The Balearic Islands lie in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, off the coast of Africa.
Spain also holds two cities, Ceuta and Melilla, on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco.
The populations least likely to feel Spanish are Catalans and Basques, although these large, complex regional populations are by no means unanimous in their views.
The comarca is a purely cultural and economic unit, without political or any other official identity.In what are known as market communities in other parts of the world, villages or towns in a Spanish comarca patronize the same markets and fairs, worship at the same regional shrines in times of shared need (such as drought), wear similar traditional dress, speak the language similarly, intermarry, and celebrate some of the same festivals at places commonly regarded as central or important. The name España is of uncertain origin; from it derived the Hispania of the roman Empire.Important regions within the modern nation are the Basque Country (País Vasco), the Catalan-Valencian-Balearic area, and Galicia—each of which has its own language and a strong regional identity.Cataluña has had greater autonomy in the past and had, at different times, as close ties with southwestern France as with Spain.
The Catalan language, like Spanish, is a Romance language, lacking the mysterious distinction that Basque has.
Spain's declining birthrate, which in 1999 was the lowest in the world, has been the cause of official concern.
The bulk of Spain's population is in the Castilian provinces (including Madrid), the Andalusian provinces, and the other, smaller regions of generalized Castilian culture and speech.
Others are Andalucía and the Canary Islands; Aragón; Asturias; Castile; Extremadura; León; Murcia; and Navarra, whose regional identities are strong but whose language, if in some places dialectic, is mutually intelligible with the official Castilian Spanish.
The national territory is divided into fifty provinces, which date from 1833 and are grouped into seventeen autonomous regions, or comunidades autónomas. Spain occupies about 85 percent of the Iberian peninsula, with Portugal on its western border.
The people of hamlets, villages, towns, and cities—the basic political units of the Spanish population—and sometimes even neighborhoods ( barrios ) hold local identities that are rooted not only in differences of local geography and microclimate but also in perceived cultural differences made concrete in folklore and symbolic usages.