Photo: Junta Informa/Wikimedia
Botín, the chair of Spanish banking giant Santander, is the 18th most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes. Botín took over Santander the day after the death of her father, Emilio Botín, in September 2014 becoming the first woman to lead a major European bank.
In December she was appointed an honorary Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE), by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth for services to the British financial services sector.
Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP
Ada Colau has risen from an anti-austerity activist to mayor of Barcelona in a shock win in municipal elections last May. She is the first female mayor of Barcelona and has quickly become the most high profile of Spain’s new 'indignada' politicians. Opponents have branded her a “dangerous radical” but the people have spoken: more than 176,000 people voted for her.
Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP
In 2010, Spanish mountain climber Edurne Pasaban became the first woman to climb all 14 mountains above 8000m in the world.
Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría
Saenz de Santamaria became one of the most powerful female Spanish politicians of all time when she was made Deputy Prime Minister in 2011, the number two to Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. She was handed powerful responsibilities, including overseeing Spain’s intelligence agency, an area previously under the remit of the Ministry of Defence. And she is tipped to be the next leader of the conservative Popular Party.All that power does not stop her from letting her hair down and having a dance now and again, however. (See video, above).
Photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP
Coixet, 55, is one of the most famous contemporary Spanish film directors and has enjoyed an international career, making both Spanish and English-language films. Her most famous films include My Life Without Me (2003), set in Canada, which won a Goya award for best screenplay. She has directed some of the world’s greatest actors, including Ben Kingsley, Juliette Binoche, Dennis Hopper and Penelope Cruz.
Photo: Kazuhiro Hogi/AFP
Belmonte is one of the most successful modern Spanish sportswomen, currently holding five world records including for 200m butterfly. She won two silver medals at the London 2012 Olympics.
Sandra Ortega Mera
The notoriously publicity shy Sandra Ortega Mera is a Spanish billionaire and heir to her father’s company Inditex, the biggest fashion group in the world, which includes brands such as Zara and Massimo Dutti. She is currently the second richest person in Spain (after her father, who is the richest).
Photo: Royal Palace/Twitter
Letizia Ortiz, a divorced television journalist, married Spain’s then Prince Felipe in 2004, and was catapulted from a mere commoner to one of the most famous women in the world, gracing the fashion pages of gossip magazines across the globe. Her fame rose even further when, in 2014, she became Queen of Spain, when her husband ascended to the throne after the abdication of his father, Juan Carlos.
Tamara Rojo (centre). Photo: Carl Court/AFP
Spanish ballet dancer Tamara Rojo is currently artistic director of the English National Ballet having enjoyed an international career as one of the most celebrated ballet dancers in the world. She was previously principal dancer of The Royal Ballet and continues to perform in guest roles.
Perhaps the most recognizable Spaniard in the world, Penelope Cruz is the most internationally successful Spanish actress of all time. She was the first Spaniard ever to be nominated for a best acting Oscar for her role in Volver (2006) and became the first Spanish actress to win an Oscar for Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) in which she teamed up with fellow Spanish Oscar winning actor (and now her husband) Javier Bardem.
Margarita Salas is one of the most famous Spanish scientists in the world, renowned for her work in the fields of Biochemistry and Molecular genetics. She is a member of the Royal Spanish Society as well as American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has even been elevated to Spanish nobility for her contribution to science – her official title as of 2008 is Margarita Salas, 1st Marquise of Canero.