I have just traveled back to Spain, a diverse country in the South of Europe where I lived for more than four years.
In a way this country has it all: beautiful beaches, good ski slopes, amazing cities and great food. Maybe that’s why I keep coming back… Unfortunately the country has been hit severely by the global financial crisis which still makes it hard to find a job, both for locals and expats. Nonetheless it’s an amazing country and definitely worth to be on your bucket list!
Here are some facts about Spain – some positive, some negative and some funny where others are disturbing… But they will help paint a picture of this diverse country!
1. Many believe the name Spain diverged from the word Ispania, which means the land of rabbits.
2. With just over 505,000 sq. km. Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe after France and the second most mountainous after Switzerland.
3. Spain has got over 8000 km of beaches.
4. Spain had one of the fastest growing populations in Europe in the early 1980s. In 2000, Spain had the lowest average birth rate of any country in the world, at just 1.19 children per woman. It is predicted that around 300,000 immigrants need to enter Spain each year to balance the declining number of young people.
5. One of the most famous festivals in Spain is the Running of Bulls. It occurs on St. Fermin’s Day in July in the northern town of Pamplona. Over 1 million people attend the festival.
6. La Tomatina, or “the throwing of tomatoes” is held ever year on the last Wednesday of August in the town of Buñol, outside of Valencia. Over 150,000 tomatoes are thrown.
7. Bullfighting has been a popular sport in Spain for thousands of years. Called corridas, bullfights are considered either a contest of art and skill or a cruel sport.
8. Spain has the highest number of bars out of all the countries in the EU.
9. The most popular type of music in Spain is Flamenco. Flamenco is thought to have been developed by the Moors who brought it to Spain from North Africa in the early A.D. 700s. It has been influenced by Andalusian, Islamic, Sephardic, and Gypsy cultures.
10. There is no tooth fairy in Spain but rather a tooth mouse called Ratoncito Perez.
11. Spaniards are famous for their contributions to art, with famous Spanish artists including Dali, Picasso, Gaudi, El Greco, and Goya.
12. The majority of the Spanish are roman catholic.
13. Spanish, or Castilian, is the official language. Various regional languages have co-official or recognized status in specific territories and a number of unofficial languages and dialects are spoken in certain localities.
14. More than 400 million people worldwide speak Spanish as a native language.
15. Spanish is an official language in 20 countries (and spoken in many other countries).
16. There are more native Spanish speakers than native English speakers in the world.
17. The Moors occupied Spain for 800 years; consequently, over 4,000 Arabic words and Arabic-derived phrases have been absorbed into the Spanish language.
18. Spain welcomed nearly 75 million foreign tourists in 2016, ten percent more than in 2015. This makes Spain the world’s third most popular destination.
19. Tipping is not common in Spain, especially for cheap dinners.
20. Around 40% of Spanish people between 17-24 smoke.
21. Same sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005.
22. Spain has the lowest age of consent for sexual activity in Europe at 13 years old.
23. Spain has a very low divorce rate and few children are born outside of marriage.
24. In 2010, the U.S. State Department reported that 200,000-400,000 women worked in prostitution in Spain. The report said that 90% were trafficked.
25. There are no laws against public nudity in Spain.
26. Driving in flip flops is illegal in Spain.
27. Spain is the only country in Europe that produces bananas.
28. Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the world.
29. Portugal and Spain provide most of the world’s cork.
30. Spain is home to a type of tailless monkey, the macaque, which is the only type of wild monkey that lives in Europe.
31. Soccer is the most important sport. It’s also pretty much like a religion.
32. Real Madrid is the most popular club in the world with over 228 million supporters.
33. In 1478, the Pope gave the Spanish King, Ferdinand V, power to initiate the Spanish Inquisition, during which people were tortured to prove they were true Christians. Thousands of converts fled Spain as the Inquisition spread fear across Europe. During the first 50 years of the Inquisition, 5,000 people were executed. The Inquisition was finally abolished in 1834.
34. Spain was not part of the first or second world war.
35. The country experienced a civil war (1936-1939) which killed over 500,000 people. The victorious General Francisco Franco ruled as a brutal dictator until his death in 1975. After his defeat, Spain began to transform itself into a modern, industrial, and democratic European nation.
36. Spain is one of the most decentralized democracies in Europe. Each of its 17 regions manages its own school, hospitals, and other public services.