| Spain's roots date back thousands of years when the Phoenicians traded at the country's Mediterranean ports and the population included Celts, Basques, and Iberians. The Romans arrived in 200 B.C. and their rule lasted for nearly 4 centuries, until the Visigoths invaded. Christianity conquered the Visigoths (they converted) but the Berber-Arab North African Moors captured the peninsula in 711 and led to an unprecedented period of culture and civilization. Slowly but surely, however, the Christians reconquered the region and after over 700 years, the last Moorish city, Granada, fell in 1492. The reign of Isabella and Ferdinand brought exploration of the New World to the fore (they supported the voyages of Christopher Columbus) but included the horrors of the Inquisition (begun in 1478) which cost untold thousands of Jews their lives. All the Jews were expelled in 1492. A decade later, so were the Muslims. By 1700, Spain had reached the apogee of its power as a conqueror: South America, Central America, Mexico, western North America, the Philippines and other areas of Africa and Asia were in Spanish hands. By the 19th century, Spain had lost nearly all its major possessions. It weakness was underscored by its humiliating defeat at the hands of the United States in the Spanish-American War in 1898. Civil war in the late 1930s cost Spain dearly: it was help in the grip of dictatorship for nearly the next 40 years under General Francisco Franco. Only after his death in 1975, did the country return to its monarchist roots with the ascension to the Spanish throne of Juan Carlos. Unexpectedly, King Juan Carlos has succeeded in reforming Spain and bringing it fully into the European family of nations.