Spain is a country and member state of the European
Union, located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian
Peninsula. Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands
in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic
Ocean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities in
North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, that border Morocco.
Madrid is the capital of the country.
With a population of about 47 million people, living principally in big or medium
villages (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao, etc.) and around the coasts,
Spain is a democracy organized in the form of a parliamentary government under a
constitutional monarchy, today under Juan Carlos I, composed of 17
autonomous communities and two autonomous cities with varying degrees of
autonomy thanks to its Constitution.
Spain is member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, OECD, and WTO.
Mainland Spain is a mountainous country, dominated by high plateaus and mountain chains,
such as the Pyrenees, the Sistema Ibérico, Sistema Central, Sierra Morena, whose highest peak,
Mulhacén, located in Sierra Nevada, is the highest elevation in the Iberian peninsula, while the
highest point in Spain is the Teide, an active volcano in the Canary Islands. The Meseta Central is
a vast plateau in the heart of peninsular Spain.
There are several major rivers in Spain such as the Tagus, the Ebro, the Duero, the Guadiana
and the Guadalquivir.
The Mediterranean climate is dominant in the peninsula, but a
semiarid climate can be found in the southeastern quarter of
the country, especially in the region of Murcia and in the Ebro
valley, the oceanic climate in the north quarter of the country,
the alpine climate in the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada, and a
typical subtropical climate in the Canary Islands.
Today, the climate of Spain, historical and cultural monuments
and its geographic position together with its facilities make
tourism one of Spain's main national industries.
Nevertheless, Spain is one of the world's leading
countries in the development and production of
renewable energy, especially solar power and wind
It took the Romans nearly two centuries to complete the conquest of the Iberian
Peninsula, though they had control of much of it for over six centuries.
The Romans gradually assimilated the new territory, imposing their laws and customs,
while they proceeded to the systematic exploitation of its wealth.
Doñana National Park
Doñana National Park in Andalusia occupies the right bank of the
Guadalquivir river at its estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. It is
notable for the great diversity of its biotopes, especially lagoons,
marshlands, fixed and mobile dunes, scrub woodland and
maquis. It is home to five threatened bird species. It is one of the
largest heronries in the Mediterranean region and is the
wintering site for more than 500,000 water fowl each year.
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL PARK
The Sierra Nevada National Park covers 86,208 hectares and is home to two of the
Iberian Peninsula’s highest mountains - the Mulhacén (3,482m) and the Veleta
(3,392m). The park stretches between the provinces of Granada and Almería. It
is divided into two main areas - one that forms the high ridge of mountains
clearly marked by glacial action and with little developed vegetation and the
Mediterranean mountain range of less severe peaks that abound with flora and
fauna of all types. The higher peaks are snow covered practically all year round
and provide a much needed supply of water for the foothills below where more
than 2,000 species of plants have been discovered and catalogued. Over 60
species of birds live in the sierra, not only the typical giants of the high
mountains like the golden eagle and the griffin vulture, but also mountain birds
like the golden oriole and the hoopoe. The easiest mammals to spot are the wild
mountain goats as they hop nimbly up and down the most incredible precipices,
and more patient observers will see foxes, badgers, wild cats and a great variety
of snakes and lizards.
The Timanfaya National Park
The Timanfaya National Park is one of four on the Canary Islands
Declared a National Park in 1974, the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya covers an area of 5,107
hectares on the island of Lanzarote, and is one of four National Parks in the Canary Islands.
This natural space is the land of volcanoes, Las Montañas del Fuego, or the Fire Mountains,
which were born in the 18th century when more than 100 volcanoes rose up from the earth
over six years of devastating eruptions which affected a quarter of the island’s surface. The ash
and lava which continued to rain down between 1730 and 1736 buried eleven villages, in one of
the world’s most devastating volcanic eruptions: scientists estimate that the volume of lava
could have reached up to one cubic kilometre – in other words, 1,000 million m3.
ATLANTIC ISLANDS OF GALICIA NATIONAL PARK
Location : Off the southern coast of Galicia. They are made up of four archipelagos,
Cortegada and Sálvora in the Ría de Arousa, Ons, facing the Ría de Pontevedra and the
Cíes, closing the Ría de Vigo.
Surface: 8,332.80 hectares (1,194.80 hectares of land and 7,138 hectares of sea).
