The first third of the twentieth century, under the reign of Alfonso XIII, saw the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, after which came the abdication of the king and the proclamation of the Second Republic. Spain remained neutral through both World Wars, but between 1936 and 1939 was immersed in a terrible civil war that resulted in the long dictatorship of General Franco. The remarkable economic growth of the Sixties and Seventies failed to end the repression and the cultural isolation of the country.
In 1975, after Franco's death, King Juan Carlos I came to the throne and the Transition period began. Spain was to undergo an unprecedented transformation, and be reborn as a firm democracy and one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world. The country joined the European Community in 1992 and has since hosted three major international events: the Olympic Games in Barcelona, the Universal Exhibition of Seville and the V Centenary of the Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.