Few countries have the cultural reach of Spain. Giving the world Spanish (specifically, Castilian Spanish), would already put it at the top table. But its food, wine, music, art and architecture, not to mention its footballers and beach resorts, make Spain something of a soft superpower.
Once the outpost of Roman, Visigothic and various Muslim empires, Spain was “reconquered” and united in the 15th Century, managing at the same time to send off Colombus to discover the Americas.
The historic blend of Moorish, Jewish and Christian is most striking in places like Toledo, Cordoba and Granada, while the legacy off Spain’s empire, and the gold found there, is evidenced pretty much everywhere in spectacular public squares and buildings.
A metaphorical El dorado
From being one of the world’s largest producers of wine to having one of Europe’s most important mining industries (including zinc, tungsten and uranium), Spain has an important place in the world economy. Its main exports are agricultural products, industrial products and clothing.
Its service economy is less developed compared to the rest of Western Europe, save for tourism, as one of the world’s top tourist destinations and tourism accounting for 10% of GDP.
Modern high-speed trains make travelling between Spain’s cities easy, while at 31 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, Spain edges both China (32) and France (33). Its language is accessible, currency stable and climate delightful.
What’s not to like?
The pain in Spain
Having been scarred by civil war and rule by fascist General Franco, Spain joined what became the EU in 1986 but struggled to compete with its wealthier neighbours.
Hard hit by the 2008 Eurozone crisis, Spain suffered high borrowing costs, unemployment and strict austerity policies, accepting a €100 billion bailout in 2012. Its GDP per capita continues to be below the EU average.
While Spain constitutes a single legal jurisdiction its different regions, most famously the Basque region and Catalonia, have strong identities and traditions of government. It is worth being aware of these for cultural, linguistic as well as technical reasons when running a business from different parts of Spain.
Whether you’re looking for a great place to set up your next office or starting a business from scratch, Spain is a great place to live, work and do business. For access to both the EU and the Spanish speaking world, it’s hard to beat.