Specifically: Cíes (2,658 hectares of sea and 433 hectares of land), Ons (2,171 hectares
of sea and 470 hectares of land), Sálvora (2,309 hectares of sea and 248 hectares of
land) and Cortegada (43.8 hectares of land).
Access: Regular passenger transport service by sea to the Cíes from the port of Vigo,
Baiona and Cangas during the high season. There is the same service to Ons from
Portonovo, Sanxenxo, Bueu and Marín. Services of a guide to Cortegada from Carril
(Vilagarcía de Arousa). Sálvora has no transport service by sea, and access to it is
THE CAZORLA NATIONAL PARK
The Cazorla Natural Park, or the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and La
Villas, to give its complete name, is Spain’s largest national park and the second
largest in Europe. Most definitely, one of Spain’s best kept secrets. An area of
outstanding natural beauty, it was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1983
and created a natural park in 1989. Covering a total area of 214,000 hectares of
extremely diverse terrain. The park covers almost a fifth of Jaen province. There are
vast expanses of pine forests, river valleys, deep canyons, spectacular waterfalls,
rivers, reservoirs and lakes. The sources of the Segura and the mighty Guadalquivir
river are here. The Guadalquivir eventually flows through the cities of Cordoba and
Sevilla before entering the Atlantic at Cádiz. Whereas the Segura eventually leads to
By far the largest reservoir in the park, the Embalse de Tranco, is actually the first attempt
at damming the river Guadalquivir just after its birth. It is also an important source of
hydroelectric power for the area.
All of these areas are interspersed with jagged peaks of karst that can rise up to over
2000m. The highest peak in is the Pico Empanada at 2107m, with the lowest point of
the park at 450m, nearly all of the area is above 600m. You couldn’t hope for more
THE MOST RELEVANT FESTIVITIES IN SPAIN
EASTER: HOLY WEEK
SEVILLE APRIL FAIR
From 13 to 19 March, Valencia celebrates one of Spain's best known festivals: Las Fallas.
What started as a feast day for St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, has evolved
into a 5-day celebration involving fire. The focus of the fiesta is the creation and
destruction of ninots (“puppets” or “dolls”), which are enormous models made out
of papier mache or cardboard, wood and wax, and characaturing Spanish social and
political current affairs n the year.The creation of ninots are crafted by neighborhood
organizations which take almost the entire year to construct.
The ninots remain in place until March 19th, the day known as La Cremá (the burning)
when they are burnt exactly at 12 midnight in a festival of fire. Each year, one of the
ninots is spared from destruction by popular vote. This ninot, the pardoned puppet,
is exhibited in the local Museum of the Ninot along with the other favourite ninots
from years before.
Of all the crazy Spanish fiestas that take place throughout the year,
there is nothing wilder than the Carnival celebrations in late
February. Originally conceived as the final day of permissiveness
before the start of the long period of penance and privations that
lead up to the commemoration of the death of Christ, which
happens in Easter. Carnival soon evolved from a feast oriented
towards the consumption of "forbidden" goods (such as meat and
sweets) to a full fledged celebration of all things carnal. Ultimately it
is a celebration of life itself. People have long dressed up for
carnival, encouraging the free enjoyment of the occasion in the
anonymity of a disguise.
Carnival in Spain is celebrated nationwide though the most raucous
festivities are in the Canary Islands and Cadiz.
EASTER: HOLY WEEK
Spain celebrates Easter much more than most European countries. During
the whole of Semana Santa, (Holy Week), street processions are
organised in most Spanish towns each evening, from Palm Sunday to
Easter Sunday. To the solemn, persistent beat of a single drum,
hundreds of men and children wearing pointed hoods that cover their
faces parade through narrow streets bearing huge crucifixes, whilst
women dressed in black walk silently behind the image of a Christ or a
To be in Spain at Easter is to witness a series of ancient rituals that go to
the heart of a country with a fiercely religious history. Everywhere,
processions (statues of saints on wooden platforms) make their way
through the streets, carrying religious icons and symbols of their faith.
In Seville alone there are over 100 of these such images. 19/01/12
SEVILLE APRIL FAIR
Seville's April Fair is a huge annual event that takes place just two weeks after Easter.The
fiesta officially begins at midnight on Monday with the “lighting test”, the
illumination of the thousands of multi-coloured light bulbs in the fairground and
adorning the main gateway, which is almost 50 metres high. Once inside the gate
you come to the “casetas”, and it is here where you really experience the fair.
