The Kingdom of Spain is a nation-state located in southwestern Europe. Despite being the second-westernmost state in Europe, it is often considered to be part of "Southern Europe" rather than "Western Europe" in a cultural and governmental sense.
There are some who might point out that both Ireland and Iceland are west of Spain while it is the southern most part of Europe, excepting a Greek island or two, so the above conclusions are not totally unwarranted.
It is also possible that the Southern notation comes from the classification by indigenous skin color using the Von Luschan's chromatic scale.
Despite the fact that the Spanish language is named after the country, it isn't the only language to originate there. As a result, Spaniards often refer to the language as Castilian (after the region where the language originated) rather than Spanish.
 Land and people
Spain has an impressive mixture of climate zones for a single country. The north has an Atlantic climate, with cool, wet winters and warm dryish summers. The majority of Spain's rain in fact falls on the northern mountains and the Pyrenees and not, as the refrain suggests, "on the plain". The high mountainous interior has a continental Mediterranean climate with bitterly cold winters and scorching summers.
The spectacular Pyrenees which mark the border with the hated French have an Alpine climate while the hinterland of Almería is a true desert. The Mediterranean coast has - surprise surprise - a true Mediterranean climate. Naturally there are areas where these climate areas mix and overlap giving rise to even wider diversity.
The people are nominally "Spaniards", though some nationalist Basques, Catalans, and Galicians might take exception to the description.
The country is bordered to the north by France and the tiny bump in the road, Andorra. It is bordered to the west by its mini-me, Portugal and to the south by its arch-nemesis, Gibraltar - some rock owned by the United Kingdom.
Spain was part of the Roman Empire for about 500 years until the early part of the fifth century when - echoing what was to happen all over again in the 1960's - the Germans started to arrive in large numbers and sort of took the place over. As is usual for Germans in Spain they started telling the locals how to run the country and obtained management positions. To their surprise, they were themselves given the elbow when Spain was conquered by Islamic peoples in the 700s, and the country was under Muslim rule until the late 1400s. This led to some stunningly beautiful architecture, and a lot of ill feeling and bloodshed as the Christian reconquest took place. Compared to the initial invasion, the reconquest was a quite drawn-out affair, lasting as it did from 722 to 1492.
Spain was one of the first colonial powers in Europe, claiming a huge chunk of the Americas and even the Philippines. However, after losing those colonies it became a rather weak power, until eventually Napoleon conquered it, proving how weak it was, 'cause if the French beat you... although it would later kick the French out. Afterwards, it became independent again, but civil strife, a civil war, and the rule of the dictator Francisco Franco made for an initially slow economic recovery.
After Franco died, the new king, Juan Carlos I (who in recent years became known outside of Spain, and possibly within it, for having told Hugo Chavez to shut up), instituted many reforms and liberalized the country. Between that, and joining the European Union, Spain has made great strides in catching up with the rest of Europe.
 The 2000s
The Socialist government in Spain came to power in 2004 after an election which was directly preceded by a vicious Al-Qaeda terrorist attack in Madrid. Prior to the attack the People's Party had been comfortably in the lead in opinion polls. Depending on your political affiliation, the attack had one of the two following consequences:There are also more extreme conspiracy theories associated with both of these positions.
- Conservative interpretation: The cowardly population was intimidated by the attack and voted against the ruling conservative People's Party which had involved Spain in the Iraq war. Because the Socialists had promised to immediately withdraw from Iraq, voting for them was seen as a way of avoiding further terrorists attacks by giving Al-Qaeda what it wanted. Thus the population humiliated Spain by giving in to terrorism on a national scale.
- Socialist interpretation: The government manipulated the news media in an effort to blame the terrorist group ETA for the bombing. This was because if ETA were to blame then it would be no fault of the government's, but if but Al-Qaeda were behind the attack, then the true folly of the government's despicable actions would be clear. So the government lied and lied and lied in an effort to suppress the real truth about the nature of the attack. The resolute Spanish people were infuriated by the government's lies and it suffered a massive punishment vote.
The Socialist Government proved to be remarkably progressive. In short order it: removed Spanish troops from Iraq, legalised gay marriage as well as gay adoption, removed religious symbols from public buildings, eliminated compulsory religious education, created Spain's first female vice president, passed legislation to give additional "human" rights to great apes, passed laws against gender violence, passed a law allowing no-fault divorce, moved to relax abortion laws, etc.
It can count the Catholic Church as one of its main opponents in many, if not all, these reforms. So much so that the church endeavoured to persuade the faithful to vote for the opposition when the government came up for re-election. 
 The 2010s
The election of 2011 was won by the right-wing conservative People's Party by a landslide after the economic crisis and the high unemployment rate made the Socialist Party, the party in power since 2004, lose some 40% of its support.
The new government embarked on a vigorous policy of rolling back many of the previous government's policies.
 Political parties
In most of Spain there are two main parties, - the Socialist Party, which is your typical Social Democratic party, and the People's Party, which is your typical right-of center party, with mostly conservative and Catholic Church-friendly elements. Smaller parties include United Left (leftist, as its name suggests, although not quite united) and the fairly new Union, Progress and Democracy party, as well as a variety of regional parties from both sides of the political spectrum such as Convergence and Union (Catalonia, right), Republican Left of Catalonia (isn't that one obvious enough?) and the Basque Nationalist Party (Basque Country, center).
 Religious belief in Spain
Although widely considered a Catholic country (which, historically, it has been), the level of religious belief in Spain is dropping sharply. During the period 2000 to 2010 professed Catholics dropped from 83.9% of the population to 74.4%. During the same period those who stated they were atheists or non-believers rose from 12.8% to 21.6%. Anyone entering a church in many parts of Spain will be struck by fact that the average age of the congregation is quite high - which rather suggests that this is a generational change which is set to continue.
As a general rule, even trying to explain what creationism is about will be met with blank looks and rank disbelief from theists and atheists alike.
 Skeptical organisations in Spain
- Circuloesceptico Skeptics circle founded by Luis Alfonso Gámez.
- ARP - Sociedad para el Avance del Pensamiento Crítico Society for the advancement of critical thinking.