We explain everything about Spain, how is its geography, culture and traditions. Also, what are its characteristics, economy and more.
Spain or Kingdom of Spain is a country located in southern Western Europe and North Africa , which is made up of autonomous communities and is a member of the European Union .
The capital of Spain is the city of Madrid and it is a country governed by a parliamentary monarchy under a democratic form of government. Its customs, history and geography make Spain one of the most visited countries in the world and one of the main world economies .
Spain has a territorial extension of 505,370 km² and is the 4th largest country on the European continent (behind Russia, Ukraine and France ). Within Europe , Spain occupies the Iberian Peninsula, better known as mainland Spain, and the Balearic Islands. In Africa, the territory of Spain extends through the cities of Ceuta and Melilla and the Canary Islands, Chafarinas, Alhucemas, the island of Alboran and the rock of Vélez de la Gomera.
Relief of Spain
Much of the Spanish territory is at an altitude of 650 meters above sea level and is made up of the Great Central Plateau. Spain is made up of several mountain ranges , such as the Pyrenees, and is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe that also has some depressions that surround the Great Plateau.
Its borders are bordered by the Mediterranean Sea (to the south), the Cantabrian Sea (to the north) and the Atlantic Ocean (to the southeast and northeast) making it a country known for its beaches, cliffs, coves, coasts and archipelagos. Among the archipelagos, the Balearic Islands (in the Mediterranean Sea) and the Canary Islands (in the Atlantic Ocean) stand out.
Climate of Spain
Due to the diversity of reliefs that make it up and its geographical location, Spain is a country with various types of climate . Broadly speaking, it is characterized by a temperate climate and in almost all areas there are cold months and hot months. The different climates in Spain are usually classified as: oceanic , Mediterranean , mountain and subtropical.
- The oceanic climate: It stretches across the north of the country, an area where rainfall tends to abound throughout the year. This type of climate has high humidity and temperate temperatures with a low temperature range between winter and summer.
- The Mediterranean climate: It extends along the Mediterranean coast and almost the entire peninsula. It is characterized by its dry summers and its hot and humid and cold winters. This climate is found in different geographical areas where temperatures and rainfall levels vary.
- The mountain climate: It extends through the mountain ranges of Spain, such as the Cantabrian Mountains and the Pyrenees, and is characterized by low temperatures and abundant rainfall (which usually occurs in the form of snow). This type of climate can be observed from 1000 meters above sea level.
- The subtropical climate: It extends to the Canary Islands, which are located in the Atlantic Ocean, close to Africa and the Tropic of Cancer. It is characterized by its high temperatures throughout the year.
Fauna of Spain
Since Spain is a country with a wide diversity of climates and reliefs, its fauna and flora is one of the most varied on the continent .
The fauna of Spain changes according to the geographical area . In the Iberian Peninsula you can find mammals such as the red fox, the Iberian lynx, the wild cat, the deer, the Iberian goat, the Iberian hare, the bat, the Iberian wolf, the mink and rodents such as squirrels.
In addition, there are amphibians such as the Iberian newt, the Iberian midwife toad and the frog ; reptiles such as the Mediterranean tortoise , the chameleon, the lizard and various species of lizards and snakes. Among the most outstanding birds of the peninsula are the Iberian imperial eagle , the black vulture, the blackbird, the sparrow and the magpie.
Fish such as lampreys, sturgeons, shad, eels , vermilion, barbels, calandins, tusks, silversides and seabass inhabit the salt and fresh water courses of Spain . In addition, on its coasts there are a large number of marine animals such as dolphins, whales , jellyfish and sperm whales.
For its part, in the Canary Islands many of the endemic species became extinct and many species that now inhabit there were introduced. Some autochthonous animals of these islands are birds, such as the Tenerife blue finch, the Canary Island mosquito net, and the Canary stonebird.
Flora of Spain
The flora of Spain varies according to the geographical area, because in each region there are variations in relief, temperature and rainfall. This country has the greatest diversity of flora species in Europe .
Broadly speaking, in the north of Spain , meadows and pastures abound , and deciduous vegetation predominates. On the other hand, in the southern zone, evergreen, aromatic plants and bushes abound.
Among the most representative tree species in Spain, the following stand out: the holm oak (which is considered the national tree) , the Mediterranean cork oak, various species of pines, the Mediterranean oak, the eucalyptus, the juniper, the beech, the fir, among many others.
Other plant species that can be found in Spanish territory are: the carnation (which is the national plant of Spain) , the Spanish bluebells, pomegranates, heather, broom, mosses and lichens and aromatic herbs such as thyme.
