Spain profile

A chronology of key events:

1492 - The Christian Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon conquer the Emirate of Granada, ending nearly 800 years of Muslim rule in the south and founding modern Spain as a united state.

Replicas of the ships of Christopher Columbus Replicas of the ships of Christopher Columbus arrive in New York in 1992 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of his landing in the Americas

Christopher Columbus arrives in the Americas, heralding the conquest of much of South and Central America. Jews and later Muslims are expelled from Spain during the Inquisition.

16th-17th centuries - Spanish Empire at its height, with Spain the predominant European power. The rise of Protestant states in northern Europe and the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean begin the country's gradual decline.

18th century - The War of the Spanish Succession loses Spain its European possessions outside the Iberian Peninsula. Bourbon dynasty, originally from France, centralises the Spanish state, shutting down many regional autonomous assemblies and modernising government and the military.

1807-1814 - Napoleon's France occupies Spain, which has been a French satellite since 1795. Fierce nationalist resistance and British intervention in the Peninsular War gradually force French troops out.

19th century - Napoleonic legacy of political division and economic dislocation leaves Spain weak and unstable, with frequent changes of government and a low-level insurgency by Carlist supporters of a rival branch of the royal family. All Latin American colonies win their independence, with Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in Asia lost during a disastrous war with the United States in 1898.

US troops during Spanish-American War US troops advance on Manila during the Spanish-American War, when Spain lost some of its colonies

1910s - Spain sought compensation in conquering colonies in Africa, most significantly northern Morocco and the Spanish Sahara.

1920s - The trade boom achieved by neutrality in the First World War is squandered through fighting Moroccan rebels and the financial mismanagement of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship at home.

1931 - The return of democratic government leads to an electoral backlash against the monarchy and its allies, and a republic is declared. Radical policies of land reform, labour rights, educational expansion and anti-Church legislation deepen the political divide.

1936 - After two years of right-wing government, a Popular Front coalition of left-wing and liberal parties narrowly wins parliamentary elections and seeks to reintroduce the radical policies of 1931. A coup by right-wing military leaders captures only part of the country, leading to three years of civil war.

Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy actively support the Nationalist rebels, while only the Soviet Union provides highly conditional assistance to the Republic. Britain and France support an arms embargo that effectively dooms the Republic, despite enthusiastic volunteers from all over Europe and the Americas who join the Communist-run International Brigades.

Long-term leader: Franco

General Franco

General Franco's dictatorship spanned nearly four decades

1939 - General Francisco Franco leads the Nationalists to victory in the Civil War. More than 350,000 Spaniards died in the fighting, and Franco purges all remaining Republicans. Spain remains neutral throughout the Second World War, although the government's sympathies clearly lie with the Axis powers.

1946-50 - Francoist Spain is ostracised by United Nations and many countries sever diplomatic relations.

1950s - As the Cold War deepens the US gradually improves relations with Spain, extending loans in return for military bases. Spain is admitted to the UN in 1955 and the World Bank in 1958, and other European countries open up to the Franco government.

El Milagro Espanol - the economic miracle of the late 1950s - sees Spain's manufacturing and tourism industries take off through liberalisation of state controls over the next two decades.

1959 - The Eta armed separatist group is founded with the aim of fighting for an independent homeland in the Basque region of Spain and France. Its violent campaign begins with an attempt to derail a train carrying politicians in 1961.

1968 - West African colony of Spanish Guinea gains independence as Equatorial Guinea.

1973 December - Eta kills Prime Minister Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco in retaliation for the government's execution of Basque fighters. Subsequent attempts to liberalise the Franco government founder on internal divisions.

Move to democracy

1975 November - Franco dies. Succeeded as head of state by King Juan Carlos. With Juan Carlos on the throne, Spain makes transition from dictatorship to democracy. Spain withdraws from the Spanish Sahara, ending its colonial empire.

Gen Franco, left, and King Juan Carlos

King Juan Carlos, pictured in 1975 with General Franco, left, supported moves toward democracy

  • Born in Rome, 1938
  • Grandson of Alfonso XIII, who left Spain in 1931

1977 June - First free elections in four decades. Ex-Francoist Adolfo Suarez's Union of the Democratic Centre manages a relatively smooth transition to stable democracy.

1978 - New constitution confirms Spain as a parliamentary monarchy. Eta's political wing, Herri Batasuna, is founded. 'Galaxia' coup plot uncovered.

1980 - 118 people are killed in Eta's bloodiest year so far.

1981 February - Coup attempt; rebels seize parliament and tanks take to the streets of Valencia in an attempt to prevent the appointment of a new Union of the Democratic Centre government. Plotters surrender after King Juan Carlos makes a televised address demanding an end to the coup.

