Here are 50+ amazing facts about Spain, its culture, history, and food that you probably don’t know. Spain is among the most beautiful countries on the planet. A country which is rich in its history and a unique culture that is nowhere to be found.
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50+ Interesting Facts About Spain:
Located in the Iberian Peninsula in Europe, Spain is the only European country to have a border with an African country (Morocco). Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain.
Spain covers over 85% of the Iberian Peninsula and shares a small portion of it with its neighbor Portugal.
Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe. It is the second largest country in Western Europe and EU. In the European continent, Spain is the fourth largest country.
After Mandarin, Spanish is the world’s second most spoken native language in the world, with over 400 million people speaking Spanish as their mother tongue.
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The national animal of Spain is Bull, and the national bird of Spain is Spanish Imperial Eagle.
“The Puerta del Sol” (“Gate of the Sun”) in Madrid is the center (0 km) of the radial network of Spanish roads. It is a public square in Madrid. It is the physical center of the country.
Spain is a transcontinental country which means it is located on more than one continent. With its mainland in Europe, Spain has a territory including two provinces and two autonomous cities which are geographically a part of Africa.
Just like the United Kingdom, Spain is a constitutional monarchy. It’s official name is the “Kingdom of Spain”. Current King of Spain is Felipe VI, and his wife Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano is the current Queen of Spain.
According to the Spanish Constitution, monarch or king is the head of the state and commander in chief of the armed forces of Spain.
Spain is divided into 17 autonomous regions or territories, 15 of which are a part of continental Spain. The other two are constituted by two vast archipelagoes (or collection of islands), namely the Canary Islands off the African Atlantic coast and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea.
Although Spanish is the official language of Spain, all the other languages of Spain can be used for official purposes along with Spanish in their respective autonomous communities. The other official languages of Spain are Catalan, Galician, Basque, and Occitan.
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Spain is a really diverse country. It’s like a bunch of different countries thrust together with really different languages, different cuisines, different cultures, different traditional drinks, and different climates.
The north of Spain is called Green Spain. It has strong Celtic influences. It’s cooler and rains a bit more than in other parts of Spain. People in the northern part of Spain usually drink cider and play bagpipes.
In the south, it changes dramatically. There are many palm trees in this area. There is a strong influence from the Moors who invaded Spain in the 8th century.
On the east coast, we have Barcelona and Valencia famous for paella (Valencian rice dish). In the center, we have Madrid, which is the melting point of all of it.
For the past 24 years, Spain is the country with the highest number of organ donors in the world. According to the data collected in 2015, there are 39.7 donors per million which led to 4,769 organ transplants being performed in Spain.
Spain is the largest producer of Olive Oil in the world with an average of over 1 million tons of olive oil annually.
Spain is the third biggest wine producer country in the world, only next to Italy and France as per the 2017 data (It may change in future).
In late 2016, a Spanish company Gïk launched the world’s first blue colored wine.
The 2,365 ft zip-line in Spain is the world’s first cross-border zip-line connecting Spain and Portugal. It takes only 60 seconds to cross the border with a speed of 50 mph.
This also transports you one hour back in time as Spain is 1 hour ahead of Portugal because both the countries have different time zones.
Pheasant Island is an island between France and Spain which belongs for 6 months to each country every year.
From February to August, it belongs to Spain and from August to February again, it belongs to France. It is the world’s oldest and smallest condominium.
There are many semi-arid areas in Europe, but Spain is the home of Europe’s only true-to-type, sand-and-rock desert, “Cabo de Gata” in Almería, Spain. Here annual rainfall is just 200mm, the lowest in Europe.
Seville Cathedral in Seville, Spain is the third-largest church and also the largest Gothic church in the world with an area of 23,500 square meters.
Spain has the longest high-speed rail system in Europe and the second longest in the world, only second to China with a maximum speed of 310 km/h (193 mph).
Spain is the third most visited country in the world after France and the United States of America with over 75 million visitors in 2017.
The first electric-powered submarine, “Peral Submarine” launched in 1888, was also invented in Spain by a Spanish Engineer and sailor, Isaac Peral y Caballero.
Manuel García, a Spanish vocal pedagogue, is attributed with the invention of world’s first laryngoscope, used for viewing the interior of the larynx. This tool uses two mirrors and sun is used as an external light source.
Spain is also attributed to the invention of mop, bucket, and wring in 1856.
The first known stapler was handmade and was invented in Spain. It was invented for the French King Louis XV in the Basque country in the 18th century, and every staple was inscribed with the royal emblem.
The second richest man in Europe, Amancio Ortega is a Spaniard. He is the founder and former chairman of Inditex fashion group which is the holding company of popular fashion retail company Zara.
He is also the 6th richest man in the world with a net worth of over $70 billion.
Juan Pujol García, a Spanish double agent, has the rare distinction of receiving awards from the two opponents, Britain and Germany during World War II.
He received an Iron Cross from the Germans and also becomes a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
According to Guinness World Records, Spain is also the home of the world’s oldest restaurant, “Sobrino de Botín” which is continuously operating since 1725. It is located in Madrid, the capital of Spain.
Spain also has the world’s oldest surviving lighthouse, the “Tower of Hercules”.
As per the records, it was constructed in c.2nd century CE in Galicia, Spain. With a height of 57 m, it is one of the National Monuments of Spain and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Facts about Spain History
Spain has been denoted with various different names throughout the history by different people.
North Africans called it Iberia (“the land of rivers”), Greeks called it Hesperia (“the land of setting sun”) and Carthaginians called it Ispania (“land of the rabbits”).
