government enforced the treaty by building a series of forts and trading posts in the territory, mainly along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

The Second Seminole War (1835–1842) was the result of the United States government attempting to force the Seminoles to leave Florida altogether and move to Indian Territory per the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Fighting began with the Dade Massacre in December 1835, and raids, skirmishes, and a handful of larger battles raged throughout the Florida peninsula over the next few years. At first, the outgunned and outnumbered Seminoles effectively used guerrilla warfare to frustrate the ever more numerous American military forces. In October 1836, General Thomas Sidney Jesup was sent to Florida to take command of the campaign. After futilely chasing bands of Seminole warriors through the wilderness, Jesup changed tactics and began seeking out and destroying Seminole farms and villages, a strategy which eventually changed the course of the war. Jesup also authorized the controversial captures of Seminole leaders Osceola and Micanopy under signs of truce. By the early 1840s, most of the Seminole population in Florida had been killed in battle, ravaged by starvation and disease, or relocated to Indian Territory. Several hundred Seminoles were allowed to remain in an unofficial reservation in southwest Florida.

The Third Seminole War (1855–1858) was again the result of Seminoles responding to settlers and U.S. Army scouting parties encroaching on their lands, perhaps deliberately to provoke a violent response that would result in the removal of the last of the Seminoles from Florida. After an army surveying crew found and destroyed a Seminole plantation west of the Everglades in December 1855, Chief Billy Bowlegs led a raid near Fort Myers, setting off a conflict which consisted mainly of raids and reprisals, with no large battles fought. American forces again strove to destroy the Seminoles' food supply, and by 1858, most of the remaining Seminoles, weary of war and facing starvation, agreed to be shipped to Oklahoma in exchange for promises of safe passage and cash payments. An estimated 500 Seminoles still refused to leave and retreated deep into the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp to live on land that was unwanted by white settlers.


Spain (Spanish: España [esˈpaɲa] (listen)), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España), is a country mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

With an area of 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the European continent. By population, Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and the fifth in the European Union. Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Málaga and Bilbao.

Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. Iberian cultures along with ancient Phoenician, Greek, Celtic and Carthaginian settlements developed on the peninsula until it came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania, based on the earlier Phoenician name Sp(a)n or Spania. At the end of the Western Roman Empire the Germanic tribal confederations migrated from Central Europe, invaded the Iberian peninsula and established relatively independent realms in its western provinces, including the Suebi, Alans and Vandals. Eventually, the Visigoths would forcibly integrate all remaining independent territories in the peninsula, including Byzantine provinces, into the Kingdom of Toledo, which more or less unified politically, ecclesiastically and legally all the former Roman provinces or successor kingdoms of what was then documented as Hispania.

In the early eighth century the Visigothic Kingdom fell to the Moors, who arrived to rule most of the peninsula in the year 726, leaving only a handful of small Christian realms in the north, lasting up to seven centuries in the Kingdom of Granada. This led to many wars during a long reconquering period across the Iberian Peninsula, which led to the creation of Kingdom of Leon, Kingdom of Castille, Kingdom of Aragon and Kingdom of Navarre as the main Christian kingdoms to face the invasion. Following the Moorish conquest, Europeans began a gradual process of retaking the region known as the Reconquista, which by the late 15th century culminated in the emergence of Spain as a unified country under the Catholic Monarchs.

In the early modern period, Spain became the world's first global empire and the most powerful country in the world, leaving a large cultural and linguistic legacy that includes +570 million Hispanophones, making Spanish the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese. During the Golden Age there were also many advancements in the arts, with world-famous painters such as Diego Velázquez.

The most famous Spanish literary work, Don Quixote, was also published during the Golden Age. Spain hosts the world's third-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Spain is a secular parliamentary democracy and a parliamentary monarchy, with King Felipe VI as head of state. It is a major developed country and a high income country, with the world's fourteenth largest economy by nominal GDP and sixteenth largest by purchasing power parity. It is a member of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the Eurozone, the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), the Union for the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Schengen Area, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and many other international organisations. While not an official member, Spain has a "Permanent Invitation" to the G20 summits, participating in every summit, which makes Spain a de facto member of the group.

