50,000 B.C.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Iberian peninsula has been inhabited for many millennia. There is evidence of Neanderthals having inhabited Gibraltar around this period.

30,000 - 14,000 B.C.

Some of the older historical discoveries made in Spain include spectacular cave drawings and paintings and other prehistoric artifacts of the Paleolithic era. Some of the more important archaeological artifacts from this period have been found in the caves of Cova Negra (Játiva, in the province of Valencia), Piñar (Granada) and Altamira(Cantabria).

7000 B.C.

The original Iberian population is thought to have come to the peninsula from the north of Africa. Farming begins on the Iberian peninsula.

1200 B.C.

Celtic tribes entered the peninsula from the north, over time mixing with Iberians, resulting in the celt-iberian race.

1100 B.C.

Phoenicians arrived and founded colonies on the southern shores of the peninsula , the most important of which was Gadir (today's Cadiz).

 

Traders from Rhodes and the Greek cities founded colonies in eastern Spain along the Mediterranean coast.

237 - 206 B.C.

The period of the Punic Wars was a struggle for supremacy in the Mediterranean between Rome and Carthage. Rome won the first round, taking Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica away from Carthage. The Carthaginians then attempted to expand their empire by enlarging their colonies in Spain, and succeeded in conquering large portions of it. They founded Barcelona, and some of their most important colonies were established on the island of Ibiza and at Cartagena, "new Carthage". Hannibal's famed march over the Alps in his campaign against Rome was launched from northern Spain.

206 B.C. - 409 A.D.

After Rome had defeated Carthage again in the second Punic war, Romans then invaded Carthaginian colonies in Spain, and continued on to conquer the entire peninsula. This new Roman province, called Hispania, became an important, and one of the most prosperous parts of the Roman empire. Julius Caesar was a governer of Hispania and two Roman emperors, Trajan and Hadrian, were born there. Some of the Roman culture that was absorbed by the people of Spain is evident today in their language, which is derived from Latin.

409 - 711 A.D.

In 409 AD, as the Roman empire began to disintegrate, Teutonic tribes invaded the peninsula from the North. In an attempt to stem the havoc brought on by the invasions, Rome appealed to the Visigoths, who in AD 412 brought their armies into the region and within seven years had become the dominant power, fully establishing their kingdom by 419 AD. The dominance of the Goths lasted for nearly 300 years until 711 AD, when Muslim armies, as a result of a power struggle between Visigoth factions, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and defeated Roderic, the last Visigoth king to rule all of Spain.

711 - 1492 A.D.

The Moors rapidly conquered major parts of the country, pushing the Visigoths north up into the Cantabrian mountains, until they were defeated for the first time by Visigoth king don Pelayo at Covadonga in northern Spain in 722 AD. This defeat essentially stopped the northern advancement of the Moors. Although the victory symbolically marked the beginning of the reconquest of Spain by Christian forces, the effort to take back territory from the Moors initially progressed very slowly, and was to last for many centuries.

Although the small Christian kingdoms in the north remained areas of resistance to Moorish domination, the Moorish culture flourished in the rest of the country. The southern part of Spain, called al-Andalus by the Moors (currently the region called Andalucia), prospered economically during the Moorish epoch, as a result of the introduction of new science and agricultural techniques.

In 755 Abd al Rahman came to Spain after having fled Syria 5 years earlier where he was the sole survivor of the ruling family there that had been massacred in a coup. In Spain, once he was able to gain power in 756, he established a dynasty (the Umayyads) that lasted over 250 years.

As time progressed, Muslim Spain became politically independent of the Syrian empire, and in the early part of the 10th century AD Abd al Rahman III proclaimed al-Andalus his own caliphate. During this period Cordoba was the indisputable cultural center of this area of the world, being the second most powerful and splendid city of the western world after Constantinople. The Spanish civilization during the Moorish supremacy was far more advanced than the rest of the European continent, with foreign visitors being very impressed with the prosperity and accomplishments of the society achitechturally, educationally and in the study of philosophy and science.

Disintegration of the Moorish holdings in Spain started in 11th century AD, when the rivalries between various Arab noble families, both those that had been living in Spain as well as Berbers that arrived from Morocco (first the Almoravids and then the Almohads who had overthrown the Almoravids in Northern Africa), grew over time to be more and more pronounced. al-Andalus broke into numerous small, independent and mutually hostile city-states called taifas. These included Córdoba, Granada, Seville, Toledo, Lisbon, Saragossa, Murcia, and Valencia. These divisions weakened the Moors both economically and militarily, and opened the door for the Christian kingdoms in the north to start the Reconquest of Spain, as the effort to expel the Moors was called, during this period.

The wars and skirmishes, marked by constantly shifting alliances between the Moors and the Christians as various kings competed for power, had been moving gradually southward over the years, and in 1212 a landmark victory at Las Navas de Tolosa marked the war's arrival in Andalucia. From this point on, the Muslims rapidly lost territory. Shortly thereafter Cordoba fell (in 1236) with the help of Moorish allies, Valencia (in 1238) and then Seville (in 1248) were recaptured by Christian forces. As a reward for assisting Ferdinand III in capturing Cordoba, Ibn Ahmar was allowed to keep the taifa of Granada. This dynasty (the Nasrids) lasted for nearly 250 years.

