History of SpainSpain



The Iberian Peninsula has been occupied for many millennia. Some of Europe's most impressive Paleolithic cultural sites are located there; the famous caves at Altamira contain spectacular paintings which date from about 15,000-25,000 years ago. The Basques are the first identifiable people of the peninsula and are the oldest surviving group in Europe. Iberians arrived from North Africa during a more recent period. Beginning in the ninth century BC, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Celts entered the Iberian Peninsula, followed by the Romans, who arrived in the second century BC.

Spain's present language, religion, and laws stem from the Roman period. Although the Visigoths arrived in the fifth century AD, the last Roman strongholds along the southern coast did not fall until the seventh century AD. In 711, North African Moors sailed across the straits, swept into Andalusia, and, within a few years, pushed the Visigoths up the peninsula to the Cantabrian Mountains. The Reconquest--efforts to drive out the Moors--lasted until 1492.

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