Agriculture remains a major part of the Spanish economy and employs, along with forestry and fishing, around 7 percent of the labour force.
The two main agricultural products are grapes, used to make wine, and olives, used to make olive oil. Other main products include oranges, almonds, cereal grains (especially barley, wheat, and rice), vegetables (especially tomatoes and onions) and root crops (mainly potatoes and sugar beets).
The raising of livestock, especially sheep and goats, is an important industry. Livestock on farms includes approximately 24 million sheep, 23 million pigs, 6 million cattle, and 250,000 horses.
Forestry and Fishing
The cork-oak tree is the principal forest resource of Spain, and the annual production of cork, more than 52,000 metric tons in the late 1980s, placed Spain among the world leaders. The yield of Spain’s forests is insufficient for the country’s wood-pulp and timber needs.
The fishing industry is very important to the Spanish economy. The catch consists mostly of sardines, mussels, tuna, hake and squid.
The mineral wealth of Spain is considerable consisting mainly of coal, iron ore, zinc, copper and lead. Gold and silver are also mined and petroleum is extracted. The main coal mines are in the northwest, near Oviedo; iron-ore deposits are in the same area, around Santander and Bilbao whilst copper and lead are mined in Andalucia.
The main manufactured goods in Spain are textiles, iron and steel, motor vehicles, chemicals, clothing, footwear, ships and boats, refined petroleum and cement. Spain is one of the world’s leading wine producers. About 31 percent of the labour force is employed in manufacturing, mining and construction.
Spain is the third largest producer of wind power in the world with around 21% of its electricity coming from this source. Hydroelectric power accounts for around 17%, nuclear installations about 19%, coal powered about 13% and solar power 2.6%.
Currency and Banking
Spain is a full member of the European Single Currency. On January 1, 2002, the Euro came into circulation and within a few months the former currency, the peseta, ceased to be legal tender.
Spain is served by a large number of national and international commercial banks. The main stock exchanges are in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia.
Spain’s main imports include machinery, mineral fuels, transportation equipment, food products, metals and metal products and textiles. Her exports include motor vehicles, machinery, basic metals, vegetable products, chemicals, mineral products and textiles. France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and the United States are the chief export markets whilst France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the United States, and Japan provide most of the imports. A balance of trade deficit is the norm.
Spain is the world’s fourth most visited country after China, the USA and France. Revenue from the approximately 60 million tourists who visited Spain yearly helps make up for Spain’s considerable trade deficit.