Fun Facts about Spain!
by John Bascombe on Wednesday, May 30, 2012
With powerful images of bullfighting, flamenco and sizzling paella on the beach, many people know of Spain. And more still know of Spain’s rich culture, from Picasso to Almodóvar, Gaudí to Barcelona FC. Added to all the news coverage about the difficult economic situation, there is a lot of information about Spain flooding the media at the moment. But! Did you know…
- Spain actually covers 2 different time zones! Thanks to the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, you can be at 0 GMT or +1 GMT and still be technically in Spain! There are also Spanish territories of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, and the North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla that are out of the main Iberian Peninsular.
- Spain is a constitutional monarchy, BUT did you know that the present monarch, King Juan Carlos I, is the last monarch in Europe to hold absolute power, and arguably the only European monarch to voluntarily cede that power?! Before he died in 1975, General Francisco Franco named the young Juan Carlos as his heir, who upon succession declared Spain a democracy again!
- While internationally Mariano Rajoy is recognized as the Prime Minister of Spain, in his home country they call him ‘presidente’! This is short for ‘presidente del gobierno’ so while he is Prime Minister of the country, Rajoy is technically also the president of the Spanish government.
- Size-wise, Spain is the 3rd largest country in Europe (after France and the Ukraine), yet despite being 5 times the size of the UK, it only has two-thirds of the UK's population! Not only that, but Spain has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the continent; parts of the south-east resemble a desert, while the north-west ‘enjoys’ on average 20 days of rain a month, and a quarter of the country is a kilometre over sea level!
- Did you know that in theory, nudity is legal anywhere in Spain! Which means that any of Spain’s 8,000km of beaches could be a nudist beach, although in practice nudists tend to congregate in particular beaches, slightly out of the way!
- So after a long day of sunbathing (in today’s 32°C heat!) when you sit back with a nice glass of wine, think of this; 15.5% of the world's vineyards are in Spain, making it the number one ranked country in the world in terms of area covered by vineyards. Not only that, but even though most of Spain's wine are red, over 60% of Spain's vineyards are white, because Spain makes a lot of brandy and sherry. Despite all the home grown booze on offer, Spain is also one of the top five importers of Scotch whiskey in the world. Cheers!
- While the beret conjures up typically French images, of onions and striped t-shirts, the Basques in north-east Spain actually invented the beret!
- Spain was run by the moors for almost 800 years until the Christians ousted them.
- The symbol of Granada is the pomegranate (which can be found on the flag’s coat of arms if you look closely!).
- And finally, my favourite fun fact about Spain; instead of the tooth fairy you may have grown up with (which is not recognized in Spain) here, they have a tooth mouse named Ratoncito Perez!
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