Spain, also known as the Kingdom of Spain, is a European country, whose form of government is the parliamentary monarchy. The head of the state is the king, currently Felipe VI, who controls the functioning of the institutions and assumes the representation of the country in international relations, as well as symbolizing the unity of the nation. The capital of Spain is in Madrid and its territory is divided into 17 autonomous communities, consisting of 50 provinces and 2 autonomous cities.
Spain is located in southern western Europe and North Africa. In Europe, it occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands; in Africa there are the cities of Ceuta and Melilla and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic. The country has an area of 500,000 km2, being the fourth largest country in the continent.
Spain has been a member of the European Union since 1986. In addition, it is part of international organizations such as the UN, NATO, OECD, the Ibero-American Organization of Nations and many more. The gross domestic product places the Spanish economy in 13th position worldwide. Spain is mainly a tourist power, because it is the second most visited country in the world, with more than 80 million tourists.
Spain has a very diverse climate throughout its territory; mediterranean character predominates in almost all its geography. The southern and Mediterranean coasts have mild temperatures, abundant rainfall almost all year except in summer. Inland, the climate is more extreme because it is the continental climate with low temperatures in winter, high in summer and irregular rainfall Western communities have an oceanic climate, characterized by the abundance of rainfall throughout the year especially in winter, and some cool temperatures. In the Canary Islands there is a subtropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year and little rainfall.
Sandy beaches surrounded by tall cliffs, often hidden in picturesque coves, are a typical part of the Spanish coast. The waves gently wash the edge of the warm and clear sea, shine with thousands of colors, from navy blue to turquoise, encourage long baths, relax and rest. In a sun lounger placed under an umbrella, under the surveillance of a lifeguard on one of the beaches of the city or surrounded by nature in an isolated bay, everyone will find a perfect place along the almost 5000 km of the Spanish coast, one of the longest in our continent.
The warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, generally calm, attract thousands of seamens and sailors. Numerous and densely dispersed ports with excellent services, picturesque bays and large and small islands facilitate the planning of a dream cruise. The multiple yacht clubs and marinas offer endless possibilities to enjoy windsurfing, sailing, diving or rowing. For lovers of diving, the sea offers numerous shipwrecks of the ancient ships, underwater caves and interesting flora and fauna. Of course, fishermen will also find many opportunities to spend time actively.
The relief of Spain is characterized by being quite high; with an average altitude of 650 meters above sea level it is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. In the peninsular Spain, the relief is articulated around a great Central Plateau (Meseta) that occupies most of the center of the country. Outside the plateau, there are the Guadalquivir and Ebro river plains. The main mountain systems are: Pyrenees, Iberian System, Cantabrian Mountains, Montes de León, Central System and Betic Cordilleras.
The population of Spain is almost 47,000,000 inhabitants. Around 10% of its population are foreign citizens, of which 40% are members of the European Union. The most densely populated areas are concentrated on the coast, the Guadalquivir valley and the metropolitan area of Madrid, while the rest of the interior is very weakly occupied. The kindness of the Spaniards encourages foreigners to settle here permanently.
The official language of the country is Spanish (Castellano), which is the second most spoken mother language in the world after Mandarin. In addition, other languages are spoken here that may be official in their regions such as Catalan, Basque or Galician. The climate, the environment, the culture, the tradition and the possibilities of enjoying a natural and historical heritage of great magnitude encourage every year thousands of foreigners to come to Spain to study the language.
The Spanish economy is one of the most open in the euro area and one of the economies with the most internationalization in its financial products and services. Traditionally, Spain has been an agricultural country and is still one of the largest producers in Western Europe, but since the mid-1950s industrial growth was rapid and soon reached a greater weight than agriculture in the country’s economy. Currently tourism is one of the pillars of the Spanish economy.
In Spain, the monetary unit is the euro for almost 20 years, which guarantees the country economic stability in the European market. The country has a powerful banking system, with a large number of commercial and savings banks, of which two Spanish banks are among the top forty in the world: Santander and BBVA.
Spain has 51 airports located in different regions, of which 33 are international, where more than 250 airlines operate; the most important is the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport. The Spanish rail system is mainly radial with a center in Madrid, but the city of Barcelona allows connecting by train Spain with the rest of the continent. The main Spanish cities are connected by the AVE high-speed train. The Spanish road network consists of about 370,000 km. This network includes toll roads, free highways, dual carriageways and conventional roads. Likewise, Spain enjoys many maritime communications with more than 53 international ports on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.
