While no one knows the exact date of the potato's arrival Europe, its entry point was probably Spain's Canary Islands, where S. tuberosum was cultivated at least as early as the mid-1500s (later records show that potatoes were served to patients in the Hospital de la Sangre in Seville in 1573).
While initially prized more for its flowers than as a food crop, the patata was a mainstay of Spanish agriculture through most of the 20th century, with annual production exceeding 5 million tonnes up to the 1990s. Today, however, as elsewhere in western Europe, potato production is on the wane in Spain - in 2007, the country produced 2.5 million tonnes of tubers, while the harvested area has fallen from 270 000 ha in 1990 to less than 90 000.
As a result, Spain is now a major potato importer - since 1990, annual imports of raw and processed potatoes, mainly from France, Germany, Italy and Morocco, have risen from 395 000 tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes. (Source: International Year of the Potato)