Main geographical areas of Spain
Spain is a State that is made up of seventeen autonomous communities and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla in Africa. These communities , in turn, are divided into provinces that have municipalities.
The Spanish autonomous communities are:
- Galicia: It is a Spanish community located in the northwest of the country and is made up of four provinces: Lugo, La Coruña, Orense and Pontevedra. Its capital is Santiago de Compostela.
- Principality of Asturias: It is a Spanish community that holds the title of principality for historical reasons and is located in the north of the country. It is made up of a single province and its main cities are Gijón, Oviedo and Avilés.
- Castile and Leon: It is a Spanish community located in the north of the peninsula and which is divided into nine provinces: Ávila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid and Zamora.
- Cantabria: It is a Spanish community located in the north of the country. It is made up of a single province and 102 municipalities and its capital is the city of Santander.
- Basque Country: It is a Spanish community located in the north of the country and bordering France. It is made up of the provinces of Álava, Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa and its most populated cities are Bilbao, Vitoria and San Sebastián. The official languages of the Basque Country are Basque and Spanish.
- La Rioja: It is a Spanish community located in the north of the country and it is a uniprovincial territory that is divided into 174 municipalities. It is the smallest Spanish community in dimensions characterized by the seven rivers that make it up. Its capital and most populated city is Logroño.
- Navarra . It is a Spanish community located north of the peninsula that has its capital in the city of Pamplona. It is a uniprovincial territory that is divided into 272 municipalities.
- Aragon: It is a Spanish community located northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. It is divided into three provinces: Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel. The city of Zaragoza is the capital of this community and is the most populated city.
- Catalonia: It is a Spanish community located northeast of the peninsula, whose capital is the city of Barcelona. Catalonia is made up of four provinces: Barcelona, Tarragona, Gerona and Lleida and it is one of the communities with the greatest economic development. It limits the north with France and its official languages are Spanish and Catalan.
- Valencian Community: It is a Spanish community located in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. It is made up of the provinces of Castellón, Valencia and Alicante. Valencia is the capital city and the most populated in the community.
- Balearic Islands: It is a single-province community located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula. It is an archipelago formed by the islands of: Mallorca, Menorca, Cabrera, Ibiza and Formentera that are divided into 67 municipalities. Palma de Mallorca is the capital city of the islands.
- Murcia: It is a Spanish single-province community that is located in the southeast of the peninsula and is made up of 46 municipalities. Its capital and most populated city is Murcia, which is located in the southeast of the region.
- Castilla – La Mancha: It is a Spanish community located in the center of the peninsula. It is made up of the provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Guadalajara, Cuenca and Toledo, which are made up of 919 municipalities.
- Community of Madrid: It is a Spanish community located in the center of the peninsula and with the capital in the city of Madrid (which is also the capital of the country). It is a single-province community that is made up of 179 municipalities.
- Extremadura: It is a community of Spain located in the southwest of the country and with capital in the city of Mérida. It is made up of two provinces: Cáceres, located to the north, and Badajoz, to the south, with a total of 388 municipalities.
- Andalusia: It is a Spanish community located in the south of the peninsula and is made up of the provinces of Granada, Jaén, Córdoba, Seville, Huelva, Cádiz, Málaga, Almería and 786 municipalities. It is the most populated community in Spain and its capital is located in the city of Granada.
- Canary Islands: It is a Spanish community located in the Atlantic Ocean, off the northwest African coast, which is divided into two provinces. The Canary Islands constitute an archipelago formed by the islands of La Palma, El Hierro, La Gomera and Tenerife, which form the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, which form the province of La Palma.
Festivals and traditions of Spain
Throughout its history, Spain was the seat of cultures and civilizations, such as the Muslim, the Phoenician , the Roman , the Greek , the Carthaginian and the Visigothic. All these cultures left their contribution, making it a very rich and varied country from a cultural point of view, with a large number of artistic performances, festivities, gastronomy, music and dances .
Due to the extension of its territory, Spain has different customs and traditions according to each area. Some of the most representative are:
- Flamenco: It is a musical genre typical of the region of Andalusia, in the south of Spain, characterized by its song, its dance and the toque (the guitar). The instruments used to perform this genre are castanets, tambourines, guitars and the tacos and clapping of the dancers or the audience present.
- Bullfights: It is a representative festival of many parts of the country that consists of fighting bulls within a space known as a bullring. Some of the most emblematic bullrings are: the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, in Madrid, the Plaza de Toros de Sevilla, in Andalusia, and the Plaza de Toros de Ronda.
