When you think of Spain, images of bull fighting, Flamenco dancing
and fiestas undoubtedly spring to mind. But what else is there to Spain? These
interesting Spanish facts will get you prepared if you're planning a move
to Spain, or if you are already here, test yourself to see how well you
know the Spanish!
1.The Kingdom of Spain,
as it’s officially known, is the second largest country in the EU – with an area
of 505,955 square kilometres, Spain covers about 85 percent of the Iberian
Peninsula, which it shares with Portugal.
2.Spain was once a
number of separate kingdoms with different languages – which were
unified in the 15th century after the marriage of two Catholic monarchs
Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. These kingdoms became the basis
for many of the different regions in modern Spain. Today, there are 17
autonomous regions (15 on the mainland and the Balearic and Canary Islands),
and two autonomous enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa.
3.Spanish is the second
most widely spoken language in the world – with more than 406 million
people worldwide speaking Spanish, it comes only after Chinese. Back home,
while Castilian Spanish is the official language, in Catalonia, the Basque
country and Galicia, the regional languages of Catalan, Basque and Galician all
have official status.
4.Nudity is legal in
Spain – some say all the better to enjoy the country’s mainly
Mediterranean-temperate climate with its hot dry summers, mild, rainy winters
and more than 3,000 hours of sunlight a year. Spain also had the youngest
marrying age in Europe before it changed the legal age from 14 to 16 years in
5.The population of
just under 47 million is the sixth largest in Europe – with more
than three-quarters living in urban areas. Around six million people live in
Madrid and five million in Barcelona – both cities have more inhabitants than
the entire populations of Ireland or New Zealand.
6.Spain has the fourth
highest life expectancy of all the OECD countries – with a life
expectancy of 82 years, it comes after Switzerland, Italy and Japan, and ranks
15th in the world. Spanish women live longer than men: 85 compared to 79
7.The United Nations
projects that Spain will be the world’s oldest country by 2050 – with 40
percent of the population aged over 60.
8.Only 13.6 percent of
Spain's population actually goes to church on Sundays – yet some 70
percent of the population are Roman Catholic, according to a 2012 study by the
Centre for Sociological Studies in Spain.
9.Spain is a
constitutional monarchy – former king Juan Carlos I came to the throne after
the right-wing dictator General Franco died in 1975. Once one of Europe’s most
beloved monarchs, Juan Carlos fell from favour in recent years and abdicated in
favour of his son, King Felipe VI, in 2014.
10.There is only one tax
inspector for every 1,928 taxpayers – compared to one per 729 people
in France. So while Spain’s economy ranked 13th in the world, with a GDP of
1,356 billion USD (EUR 989 billion) in the 2013 Centre for Economic Research
(Cebr) World Economic League Table, the Spanish Inland Revenue says a quarter
of the GDP comes from the ‘black’ economy.
11.In 2015, Spain has
the second highest unemployment rate in Europe – and third
highest among the OECD countries at 24.2 percent, only slightly behind Greece
and South Africa, and high above the OECD average of 7.3 percent (2014). Youth
unemployment is even worse: around half of 15 to 24 year-olds who could be
working are unemployed.
set up 40 percent of all new businesses in Spain – since the
beginning of the recession in 2008 to 2013, totalling some 800,000 businesses.
13.Spain has Europe’s
biggest wealth gap – according to findings in two reports by Credit Suisse and
the Catholic charity Caritas. In 2012, while more than 6 percent of the
population lived on EUR 307/month or less (double that of 2008), the number of
dollar millionaires rose to 402,000, an increase of 13 percent on the previous
childcare is limited – about a quarter of all grandparents take cake of their
grandchildren on a daily basis.
15.Only half of all
adults aged 15–64 have the equivalent of a high school degree – the OECD
average is almost three-quarters. Younger people are staying on at school
longer than the previous generation though, as 65 percent of 25–34-year-olds
gain the qualification.
16.The Spanish love to
chill out – according to the 2013 OECD report, on average they devote
16 out of every 24 hours to leisure, eating, drinking and sleeping.
17.The first 'novel' is
attributed to a Spaniard – Spain Cervantes’ Don Quixote, written in
1605, is considered to be the first modern novel.
18.Spain has 44 UNESCO World Heritage Sites– pre-historic rock art, historic
cities and buildings, bridges, national parks and landscapes. Only Italy with
49 sites and China with 45 have more.
19.The next time you use
a stapler, thank the Spanish – the first known stapler was
made in the 18th century in the Basque country for the French King Louis XV –
and every single staple was engraved with the royal emblem. Spain has also
given the world the mop and bucket (1956), the forerunner of the modern
cigarette (17th century) and the astronaut’s space suit (1935).
20.Spain produces over
half of the world’s olive oil – more than some 1.5 million
tons, and almost all of it comes from the southern region of Andalusia. It’s
also the third largest wine producer after France and Italy, making 3.3 million
tonnes (metric tons) in 2013.
21.Spain was the first
country in the world where wind power was the greatest source of electricity. Red
Eléctrica de España (REE), operators of Spain’s electricity system,
revealed that in 2013 wind turbines generated over just under 54,000 gigawatt
hours of electricity – a fifth of the nation’s usage.
22.Spain has produced
some of the world’s greatest artists – Valázquez in the 17th century,
Goya in the 18th and 19th to Picasso, Miró and Dali in the 20th.
23.There's no tooth
fairy in Spain – when Spanish children lose a tooth, they put it under
their pillow and a small mouse called Ratoncito Pérez comes to collect it and
leaves a small gift or money in its place.
24.Until 2013, the age
of consent to have sex or marry in Spain was amongst the lowest in the world – 13 for sex
and 14 for marriage. Spaniards now have to wait until they are 16 to do both,
in line with other European countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, Norway
25.The Spanish are a
tolerant society – the European Social Survey in 2010 found that 80 per cent
of respondents agreed that ‘gay men and lesbians should be able to free to live
their own lives’, compared to less than 40 percent of Croatians, Lithuanians
and Russians. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005.
26.You can enjoy a meal
in the oldest restaurant in the world in Spain's capital, Madrid – although
other restaurants claim they are older, the title has been awarded by Guinness
World Records to Restaurante Botín, which has been open since 1725. The
signture dish? Cochinillos asado (roast suckling pig).
27.Spain was the world’s
third most popular tourist destination in 2013 – after France
and the US, attracting a record 60.6 million visitors.
28.Spain is the country
of fiestas, with hundreds of festivals taking place throughout the
year – the oldest, Romería de Nuesra Señora de le Cabeza,
has been held for over 800 years and the Fiesta de los Patios was
even awarded UNESCO World heritage status in 2013. Be chased by bulls during
the festival of San Fermin, throw overripe tomatoes during La
Tomatina or watch while huge ninots (statues) are
burnt during Las Fallas.
lottery has the world's biggest payout – Spain’s national lottery, El
Gordo (‘the fat one’), held just before Christmas has a payout of some
EUR 2.24 billion.
30.The Spanish national
football team topped the FIFA World rankings for five consecutive years – from 2008
until 2013. La Roja (The Red One), La Furia Roja (The
Red Fury), La Furia Española (The Spanish Fury), or La
Furia (The Fury), as the national team is known, also holds the world
record (28) for winning the most consecutive competitive matches.