Spain is a country that functions a lot like Federation, without actually being a federation. When the country is a federation, what that means is that it is a union of partially self-governing states under central government. This sounds like Spain, which along the countrywide government, has many autonomous communities that are self-governing. These include not only the communities in the iberian peninsula but also the insular territories such as one community for the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, and another for the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. The cities of Ceuta and Melilla on Morocco’s side of the straight in north africa have special status as autonomous cities. While gibraltar on Spain side is not a part of Spain and instead and overseas territory of the UK. The autonomous communities were established during Spain’s transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco. The framers of the new spanish constitution in 1978 wanted to maintain a unified, indivisible, Spanish state. So they were careful to deliberately not make Spain a federation, but at the same time needed to keep the Galicians, Catalans, and Basques happy, who wanted more autonomy after being suppressed by highly centralized Franco Regime. Those communities can sometimes have powers that you even exceed those of states in Federation’s. Some have recognized distinct nationalities, have their own official languages, and some even collect taxes independent of the spanish government. So in practice Spain behaves like a federation, but in theory the Constitution only guaranteed a process through which regions could become self-governing, but did not itself established or list the powers of these entities. Instead the regions would later gain their rights through a statute of autonomy, which is similar to the process of awarding devolved powers in non-federations called unitary states. This is an important distinction because in general the Constitutions of Federations clearly outline the division of powers between the federal government and the members. In unitary states the central government can change the powers of its sub-national divisions, while in Federation the federal government must respect the members rights and often constitutional reforms require consent from the members. But at the same time the members must respect the powers of the federal state and cannot unilaterally secede. This distinguishes Federation’s from Confederations which are union of sovereign states which retain the right to secede at any time. For example, Spain is a member of the European Union with is like a confederation, since member states can leave by invoking article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon which established the EU. Spain’s complicated internal structure is the result of its history. After the fall of the Roman Empire the local varieties of Latin used by the common people known as vulgar latin slowly diverged into the various Romance languages. For centuries the north of Iberia was split between many Christian kingdoms while the south was under Muslim rule. In each of the Christian kingdoms, vulgar latin diverged into different languages, such as Galician which is related to portuguese, Leonese, Aragonese, and Castilian, which are related to each other, and Catalan which is distantly related to French, but is more closely related to the Occitan language that exists in southern France before being mostly replaced by french. The basque language in the Pyrenees Mountains, is not a Romance language. It’s not even in the indo-european language family of most modern European languages, and so it’s likely descended from a language that existed in those mountains from before indo-european languages spread into Europe. The castilian language became dominant following its spread during the Reconquista, and became language of a unified Spanish kingdom and is commonly known as Spanish in other languages as well as among some Spanish speakers. However, Galician, Basque and Catalan identities remain strong so they were allowed to quickly established autonomous communities by the method outlined in the Constitution when Spain became a democracy. The rest of Spain gradually created their own autonomous communities and now the cover all of Spain’s territory. The autonomous communities are composed of one or more provinces of spain, which are themselves composed of municipalities. This means most of Spain has four levels of government: municipal, provincial, the regional governments of the communities, and the national government. The autonomous cities in North Africa take on the powers of a municipality, province and a community. Some communities are large and cover many provinces, but some like Madrid, established specifically to make administering the capital easier, contain just one. In general all the communities have control over their finances and are in charge of education, health, and social services. But other powers are unequally distributed among the communities. Some communities have their own Civil Code, which means they have their own method of dealing with non-criminal legal decisions, and these communities have co-official languages along with Spanish: Galicia has Galician and basque is a co-official language in the Basque Country along with the Basque speaking areas of neighboring Navarre. Valencia has a variety of catalan called Valencian, and Catalan itself is co-official in the Balearic islands and Catalonia. Additionally Catalonia recognizes occitan as co-official as it is spoken by some in border regions. As well, Aragonese and Asturian are considered protected languages in their namesake regions, and both Asturian and Galician are protected in Castile and Leon. Catalonia, Navarre, and the Basque Country have their own police forces, while Navarre and the Basque Country are communities of chartered regime, which means they collect the taxes within their territory and then send a portion to the national government to cover its responsibilities. All the other communities are part of the common regime where the situation is reversed. Some communities notably catalonia want more powers devolved, and there are some desire in Spain to become fully federalized. But currently Spain is still technically a unitary state. If you enjoyed this video you might like this one about Russia or this one about Spain’s tiny neighbor Andorra which speaks Catalan and has two princes: one is a bishop in Catalonia, and the other is the President of France.