Spain was originally part of what was known as the Iberian Peninsula. It has been populated since prehistoric times. There has been evidence of human habitation in northern Spain for 800,000 years. In about 1100 BC the Phoenician civilization, who are from present-day Lebanon, set-up trading colonies along the Spanish coast. In 228 BC the Carthaginians gained occupancy of southern and eastern Iberia. Rome, however, already occupied these areas and raised the dispute over border control. This dispute lead to the Punic Wars. Rome was victorious and began the conquest of Spain. The Romans controlled nearly all of Iberia for about six centuries. This lead to the development of the Spanish language and culture. The fall of the Western Roman Empire in fifth century AD led to Visigoth rule. The Visigoths, who migrated form central Europe, lost control of Iberia when the Muslims of northern Africa crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in 711.
They ruled for over seven centuries before the Christian kingdoms gained power. They gradually kept increasing power until they finally drove the Moors out. In 1492, the last Moorish kingdom was conquered.
Also in 1492, King Fernando and Queen Isabel sent Christopher Columbus on his voyage of discovery. Columbus discovered the New World, which marked Spain's history forever. In 1588, after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the Spanish Empire was at the height of its power. However, it was slowly beginning its decline. In the 18th century, Spain came within French influence and eventually led to the Peninsular War. Napoleon's army was defeated in 1814. Later, in 1898 Spain went to war briefly with the United States. This resulted in the loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, thus ending the Spanish overseas empire. In 1931 Spain became its own republic.