Spain is a country 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; to the north and north east 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. With an area of 505,992 square kilometres (195,365 sq mi), it is the fourth largest country in Europe.
Because of its location, the territory of Spain was subject to many external influences since prehistoric times and through to its dawn as a country. Spain emerged as a unified country in the 15th century, following the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs and the completion of the reconquest, or Reconquista, of the Iberian peninsula in 1492. Conversely, it has been an important source of influence to other regions, chiefly during the modern era, when it became a global empire that has left a legacy of over 500 million Spanish speakers today, making it the world's second most spoken first language.
Spain is a democracy organised in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy. 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, NATO, OECD, and WTO.
CEST (UTC+2) - Summer
Spain has a predominantly warm Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and winters with balanced temperatures. More than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year can be enjoyed. It is no surprise, then, that this is one of the warmest parts of Europe.