- The feast of San Fermín: It is a festival that takes place in honor of Saint Fermín in the city of Pamplona between July 6 and 15. The most emblematic action of this festival is the running of the bulls, which is a race in which a group of people run in front of brave bulls and run from the corrals of Santo Domingo to the Plaza de Toros. Another of the celebrations that takes place during this festivity is the July 7 procession.
- Christmas: It is the feast celebrated by the Catholic faithful, who represent 59.8% of the Spanish population, which consists of commemorating the birth of Jesus , the son of God . This festival is characterized by the assembly of a nativity scene (representing the birth of Jesus) and a Christmas tree, the decoration of streets with lights, the singing of Christmas carols and the cooking of typical dishes and sweets, such as nougat and marzipan. .
- The way of Santiago: It is an itinerary that attracts locals and foreigners in which the path to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, located in Galicia, is walked on foot. This itinerary is made up of a large number of routes that extend through Europe and that converge in this city in the province of La Coruña.
- The Fallas of Valencia: It is a set of parties that takes place from March 15 to 19 in Valencia in honor of San José. It is characterized by its large monuments and sculptures (ninots), made of materials such as paper , wood and cardboard, which are exhibited in different parts of the city and are burned on the last day of the celebration. It is also a multidisciplinary party in which musical shows, fireworks and religious activities are carried out.
- The April Fair: It is a party that is celebrated in Seville one or two weeks after Easter and in which booths are set up in the streets where family and friends gather. This festival is characterized by its music, dances and gastronomy.
- The Festivities of San Isidro: It is a festival that takes place every year in Madrid around May 15, the day on which San Isidro, patron saint of the city, is commemorated. On this date, traditions such as the pilgrimage in the Pradera de San Isidro and musical and traditional shows and a typical gastronomy offer take place.
Spanish art and literature
Spain is a country characterized by a great cultural wealth , with exponents in the field of art , music, architecture and letters . Some of the most recognized Spanish artists are:
In art :
- El Greco (1541-1614): He is considered one of the referents of the Spanish Renaissance who, although he was originally from Crete, lived a large part of his life in Toledo. He was an exponent of Mannerism and some of his most recognized works are The Knight with the Hand on the Chest , The Adoration of the Shepherds , The Burial of the Count of Orgaz and View of Toledo .
- Diego Velázquez (1599-1660): He was a Sevillian painter of the Baroque period and one of the main references of the Spanish Golden Age (a period characterized by the flourishing of Spanish literature and art). He was a court painter to King Felipe IV and among his most recognized works are Las Meninas , La Venus del Espejo , The Fable of Arachne , The Triumph of Bacchus and The Buffoon Don Sebastián de Morra .
- Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664): He was a Spanish painter and one of the representatives of the Golden Age. He stood out in works of religious content such as Christ on the cross , Saint Serapius , Saint Ambrose , Adoration of the Magi and Saint Apollonia .
- Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-1682): He was a Spanish painter of the Baroque period, and representative of the Spanish Golden Age, which was characterized by his religious painting and by representing genre scenes. His most recognized works are Immaculate Conception , Young beggar , The Holy Family of a bird , Women in the window and The great shepherd .
- Francisco de Goya (1746-1828): He was a Spanish painter who spanned different styles and is considered the father of modern art. His most outstanding works are The naked maja , The dressed maja , The family of Carlos IV , Saturno devouring his son and El 3 de mayo en Madrid .
- Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923): He was a Spanish Impressionist painter who excelled in the use of light in landscape and portrait works. His most recognized works are Self-portrait , La siesta , Paseo por la playa , Otra Margarita and Niños en la playa .
- Pablo Picasso (1881-1973): He was a Spanish painter and sculptor born in Malaga and one of the most influential artists of the 20th century . Together with Georges Braque he developed Cubism , an artistic movement characterized by the use of geometric figures. Some of his most recognized works are Guernica , Las senoritas de Avignon , The three musicians , Las meninas and Woman before the mirror .
- Juan Gris (1887-1927): He was a Spanish painter and representative of Cubism who developed much of his work in Paris. Among his most outstanding works are Portrait of Pablo Picasso , Guitar and pipe and Bottles and knives .
- Joan Miró (1893-1983): He was a Spanish painter and sculptor born in Barcelona who was characterized by his abstract art and was part of the surrealist current. Some of his most recognized works are La masía , Carnaval de Arlequín , Catalan Landscape and Waking up at dawn .
