What Should You Know About Spain?

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There's a lot to know about Spain, so get started with these facts about Spain's population, people, language and culture.

Essential Facts About Spain

Where Is Spain? Spain can be found on the Iberian peninsula in Europe, a piece of land it shares with Portugal and Gibraltar. It also has a border to the north-east with France and Andorra.

How Big Is Spain? Spain measures 505,992 square kilometers, making it the 51st biggest country in the world and the third biggest in Europe (after France and Ukraine). It is slightly smaller than Thailand and a little bigger than Sweden. Spain has a larger area than California but less than Texas. You could fit Spain into the United States 18 times!

Country Code: +34

Timezone: Spain's timezone is Central European Time (GMT+1), which many believe to be the wrong time zone for the country. Neighboring Portugal is in GMT, as is the United Kingdom, which is geographically in line with Spain. This means that the sun rises later in Spain than in most other countries in Europe, and sets later, which probably partially accounts for Spain's vibrant late-night culture.

Capital: Madrid.

Population:

Spain has nearly 45 million people, making it the 30th most populated country in the world and the fourth most populated country in the EU (after Germany, France, and Italy). It has the lowest population density in Western Europe (excluding Scandinavia).

Religion: The majority of Spaniards are Catholic, though Spain is a secular state. For over 300 years, most of Spain was Muslim. Parts of Spain were under Muslim rule until 1492 when the last Moorish king fell (in Granada).

Biggest Cities (by population):

  • Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Valencia
  • Seville
  • Zaragoza

Official Language: Spanish, often referred to as Castellano in Spain, or Castillian Spanish, is the official language of Spain. Many of Spain's autonomous communities have other official languages.

Government: Spain is a monarchy; the present king since 2014 is Felipe VI. He was preceded by his father Juan Carlos I, who inherited the position from General Franco, the dictator who ruled Spain from 1939 until 1975.

Spain's Autonomous Regions

Spain is divided into 19 autonomous regions: 15 mainland regions, two collections of islands and two city enclaves in North Africa. The biggest region is Castilla y Leon, followed by Andalusia. At 94,000 square kilometers, it is roughly the size of Hungary. The smallest mainland region is La Rioja.

The full list is as follows (each region's capital is listed in brackets):

  • Madrid (Madrid)
  • Catalonia (Barcelona)
  • Valencia (Valencia)
  • Andalusia (Seville)
  • Murcia (Murcia)
  • Castilla-La Mancha (Toledo)
  • Castilla y Leon (Valladolid)
  • Extremadura (Merida)
  • Navarra (Pamplona)
  • Galicia (Santiago de Compostela)
  • Asturias (Oviedo)
  • Cantabria (Santander)
  • Basque Country (Vitoria)
  • La Rioja (Logroño)
  • Aragon (Zaragoza)
  • Balearic Islands (Palma de Mallorca)
  • Canary Islands (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria/Santa Cruz de Tenerife)
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