Spain - Country history and economic development

1492. On 12 October, Christopher Columbus discovers America.

1516. Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany assumes the Spanish Crown, following the death of Fernando of Aragon. Carlos I effectively unites the Spanish kingdoms of Castilla and Aragon, as well as the European and Italian dominions of the Habsburgs.

1700-14. The War of the Spanish Succession breaks out in 1700 (involving France, England and Austria) and ends in 1714. The French victors place Felipe V, who is the grandson of Louis XIV, as king of Spain.

1808-13. The War of Independence—Spanish citizens rise against French domination (1808) and help defeat Napoleon.

1898. Spain loses the last of its remaining overseas colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. This officially marks the end of the Spanish empire.

1931-36. Second Republic. After the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in the 1920s, the Second Republic is established in 1931. The Second Republic provided a democratic and stable system of governance whereby there were free elections (where women had the right to vote as well) and guaranteed rights and freedoms for all citizens for the first time in Spanish history.

1936-39. Civil War between the Republicans (backed by the workers, socialists, and communists), and the Nationalists (led by General Francisco Franco, with the support of economic elites, Hitler, and Mussolini). Upon victory, General Francisco Franco leads Spain's government as a fascist dictator until his death in 1975.

1957-59. Stabilization Plan is proposed by the OECD and the IMF. Economy is liberalized and foreign investment enters, opening up Spain to international markets in order to save the state's economy from collapse after the policy of self-sufficiency. Followed by economic boom in 1960s and 1970s, known as the "economic miracle."

1975. King Juan Carlos assumes control in November, after Franco's death.

1977-82. First General Elections held (1977), won by UCD (Center Democratic Union); signing of Moncloa Pacts which aim to moderate wages, and strengthen the social welfare system (1977). UCD second victory in 1979.

1978. Democratic constitution, which guarantees rights and freedoms and basic liberal democratic principles for Spain, is approved by referendum.

1982-96. Socialist Party in power in Spain for 14 consecutive years. The first Socialist victory was one of the largest majorities in contemporary western Europe (1982); Spain joins NATO (1986). Despite strengthening the welfare state , Spanish Socialists strongly pursue neo-liberal economic policies, including privatization, deregulation, and labor market reform, especially between 1986-1996.

1986. Spain joins the European Community. Adoption of Single European Act solidifies Spanish commitment to the European Single Market Program (which highlights free movement of goods, persons, capital, and services). Unprecedented economic growth in Spain yields an annual increase in GDP of over 4 percent, 1986-1991.

1992. Spain agrees to Maastricht Treaty, which outlines criteria to be achieved by late 1990 for those EU states wanting to join the European single currency (Economic and Monetary Union, EMU). Spain therefore commits itself to deficit and debt reduction. Heavy cuts to the health, education, and pension systems ensue.

1996-PRESENT. Popular Party (Christian Democrats) comes to power for the first time in contemporary Spain. Commitment to deficit and debt reduction as well as controlling interest and inflation rates is reinforced. Second PP election victory, March 2000.

1999. Spain qualifies for EMU.

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