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Location of Spain

Spain (Spanish: España), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Reino de España), is a country in southern Europe. It is located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe, the country consists of Peninsular Spain which is located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, two archipelagos, one in each sea, and two autonomous cities in North Africa. The mainland area of Spain is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the southern and eastern areas, the Cantabric Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Spain is organised as a parliamentary democracy and is a constitutional monarchy. Spain has been a member of the European Union since 1986 and is a developed country, with the ninth largest economy in the world and fifth largest in the EU, with an area of 504,030 km², Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe (behind France).

Spain flourished under the Roman empire Hispania, thus becoming one of the Empire's most important regions at the time, during the times of the Middle Ages, Spain was under Germanic rule, only later to come under the rule of the Islamic caliphate. Spain emerged as a unified country in the 15th century, following the completion of the reconquest of the Iberian peninsula in 1492, it has been an important source of influence to other regions, chiefly during the Modern Era, when it became a global empire that has left a legacy of over 500 million Spanish speakers today, making it the world's second most spoken first language.

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A bonfire

The Bonfires of Saint John is a popular festival celebrated between June 19 and June 24 in Spain. The festival is considered the most important in the city of Alicante, but is celebrated in several other cities and towns across Spain, the festival consists of people gathering wood and other objects to burn on a bonfire, often sharing hot chocolates while teenagers jump over the small fires.

Before 1928 the bonfires of Saint John had been celebrated in Alicante as it had been elsewhere in Europe: by burning old pieces of furniture on the night of Saint John on June 24. The Bonfires festival was originated in 1928. Jose María Py felt that Alicante did not have an important fiesta, and adapted a Valencian festival known as the "fallas", the festival would ultimately become the most important cultural event in Alicantinian society. Bonfires are organised into commissions which fundraise and host the other events throughout the year. A member of a commission is called a foguerer. A commission usually represents one area, a place or an avenue in the city, but there are many areas with numerous commissions. (For example, Carolinas has five commissions: Carolinas Altas, Carolinas Bajas, Foguerer-Carolinas, Doctor Bergez-Carolinas and Bola de Oro.) In Alicante there are 86 commissions.

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A statue showing Christopher Columbus
Credit: Fotothing

A statue showing Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella, the statue was made in 1885.

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Federico Mayor Zaragoza

Federico Mayor Zaragoza (1934 in Barcelona) is a Spanish scholar and politician. He served as Director-General of UNESCO from 1987 to 1999. Mayor obtained a doctorate in pharmacy from the Complutense University of Madrid in 1958. In 1963 he became professor of biochemistry at the School of Pharmacy of the University of Granada, and in 1968 was elected rector of that university, a post he held until 1972, the following year he was appointed professor in biochemistry at the Community of Madrid. In 1974 he co-founded the Severo Ochoa Centre of Molecular Biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid and of the High Council for Scientific Research.

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