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members of a nation (natsiia, nation in the historical sense) that is the basic population of Spain and its possessions, the Balearic and Canary islands. The number of Spaniards in Spain and on the islands is approximately 25 million (1970). Spaniards also live in Africa (c. 350,000, mainly in the Spanish colonies, Morocco, and Algeria), the Latin American countries (c. 500,000), France (c. 700,000), and West Germany (c. 150,000). Spaniards speak the Spanish language, and their religion is Catholicism.
The Iberian tribes, who created the Almería culture (third millennium B.C.) during the Bronze Age in the southeastern part of the peninsula, played a decisive role in the formation of the ancient population of Spain. Celts migrated from the north to the peninsula in the first half of the first millennium B.C. Colonists from Phoenicia (eighth century B.C.), Greece (late seventh to sixth century B.C.), and Carthage (from the sixth century B.C.) established settlements in the south. The Carthaginians were forced out by the Romans, who had a powerful influence on the local tribes from the second century B.C. to the fifth century A.D. In particular, the creation of the local Romance languages began on the basis of Vulgar Latin. In the fifth and sixth centuries the Suevi, Vandals, Alani, and Visigoths, who conquered the peninsula, also played an important role in the formation of the Spanish people, although they themselves were assimilated into the local Romanized population, adopting its language and culture. The Spaniards were also heavily influenced by the Arabs and Berbers (called Moors by the local population), who invaded Spain in 711–18. The Reconquest (eighth century to late 15th century), which culminated in the unification of Spanish territory into a single state, contributed to the shaping of a Spanish national self-awareness, although the inhabitants of some regions continued into the 20th century to refer to themselves as Castil-ians, Aragonese, Andalusians, and so on, and in many ways preserved their ethnic distinctiveness. The Spaniards formed a nation only in the late 19th century because of the historically established separateness of the individual regions and the slow development of capitalism in Spain. The Spaniards exerted much influence on the formation of numerous modern peoples in Latin America.