The marriage between Isabel of Castilia and Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469, uniting two of the most important and powerful kingdoms, was a major catalyst for accelerating the reconquest once again. Granada, the last remaining caliphate, and one of the greatest and most splendid of the independent Muslim realms, was finally conquered in 1492.

Isabel and Ferdinand succeeded in uniting the whole country under their crown. Their zealous effort to "re-christianize" Spain engendered the notoriously ruthless and brutal Spanish Inquisition, during which thousands of Jews and Moors who didn't want to convert to Catholicism were either killed or expelled from the country.

16th century A.D.

After the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492, tons of gold and silver were brought from the new continent, contributing to Spain's becoming one of the western world's most powerful nations during this period, which from history's current perspective is referred to as the Golden Age of Spain.

After Isabel died in 1504, her daughter Joan, married to the German emperor's son Philip, succeeded to the throne of Castile. After Phillip died, Ferdinand retook the throne, reuniting Castile with Aragon again.

Charles V, son of Phillip and Joan, grandson of Ferdinand, inherited the throne when Ferdinand died. As both Austrian king and German emperor as well, one of the largest empires in history (the Hapsburg Empire), was united under his rule in 1517. After his stepping down from the throne in 1556 the empire was split between the Spanish and the Austrian lines of Hapsburg family, when his son Phillip II ascended the Spanish throne.

In 1559 the Inquisition was used to persecute Protestants.

Spain prospered economically under the Hapsburg crown thanks to the trade with its American colonies on one hand, but on the other, became involved in wars with France, the Netherlands and England, culminating in the disastrous defeat of the "Invincible Armada" in 1588.

17th century

In 1609 Phillip III expelled 250,000 Moriscos (Muslims who had previously been forced to convert to christianity).

Spain became involved in the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), which in turn led to war with France after 1635.

Economically, politically, and even culturally, during this period Spain entered a long period of decline.

early 18th century

When the last Spanish Hapsburg king, Charles II, died without male descendants, the nephew of French King Louis XIV, Phillip of Bourbon, ascended to the throne.

During this period, Spain allied itself with France in many of the European conflicts such as the Wars of the Polish Succession (1733-1735) and the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748).

latter 18th century

Its alliance with France against England in the Seven Years' War (1762-1769) was unsuccessful, and Spain ended up losing the territory that is now the state of Florida when England won the war.

Under Charles III, an enlightened ruler responsible for many foreign and domestic achievements, Spain regained some of its former greatness.

As a consequence of the French Revolution, Spain joined other European powers in declaring war on the new republic's revolutionary government, but had to admit defeat after having the northern provinces ravaged by French armies.

early 19th century

Napoleon underestimated the Spanish people and invaded Spain in 1808, placing his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne. Spaniards fought a violent and bloody 5-year War of Independence against the French. Napoleon was finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815.

Ferdinand VII was subsequently restored to the Spanish throne and reigned with rigid absolutism. During his 20 year reign the Inquistion was re-established, liberals were persecuted and free speech was repressed. When he changed the rules of succession to the throne and designated his infant daughter Isabella as queen, his brother Charles rebelled, starting a war that lasted seven years, resulting in economic recession and political instability. During this period, between 1810 and 1825, Spain lost most of its colonies, as they fought for and gained their independence. The exceptions to this were Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines, who did not acquire independence for several more decades.

latter 19th century

The revolution of 1868 forced Isabel II to renounce to the throne, and the First Republic was proclaimed, which lasted for about a year. After a coup d'état, Isabel's son, Alphonse XII, restored the monarchy.

The rebellion of Cuba in 1895 resulted in a war against the United States, with disastrous results for Spain. It lost most of its remaining overseas possessions, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and Philippines. This defeat essentially marked the end of the Spanish empire.

early 20th century

The economic crisis of the early 1920s led the country to the brink of civil war. General Jose Antonio Primo de Ribera, founder of the Falangist Party, established a military dictatorship until 1930. Elections in 1931 saw a triumph for the political left, and Alphonse XIII left the country. Increasing conflicts between the Republican government, an uneasy alliance between communists, socialists, ananarchists, and the Nationalist opposition led to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The Nationalists, a right wing alliance of the army, the Roman Catholic church, the monarchy and the fascist Falange party, led by General Francisco Franco, received extensive support from Nazi-Germany and fascist Italy and succeeded against the Republican block which was officially supported only by Russia, although many intellectuals, such as Ernest Hemingway, and politically committed people from other countries fought in the International Brigades. The Nationalists eventually won the war.

The savage civil war, during which more than 350,000 died, was followed by a particularly vengeful peace; hundreds of thousands were imprisoned, and tens of thousands were executed during the first few years after the war, with many others either jailed or forced into exile. Many of those in exile subsequently ended up in Hitler's concentration camps, never to be heard from again.

latter 20th century

Although Franco kept Spain 'neutral' during World War II, his military dictatorship led to political and economic isolation. During the 1950s and 60s efforts were made to improve international relations, and the country's economy improved. In 1969 Franco proclaimed Juan Carlos de Borbon, the grandson of Alphonse XIII, his successor, with the title of king.
Franco died in 1975, and a constitutional monarchy was established.
Spain became a member of NATO in 1985 and entered the European Community in 1986.