Spain (España), is a country located in extreme south-western Europe. It occupies about 85 percent of the Iberian Peninsula, which it shares with its smaller neighbor Portugal. Spain is a diverse country sharing the Iberian Peninsula with Portugal at the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the country with the third-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, after Italy and China. Spain is considered an exotic country in Europe due to its friendly inhabitants, relaxed lifestyle, its cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and world-famous folklore and festivities. Among many places worth visiting are Spain's thriving capital Madrid, the vibrant coastal city of Barcelona, the famous "Running of the Bulls" at Pamplona, major Andalusian cities with Islamic architecture, like Seville, Granada and Córdoba, the Way of St. James and the idyllic Balearic and Canary Islands.
With great beaches, fun nightlife, many cultural regions and historic cities, Spain make a great destination for any kind of trip. A country of large geographic and cultural diversity, Spain is a surprise to those who only know its reputation for great beach holidays. There is everything from lush meadows and snowy mountains to huge marshes and deserts in the south-east. While summer is the peak season because of the beaches, those who wish to avoid the crowds should consider visiting in the winter as attractions such as the Alhambra in Granada and La Gran Mezquita in Cordoba will not be overcrowded. State education in Spain is free and compulsory from the age of six to sixteen. The current education system is regulated by the 2006 educational law, LOE (Ley Orgánica de Educación), or Fundamental Law for the Education. In 2014, the LOE was partially modified by the newer and controversial LOMCE law (Ley Orgánica para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa), or Fundamental Law for the Improvement of the Education System, commonly called Ley Wert (Wert Law).
Some reputed universities and research institutes from Spain:
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is almost 3.2 million and that of the Madrid metropolitan area, around 6.3 million. It is the third-largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third-largest in the European Union after London and Paris. The city spans a total of 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).
The city is located on the Manzanares River in the center of both the country and the Community of Madrid (which comprises the city of Madrid, its conurbation and extended suburbs and villages); this community is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. As the capital city of Spain, the seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political, economic and cultural center of Spain. The current mayor is Ana Botella from the People's Party (PP).
The Madrid urban agglomeration has the third-largest GDP in the European Union and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, environment, media, fashion, science, culture, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. Due to its economic output, high standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the major financial center of Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula; it hosts the head offices of the vast majority of the major Spanish companies, such as Telefónica, Iberia or Repsol. Madrid is the 17th most livable city in the world according to Monocle magazine, in its 2014 index.
Madrid houses the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), belonging to the United Nations Organization (UN), the SEGIB, the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), and the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB). It also hosts major international regulators of Spanish: the Standing Committee of the Association of Spanish Language Academies, headquarters of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), the Cervantes Institute and the Foundation of Urgent Spanish (Fundéu BBVA). Madrid organizes fairs such as FITUR, ARCO, SIMO TCI and the Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week.
Madrid is home to a large number of public and private universities. Some of them are among the oldest in the world, and many of them are the most prestigious universities in Spain.
The Complutense University of Madrid (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) is the largest university in Spain and one of the oldest universities in the world. It has 10,000 staff members and a student population of 117,000.
Some popular places to visit are: