The Spanish people are essentially a mixture of the indigenous peoples of the Iberian Peninsula with the successive peoples who conquered the peninsula and occupied it for extended periods. These added ethnologic elements include the Romans, a Mediterranean people, and the Suevi, Vandals, and Visigoths (see Goths), Teutonic peoples. Semitic elements are also present. Several ethnic groups in Spain have kept a separate identity, culturally and linguistically. These include the Catalans (16 percent of the population), who live principally in the northeast and on the eastern islands; the Galicians (7 percent), who live in northwestern Spain; the Basques, or Euskal-dun (2 percent), who live chiefly around the Bay of Biscay; and the nomadic Spanish Roma (Gypsies), also called Gitanos.
The population of Spain at the 1991 census was 38,872,268. The estimate for 2007 is 40,448,191, giving the country an overall density of 81 persons per sq km (210 per sq mi). Spain is increasingly urban, with 77 percent of the population in towns and cities.
Spain comprises 50 provinces in 17 autonomous regions: Andalusia, Aragón, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Country (País Vasco), Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile-La Mancha, Castile-León, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra, and Valencia. The capital and largest city is Madrid (population, 2006 estimate, 3,128,600), also the capital of Madrid autonomous region; the second largest city, chief port, and commercial center is Barcelona (1,605,602), capital of Barcelona province and Catalonia region. Other important cities include Valencia (805,304), capital of Valencia province and Valencia region, a manufacturing and railroad center; Seville (704,414), capital of Seville province and Andalusia region, a cultural center; Zaragoza (649,181), capital of Zaragoza province and Aragón region, another industrial center; and Bilbao (354,145), a busy port.
Roman Catholicism is professed by about 97 percent of the population. The country is divided into 11 metropolitan and 52 suffragan sees. In addition, the archdioceses of Barcelona and Madrid are directly responsible to the Holy See. Formerly, Roman Catholicism was the established church, but the 1978 constitution decreed that Spain shall have no state religion, while recognizing the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Spanish society. There are small communities of Protestants, Jews, and Muslims.
Most of the people of Spain speak Castilian Spanish. In addition, Catalan is spoken in the northeast, Galician (Gallego, akin to Portuguese) is spoken in the northwest, and Basque (Euskara, a pre-Indo-European language) is spoken in the north. See Spanish Language, Catalan Language, Basque Language. "Spain" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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