The Economy of Spain

The economy of Spain, according to GDP figures, is the 14th largest in the world. It is ranked 5th in Europe and throughout the country’s history it has had a reputation of trading with rest of the world. The 21st century has seen Spain going through different periods of economic growth and decline as world trends has hit the country during different periods. Currently Spain is in recovery and in 2017 it had the fastest growing economy of anywhere in Europe. Compared to other western European countries Spain is a late developer. It was held back at the end of the Second World War as a result of the support it had shown to Germany during the conflict. It wasn’t until 1959 that saw the end of Spain’s economic isolation with industrial development really starting to take place.

Lettuce production in Mercia in Spain

A number of Spain’s multi-national industries do a great deal of business with South America. After the United States no other country does as much business with this continent as Spain and it has relied on historical ties in order to “drum up” business. Spain has always had a strong agri-business. Some crops and fruits grow naturally and flourish with the guaranteed ripening season that the Mediterranean climate provides. Spain’s agricultural areas can be divided between those that rely on irrigation and those who do not.

The areas that are irrigated are relatively small yet they yield high outputs. Those areas that depend on natural rainfall are far greater in size yet they are unable to yield the volume of produce that the irrigated areas are able to. The irrigated land is often able to produce two harvests per year and Spain has become a major exporter in fruits, olives, wine, vegetables and cereal grains. Currently there is a dilemma in Spanish agriculture as many farmers are switching to raising livestock for the home markets, so reducing the foreign trade coming into the country.

The agriculture of the country is in a stable position and the more areas of the country that are irrigated the more output will be produced. Currently 17% of Spain’s land is irrigated yet it produces almost 50% of the country’s output. Industry has always been concentrated in a few areas of Spain. In the north of the country just five of the provinces produce over half of Spain’s industrial output. The Basque and Catalonia regions are the country’s most industrial areas.


The SEAT car factory in Barcelona

The most industrialized city in Spain is Barcelona. The city has been the home to petrochemical industries, metallurgy industries and energy industries. It has also been the home to many car producers with many companies locating in the city. Currently Spain’s largest car producer SEAT has its headquarters in the city, plus a large manufacturing plant.

Madrid also has a rich manufacturing history especially with it owning such a geographical central position within the country. Nowadays many industries are no longer choosing to locate their manufacturing plants within the centre of the city, but the vast majority of Spanish large business have their headquarters within the country’s capital city. Economically Spain relies a great deal on its tourist industry which contributes 11% of its GDP. This means that the country is on firm ground as the industry looks like it is continuing to grow and flourish. Importantly it creates jobs in areas of the country that historically have not been the strongest economic regions of Spain.

The Spanish economy is starting to feel the benefits of its expansion into South America, and this is continuing to be a successful venture. Spanish companies are also expanding into Africa and Asia making the most of the Spanish language and culture. The recent upturn in Spanish economic fortunes looks positive in what the future may hold for the country.