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Spain Culture, Geography and History
Culture and Customs of Spain
Spaniards are known for their love of food, passion for partying and penchant for siestas. This is the home of vibrant fiestas, flashy flamenco, heaving nightclubs and wild foam parties. But it doesn’t end there - to visit Spain is to be welcomed into a world of creative genius. From visionary architects to passionate painters, controversial film directors to literary greats, Spain has a strong creative tradition evident in the gothic cathedrals, abstract art and much-loved movies to come out of this nation. Spain can lay claim to such influential names as Dali, Goya, Miro, Picasso, Gaudi and Almodovar, so travellers can expect to be spoilt by Spain’s many cultural treasures.
With most Spaniards being Roman Catholic, Easter, Christmas and other religious holidays are observed. Additionally, different Patron Saints are honoured by regional areas – with cities and villages celebrating with bonfires, feasts and parades. Many regional areas of Spain are culturally different from others (especially the Basque and Catalonia areas) where unique traditions, customs, holidays and language are observed.
Geography and Environment of Spain
Located in south-west Europe, Spain shares borders with France, Andorra, Portugal, Morocco and Gibraltar, as well as the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Occupying most of the Iberian Peninsula, Spain’s topography is mainly a blend of mountains and low-lying plains. Spain’s coastline and islands are world-renowned, and draw in millions of tourists who come to bask at the beaches during the day and party all night long. Tenerife, Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca are among the most popular with tourists chasing sunshine and good times.
Spain’s major cities (Madrid and Barcelona) are busy, urban centres, yet have managed to retain their historic charm while encouraging contemporary development. In comparison, Spain’s vast countryside offers picturesque landscapes dotted with rustic villas, traditional stone cottages, olive groves, farms and rivers. Life is slower here – perfect for hiking, indulging in fresh produce and enjoying the sense of peace that often can’t be found in big cities.
History and Government of Spain
This timeline of major events in Spain’s epic history should help:
- 206 BC - Hispania becomes a part of the Roman Empire. Rome continues to rule Spain for the next 500 years
- 711 AD - Muslims from North Africa take control of Spain.
- 1478 - The Spanish Inquisition is founded
- 1492 - Roman Catholicism is established as Spain’s state religion; Jews and Muslims are expelled
- 1493 - Spain begins to colonise the Americas
- 1588 - Britain defeats the Spanish Armada and Spain is no longer considered a sea power
- 1605 - Influential novel Don Quixote is written by Miguel de Cervantes
- 1811 (to 1898) - Spain loses control of many colonies including: Venezuela, Cuba and the Philippines. Spain loses the Spanish-American War.
- 1882 - Construction begins on Gaudi’s Barcelona masterpiece - Sagrada Familia
- 1904 - Salvador Dali is born
- 1918 - Millions of Spaniards die during the Spanish Flu pandemic
- 1931 - Spain becomes a republic
- 1936 to 1939 - Spanish Civil War
- 1939 to 1975 - Spain is controlled by the regime of Francisco Franco
- 1982 - Spain joins NATO
- 1986 - Spain joins the European Union
- 1992 - The Summer Olympics are held in Barcelona
- 2002 - Spain adopts the Euro as its currency
- 2004 - Madrid train bombings kill and maim hundreds of citizens
- 2010 - Spain wins FIFA World Cup
Spain has a rich and complex history. As conquerors (and the conquered), Spain has seen many different outside influences come and go via war, invasion, immigration and trade. From the Moors to the Romans, the British to the Portuguese, Spain has been influenced both by its neighbours and by far-flung lands. This is evident in the different styles of architecture, art, cuisine and culture that are present in modern-day Spain. Emerging from social upheaval, civil war, international conflict, devastating pandemics and terrorism, Spain’s spirit is both irrepressible and irresistible.
Spain at a glance
- Madrid (population 3.1 million)
- 46.7 million
- Spanish, Catalan
- (GMT+01:00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris
- Type C (European 2-pin), Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
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