Country Listing

Spain Table of Contents



Population: 38.8 million in 1986. Projected 40 million by 1990, 42 million by 2000. Rate of annual growth from 0.8 percent to 1.2 percent from 1930s to 1980s. Growth rates expected to level off or to decline slightly for remainder of twentieth century.

Education and Literacy: Primary education (age six to fourteen) free and compulsory. Insufficient number of state schools and teachers to meet this goal and rising enrollment. Gap filled by private schools subsidized by state. By early 1980s, 40 percent of all schools private. By 1965 country had achieved nearly universal enrollment in primary grades. Secondary school attendance optional, but students deciding not to attend secondary school had to attend vocational training until age sixteen. In 1985 estimated 89 percent of students did attend secondary school, and 26 percent attended university. Adult population 94-97 percent literate in late 1980s.

Health: Uneven provision of health care. Maldistribution of health care resources of state's welfare system resulted in poor service in many areas, especially working-class neighborhoods of large cities. High ratio of doctors to inhabitants, but low ratio of nurses to inhabitants and relatively low public expenditures on health care compared with other West European countries. Tuberculosis, typhoid, and leprosy not eradicated. Infant mortality rate 10 per 1,000 in 1985. Life expectancy seventy-four years for males and eighty for females in late 1980s.

Languages: Castilian Spanish official language and dominant in usage, especially in formal settings, but estimated one of four Spanish citizens had a different mother tongue. New 1978 Constitution allows for other languages to be "co-official" within respective autonomous communities. Catalan, Galician, Euskera (the Basque language), Valencian, and Majorcan had such status by 1988.

Ethnic Groups: Spanish state encompassed numerous distinct ethnic and cultural minorities. New 1978 Constitution recognizes and guarantees autonomy of nationalities and regions making up Spanish state, and seventeen autonomous communities existed in late 1980s. Major ethnic groups: Basques, Catalans, Galicians, Andalusians, Valencians, Asturians, Navarrese, and Aragonese. Also small number of Gypsies. Ethnonationalistic sentiment and commitment to the ethnic homeland varied among and within ethnic communities. Nationalist and separatist sentiment ran deepest among Basques.

Religion: 99 percent nominally Roman Catholic. Other 1 percent mostly other Christian faiths. Small Jewish community. Society generally becoming more secular as society and economy became more modern and developed. Religious freedom guaranteed by 1978 Constitution, which formally disestablishes Roman Catholicism as official religion. But church still enjoyed somewhat privileged status. Continuing government financial aid to church was contentious issue in late 1980s.

Data as of December 1988