Spain

Spain

Things to do - general

 

Spain (Spanish: España [esˈpaɲa]), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España),[a][b] is a sovereign state located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe, with two large archipelagoes, the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands off the North African Atlantic coast, two cities Ceuta and Melilla in the North African mainland and several small islands in the Alboran Sea near the Moroccan coast. Its mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the only European country to have a border with an African country (Morocco)[h] and its African territory accounts for nearly 5% of its population, mostly in the Canary Islands but also in Ceuta and Melilla.

With an area of 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the European continent. By population, Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and the fifth in the European Union. Spain’s capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao and Málaga.

Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. Iberian cultures along with ancient Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian settlements developed on the peninsula until it came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania, based on the earlier Phoenician name Span or Spania.[10] In the Middle Ages, the area was conquered by Germanic tribes and later by the Moors. Spain emerged as a unified country in the 15th century, following the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs and the completion of the eight centuries-long reconquest, or Reconquista from the Moors in 1492. In the early modern period, Spain became one of history’s first global colonial empires, leaving a vast cultural and linguistic legacy that includes over 500 million Spanish speakers, making Spanish the world’s second most spoken first language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Spain is a democracy organised in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy. It is a middle power and a major developed country[11] with the world’s fourteenth largest economy by nominal GDP and sixteenth largest by purchasing power parity. It is a member of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the Eurozone, the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and many other international organisations.

Country Spain
Visa requirements

Visa in not needed for EU citizens.

Languages spokenSpanish
Currency usedEuro
Area (km2)504,645 km2

Sports & nature

Sports and Nature

The spontaneity of the landscape will provide lovers of country or mountains walks with many trails to enjoy, hills to crest or beautiful secluded beaches to photograph. Spain has many wonderful areas to admire and wander through -all you need is a desire to discover and enjoy nature’s wonders.

The natural surroundings of “Green Spain”, between the mountains and the sea, enable you to participate in all kinds of water sports in such breathtaking places as: The Cíes Islands Nature Park, recommended for scuba diving; the coasts of Cantabria and the Basque Country for windsurfing and paragliding; and the Miño and Sella Rivers for canoe trips. Inland, in the Picos de Europa National Park, you can engage in all types of mountain sports: major mountain climbing routes, sport climbing, backcountry skiing, hiking, mountain biking and even horseback riding on a number of routes, the Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago among them.

For their part, the peaks of the Pyrenees in Navarra and La Rioja provide an exceptional backdrop for hikes through the Iratí Forest and for cave exploring in Aralar and Urbasa. In Bárdenas Reales there are many interesting routes to take on foot or mountain bike. The Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago also crosses through this area, another interesting route to travel by bicycle, on foot or on horseback. In the Pyrenees of Aragon and Catalonia, conditions are favorable for numerous activities, in addition to this area’s chief sport: skiing. This is one of Europe’s natural spaces that is most loved by adventure sport aficionados: Their needs are satisfied with descending the Sierra de Guara ravines, ascending the peaks of Aneto and Maladeta, climbing in Mallos de Riglos and Ordesa, rafting and canoeing on the Gallego, Cinca and Noguera Pallaresa rivers, paragliding in Castejón de Sos and by hiking and mountain biking through the Hecho, Benasque, Pallars Sobirá, Ribagorça or Berguedá valleys. In Catalonia there are also various aerodromes for parachuting and other aerial activities.

And for lovers of water sports, the Mediterranean Sea around the Costa Brava boasts some truly beautiful places for scuba diving, with depths of more than 35 meters at Roca Dèntol or at the Formigues Islands. These are places of high ecological value and especially attractive for their submarine caves. The entire Levante coast, down to Andalusia, offers excellent conditions for underwater sports and windsurfing.

But Andalusiais more than just coastline. It has many natural spaces to be explored such as the Cazorla y Segura and Doñana Nature Parks. Both are protected areas that have more than 200 marked trails and an intricate network of roads with no vehicular or foot traffic, ideal for bicycle rides. Historically, horses have had a very direct relationship with these two park communities, and for this reason the old paths and livestock trails are the chosen itineraries for a pleasant journey on horseback.

Moving away from the coasts, there are many ways in which to enjoy the inland landscapes. It is worth highlighting that Castile-La Mancha has more than 40 natural areas in which adventure sports such as hiking or equestrian tourism are available. For the more daring among us, there are aerodromes equipped for parachuting, gliding, and good take-off areas for paragliders. In Castile-Leon, mountain sports and cave exploring in the lovely caves and natural cavities characteristic of the Leon, Avila and Burgos landscapes predominate. The three roads that cross through Castile-Leon--the Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago, Ruta de la Plata and the Duero River Route--are excellent for hiking, bicycling or horseback riding. Extremadura also contains many important natural areas in which hiking and other activities are permitted: Monfragüe National Park, Cornalvo Nature Park and the Cíjara Nature Reserve.

On the Balearic and Canary Islands, the mild climate makes it possible to engage in all types of water sports practically year round.

Spain is a country of great natural beauty, ready for adventure. It is a paradise for lovers of river, sea, mountain and aerial sports.

Sports and nature image

Nightlife info

In Spain, the nightlife doesn't end until after the sun has come upExperience a different kind of night in Spain and enjoy everything it has to offer. One way to start the evening is with dinner and a few drinks in a music bar… or else you could go to a musical or the theatre. Then adjourn to a bar or disco with friends to carry on partying until well into the night. And, if you want, you can continue the party until the next day, dance in clubs open all night and even go to an after-hours club. And to round it all off –even though the sun's already up– what could be better than a delicious cup of hot chocolate with ‘churros’ (hot fritters)?

Culture and history info

The history of Spain is one of the most fascinating in the world and Spanish history and culture has helped to shape the modern world into what it is today. Although Spain is a relatively small territory located in southwestern Europe, the history of Spain is of grandeur and is strikingly different from that of the rest of the continent.

The timeline of Spanish history tells the story of a land that has been sought after by many civilizations: the Carthaginians and Romans fought over it, the Arabs conquered it and the Catholic monarchs would recover Spain and convert it into the most powerful empire in the world upon the discovery of America. The Spanish Empire reached its peak under King Felipe II, who unified the Spanish territory and lands: from the Philippines to the Americas as well as Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy and some of present day Germany.

From this moment forward, Spain’s history reached a period of economic and political decadence which was accompanied by both foreign and civil wars. The 19th century would mark an important part of Spanish history with the loss of important Spanish territories and the collapse of the Spanish Empire. The independence achieved by Spanish territories in the Americas, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines significantly shaped the world and modern Spanish history.

Browse through this Spanish history timeline of links to learn more about the history of Spain and the role that Spain has played in the “theatre” of world history. The more you understand Spain’s history and culture, the faster you will adapt to life in Spain.

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