Spain is a country and a member of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Its mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar; to the north by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the northwest and west by the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal.
Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, that border Morocco. Furthermore, the town of Llívia is a Spanish exclave situated inside French territory.
With an area of 504,030 square kilometers or 194,610 square miles, it is the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union after France, and the fourth largest country in Europe after Russia, Ukraine and France. It is a developed country with the twelfth largest economy in the world by nominal GDP, and very high living standards, including the tenth-highest quality of life index rating in the world, as of 2005.
It is a member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, OECD, and WTO. During the last four decades the Spanish tourism industry has grown to become the second biggest in the world, worth approximately 40 billion Euros. Today, the climate of Spain, its historical and cultural monuments and its geographic position together with its facilities make tourism one of the main economic sources for the country.
At 504,782 square kilometers or 194,897 square miles, Spain is the world's 51st largest country. It is smaller than France and larger than the U.S. state of California. Mt. Teide on Tenerife, Canary Islands, has the highest mountain peak of Spain and the third largest volcano in the world measured from its base.
To the west Spain shares a border with Portugal; to the south it shares a border with Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, and Morocco through its exclaves in North Africa of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera. On the northeast, along the Pyrenees mountain range, it shares a border with France and the tiny principality of Andorra.
Along the Pyrenees in Gerona, a small exclave town called Llívia is surrounded by France. Spain also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and a number of uninhabited islands on the Mediterranean side of the Strait of Gibraltar, known as Plazas de Soberanía, such as the Chafarine islands, the isle of Alborán, Alhucemas, and the tiny Isla Perejil.
Spain has the most extensive high-speed rail network in Europe, and the second most extensive in the world after China. As of October 2010 Spain has a total of 3,500 kilometers or 2,174 miles of high speed tracks linking Málaga, Seville, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Valladolid, with the trains reaching speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour or 187 mph. The Spanish high-speed train is the fastest one in the world followed by the Japanese bullet train and the French TGV...