Spain is located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Spain also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast. Spain has always been important in Europe and was part of the Roman Empire, then in the middle ages it was under Germanic rule, followed by muslim rule. Spain became the strongest kingdom in Europe in the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries and built a global empire following Columbus’s arrival in America. Roman Catholicism is the main religion in the country.