These tents belong to groups of friends and associates, and are a family space
where acquaintances, relations and guests are welcomed in and enjoy with
delicious food and wine. There is singing and of course, "sevillanas", the local
version of flamenco dancing.
Throughout the fair, the men wear the typical outfit of the farmworker, and the
women wear flamenco dresses. By day the fair is filled with horsewomen, riders
and richly festooned carriages. Next to the fairground is the Hell’s Street, a lively
recreational area with a host of attractions for children and adults. Another vital
component is the bullfight: every afternoon people crowd into the Plaza de la
Maestranza bullring to see the day’s bullfight.play the following Sunday, again at
From July 6th to 14th every year the word fiesta is written in capital letters in
Pamplona. The Sanfermines have arrived. When the chupinazo (ceremonial rocket)
is fired the city explodes into life. Thousands of people from all over the world
descend on the city dressed up in red and white. For nine days the streets turn into
a feast of friendship, joy and music, to the rhythm of the charangas and the peñas.
The Encierro (Bull Run), the art of locking up all the streets so that there is only one
main channel through which people run in front of a dozen bulls, is the only
moment of the day when the party stops, and great tension descends on the route
just a few minutes before the bulls start their 'race' behind the mozos (young
men). Thousands of people on the streets of Pamplona run like if there is no
tomorrow-in order to stay safe from the bulls. The adrenalin is thick in the air. The
Run goes through the many streets to the bull ring , where the bulls have to face
the famous matadors. The distance they have to cover is roughly eight hundred
and twenty five meters but is run through within the period of three short
minutes. The surge of emotions culminates in the bullring at the end of the run.
The fiesta continues with caldico (clear broth) chocolate with churros (long
doughnuts), the Gigantes (ceremonial giants) and Cabezudos (carnival figures with
big heads), the aperitif, the bullfight in the evening, or the fireworks at night.
These, then, give way to all-night partying. 19/01/12
Spanish culture is widely known for Flamenco music and
dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches and lots of
sunshine. But what is Spain known for? It has much
more to offer than that. It is - and has been for
thousands of years, one of the cultural centers of
Spain has an extraordinary artistic heritage. The dominant
figures of the Golden Age were the Toledo-based artists El
Greco and Diego Velázquez. Francisco de Goya emerged in
the 18th century as Spain's most prolific painter and he
produced some wonderfully unflattering portraits of royalty.
The art world in the early 20th century was influenced by a
remarkable group of Spanish artists: Pablo Picasso, Juan
Gris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, ambassadors of the
artistic culture in Spain.
In the Baroque of the 17th century important topics are the prose
of Francisco de Quevedo and Baltasar Gracián; the theatre is
notable (Lope de Vega, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, and Tirso de
Molina); and poetry with Luis de Góngora (who is a Culteranist)
and Francisco de Quevedo (who is a Conceptist). In the works
of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra notable novels are La
Galatea and Don Quixote de la Mancha. The Baroque style used
exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce
drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting,
literature, dance, and music.
Authors use language as a tool to create art, and when we
study a language, it is inevitable we come across the important
works of arts that have molded the language. The Spanish
language would not be what it is today if Cervantes hadn’t
written Don Quijote de la Mancha, as this novel has
contributed a large amount of proverbs and sayings which are
still used in everyday language today!
Here you have a list of Spanish and Latin American writers who
have made an impact in the Spanish speaking world. Enjoy!
Miguel de Cervantes
Gabriel García Márquez
Camilo José Cela
Arturo Pérez Reverte
Carlos Ruíz Zafón
Federico García Lorca
Juan Ramón Jiménez
Francisco de Quevedo
Spanish Love Poems
MOST VISITED SIGHTS IN SPAIN
1. Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens in Granada
2. Sagrada Famila Church in Barcelona
3. Prado Museum in Madrid
4. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid
5. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (MNCARS) in Madrid
6. Cathedral and Giralda in Seville
7. Cathedral / Mezquita in Cordoba
8. La Pedrera (Casa Mila) in Barcelona
9. City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia
10. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
11. The Roman City of Mérida in Extremadura
GASTRONOMY : SPANISH COUSINE
Spanish pantry is a result of the contributions of all the people who have
visited us throughout history. For instance, the Greeks, Phoenicians and
Carthaginians introduced olive oil, almonds, grapes and boiled food, the first
step of the well known “cocido” (a typical stew, based on boiling legumes,
meat and vegetables). We owe the Arabs various other fundamental
elements, such as rice, sugar, vegetables, fruits like oranges and exotic
spices such as saffron, cummin or nutmeg. It is also part of their legacy the
use of almonds in many dishes and desserts, as well as in pastry and biscuit.
