Spain's powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II, but suffered through a devastating civil war (1936-39).
In the second half of the 20th century, Spain has played a catch-up role in the western international community. Continuing challenges included further reductions in unemployment.
the coat of arms includes the royal seal framed by the Pillars of Hercules
Coordinates: 40 00N, 4 00W Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France Climate: temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast
Terrain: large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees in north Natural Hazards: periodic droughts Natural Resources: coal, lignite, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, tungsten, mercury, pyrites, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land Environmental Issues: pollution of the Mediterranean Sea from raw sewage and effluents from the offshore production of oil and gas; water quality and quantity nationwide; air pollution; deforestation; desertification
Population: 40,491,051 Population Growth Rate: 0.096% Nationality: noun: Spaniard(s) ; adjective: Spanish Languages: Castilian Spanish 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2% note: Castilian is the official language nationwide; the other languages are official regionally Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, other 6% Ethnicities: composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types
Health Expenditure: 0.0% of GDP Health Issues: HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.7% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:140,000 HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 1,000
Legal System: civil law system, with regional applications; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction Military Expenditure: 1.2% of GDP Military Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force (Ejercito del Aire, EdA), Marines
Political Parties & Leaders: Basque Nationalist Party or PNV Canarian Coalition Convergence and Union Entesa Catalonia de Progress Galician Nationalist Bloc or BNG Party of Independents from Lanzarote Popular Party or PP Republican Left of Catalonia Spanish Socialist Workers Party United Left
Economic Overview: The Spanish economy boomed from 1986 to 1990, averaging 5% annual growth. After a European-wide recession in the early 1990s, the Spanish economy resumed moderate growth starting in 1994. The Socialist president, RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, has made mixed progress in carrying out key structural reforms, which need to be accelerated and deepened to sustain Spain's strong economic growth. Despite the economy's relative solid footing significant downside risks remain, including Spain's continued loss of competitiveness, the potential for a housing market collapse, the country's changing demographic profile and a decline in EU structural funds.
Industries: textiles and apparel (including footwear) food and beverages metals and metal manufactures chemicals shipbuilding automobiles machine tools tourism
Exports: $252,400,000,000 Export Partners: France Germany Portugal Italy UK US Export Commodities: machinery, motor vehicles; foodstuffs, other consumer goods
Imports: $373,600,000,000 Import Partners: Germany France Italy China UK Netherlands Import Commodities: machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, semifinished goods; foodstuffs, consumer goods
External Debt: $2,047,000,000,000 Economic Aid Status: Recipient Economic Aid Total: $3,814,000,000
Spain was among the most powerful empires in the world during the 16th century.
Spaniards habitually stand close and will, from time to time, touch one another on the shoulder while talking.
The low birthrate registered in Spain is the result of the high unemployment. These factors make it difficult for most people in Spain to buy houses big enough to accommodate more than two kids.
Spaniards place a lot of importance on what others think of them.
If you attend a wedding where the culture has been influenced by Spain, Spanish wedding customs may be very much in play. When looking at wedding customs, Spain has some of the more traditional and colorful customs in the world. They are practiced widely in South and Central America.
The Dress and Shirt In true Spanish wedding tradition the bride will wear a traditional silk, black dress with an accompanying black lace veil held in place by combs. A bride from the Andalusia region may wear a flamingo style dress to honor the old Spanish wedding customs of that region.traditional silk, black dressblack lace veil The bride is expected to embroider a groom's wedding shirt to wear at the wedding ceremony.
The Flowers In Seville, brides carry orange blossom bouquets or wear wreaths or tiaras decorated with orange blossoms. This is to symbolize a life of happiness and fulfillment for the couple. In the Andalusia region, brides prefer pink and white garlands whereas Castillian brides wear white flowers.
The Escorts The bride's father has the job of making sure the groom does not see her until the beginning of the wedding ceremony. He then escorts her to the church for the ceremony. The groom walks his mother down the aisle to her seat in a pew at the front of the church.