- Salvador Dalí (1904-1989): He was a Spanish painter born in Gerona (Catalonia) and one of the main representatives of surrealism . Some of his most representative works are The persistence of memory , Soft construction with boiled beans , Metamorphosis of Narcissus and Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate seconds before waking up .
In the literature:
- Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616): He was a poet, novelist and playwright of the Spanish Golden Age. His novel The ingenious gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha is considered one of the most important works of world literature. Other works he wrote were exemplary novels and La Galatea .
- Lope de Vega (1562-1635): He was a playwright and poet and one of the main literary exponents of the Spanish Golden Age. Lope de Vega encompassed many literary genres and revolutionized the dramatic genre. His books of sonnets and poems and other works such as Fuenteovejuna , El caballero de Olmedo , El perro del hortelano and El laberinto de Creta are recognized .
- Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645): He was an iconic Spanish poet of the Golden Age, who also wrote narrative and theater . His most representative works are The Life of the Buscón , The Demon Bailiff , The Cradle and the Grave, and Dreams and Discourses .
- Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870): He was a Spanish post-romantic poet who is considered the forerunner of modern Spanish poetry. He is well known for his Rhymes (86 short poems) and Legends and his work Letters from my cell .
- Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920): He was a Spanish novelist considered one of the most important in Spanish history. His most recognized works are Doña Perfecta , Fortunata y Jacinta, Marianela and Misericordia .
- Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936): He was a Spanish writer and philosopher and representative of the so-called generation of 98 (group of writers from the late nineteenth century). With his works he covered different genres such as novels, poetry , essays and theater. His most outstanding works are Niebla , Abel Sánchez , San Manuel Bueno, martir and En around casticismo .
- Antonio Machado (1875-1939): He was a Spanish poet, storyteller and playwright and one of the main representatives of the generation of 98. His most important works are Soledades , Campos de Castilla , Juan de Mairena and La lola se se va a los puerto .
- Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958): He was a Spanish author who won the 1956 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is recognized worldwide for his narrative work Platero y yo . Other works of his authorship are Spanish from Three Worlds , Andalusian Elegies , Stone and Sky and Beauty .
- Federico García Lorca (1898-1936): He was a Spanish poet who was part of the so-called generation of 27 and is considered one of the greatest Spanish literary references of the 20th century. His main works are Yerma , Blood Weddings , The House of Bernarda Alba , Gypsy Ballads and Poet in New York .
- Miguel Delibes (1920-2010): He was a Spanish writer who received multiple awards for his works. Some of the most recognized novels of Delibes are The shadow of the cypress is long , The Way , The Holy Innocents and The Heretic .
Economy of Spain
The economy of Spain is the 5th in the European Union and the third tenth of the world. Historically, the most developed sectors of the Spanish economy were agriculture, livestock and fishing, however, from the 1950s on, a great industrial development began in areas such as the production of food, beverages, automobiles, textile and metals .
One of the activities that generates the most income in Spain is tourism, this country is the second most visited territory in the world and receives more than 80 million visitors every year.
Political organization of Spain
Spain has a form of government called a parliamentary monarchy , in which a king is the head of state , but the government is carried out by the legislative power and the executive power .
The Spanish legislative power is in the hands of the Cortes Generales , made up of the Senate and the Congress of Deputies. The representatives of the Cortes are directly elected by Spaniards over 18 years of age every four years. The president is then elected by these assemblies and the investiture is carried out in the hands of the king and queen.
The candidate for president must be approved by at least a simple majority in the Congress of Deputies and will remain in office until some of the following variables occur:
- Cessation of the deputies’ trust in the candidate.
- Legislative election.
- Dissolution of the chambers.
- Personal decision.
Tourism in Spain
Due to its customs, history, architecture and landscapes, Spain is the second most visited country in the world, after France. Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Palma de Mallorca are the cities that generate the most attractiveness for tourists.
The Iberian Peninsula has beaches, water parks, volcanoes, golf courses, museums, monuments and a great artistic and historical heritage. Tourists are attracted by a varied gastronomy, in which seafood, croquettes, serrano ham and tortillas stand out, and a pleasant climate.
Some of the most visited attractions and places in Spain are: the Mosque of Córdoba, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the Alhambra in Granada, the Real Alcázar in Seville, the Royal Palace in Madrid, the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Plaza España in Seville, among others.
Spain also attracts a large number of tourists during festivals and celebrations such as San Fermín, in Pamplona, or the Fallas in Valencia.
Tourism is an important source of income for Spain and represents more than 10% of its GDP. It is visited mainly by tourists from England , France and Germany.