Spain is an important nation in Europe which lies on the Iberian peninsula, bordering France. In the late Middle Ages Spain was the leading global power with colonies in the Western Hemisphere and a huge armada of naval vessels. As well as mainland Spain, the country includes the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. The capital of Spain is Madrid.
Between 1936 and 1939, Spain was embroiled in a civil war, which ended in victory for the Nationalist rebels, led by Francisco Franco. Franco then ruled the country as dictator until his death in the late 1970s, when the country began a transition to a democratic constitutional monarchy under the reigning king Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon.
The official languages of Spain are Spanish (also called Castillian), Catalan, Basque or Euskadi, and Galician or Gallego. The latter three are spoken in the regions of Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia respectively, each of which has a strong identity. During his rule, Franco marginalised these regional cultures in an attempt to foster national unity; since the transition to democracy there has been a move towards regionalism that has even tended towards separatism in some cases, particularly in the Basque Country.