14 February 2021
Sociedad Estatal de Correos y Telégrafos, S.A., trading as Correos, is a state-owned company responsible for providing postal service in Spain and, due to bilateral agreements, it has responsibility for mail services in Andorra alongside the French company La Poste.
The origins of Correos dates back to 1716. The change of dynasty in Spain ended the tradition of giving to some relevant families the duty to take care of the postal services and, on July 8, 1716, King Philip V appointed Juan Tomás de Goyeneche as Chief Superintendent and General Administrator of the Postal Offices, making the postal service responsibility of the State.
Both Castile and Aragon had royal posts during the middle ages, and various monasteries and guilds had posts for their members, but Spain’s postal system really developed from the contract that Philip I of Castile let to Thurn und Taxis in 1500. That contract gave Thurn und Taxis a monopoly over postal services in the kingdom, thus incommoding the existing entrenched, albeit piecemeal, systems. New route were set up and both naval and merchants ships were required to carry the mail. The system became comprehensive. By 1849 there were about 450 post offices in Spain.
In May 1514, Joanna of Castile appointed the first postmaster for the Indies (Spanish holdings in the New World). But it was not until 8 August 1764, when a royal decree established the Correo Maritimo de Espana y sus Indias Occidentales (Maritime Mail of Spain and the Spanish West Indies), with its headquarters in Madrid and offices in major Spanish cites as well as in Havana, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo, that the system spread throughout the Spanish Empire.
In 1843, the Spanish provisional government under General Narváez began to study the British experiment of prepaid postage labels. Finding the British printers Perkins, Bacon and Petch too pricey, they decided to establish their own printer, and on 24 October 1849 Queen Isabella II decreed that Spain would use postage stamps effective 1 January 1850. In December postage rates and regulations were promulgated and the first stamps of Spain were issued on 1 January 1850. There were five stamps in the set with denominations from six cuartos to ten reales in different colors with all of them depicting Queen Isabella II. They were printed lithographically and issued imperforate. Both thin and thick papers were used, but neither had any watermark.
The 1850 stamps were replaced on 1 January 1851 with a new set of six stamps which added the two reales denomination in red, and changed the five reales from red to rose in color. These 1851 stamps had a new portrait of Queen Isabella II, were typographed on thin paper, again without watermark, and issued imperforate.
A royal decree of 12 September 1861 established the Fábrica del Sello as the exclusive printer of Spanish stamps. In 1893 the Fábrica del Sello merged with the Casa de la Moneda to form the La Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre (FNMT) which has printed the stamps of Spain and her dependencies ever since, except during the Third Carlist War and the Spanish Civil War when concurrent issues were authorized by competing sides. Beginning in the 1950s the printer’s initials, “F.N.M.T.”, began to appear at the bottom of some stamps. Since 1977, the year of issue has appeared on Spanish stamps.
On 30 September 1868, following the Glorious Revolution which removed Queen Isabella II from the throne, a Provisional Government was formed in Spain pending the election and inauguration of a new king. Isabella II stamps were separately overprinted for use in Madrid, Andalusia, Valladolid, Asturias, Salamanca, and Teruel. These were followed by stamps marking the regency of Marshal Francisco Serrano, 1st Duke of la Torre. They depicted a stylized “España”, known as La Matrona, where a woman’s head represented the motherland.
In 1872 royal heads briefly reappeared on Spanish stamps with King Amadeo, but were followed by the issues of the First Republic with a seated La Matrona.
Coinciding with the reforms of the mid-nineteenth century liberal governments launched the telegraph service. Following the French example, Spain had developed a line drawing of optical telegraphy between 1844 and 1855, for the exclusive use of the State. From that date, was developing the electrotelegráfica network that joined in 1863 and all provincial capitals with Madrid. At the end of the century the number of telegraph offices open to the public amounted to fifteen hundred. This new system revolutionized the world of communications, reducing the time the message took to arrive to a few minutes.
Progress throughout the nineteenth century was consolidated during the 20th century with new technologies, new transportation, new services and a strong vocation of public utility caused the widespread use of email. The advent of the automobile and the airplane subsequently changed structures and accelerated postal delivery of correspondence and in 1899 the first post-road driving in the province of Navarra opened, and seven years later the central government in Madrid had already vehicle 16 for transporting the mail. In 1919 was created by decree in Spain the airmail service, which a year later created the first Spanish Airmail lines joining Barcelona Alicante and Málaga, Seville Larache, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca Malaga Melilla. However, the railway remained the principal means of carrying letters and packages throughout the peninsula until 1993 when the train service gave way to transport by road of the model.
In parallel, Correos has been modernized through an ongoing process to provide new services throughout the century to citizens, such as express mail (1905), the Postal Savings Bank, on delivery reimbursement and Parcel Post (1916), the Postal Express (1981).
The company is 100% state owned, through the State Society for Industrial Participations (SEPI). With more than 53,000 employees and 5.4 billion pieces of mail sent each year, Correos is one of the largest postal services in the world. Based in Madrid, it has over 10,000 postal centres all over Spain.
The Correos Group is currently integrated by Correos and its subsidiaries: Correos Express, the urgent postal service of the Group; Correos Nexea, a company that offers communication and document management services to other companies, and Correos Telecom, which manages the Group’s telecommunication infrastructure.
