Spain Guide

Capital:Madrid
Location:Northeast of the geographical center of the Iberian Peninsula
Area:504,750 sq.km. (194,884 sq.mi.)   
Elevation:667 m. above sea level
Population(as of January 2011) 47,150,819
Official language:Spanish
Internet TLD:.es
Phone code:+34

The Kingdom of Spain is a country proud of its glorious past and revels in its richly diverse culture and traditions.  Situated on the exotic Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe, Spain is one of the most visited tourist destinations among the European Union member countries. It is a veritable treasure chest of historical and architectural landmarks and monuments, with the most number of UNESCO World Heritage Cities and the second country with the most number of World Heritage Sites, only next to Italy. Spain is made up of eight regions and two independent cities – Northwestern Spain, Northern Spain, Northeastern Spain, Central Spain, Eastern Spain, Andalusia, the Balearic and Canary Islands, and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Its most popular cities are Madrid, the capital city, along with Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville, Valencia and Granada among others. Regionalism is alive and strong in the country and is the first thing that a visitor can observe in terms of traditions, cuisine and even language. Whilst Spain may be known for its stretches of picturesque beaches found in its islands, there is actually a diverse topography all around: mountain ranges in the north from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea and rivers that flow from the west and the south to the Atlantic Ocean.

here are three types of climate, depending on location in the country. Those in the northern part experience a maritime climate with mild winters and warm summers. From the Andalusian Plain up to the Pyrenees is the Mediterranean climatic region, with little rainfall and hot, dry easterly air currents. Then there is the continental climate which covers most of the southeastern side of Spain including the Meseta Central and the Ebro Basin.

Once the most powerful country with an empire spanning five continents (Africa, Asia, North America, Central America and South America), Spain’s extensive influence around the world prevails until today. Spanish, its official language, is spoken by over 500 million people worldwide and is also the national language in about 21 countries. Spain has also given the world the Flamenco dance, food like tapas and paella, and cultural greats such as Miguel de Cervantes, El Greco, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Juan Gris among many others.

Spaniards are known for their passion for life and this is quite evident in the numerous events, festivals and celebrations held everywhere in the country all throughout the year. A largely Roman Catholic country, Spain’s tradition of ‘fiestas’ celebrates the towns’ long-held devotion to particular saints through music, dancing and colorful costumes. Aside from the fiesta, there’s also football – Spain’s biggest sport, the tradition of theatre and the wealth of museums and art galleries around that make up the lively and thriving entertainment scene in Spain. Still by far its biggest crowd-drawer would be the marvelous sun-drenched beaches – from the charming coastlines of Costa del Sol, Costa Brava and Costa de la Luz, the surfing waters in Cantabria right to the enchanting and pulsating beachside parties in Ibiza and the Balearic Islands.

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