A major country of the Age of Discovery, Spain began the conquest of the New World in 1492, giving rise to the Spanish Empire.
Controlling vast portions of the Americas, parts of Africa, various territories in Asia and Oceania, as well as territory in other parts of Europe, the Spanish Empire became, in conjunction with the Portuguese, the first empire to achieve a global scale and one of the largest empires in history.
The empire’s need for financing and the transatlantic trade underpinned the rise of a global trading system fuelled primarily by precious metals. Centralisation and further state-building in mainland Spain ensued in the 18th century with the Bourbon reforms.
In the 19th century, the Crown saw the independence of most of its American colonies as a result of cumulative crises and political divisions after the Peninsular War.
Political instability reached its peak in the 20th century with the Spanish Civil War, giving rise to the Francoist dictatorship that lasted until 1975.
With the restoration of democracy under the Constitution of Spain and its entry into the European Union, the country experienced an economic boom that profoundly transformed it socially and politically.