Additional Information: Correos Blog
Kingdom of Spain
Reino de España
The Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España) is a country in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagos: the Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African exclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country’s mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean respectively.
With an area of 505,990 square kilometers (195,360 square miles), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second-largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth-largest country by area on the European continent. With a population exceeding 47.3 million, Spain is the sixth-most populous country in Europe, and the fourth-most populous country in the European Union. Spain’s capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza, Málaga, and Bilbao.
Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. Various cultures developed alongside Phoenician, Greek, Celtic and Carthaginian migration and settlement. The Romans conquered the region around 200 BC, naming it Hispania, after the earlier Phoenician name, Sp(a)n or Spania. Spain remained under Roman rule until the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the fourth century, which ushered in Germanic tribal confederations from Central Europe. The Visigoths emerged as the dominant faction by the fifth century, with their kingdom spanning much of the peninsula.
In the early eighth century, the Visigothic Kingdom was conquered by the Umayyad Caliphate, ushering over 700 years of Muslim rule. Islamic Spain became a major economic and intellectual center, with the city of Cordoba being among the largest and richest in Europe. Several Christian kingdoms emerged in the northern periphery of Iberia, chief among them León, Castile, Aragon, Portugal and Navarre. Over the next seven centuries, an intermittent southward expansion of these kingdoms — metahistorically framed as a reconquest, or Reconquista — culminated with the Christian seizure of the last Muslim polity, the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, in 1492. That same year, Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World on behalf of the Catholic Monarchs, whose dynastic union of Castile and Aragon is sometimes considered the emergence Spain as a unified country. From the 16th until the early 19th century, Spain ruled one of the largest empires in history, which was among the first global empires; its immense cultural and linguistic legacy includes over 570 million Hispanophones, making Spanish the world’s second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese. Spain hosts the world’s third-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Spain is a secular parliamentary democracy and a parliamentary monarchy, with King Felipe VI as head of state. It is a highly developed country and a high income country, with the world’s fourteenth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the sixteenth-largest by PPP. Spain is a member of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the Eurozone, the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), the Union for the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Schengen Area, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and many other international organizations. While not an official member, Spain has a “Permanent Invitation” to the G20 summits, participating in every summit, which makes it a de facto member of the group.
The flag of Spain (Bandera de España), as it is defined in the Spanish Constitution of 1978, consists of three horizontal stripes: red, yellow and red; the yellow stripe being twice the size of each red stripe. Traditionally, the middle stripe was defined by the more archaic term of gualda, and hence the popular name la Rojigualda (red-weld).
The origin of the current flag of Spain is the naval ensign of 1785, Pabellón de la Marina de Guerra under Charles III of Spain. It was chosen by Charles III himself among 12 different flags designed by Antonio Valdés y Bazán (all proposed flags were presented in a drawing which is in the Naval Museum of Madrid). The flag remained marine-focused for much of the next 50 years, flying over coastal fortresses, marine barracks and other naval property. During the Peninsular War the flag could also be found on marine regiments fighting inland. Not until 1820 was the first Spanish land unit (The La Princesa Regiment) provided with one and it was not until 1843 that Queen Isabella II of Spain made the flag official.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the color scheme of the flag remained intact, with the exception of the Second Republic period (1931–1939); the only changes centered on the coat of arms.
The coat of arms of Spain represents Spain and the Spanish nation, including its national sovereignty and the country’s form of government, a constitutional monarchy. It appears on the flag of Spain and it is used by the Government of Spain, the Cortes Generales, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and other state institutions. Its design consists of the arms of the medieval kingdoms that would unite to form Spain in the 15th century, the Royal Crown, the arms of the House of Bourbon, the Pillars of Hercules and the Spanish national motto: Plus Ultra. The Monarch, the heir to the throne and some institutions like the Senate, the Council of State and the General Council of the Judiciary have their own variants of the coat of arms.
The blazon of the Spanish coat of arms is composed as follows:
Quarterly, first quarter Gules a triple-towered castle Or masoned Sable and ajoure Azure (for Castile); second quarter Argent a lion rampant Purpure crowned Or, langued and armed Gules (for León); third quarter Or, four pallets Gules (for the former Crown of Aragon), fourth quarter Gules a cross, saltire and orle of chains linked together Or, a centre point Vert (for Navarre); enté en point Argent a pomegranate proper seeded Gules, supported, sculpted and leafed in two leaves Vert (for Granada); overall an escutcheon Azure bordure Gules, three fleurs-de-lys Or (for the regnant House of Bourbon-Anjou); for a Crest, a circlet Or, jewelled with eight breeches of bear or oyster plant leaves, five shown, with pearls on points Or inserted and above which rise arches decorated with pearls and surmounted by a monde Azure with its equator, its upper half-meridian and a latin cross Or, the crown capped Gules (the Spanish royal crown); for Supporters, two columns Argent with capital and base Or, standing on five waves Azure and Argent, surmounted dexter by an imperial crown and sinister the Spanish royal crown, the columns surrounded by a ribbon Gules charged with the Motto ‘Plus Ultra’ written Or (the Pillars of Hercules).
The contemporary Spanish coat of arms, featured in the national flag of Spain, was approved by law in 1981, in replacement of the interim coat of arms that replaced the official arms of Spain under Franco (1939–75).