Spanish American wars of independence

The Spanish American wars of independence were the numerous wars against Spanish rule in Spanish America with the aim of political independence that took place during the early 19th century, after the French invasion of Spain during Europe's Napoleonic Wars. Although there has been research on the idea of a separate Spanish American ("creole") identity separate from that of Iberia, political independence was not initially the aim of most Spanish Americans, nor was it necessarily inevitable. After the restoration of rule by Ferdinand VII in 1814, and his rejection of the Spanish liberal constitution of 1812, the monarchy as well as liberals hardened their stance toward its overseas possessions, and they in turn increasingly sought political independence.The violent conflicts started in 1809 with short-lived governing juntas established in Chuquisaca and Quito in opposing the government of the Supreme Central Junta of Seville. In 1810, numerous new juntas appeared across the Spanish domains in the Americas when the Central Junta fell to the French invasion. Although various regions of Spanish America objected to many crown policies, "there was little interest in outright independence; indeed there was widespread support for the Spanish Central Junta formed to lead the resistance against the French." While some Spanish Americans believed that independence was necessary, most who initially supported the creation of the new governments saw them as a means to preserve the region's autonomy from the French. Over the course of the next decade, the political instability in Spain and the absolutist restoration under Ferdinand VII convinced many Spanish Americans of the need to formally establish independence from the mother country.

These conflicts were fought both as irregular warfare and conventional warfare, and as wars of national liberation and civil wars. The conflicts among the colonies and with Spain eventually resulted in a chain of newly independent countries stretching from Argentina and Chile in the south to Mexico in the north in the first third of the 19th century. Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule until the Spanish–American War in 1898. The new republics from the beginning abolished the formal system of racial classification and hierarchy, casta system, the Inquisition, and noble titles. Slavery was not abolished immediately but ended in all of the new nations within a quarter century. Criollos (those of Spanish descent born in the New World) and mestizos (those of mixed American Indian and Spanish blood or culture) replaced Spanish-born appointees in most political governments. Criollos remained at the top of a social structure that retained some of its traditional features culturally, if not legally. For almost a century thereafter, conservatives and liberals fought to reverse or to deepen the social and political changes unleashed by those rebellions.

The events in Spanish America were related to the wars of independence in the former French colony of St-Domingue, Haiti, and the transition to independence in Brazil. Brazil's independence, in particular, shared a common starting point with that of Spanish America, since both conflicts were triggered by Napoleon's invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, which forced the Portuguese royal family to flee to Brazil in 1807. The process of Latin American independence took place in the general political and intellectual climate that emerged from the Age of Enlightenment and that influenced all of the Atlantic Revolutions, including the earlier revolutions in the United States and France. A more direct cause of the Spanish American wars of independence were the unique developments occurring within the Kingdom of Spain and its monarchy during this era.

Spanish Constitution of 1812

The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy (Spanish: Constitución Política de la Monarquía Española), also known as the Constitution of Cádiz (Spanish: Constitución de Cádiz) and as La Pepa, was the first Constitution of Spain and one of the earliest constitutions in world history. It was established on 19 March 1812 by the Cortes of Cádiz, the first Spanish legislature. With the notable exception of proclaiming Roman Catholicism as the official and sole legal religion in Spain, the constitution was one of the most liberal of its time: it affirmed national sovereignty, separation of powers, freedom of the press, free enterprise, abolished feudalism, and established a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It was one of the first constitutions that allowed universal male suffrage, through a complex indirect electoral system. It was repealed by King Ferdinand VII in 1814 in Valencia, who re-established absolute monarchy.

However, the Constitution had many difficulties becoming fully effective: much of Spain was ruled by the French, while the rest of the country was in the hands of interim Junta governments focused on resistance to the Bonapartes rather than on the immediate establishment of a constitutional regime. Many of the overseas territories did not recognize the legitimacy of these interim metropolitan governments, leading to a power vacuum and the establishment of separate juntas on the American continent. On 24 March 1814, six weeks after returning to Spain, Ferdinand VII abolished the constitution and had all monuments to it torn down. Only the Constitution Obelisk in Saint Augustine, Florida survived. The constitution was reinstated during the Trienio Liberal (1820–1823), and again briefly 1836—1837 while the Progressives prepared the Constitution of 1837.

