Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Its mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar; to the north by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the northwest and west by the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal. Its capital city is Madrid.
Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, that border Morocco.
Archaeological research at Atapuerca indicates the Iberian Peninsula was populated by hominids 1.2 million years ago. The best known artifacts of these prehistoric human settlements are the famous paintings in the Altamira cave of Cantabria in northern Iberia, which were created about 15,000 BCE by cro-magnons.
Spain emerged as a unified country in the 15th century following the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs and the completion of the reconquest of the Iberian peninsula. 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.
Spain is known for its culturally diverse heritage, having been influenced by many nations and peoples throughout its history. Spanish culture has its origins in the Iberian, Celtiberian, Latin, Visigothic, Roman Catholic, and Islamic cultures.
After Italy, Spain has the second highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, with a total of 40.