The Ceremony In accordance with Spanish wedding customs, the wedding ceremony is held in the early evening. As part of the ceremony, the groom presents the bride with 13 coins in a bag or a box. This is said to represent Jesus and his apostles that gives it a religious connotation. It also is a pledge by the groom that he will always support his wife. The coins are blessed by the priest during the ceremony. In some ceremonies, the bride and groom are wrapped with a Lasso in the shape of a rosary. This is done after the vows have been taken and insures the protection of the union. Some couples are wrapped by the Lasso at the reception. The bride and groom will exchange rings and the priest will bless them. The rings are placed on the ring finger of the right hand.
The Reception When the newlyweds exit the church, they are greeted by fireworks and applause by family and friends. The festivities have begun. You can usually hear a Mariachi band filling the hall with Latin and Spanish music. Dancing is expected. Spanish wedding customs will always include the bride and groom dancing to the Sequidillas Manchegas, the traditional wedding dance.
The Food One thing you are bound to see at the reception are wedding cookies flavored with almonds and different spices.wedding cookies A seafood dish is usually the main course but you may see a more native dish called Paella being served. Paella Local wines and Sangria are served in abundance. The wedding cake more than likely is filled with fresh fruit and almonds.
The Wedding Favors and Fun The bride and groom will give their guests small wedding favors. The Groom will also give the men cigars at some time during the reception. The bride will give the women who are single small pins that are worn upside down. A Spanish wedding custom says that if a woman looses the pin during the reception she is believed to be the next to get married. The bride will also toss her bouquet to the women who are single; whoever catches it is believed to be next to get married.
Spain legalized gay marriage in June 2005 despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
Traditional Spanish dresses are conservative and tend to be non-flashy colors and would include traditional clothing used in festivals which are numerous in all Spanish cities and also in bullfights. Traditional dress would not be complete without the wide brimmed hat worn by men. Shoes are another important facet of traditional Spanish dressing. A typical traditional Spanish dress for men would include black trousers tightly worn and short jackets while the ladies would wear an exquisite frilly flamenco dress. Down the years Spain held on to a lot of their traditional dress styles even when they went out of fashion. This was the main reason why Spain gave its title as the center for European fashion to other European fashion conscious places like Paris and London.
Bullfighting in Spain, which is regarded as an art as well as a popular attraction, is its biggest and most controversial sport. Bullfighting is a central part of Spanish history, art and culture and there are bull rings in all important cities and even a few minor ones.
The Music of Spain has a vibrant and long history which has had an important impact on music in Western culture. Although the music of Spain is often associated with traditions like flamenco and the spanish guitar, Spanish music is in fact incredibly diverse from region to region. Flamenco, for example, is an Andalusian musical genre, which, contrary to popular belief, is not widespread outside that region. In contrast, the music of Galicia has more in common with its Celtic cousins in Ireland and France than with the unique Basque music right next door. Other regional styles of folk music abound in Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, Castile, Llión and Asturias. The contemporary music scene in Spain, centered in Madrid and Barcelona, has made strong contributions to contemporary music within the areas of Pop, rock, hip hop, and heavy metal music. Spain has also had an important role within the history of classical music from Renaissance composers like Tomás Luis de Victoria to the zarzuela of Spanish opera to the passionate ballets of Manuel de Falla and the guitarist Pepe Romero.
The guitar was introduced to Spain through the Caliphate of Córdoba in the: Ninth Century A.D., and although we are reasonably sure of the evolutionary process of the Cante, no one knows quite for certain when the guitar was first used to accompany Flamenco. I suspect it occurred initially in the early stages of the music, and have thus included an example of Nubian oud praying on the cassette. The oud is the forerunner to the l and is played usually with an eagle feather. This plucking technique is very similar to the function of the thumb in Flamenco guitar playing. The oud is a lower pitched instrument, but one hears definite traces of the oud in the playing of Benitez El De Alcalá in example number 3, as well as Roman El Granaíno in example number 5. Again, the "Cana" in example two is perhaps the oldest style of Flamenco we know of: the singer is encouraged by shouts of '01e’!", which comes from the Arabic "Allah!".