Later on, when Romans took over, they latinize Ispania into Hispania. Over a period of time, Hispania becomes España or Spain as we know it today.
The Spanish National Anthem, La Marcha real (“The Royal March”) has no words (officially) at all.
The reason behind having no words in the national anthem is the fact that it was not intended to be an anthem at all. It was originally a military march (“Marcha Granadera”), so there are no words and were never (officially) added.
Spain adopted Euro as their currency on 1st January 2002. Before Euro, peseta was the currency of Spain between 1869 and 2002 before it was replaced by Euro.
By the way, the exchange rate at that time was 1 euro = 166.386 pesetas.
Molotov cocktails were first introduced in the Spanish Civil War.
They were used by the nationalist forces of Spain under the leadership of General Francisco Franco against the T26 tanks operated by the Republicans. Later these cocktails were used by the Finnish against the Soviet Army during the Winter War.
They modified its design and made it even more deadly. The Finns name these petrol bombs, Molotov cocktails as an insulting reference to the then Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov.
Spain remained neutral in World War I and World War II but experienced a Civil War which killed over 500,000 people
Spanish Empire was one of the largest and most powerful empires during the 16th and early 17th centuries in history.
It was also the world’s first global empire along with the Portuguese Empire and was the first empire for which the phrase “the empire on which the sun never sets” is used.
La Sagrada Familia Church is one of the largest churches in the world which is still in construction for last the 136 years. It is located in Barcelona, Spain. It is estimated to be completed in 2026.
Sagrada Familia Church was designed by famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Despite being incomplete, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. After being completed, it will be the tallest religious building in entire Europe.
Facts about Spain Culture
Spain has the third largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 47 in total.
It also has 14 “Human treasures” or Intangible cultural heritage and thus ranks first alongside with Croatia in Europe in the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Spain is very much concerned about the Education and Health Care of its citizens.
Education in Spain is free and compulsory for the children from the age of 6 to 16.
Health Care system in Spain is one of the best in the world as it is free for any legal citizen of Spain. The government of Spain spends 9.4% of its GDP in health care.
According to the data provided by the World Economic Forum in 2018, Spain ranks at 4th position in the list of countries with the highest life expectancy with the life expectancy of 83.4 years.
According to a new study, it is predicted that by 2040, Spain will dethrone Japan and becomes the country having the longest life expectancy in the world.
Speaking about the facts of the Spanish culture, they have a festival called “La Tomatina”. It is basically a giant tomato food fight festival. Since 1945, this festival happens once a year in the Valencian town of Buñol. It occurs on the last Wednesday of August every year
Spain is the home of two of the most successful football clubs in the world, Real Madrid C.F. and FC Barcelona.
Real Madrid C.F. wins the FIFA Club of the 20th Century award as it is being recognized as the greatest football club of 20th century by FIFA on 11th December 2000.
“Camp Nou”, located in Barcelona, Spain is the third largest football stadium in the world by capacity.
It is also the largest stadium in Spain and entire Europe. It is the home of FC Barcelona. This stadium has a seating capacity of 99,354.
Spain’s national football team was the first European team to win the FIFA World Cup outside of Europe in 2010 in South Africa.
Same-Sex Marriage is made legal in Spain since 3 July 2005. Thus it is the third country in the world after the Netherlands and Belgium to have legalized same-sex marriage across the entire country.
The first same-sex marriage in Spain takes place on 8 June 1901, in A Coruña, Galicia. It was between two women, Marcela Gracia Ibeas and Elisa Sanchez Loriga. Since same-sex marriage was illegal then, so Elisa adopted a male identity, Mario Sánchez to get married to Marcela.
There is an old tradition and superstition in Spain, in which Spaniards eats 12 grapes precisely when the clock chimes at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Traditionally, Spanish people have two surnames. The first surname is from the father and the second surname is from the mother. However, this law has been changed, and now it favors mother’s surname.
In Spain, around 200 animals are killed every day and around 60,000 animals every year in the name of culture and religion. This is the dark reality of Spain.
The first modern novel, “Don Quixote” was written by a Spaniard named Miguel de Cervantes in 1605. It is widely considered to be the first modern or contemporary novel because it was one of the first novels written in prose and contains a fictional narrative.
There is no tooth fairy in Spanish culture like the other Western countries. Instead, El Ratoncito Pérez, a Spanish legend (a rat) visits the children and gives them gifts in exchange of their tooth when children put their fallen tooth under the pillow.
The “University of Salamanca” is the oldest university in Spain and the third oldest university in the world which is still in operation since 1218.
“Antoni Gaudí”, a Spanish architect is known as the “God’s Architect”. He was a Roman Catholic, and he incorporated religious images in many of his works because of which he was nicknamed as “God’s Architect”.
The oldest known cave painting is found in the Cave of El Castillo in Cantabria, Spain. It is dated to more than 40,000 years old.
Usually, lunch in Spain is eaten between 2:00 P.M and 4 P.M and dinner after 9:30 P.M
Spain is a heaven for people who wanted to get nude in public places. There are no laws against nudity in Spain. It means that you can go nude anywhere in Spain without any issue.
In Spain, according to the law, it is illegal to drive wearing flip-flops.
There is a weird law in Madrid according to which you cannot ask one another what time it is between 3:29 PM and 6:47 PM.
So these are some of the interesting and fun facts about Spain. If I have missed something, then please tell me in the comment section. Also which one is your favorite?
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- Spain – Wikipedia
- Spanish Naming Customs
- What you should know about eating in Spain
- How over 60,000 animals are killed each year during Spain’s religious festivals
- Olive Oil Production by Country