Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. 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, mainly 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.
Prior to the Second World War, Spain suffered a devastating civil war and came under the rule of the authoritarian and dictatorial government of Franco, whose rule oversaw a period of stagnation but that finished with a powerful economic surge. In 1975 democracy was peacefully restored in the form of a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. In 1986, Spain joined the European Union, experiencing a cultural renaissance and steady economic growth. It is a member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, OECD, and WTO. It is a developed country with the twelfth largest economy in the world by nominal GDP, and very high living standards, but also with the highest youth unemployment rate of the European Union.