Spanish Inquisition

The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition (Spanish: Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición), commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition (Inquisición española), was established in 1478 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms and to replace the Medieval Inquisition, which was under Papal control. It became the most substantive of the three different manifestations of the wider Catholic Inquisition along with the Roman Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition. The "Spanish Inquisition" may be defined broadly, operating in Spain and in all Spanish colonies and territories, which included the Canary Islands, the Spanish Netherlands, the Kingdom of Naples, and all Spanish possessions in North, Central, and South America. According to modern estimates, around 150,000 were prosecuted for various offenses during the three centuries of duration of the Spanish Inquisition, out of which between 3,000 and 5,000 were executed.

The Inquisition was originally intended primarily to identify heretics among those who converted from Judaism and Islam to Catholicism. The regulation of the faith of newly converted Catholics was intensified after the royal decrees issued in 1492 and 1502 ordering Jews and Muslims to convert to Catholicism or leave Castile. The Inquisition was not definitively abolished until 1834, during the reign of Isabella II, after a period of declining influence in the preceding century.

The Spanish Inquisition is often cited in popular literature and history as an example of religious intolerance and repression. Some historians have come to conclude that many of the charges levied against the Inquisition are exaggerated, and are a result of the Black Legend produced by political and religious enemies of Spain, especially England.

Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata

The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (Spanish: Virreinato del Río de la Plata, also called Viceroyalty of the River Plate in some scholarly writings) was the last to be organized and also the shortest-lived of the Viceroyalties of the Spanish Empire in America.

The Viceroyalty was established in 1776 from several former Viceroyalty of Perú dependencies that mainly extended over the Río de la Plata Basin, roughly the present-day territories of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay, extending inland from the Atlantic Coast. Buenos Aires, located on the western shore of the Río de la Plata estuary flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, opposite the Portuguese outpost of Colonia del Sacramento, was chosen as the capital. Usually considered one of the late Bourbon Reforms, the organization of this viceroyalty was motivated on both commercial grounds (Buenos Aires was by then a major spot for illegal trade), as well as on security concerns brought about by the growing interest of competing foreign powers in the area. The Spanish Crown wanted to protect its territory against Great Britain and the Kingdom of Portugal.

But these Enlightenment reforms proved counterproductive, or perhaps too late, to quell the colonies' demands. The entire history of this Viceroyalty was marked by growing domestic unrest and political instability. Between 1780 and 1782, the Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II inspired a violent Aymara-led revolt across the Upper Peru highlands, demonstrating the great resentment against colonial authorities by both the mestizo and indigenous populations. Twenty-five years later, the Criollos, native-born people of the colony, successfully defended against two successive British attempts to conquer Buenos Aires and Montevideo. This enhanced their sense of autonomy and power at a time when Spanish troops were unable to help.

In 1809, the Criollo elite revolted against colonial authorities at La Paz and Chuquisaca, establishing revolutionary governments, juntas. Although short-lived, these provided a theoretical basis for the legitimacy of the locally based governments, which proved decisive at the 1810 May Revolution events deposing Viceroy Cisneros at Buenos Aires.

The revolution spread across the Viceroyalty, except for Paraguay (which declared itself an independent nation in 1811) and Upper Peru (which remained controlled by royalist troops from Lima, and was eventually re-incorporated into the Viceroyalty of Peru). Meanwhile, the Governor of Montevideo Francisco Javier de Elío, appointed as a new Viceroy by the Cortes of Cádiz in 1811, declared the Buenos Aires Junta seditious. However, after being defeated at Las Piedras, he retained control only of Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo. He departed by ship to Spain on 18 November and resigned as Viceroy in January 1812. By 1814, as the revolutionary patriots entered Montevideo, following a two-year-long siege, the Viceroyalty was finished as government of the region.

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