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Spain (Spanish: España [esˈpaɲa] (listen)), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España), is a European country located in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of Spanish territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.
With an area of 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the European continent. By population (about 47 million), Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and the fifth in the European Union. Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Málaga and Bilbao.
Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. Iberian cultures along with ancient Phoenician, Greek, Celtic and Carthaginian settlements developed on the peninsula until it came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania, based on the earlier Phoenician name Sp(a)n or Spania. At the end of the Western Roman Empire the Germanic tribal confederations migrated from Central Europe, invaded the Iberian peninsula and established relatively independent realms in its western provinces, including the Suebi, Alans and Vandals. Eventually, the Visigoths would forcibly integrate all remaining independent territories in the peninsula, including Byzantine provinces, into the Kingdom of Toledo, which more or less unified politically, ecclesiastically and legally all the former Roman provinces or successor kingdoms of what was then documented as Hispania.
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, c. 1647–51. 122cm x 177cm (48in x 49.7in). National Gallery
The Rokeby Venus (; also known as The Toilet of Venus, Venus at her Mirror, Venus and Cupid, or La Venus del espejo) is a painting by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age. Completed between 1647 and 1651, and probably painted during the artist's visit to Italy, the work depicts the goddess Venus in a sensual pose, lying on a bed and looking into a mirror held by the Roman god of physical love, her son Cupid. The painting is in the National Gallery, London.
Numerous works, from the ancient to the baroque, have been cited as sources of inspiration for Velázquez. The nude Venuses of the Italian painters, such as Giorgione's Sleeping Venus (c. 1510) and Titian's Venus of Urbino (1538), were the main precedents. In this work, Velázquez combined two established poses for Venus: recumbent on a couch or a bed, and gazing at a mirror. She is often described as looking at herself on the mirror, although this is physically impossible since viewers can see her face reflected in their direction. This phenomenon is known as the Venus effect. In a number of ways the painting represents a pictorial departure, through its central use of a mirror, and because it shows the body of Venus turned away from the observer of the painting. Read more...
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Hernán Cortés (also known as Hernán(do) Cortés Pizarro, 1st Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca; born 1485–December 2, 1547) was a Spanish conquistador who initiated the conquest of the Aztec Empire on behalf of Charles V, king of Castile and Holy Roman Emperor, in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
Born in Medellín, Extremadura, in Castile, to a family of lesser nobility, Cortés chose to pursue a livelihood in the New World. He went to Hispaniola and later to Cuba, where he received an encomienda and, for a short time, became alcalde (mayor) of a small town. In 1519, he was elected captain of the third expedition to the mainland, an expedition which he partly funded. His enmity with the governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, resulted in the latter recalling the expedition at the last moment, an order which Cortés ignored. Arriving on the continent, Cortés executed a successful strategy of allying with some indigenous peoples against others. He also used a native woman, Doña Marina, as interpreter; she would later bear Cortés a son. When the Governor of Cuba sent emissaries to arrest Cortés, he fought them and won, using the extra troops as reinforcements. Cortés wrote letters directly to the king asking to be acknowledged for his successes instead of punished for mutiny. After he overthrew the Aztec empire, Cortés was awarded the title of Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca, while the more prestigious title of Viceroy was given to a high-ranking nobleman, Antonio de Mendoza. Cortés returned to Spain in 1541 where he died peacefully but embittered.
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