1982 - Another coup plot by right-wing extremists discovered shortly before Socialists win large majority and form a government. Spain joins Nato.

1986 - Spain joins the European Economic Community, later to become the European Union.

1992 - Summer Olympic Games held in Barcelona. Seville hosts Expo 92. Celebrations mark the 500th anniversary of Columbus's first voyage to America.

Aznar years

1995 - Leader of opposition rightwing Popular Party, Jose Maria Aznar, survives a car bomb blast.

Aftermath of failed military coup in Spain Rebels attempted a coup in 1981 but King Carlos defused the situation

1996 March - Jose Maria Aznar becomes PM following a stability deal with moderate Catalan and Basque nationalists, who hold the balance of power, after a general election in which his Popular Party emerges as the largest party but without an outright majority.

1997 July - Eta, demanding that Basque prisoners be transferred closer to home, kidnaps and kills Basque councillor Miguel Angel Blanco. Killing sparks national outrage and brings an estimated 6 million Spaniards onto the streets in protest.

1997 December - 23 leaders of Herri Batasuna jailed for seven years for collaborating with Eta - the first time any members of the party are jailed as a result of Eta links.

Flamenco

Flamenco dancers
  • Flamenco music and dance, said to have Andalusian roots
  • Rhythmic hand clapping accompanies guitar music, song
  • Song subjects range from death to romance and humour
  • Flamenco reached a wider audience in 19th century "singing cafes"

1998 April - Crops destroyed and wildlife wiped out when an iron pyrite mine reservoir belonging to a Canadian-Swedish company bursts its banks causing toxic waste spillage. Waterways feeding Europe's largest wildlife reserve, the Donana national park, are severely contaminated.

1998 September - Eta announces its first indefinite ceasefire since its campaign of violence began. It calls the ceasefire off in November, claiming lack of a response from the government.

2000 - Madrid car bombs mark return to violence. Aznar's Popular Party (PP) wins landslide in general elections.

Eta graffiti

Eta's campaign for a sovereign Basque state has cost many lives

2002 January - Peseta replaced by Euro.

2002 June - Eta suspected of being behind bomb blasts in several tourist resorts as EU summit held in Seville.

2002 July - Naval standoff with Morocco over disputed rocky outcrop of Perejil ends when foreign ministers agree to restore status quo.

2002 November - North-west coastline suffers ecological disaster after oil tanker Prestige breaks up and sinks about 130 miles out to sea.

2003 March - Indefinite ban imposed on Basque separatist Batasuna party.

Madrid attacks
Park Guell of Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudi Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi shattered traditional concepts

2004 March - 191 people killed in explosions on packed rush-hour trains in Madrid in near-simultaneous pre-election attacks by an Islamic group with links to al-Qaeda.

With Spain still in mourning, the Socialists under Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero defy earlier opinion polls and win a general election.

2004 April - Prime Minister Zapatero orders Spanish troops withdrawn from Iraq in May.

2005 February - Voters approve the EU constitution in a referendum.

2005 May - Government offers peace talks with Eta if the group disarms.

2005 June - Parliament defies Roman Catholic Church by legalising gay marriage and granting homosexual couples same adoption and inheritance rights as heterosexual ones.

2005 September-October - At least 11 die and many more are injured in a series of mass attempts by African migrants to enter the enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta from Morocco in a bid to reach Spain. Spain reviews decision to deport those who do get through back to Morocco after expressions of international concern.

2006 January - Lt Gen Jose Mena Aguado sacked as head of army ground forces after suggesting that the military might take action in Catalonia if the region gains too much autonomy.

Eta ceasefire

2006 March - Eta declares a ceasefire. In June, Prime Minister Zapatero says the government will hold peace talks with the group.

Pro Catalan independence protesters The movement seeking independence for Catalonia has been growing in strength

2006 June - Voters in Catalonia back proposals to give the region greater autonomy as well as the status of a nation within Spain.

2006 December - Prime Minister Zapatero suspends moves to seek dialogue with Eta after a car bomb attack at a Madrid airport.

2007 June - Eta calls off ceasefire.

2007 October - Twenty-one mainly North Africans are found guilty and given long jail sentences for the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

2007 November - Parliament passes a bill formally denouncing Franco's rule and ordering the removal of all Franco-era statues and symbols from streets and buildings.

2008 March - The Socialists win re-election with an increased margin, but falls short of an absolute majority.

Economic crisis

2009 January - Spanish economy enters recession for first time since 1993.

2009 March - Unemployment soars to 17.4%, with over 4 million people jobless.

2009 May - The parliament of the Basque region votes in the first non-nationalist regional government in more than 30 years under Socialist leadership, following elections in March.

