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Also known as the Kingdom of Spain
Known for its history, art, bullfighting, flamenco, beaches and so many hours of sunshine a year, however, not only this, but much more. This land is and has been for millennia one of the cultural centres of Europe. So many of its cities, and even the most lost enclaves, are home to monuments of exceptional historical and artistic value, not to mention the extraordinary natural landscapes that this ancient peninsula boasts.
A transcontinental country, member of the European Union, constituted as a social and democratic state governed by the rule of law and whose form of government is a parliamentary monarchy. Its territory, with its capital in Madrid, is organised into seventeen autonomous communities, made up of fifty provinces, and two autonomous cities.
It is located both in southern Western Europe and North Africa.
Origin of the word Spain
The name derives from Hispania, the name by which the Romans geographically designated the whole of the Iberian peninsula, an alternative term to the name Iberia, preferred by Greek authors to refer to the same area. However, the fact that the term Hispania does not have Latin roots has led to the formulation of several theories about its origin, some of them controversial.
Spain in every region, every town within a region, and sometimes every village, presents a reality as different as it is fascinating. This is due to the rich history of this country and the many ethnic groups that populated it, bringing with them very diverse customs, traditions and artistic manifestations that sometimes merged into something completely new and autochthonous and sometimes remained unchanged for centuries.
- Area: 504,750 km2
- Population: 46,157,822 (INE 2008)
- Languages: Official language: Spanish (also called Castilian) Catalan, Galician, Valencian and Basque (also official languages of the autonomous communities of Catalonia, Galicia, Valencia and the Basque Country, respectively)
- Religion: 99% Catholic
- Capital: Madrid
- Form of Government: Constitutional Monarchy
- Composed of Head of State and President of the Government.
Spain is currently what is called a “State of Autonomies” or “Autonomous State”, a formally unitary country that functions as a sui generis decentralised federation of autonomous communities, each with different levels of self-government.
It is currently the thirteenth economic power in the world, but has become the eighth, according to nominal GDP. The Spanish economy is one of the most open economies in the Eurozone and one of the most internationalised economies in terms of financial products, services, etc. Spain has traditionally been an agricultural country and is still one of the largest producers in Western Europe, but since the mid-1950s industrial growth has been rapid and soon outweighed agriculture in the country’s economy.
Spain produces, among others, textiles, iron and steel, motor vehicles, chemical products, clothing, footwear, ships, oil refining and cement, with the industrial sectors of food, beverages and transport material standing out for their value, among which the automobile sector and the aeronautical industrial sector should be highlighted.
Spain is a tourist country, attracting millions of foreign travellers every year for its beaches, the country’s rich artistic heritage and variety of gastronomic offerings, as well as being one of the richest nations in the world in terms of cultural heritage.
Festivals and traditions
The best known of the Spanish folkloric traditions worldwide are certainly Los Toros and Flamenco.
- Bullfights are actually to be found all over the country, the most popular and internationally known spectacles being the running of the bulls during the Sanfermines in Pamplona. But bullfighting is a plot that will appear in Spain in any Fiesta.
- Flamenco, on the other hand, is the folkloric tradition of the south, in particular Andalusia. And it is in this land that you will get to know the roots of flamenco singing, guitar playing and dancing.
Another event that attracts millions of people to a small town located in the province of Huelva, is El Rocío, a pilgrimage to the village of the same name where the Virgen del Rocío is venerated.
And of course, another exceptional festival “Las Fallas de San José” in Valencia, held in March, when the whole city becomes a huge stage of celebration and art, with immense amounts of the most extraordinary pyrotechnics.