The wide variety of products and dishes, both traditional and novel, give flavor to a country that is supplemented with high quality wines. In Spain dominates Mediterranean diet: vegetables, fruits, exquisiteness, good cuisine, tradition, research and professionalism. It is much more than rice, which is famous throughout the country, has several dishes based on vegetables, delicious meats and seafood. This is demonstrated by the Michelin Stars that hang from many establishments of this country.
A tapa in Spain is essentially an appetizer that is served in most bars or restaurants accompanying the drink. Throughout the country it is very common to „salir de tapas” (go out to tast tapas) or „picar” (to peck something), which has already become a sign of Spanish identity. The word „tapa” comes from the old custom of covering the glasses with a piece of bread or ham to prevent against entrance of the flies. The variety of tapas is large and will depend to a large extent on the Spanish culinary region where the diner is. The tourist companies offer on their routes the tasting of a drink with „tapa” included, as something typical of the place.
Spain has more or less 1 million hectares of vineyards and multiple large or small wineries, where the wine is made. The native varieties of Spanish grape are abundant, those that stand out are Tempranillo, Monastrel, Grenache and Albarinio. Some of the best known wine regions are in La Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rías Baixas, Jerez or Priorato. The wine, along with olive oil and ham are traditional elements of the culture of this beautiful country.
Spaniards love to have fun and gladly celebrate several parties throughout the year. They can distinguish between 10 national holidays, 2 of the autonomous community and 2 municipal, which add up to 14 a year. The public festivities that stand out are those related to Holy Week and Carnival. Holy Week in Spain is celebrated with the exit to the street of processions organized by brotherhoods or fraternities. The brothers of the brotherhoods that participate in the procession usually make them dressed in tunics and conical caps lined with a cloth that serves as a mask. Some celebrations in specific enclaves have received recognition of International or National Tourist Interest, as well as the Moors and Christians, the Carthaginians and Romans, the Bonfires of San Juan, the Three Kings or the Sevillanas Fair.
Spain is an expert in showing its history, its art, its festivals, its heritage as a great value of its culture. Also as an open door to explore the history of a region marked by many cultures, from prehistory, with vestiges such as cave paintings, to the Iberian and Roman world, which give a good account of the sites, or the inescapable Arabic legacy of an impressive route of medieval castles, with more than a hundred fortresses, most of them declared of Cultural Interest of the international level. The offer of museums, galleries and concerts is huge, which invites thousands of tourists a year to visit this country.
In Spain the tradition of performing various bullfighting shows, such as corridas, the bullfightings or the chasings bulls through the streets, which are a sign of identity of numerous popular festivals. In almost every city there is a bullring. Controversy and polemiks between supporters and opponents of the bullfighting is inevitable in this country; some find it as the national tradition and others as the mistreatment of the animal.
The sport in this country is dominated mainly by football, by the high level of players at the international level and modern stadiums. Tennis is also very popular (thanks to Rafa Nadal) and cycling (Alejandro Valverde). In addition, the country is a major tourist attraction due to its sports facilities, such as facilities for water sports, golf and skiing.
It is a sport of precision of Scottish origin, whose objective is to introduce a ball in the holes that are distributed in the field with the least number of strokes, using different poles. In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1891 was built the first golf course in Spain thanks to the English. Currently there are more than 400 golf courses, located mainly in Andalusia, Castilla León and Valencian Community and the number of lovers of this sport successively increases every year. The golf courses that extend through the east coast have become an offer of international reference for the practice of this sport. Not only for the quality of the grass but also for the services that are surround each of the centers, both in accommodation and restaurants and in the complementary offer of leisure and relaxation.
Thanks to a good climate in almost all the national territory during almost all the year can be practiced this sport. A wide variety of routes divided into three groups: road cycling, mountain biking and for all audiences encourages more and more people to buy a bicycle. The bicycle, in any of the modalities, is the perfect vehicle to get into the heart of the country. Mythical ports, endless trails and cycling infrastructures in continuous improvement form the best offer that cyclists can find when they visit this land.
RELAXATION AND HEALTH
In recent years several hotels and other establishments are adding to their rest offer the possibility of caring for the body; they have opened a new way in the arrival of tourists, both national and international, who seek beach, nature and leisure but also the deserved relax to combat stress and routine. Modern spa centers and hotels are spread throughout the national territory.