King Juan Carlos announced his intention to abdicate in favor of his son, Felipe. Juan Carlos I has been the Chief of State of Spain for nearly 40 years (since November 1975). The country is also governed by a President of the Government, a Vice President, and a Council of Ministers, designated by the President. The monarchy is hereditary, while the government is parliamentary; the next elections will be held in November 2015.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Spain controlled a powerful world empire. Eventually, it yielded to Britain, France, and Germany politically and economically. Spain officially took a neutral stance in both World Wars, but suffered a devastating civil war from 1936-1939. Following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, Spain transitioned into a peaceful democracy. In 1986, it joined the European Union.
Sharing the Iberian Peninsula with Portugal, the general climate of Spain is temperate with clear, hot summers in the interior and more moderate, cloudy summers along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The interior has cloudy, cold winters, while the coast enjoys more cool winters. There is a large, flat plateau in the interior, surrounded by rugged hills and the Pyrenees Mountains in the north.
The natural resources of Spain include: coal, lignite, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, tungsten, mercury, pyrites, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, kaolin, potash, and hydropower. Natural hazards facing the country include: periodic droughts and occasional flooding. Spain also possesses the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands and three small islands off the coast of Morocco.
CIA World Factbook, 05/2014