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On this day January 2, 1492

The Reconquista ended when the forces of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon defeated the armies of Abu ‘abd-Allah Muhammad XII of Granada, the last of the Moorish rulers.

patio_de_los_arrayanesThe Reconquista (a Spanish and Portuguese word for “Reconquest”; Arabic: الاسترداد al-ʼIstirdād, “Recapturing”) was a period of 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula succeeded in retaking the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims.

The Islamic conquest of the Christian Visigothic kingdom in the eighth century (begun 710 – 712) extended over almost the entire peninsula (except major parts of Galicia, the Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country). By the thirteenth century all that remained was the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, to be conquered in 1492, bringing the entire peninsula under Christian leadership. Read More…

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On this day January 1, 2002

Euro banknotes and coins become legal tender in twelve of the European Union’s member states.

euro_banknotesThe euro (currency sign: ; currency code: EUR) is the official currency of fifteen member states of the European Union (EU).

The states, known collectively as the Eurozone are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain. Read More…

On this day December 27, 1512

The Spanish Crown issues the Laws of Burgos, promulgated on December 27, 1512 in Burgos, Spain, governing the conduct of settlers with regards to native Indians in the New World.

They were the first codified set of laws governing the behavior of Spanish settlers in America. It enumerated a number of laws for the government of the indigenous peoples of the recently discovered New World. They forbade the maltreatment of natives, and endorsed their conversion to Catholicism. Read More…

British Airways and Iberia agree to merge

British Airways and Spain’s Iberia airline have announced plans to merge. The merger is valued at £5.5 billion (US$9 billion dollars), and would create the third largest airline in the world.

The new company will be headed up by BA’s Willie Walsh with the board led by Iberia’s Antonio Vazquez. Shares are split 55% to 45% respectively, with each BA share being exchanged for a share in the new firm and each Iberia share worth 1.0205 shares in the new firm, to be registered in Spain with head offices in London.

A statement said the deal “is expected to generate annual synergies of approximately 400 million euros, and benefit both companies’ shareholders, customers and employees.” It also stated Iberia may yet call off the plan “if the outcome of the discussions between British Airways and its pension trustees is not, in Iberia’s reasonable opinion, satisfactory.” Subject to this, as well as shareholder and trustee consent, the merger is planned to be completed by next year. Read More…

Hong Kong emerges from recession

According to official records, Hong Kong’s economy has left a year-long recession, recording a growth of 3.3% in June’s second quarter. The figures, which were seasonally adjusted, had been higher than forecast by economists.

As a result, the government has increased its growth predictions for 2009. Previously, estimates suggested the economy would contract by 5.5% to 6.5%. Now, the contraction is only predicted to be between 3.5% and 4.5%.

“The GDP data was much better than we expected, partly because the exports were better and partly because of a pick-up in private consumption,” Bank of East Asia’s chief economist, Paul Tang, noted. “Private consumption is being driven up by stock market gains and by the property sector, which started doing well.”

However, government economist Helen Chan warned that “while we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, […] the outlook remain highly uncertain because the situations in the United States and Europe are still very weak.”

Spanish economy contracts 1% in second quarter

Official statistics indicate that the economy of Spain, the fourth-largest member of the eurozone, contracted by one percent in the quarter to June. The GDP was 4.1% lower by comparison to this time last year.

However, the rate of the decline was less severe in this quarter than previously, and the government said the figures indicated “relatively better performance.”

The numbers are a contrast with the economies of France and Germany, who both saw their GDPs increase by 0.3% in the same time period.

Dominic Bryant of BNP Paribas commented that “this was a bit disappointing and worse than we expected, since a number of indicators had improved in Spain over the last few months.

“We do expect Spain to do worse than other European countries for a few years. Germany and France don’t have the same imbalances as Spain, which means we expect it to stay weaker for longer,” he added.

Spain’s government says it expects the economy will shrink by 3.6% by the end of the year, but will start growing again in the second half of 2010.

Majorca sealed off after bombing

In Spain, a series of bombing attacks in Burgos and Palma Nova kills at least two people and injures 50 others.

The bombing occurred on July 30, 2009, in which two Civil Guards, Diego Salvá Lezaún and Carlos Sáenz de Tejada, were killed after a car bomb, placed under their Nissan patrol car, exploded outside the barracks of the Guarda Civil in Palma Nova, a mere 500 meters from the busy Son Matias Beach in Palma Nova, Mallorca, Spain.

The attack is the deadliest since December 2007. It was the second bombing in Spanish territory in two days after a similar incident in Burgos in Northern Spain the previous day: that attack had not brought about any fatalities. Read More…

Forest fires kill Spanish firemen

Four Spanish firefighters died in Catalonia on 21 July, and a fifth member died later from injuries on 23 July, as well as a fire engine driver in Teruel.

Northern and central Spain saw temperatures of around 40 °C (104 °F) on 21 July. Around 2,000 people were evacuated from hills around the town of Collado Mediano, near Madrid. Aircraft with water and firefighters controlled the fire.

Estimates suggest that 5,000 hectares of forest and bush were affected in the Sierra Cabrera mountain range between Turre and Mojácar in Spain on 14/15 July. 500 people were evacuated, as dozens of firefighters and soldiers controlled the fires, including the use of five helicopters and three aircraft. Read More…