The American contribution was also important for our cuisine, seeing as the
introduction of some of their products became the base of Spanish cuisine,
as it is the case of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, beans, pumpkins, avocados,
corn or chocolate.
If we had to list the singularities of traditional Spanish cuisine, we could
synthesise them into four points:
1. It is based on a seasonal cuisine. We elaborate different dishes accoding
to the season of the year we are living in.
2. It is very varied depending on the geographical situation. Because of
Spain has very distinct geographical regions, settled by different ethnic and
cultural groups, and because the weather varies from province to province,
the regional cuisines are very diverse.
3. It feeds on fresh products.
4. The variety of dishes cooked with a base of legumes, vegetables, olive oil
and cold cuts is what stands out the most in all the regional cuisine.
Ingredients and typical food
Fish and Seafood- Because Spain is located on the Iberian Peninsula and is
surrounded on three sides by water(the Atlantic, Cantabrian and Mediterranean
seas), the Spanish cuisine has a great variety of recipes where the main
ingredients are fish and seafood.
Meat and Ham - Though the inland also has its substantial treasures, such as lamb,
pork, veal, game and poultry. All these meats are common and can be roasted,
grilled over the coals or sautéed in a sauce. But , without any doubt, ham (or as
we say “jamón”) is our more prized food. We obtain it from a native pork: the
Iberian pork which is feed with acorn. We take our ham as seriously that we will
pay a high price for a top quality ham.
Eggs - They are eaten frequently either fried or in a Spanish omelette, called tortilla
española in Spain. They are also an essential part of many recipes, including
desserts and salads.
Legumes - Beans of all types are eaten regularly in our country. Beans and chickpeas
(garbanzo beans) have been a staple of the Spanish cuisine for centuries and rivaled
bread as the most commonly eaten food!
Rice – It is very popular among the villages and towns along the coast, being the
main ingredient for the wellknown paella. Although it is also an important ingredient
in the inland.
Fruits and Vegetables – Spaniards eat lots of fresh fruit as snacks or as dessert
because we have a big production in our field of fruits. A fresh fruit bowl sits in every
kitchen. The same happens with vegetables; in our diet we consume lots of different
vegetables in salads or sautéed vegetables.
Cheese – Wonderful cheese of every type can be eaten in our cuisine. Spanish
cheese are made from sheep, cow, goat milk and mixed and we have a large variety
of cheese (creamy, soft, medium or hard) from the hard manchego variety to the
soft creamy cheese such as tetilla from Galicia and everything in between. There are
even blue cheese such as Cabrales.
Dessert - Spain is one of the top producers of almonds, hazelnuts and
walnuts. Almond-based and milk-based desserts are very common. Many
recipes of Arabic origin contain crushed almonds. Turron, an almond nougat
candy eaten at Christmas is probably the best-known of these sweets. Each
region has got a typical dessert made with ingredients of their area.
Herbs and Spices - Garlic, onions and herbs such as oregano, rosemary and
thyme are typical ingredients in our recipes.
Olive oil – It is, without any doubt, the brighest star for our recipes. It is
the “chief of our cuisine” as Spain is a leading producer of olive oil and
olives are grown all over the south of our country.
As accompaniments, we have got wines from the largest vineyard in the
world which provide white, rosé, red, cava, Sherry, Manzanilla and sweet
wines, all of which come from high quality grapes.
To sum up, we will say that all these ingredients are the ground
of a Mediterranean Diet (it is proved it is really healthy for the
human beings), which is mainly based on consuming bread,
pasta, rice, cereal, potatoes, fruit, dried nuts, beans and
legumes, vegetables, olive oil, yogurt, and wine, in moderation,
daily; a weekly intake of chicken, fish, sweets and eggs and a
monthly consumption of red meat.