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Spain

Basic Information

Area: 504,030 km²

Calling code: +34

Population: 45,200,737

Official Language: Spanish, Aranese, Basque, Catalan/Valencian and Galician

Time zone: CET (UTC+1), Local time: 10:30

Overview

The Kingdom of Spain is situated on the Iberian Peninsula in south-western Europe. There are several areas located off the mainland which are also in Spanish territory, such as the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and Ceuta and Melilla. Spain shares its borders with six countries: France, Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar and Monaco. The capital city of Madrid is considered to be one of the prime commercial and economic areas, and it is home to 3.3 million people, while the countries entire population is currently 45.98 million. Other large and important economic cities that have a population of more than 500,000 include Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Zaragoza and Malaga.

The mainland area of Spain is divided into 15 autonomous communities, each of which have legislative powers. These areas are broken down into provinces and municipalities, which are also delegated the authority to oversee and carry out the activities of the State.

Spain is a member of several international organizations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO). In 1986 Spain became a full member of the European Union, and in 2002 it fully adopted the euro (EUR) currency, which replaced the Spanish peseta (ESP).

Economy

Spain has the fifth largest economy in Europe and the 13th largest in the world, based on its GDP purchasing power parity figure of $1.36 trillion. The service sector is of particular importance, generating almost 70% of the countries total GDP. Spain has one of the most stable financial banking systems in Western Europe, as it follows strict banking codes which promote security and stability.

The industrial sector accounts for a quarter of the GDP, with specific industrial zones that are mainly used to manufacture goods such as textiles, footwear, chemicals, automobiles and machinery. In 2009 Spain exported $215.7 billion worth of goods, which were shipped to France, Germany, Portugal, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The tourism industry is strong, with over 50 million foreign tourists visiting the country annually - making it the second most visited country in Europe after France. Historical and cultural cities such as Barcelona, popular holiday destinations in Ibiza and the Balearic islands, and ski resorts in the Pyrenees help attract a wealth of visitors all year round. Spain has the second highest tourism spending figure in the world after the USA, and in 2009 it exceeded £46 billion.

Infrastructure

Spain has a modern and technologically advanced transportation infrastructure which spans the entire country, partially thanks to a $22.8 billion investment from the European Union, which was used to modernise and develop airports, train routes and communication systems.

There are 153 airports in the country, the largest being Madrid-Barajas International Airport (MAD), which handled 48.2 million passengers in 2009. Other main airports located in Barcelona are, Madrid, Malaga and Girona. There are over 15,000km of railways in the country, most of which are run and operated by the state-owned RENFE. Many major cities have a light railway system, and 7 cities have a fully functioning metro system. It is also possible to travel to the adjacent countries of France and Portugal on high-speed trains. There are 346,858km of roads and expressways, which are maintained by more than 20 individual motorway agencies - some of which operate pay-as-you-go tollbooths.

Waterways are used for the transportation of goods and passengers, and there are 7 major ports in the country: Algeciras, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cartagena, Huelva, Tarragona and Valencia.

Workforce

Spain has a total labour-force of 22.97 million people, 71.7% of which work in the service sector, 26.9% in industry and 3.4% in agriculture. In 2009, 88% of the entire population were Spanish nationals, the remaining 12% mainly originated from Spain's former colonies in Latin America, Africa and Asia, while in recent years there has been an increase in the number of Eastern Europeans who live and work in the country. The official language is Spanish, and there are several co-official regional languages such as Basque, Catalan and Aranese. English is taught in all secondary schools, and over a third of the entire population can speak English fluently.

The education system in Spain has been structured so that all citizens must attend primary and secondary schooling from the age of 6 - 16. After completion of this stage of education students can choose whether to study for the Spanish Baccalaureate, which takes two years to complete. There are a number of prestigious higher education institutes which provide internationally accredited degree programmes. The high standard of education produces a skilled workforce and a high national literacy rate of 97.9%.

Business Costs

The cost of renting office space in Spain varies dramatically depending on the location; the two highest priced cities for rentals are Madrid and Barcelona, where it costs $59.40 and $41.38 per square foot per annum respectively. According to the Cushman & Wakefield 2010 report, Madrid ranks as the 19th most expensive city in the world based on rental costs. Utility costs such as electricity and water are low in comparison to costs in the United Kingdom.

Spain has a minimum wage pact, which ensures that all workers are paid at least €633.30 a month, and the countries average gross national wage is €21,500 a year. A study by Adecco and IESE, revealed that the average salary in Spain is 38% lower than the combined average salary of the European Union.

Individual tax rates are charged on two levels: national and provincial. The total tax rate ranges from 24% to 43%, depending on the amount of income earned by the individual, while a personal tax allowance of €5,151 is available to all citizens. The corporate tax rate is set at 30%, and there is a discounted rate of 25% for small or medium sized businesses that generate less than €120,202 a year. The VAT rate is set at 16% on most goods and services, although this will be increased to 18% in July 2010.
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