Characteristic of the last decade has been a decisive economic development of the country, which has been able to heal the deep wounds opened in it by the civil war and has also tried to overcome the conditions of isolation in which it had found itself during the Second World War and in the years immediately following. A process, albeit slow and tiring, has therefore emerged for the transformation of many aspects of national economic life.
Population. – According to Trackaah, the population, of 25,878,000 residents in 1948, rose to 27,976,755 at the 1950 census and to 30,260,953 as of January 10, 1959, with a density of 60.1 residents / km 2. Since 1950 it has therefore grown at a rate of 200,000 units per year, which had never been recorded in the past; the smaller extent of emigration also contributes to its increase, which in some of the last few years has just exceeded 10,000 units (the maximum peaks recorded in 1951 and 1955 were just over 60,000 units). The increase in population appears to be distributed differently between the various regions, having recorded the highest percentages of increase (in some cases equal to 20% in the last fifteen years) in the provinces of New Castile and Catalonia and then in the Basque, Navarre. and Asturias. But above all it appears to be concentrated in large cities, at the expense of rural areas; in fact, the development of the major urban centers is very remarkable, starting with Madrid, which has almost doubled its population in less than twenty years (from 1,088,000 residents in 1940 to 1,975,666 in January 1959), while Barcelona has reached 1,503,312. So if in the last fifty years the total population has increased by 50%, the percentage of the rural population has dropped from 68 to 48 and the urban one has instead risen from 32 to 52.
Communications. – Considerable progress has also been made in the transport and communications sector; nevertheless and despite the fact that Spain is one of the few countries in Europe where railways are still being built, the railway network is still insufficient and works planned for several decades await completion. In 1957 the lines in operation extended for 18,241 km, of which 2,521 were electrified (many other sections are in the process of being electrified); the material park, considerably improved, consisted of 3,500 locomotives and almost 80,000 wagons. But the most significant progress concerns the improvement of services, and the establishment of rapid communications on the main lines (TAF and Talgo): traffic has therefore increased (by 46% from 1949 to 1956), but the average speed has also increased (by 16%) and, above all, delays have decreased (by 52%). The increase in road transport is much greater; in 1957 the national network consisted of over 120,000 km, of which 110,000 were heavy traffic (and of them 75,000 were asphalted); the Cadiz-Madrid section has undergone radical transformation works and other improvement works are underway (now almost completed) on the Madrid-Irun and the Madrid-Zaragoza. Overall, half a million cars and trucks circulate on Spanish roads today (225,000 of which were imported from abroad after 1950). the Cadiz-Madrid section has undergone radical transformation works and other improvement works are underway (now almost completed) on the Madrid-Irun and the Madrid-Zaragoza. Overall, half a million cars and trucks circulate on Spanish roads today (225,000 of which were imported from abroad after 1950). the Cadiz-Madrid section has undergone radical transformation works and other improvement works are underway (now almost completed) on the Madrid-Irun and the Madrid-Zaragoza. Overall, half a million cars and trucks circulate on Spanish roads today (225,000 of which were imported from abroad after 1950).
Nevertheless, maritime navigation still retains considerable importance, including the effects of internal traffic, partly still carried out by cabotage (with a movement of over 25,000,000 t, compared to 15,000,000 t of international traffic). The merchant fleet has exceeded – in number of units – the numbers of the years prior to the civil war and is not far from it in terms of tonnage (1394 vessels for 1.710.818 t in 1959); but above all it has modernized and new units (especially oil tankers, refrigeration vessels and ocean liners) are under construction. Finally, air communications have assumed a special importance, due to the speed and convenience of connecting services between the various regions of Spain: the annual number of passengers is now just under 1,000,000.
Tourism. – Finally, we must not forget the contribution that the recent – and ever increasing – development of tourist activities has given to the Spanish economy, in turn favored by the improvement of communications and reception facilities. Tourism is becoming an important active voice in the Spanish trade balance, in which, however, the prevalence of imports (manufactured goods of all kinds) over exports (agricultural products, minerals, fish products) is still very clear.
Finances. – Spain’s national income has steadily increased in recent years, rising from 138.4 billion pesetas in 1950 to 438.5 billion in 1958; over the same period, the wholesale price index doubled, and the cost of living index increased by 52%.
The state budget is drawn up for periods comprising two calendar years; it shows a fairly sizeable surplus for the years 1952 to 1954, a slight deficit in 1955 and 1956, and has tended to break even in recent years. For the two-year period 1958-59, the main revenues consisted of 18 billion from direct taxes, 23 billion from indirect taxes, 4 billion from monopolies; expenses include 6 billion in payments relating to public debt, 2 billion for pensions, 10 billion for military ministries, 4 billion for education, 8 billion for public works. At 31 December 1959, the internal public debt amounted to 199.4 billion pesetas and the external debt to 15.6 billion.
In more recent years, Spain’s economic and financial situation has significantly improved, as can be seen from the data on the balance of payments (which became active in 1959 and 1960) and those on reserves and domestic monetary supply. The gold reserves of the Bank of Spain amounted to 590 million US dollars at the end of 1960, and rose in September 1961 to nearly 800, of which 277 of gold and the remainder in hard currency. At the end of 1960, the size of the means of payment was valued at 205 billion pesetas (76 of which of banknotes and coins) and the savings collected by the banks at 194 billion; on the same date, the amount of credits granted to the state was 228 billion pesetas, against 205 billion of credits granted to the private sector.
From April 1957 to mid-1959 the basic exchange rate, involving 30% of exports and 43% of imports, was set at 42 pesetas for one US dollar; for other imports and exports there were multiple exchange rates ranging from 31 to 126 pesetas for one US dollar From July 1959, the exchange system was unified and the value of the currency was set at 60 pesetas for one US dollar.