2009 July - Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos visits Gibraltar - the first visit by a Spanish minister in 300 years.

2010 February - Thousands of workers demonstrate against government spending cuts and plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 67 - the first mass labour protests since the Socialists came to power in 2004.

2010 May - Unemployment rate climbs to over 20% for first time in nearly 13 years. Parliament approves 15bn-euro (£13bn) austerity package.

New Eta ceasefire

2010 September - Eta declares new ceasefire. Spanish government dismisses the move, saying there can be no political settlement until Eta renounces violence for good and disarms.

Demonstration in Madrid Spaniards were put under severe pressure by economic problems

2011 September - Parliament approves constitutional amendment setting legally binding cap on public sector borrowing.

2011 November - Conservative Popular Party wins resounding victory in parliamentary election.

2011 December - New government headed by Mariano Rajoy takes office. Announces new round of austerity measures to slash public spending by 16.5bn euros (£14bn) and nearly halve the public deficit from about 8% of GDP in 2012.

2012 January - Unemployment total passes the 5 million mark. This represents a jobless rate of 22.8% - the highest in the eurozone. Almost half of all 16-24 year-olds are out of work.

2012 April - Spain slips back into recession as economy contracts by 0.3% in the first quarter of 2012, and by 0.4% in the second.

2012 June - Spain formally requests assistance from the eurozone financial emergency facility to bail out its struggling bank sector. The eurozone had offered to provide up to 100bn euros in help, following an audit.

2012 August - Unemployment climbs to 25.1% of the workforce, with a youth (under-25s) joblessness rate of 52.9%.

Catalonia, which produces a fifth of Spain's economic output, seeks a 5bn-euro (£4.2bn) bailout from the central government, which has set up a 18bn-euro public fund to help the 17 heavily-indebted autonomous regions.

Action on banks

2012 September - Government creates "bad bank" to off-load toxic property assets of indebted banking sector. Eurozone countries demand this as one of a number of conditions for any bail-out loan for Spain.

2012 November - Catalan regional elections held to provide support for a referendum on independence see Artur Mas's governing Convergence and Union alliance losing ground to the left-wing ERC party. Both support the independence referendum, but the ERC opposes the Catalan government's spending cuts. The Spanish government says it will not recognise a referendum vote for secession.

The European Commission approves the government's plans to restructure the troubled banks Bankia, Banco de Valencia, NCG and Catalunya Banc, which were nationalised after experiencing heavy losses on loans to homebuyers and property developers.

The Basque armed group Eta issues a statement that it is ready to disband, disarm and enter talks with the French and Spanish governments.

Corruption scandals

2012 December - King Juan Carlos's son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, is suspended from official royal engagements following allegations of involvement in a corruption scandal. Mr Urdangarin - whose official title is the Duke of Palma - denies wrongdoing, but the allegations are an embarrassment to the royal family, especially as its popularity has declined sharply in recent years.

2013 January - Catalonia asks the central government for a further 9bn euros (£7.6bn) bailout, on top of the 5bn euros it requested in August 2012.

2013 February - A former treasurer of the governing Popular Party (PP) is questioned by Madrid prosecutors over allegations of secret payments to leading PP members, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Mr Rajoy denies any wrongdoing.

The jobless rate rises to 26.3% of the workforce. Youth unemployment increases to 55.7%.

2013 March - European Court of Justice rules that Spanish law does not do enough to protect homeowners who default on their mortgages from being evicted. The ruling comes in response to the eviction of an estimated 350,000 families from their homes in the wake of the 2008 property crash.

2013 April - Spain's unemployment rate soars to new record of 27.2% of the workforce in the first quarter, passing six million figure, although the rate of increase slows.

King Juan Carlos's youngest daughter, Princess Cristina, is summoned to appear in court to answer questions on the financial affairs of her husband, the Duke of Palma. It is the first court summons for a direct descendant of the Spanish king. A court upholds tax fraud charges in November 2014, but drops money-laundering charges.

2013 June - IMF says Spain makes strong economic progress but needs to boost job creation.

2013 July - Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejects calls for him to resign over alleged links to Luis Barcenas, the ex-treasurer of his Popular Party and a suspect in a payments scandal.

2013 September - Economy registers 0.1% growth in July-September, formally lifting it out of recession.

2014 June - King Juan Carlos abdicates a month after announcing his attention to do so. Succeeded by the crown prince, who reigns as Felipe VI.2014 November - More than 80% of those taking part in non-binding vote on separation from Spain opt for independence. About two million out of 5.4 million eligible voters take part.

Earlier plans by Catalan regional government to hold formal independence referendum ruled unconstitutional by Spanish courts.

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