Spain is at once very young and very old. For most historians, modern Spain was born in 1469, though some argue that something resembling Spain existed as far back as fifth century B.C. Yet the political structure that governs Spain today has been in place for just 40 years.
Spain is, moreover, at once very strong and very weak. Few countries in the world have governed empires as vast as Spain’s was in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish language attests to its legacy: The only language in the world with more native speakers than Spanish is Mandarin. Yet in the past 200 years, few countries in the Western world have had as turbulent and violent a history as Spain.
In the 1960s, Spain was a backwater, politically isolated from much of the world and economically stunted compared with its European neighbors. By 1981, its fortunes had changed, and it has been making up for lost time. Spain is now the fourth-largest economy in the European Union and the 13th-larg