Spain Economy

The name Spain derives from Hispania, the name by which the Romans geographically designated the whole of the Iberian Peninsula, this term in turn, derived from the name Iberia, preferred by Greek authors to refer to the same space. However, the fact that the term Hispania is not of Latin root has led to the formulation of several theories about its origin, some of them controversial.

The word “Hispania” comes from the Phoenician “i-spn-ya”, a term whose use is documented since the second millennium BC. n. e., in inscriptions u g a r i t i cas. The Phoenicians were the first non-Iberian civilization that came to the peninsula to expand its trade and founded, among others, Gadir, present-day Cádiz, the oldest inhabited city in Western Europe.

The Romans took the name of the Carthaginian vanquished, interpreting the prefix «i» (‘coast’, ‘island’ or ‘land’) already with the meaning of ‘region’. The lexeme ‘spn’, which in Hebrew was perhaps pronounced [sapján], was translated as ‘rabbits’ (although they are actually ‘ damanes ‘, rabbit-sized animals spread across Africa and the fertile Crescent). The Romans, therefore, gave Hispania the meaning of ‘land abundant in rabbits’, a use picked up by Cicero, Julius Caesar, Pliny the Elder, Cato, Livy Titus and, in particular, Catulus, which refers to Hispania as a cunicular peninsula (some coins minted in Hadrian’s time featured personifications of Hispania as a seated lady, with a rabbit at her feet). Abundant in the Phoenician origin of the term, Saint Isidore of Seville, in his Etymologies, postulates that the name Hispania has its origin in Ispani, the Phoenician- Punic toponym of Seville, a name that the Romans transformed into Hispalis.

On the Phoenician origin of the term, in 1767, the historian and Hebraist Cándido Melchor María proposed a different theory at the Royal Academy of Good Letters in Barcelona, based on the fact that the Phoenician alphabet (like the Hebrew) lacked vowels. Thus “spn” (pronounced [sphan] or [sapján] in Hebrew and Aramaic) in Phoenician would mean ‘north’, a name that the Phoenicians would have taken when they reached the Iberian peninsula bordering the African coast, seeing it north of their route, so ‘i-spn-ia’ would be the ‘land of the north’.

For his part, according to Jesús Luis Cunchillos in his Elemental Phoenician Grammar (2000), the root of the term span is spy, which means ‘to forge or beat metals’. Thus, i-spn-ya would be “the land where metals are forged.”

Apart from the theory of Phoenician origin, the most accepted (although the precise meaning of the term is still the subject of discussion), throughout history various hypotheses have been proposed, based on apparent similarities and more or less related meanings.

At the beginning of the Modern Age, Antonio de Nebrija, in the line of Isidore of Seville, proposed its autochthonous origin as a deformation of the Iberian word Hispalis, which would mean the city of the West. and that, as Hispalis was the main city of the peninsula, the Phoenicians, and later the Romans gave their name to their entire territory.

Later, Juan Antonio Moguel proposed in the 19th century that the term Hispania could come from the Euscan word Izpania, which would come to mean that the sea part because it is composed of the voices iz and pania or bania, which means ‘divide’ or ‘depart’. In this regard, Miguel de Unamuno declared in 1902:

The only difficulty I find (…) is that, according to some of my countrymen, the name Spain derives from the Basque «ezpaña» (‘lip’), alluding to the position that our peninsula has in Europe.

Other hypotheses assumed that both Hispalis and Hispania were derivations of the names of two legendary kings of Spain, Hispalo and his son Hispano or Hispan, son and grandson respectively of Hercules.

From the Visigothic period, the term Hispania, until then used geographically, began to be used with a political connotation as well, as shown by the use of the expression “Laus hispániae” to describe the history of the peoples of the peninsula in the chronicles of Isidore. from Seville.

There are several theories about how the “Spanish” name itself arose; According to one of them, the suffix «-ol» is characteristic of the Provençal Romance languages and rare in the Romance languages ​​then spoken in the peninsula, for which reason it considers that it would have been imported from the 9th century with the development of the phenomenon of the medieval pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, by the many Frankish visitors who toured the peninsula, favoring that over time the adaptation of the Latin name Hispani from the “espagnol” or “espanyol” with which they designated the Christians of ancient Hispania.

Subsequently, it would have been the dissemination work of the formed elites that promoted the use of «Spanish»: the word «Spaniards» appears twenty-four times in the cartulary of the Cathedral of Huesca (manuscript of 1139 – 1221), while in the Chapter «Estoria de Espanna» of the General Chronicle (written between 1260 and 1274 at the initiative of Alfonso X the Wise), the gentilicio «espannoles» was used exclusively, an adaptation to the Castilian of that time, which progressively evolved until it became the official language of Spain.


Before the start of the world economic crisis, Spain was the eighth world economic power, with a constant rate of growth and one of the nations with the highest rates of social stability in the entire euro zone. Spain has traditionally been an agricultural country and is still one of the largest producers in Western Europe, but since the mid- 1950s industrial growth was rapid and soon took on a greater weight than agriculture in the country’s economy.

A series of development plans, which began in 1964, helped to expand the economy, but in the late 1970s a period of economic recession began due to the rise in oil prices, and an increase in imports. with the arrival of democracy and the opening of borders.

Since 2008, as a country that belongs to European Union according to, Spain has been one of the ten economies most affected by the consequences of the economic crisis. Preceded at regional level by Greece, Ireland and Portugal, Spain faces dangerous rates such as unemployment of almost 23% of the active population [17] , according to data from the European Statistics Office (Eurostat). According to the close of 2011, the Spanish economy was in the following situation:

At the end of 2011, there were around 5.4 million unemployed in Spain, a rate of around 23% of the population. After a fall in GDP of 3.7% in 2009 and 0.1% in 2010, the economy should rise only 0.7% in 2011, according to the Bank of Spain, below the Government’s forecast (0 , 8%).
For 2012, the Central Bank estimates a drop in activity of 1.5% and unemployment to 23.4%, expecting a “modest recovery” in 2013, with growth of 0.2% and unemployment somewhat lower (23.3%)

Spain Economy