Flamenco music is one of the most technically demanding, yet least understood musics in the world today, Part of the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of what I usually refer to as "Tourist Flamenco", with its artificial emotion and showy (and often badly played) guitar stylings, Current recordings are frequently not much help, as guitarists like Manitas de Plata, or "Little Hands of Silver" (known in Spain as "Manitas de Plomo", or Little Hands of Lead) have managed to land themselves recording contracts with major record companies, while true artists like Melchor de Marchena remain in relative obscurity. Part of the reason for this is the fact that the true Flamenco artist generally finds himself uncomfortable in a recording situation and is not able, or in fact refuses, to produce. The preferred venue is the "juerga", an authentic Flamenco atmosphere usually occurring at random, in any location, with much to drink, and with only a few other Flamencos and "Aficionado" present. The juerga atmosphere is extremely difficult to record, as the greatness of the music sometimes occurs sporadically, and can be destroyed in a second by what may be perceived as an inappropriate word or action.
Some scholars of Flamenco believe that Cante Jondo evolved out of a mixture of early Byzantine, Arab, Jewish and Gypsy cultures in Andalucía. At the time the Gypsies arrived, Christian, Jewish and Muslim music all existed in both liturgical and vernacular forms in much of Spain, including Andalcía. An edict issued in 1492 by Isabella the Catholic required all Jews to convert to Catholicism or leave the country. Those who refused blended in as they were able, as did Christian fugitives and dissenters. The Gypsies, who had themselves been expelled from India by Tamerlane in 1400 had gradually moved into this region as well.
I must make mention here of the particular dialect of Flamenco, as well as its non-Spanish influences, I know several Spaniards who have a difficult time understanding the dialect known as "Andalúz," and for Americans who understand a little Spanish, Flamenco records can present a real challenge.
The essential mood of the 'cante', like many American Blues songs, is one of despair and tortured emotions. This "pena negra", or black sorrow, can be expressed profoundly merely by the mournful repetition of the word "Ay! The Siguiriya has been described as singing of "pains without possible consolation, wounds that will never close, crimes without human redemption... the lament of the earth that will never be the sky, the sea that knows no limits, the good-bye eternal, forever". It is the exposure of one's soul stripped bare.
Teenagers in Spain normally start dating in groups when they are around 14 years of age and as couples at age 18.
Instead of calling on a girl at her home, a boy usually prefers meeting her at a prearranged venue.
Soccer happens to be the most popular spectator sport in Spain. The important matches see the fans crowding homes as well as local bars.
Sports in Spain in the second half of 20th century has been dominated by football. Other popular sport activities include basketball, tennis, cycling, handball, motorcycling, Formula One, water sports, golf, and skiing.
Spain has also hosted a number of international events such as the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and the 1982 FIFA World Cup.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Spain, with world famous clubs in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Fans throng to watch these match ups every Sunday with international matches being hosted often. The main topic of conversation as you can expect is soccer. Other sports that draw in the crowds are horse racing, volleyball and motoracing.
Spain has over 4000km of coastline with innumerable number of harbors and beaches. Most of the beach resorts in Spain have excellent facilities for water-skiing, windsurfing and other water sports. Spain’s premier windsurfing resort is the strait of Gibraltar where the world championships are held. There are also opportunities for whitewater rafting and canoeing in the rapids in northern Spain.
Requesting for a second serving is taken as an indication that you liked the food.
Present day traditional Spanish food is influenced by the Greek, Roman, Phoenician and Moorish settlements in Spain's history. The Moors had a strong influence on Spain for many years and their type of food is still eaten by Spaniards today. Spanish cuisine comprises a small variety of dishes and is heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters around the country.
Spanish breakfasts are usually light. The menu might consist of coffee and a croissant or roll. Omelette and tortillas are also popular for breakfast.
The lunch (la comida) and the dinner (la cena) menus are more elaborate than the breakfast. Spanish Tapas are extremely popular. A Tasca or Tapas bar is where most Spaniards entertain themselves after work. Spanish Tapas menu encompasses simple dishes made of cheese, fish, eggs, dips, vegetable dishes, canapés, and savory pastries. Tapas can be found even in small bars and tiny villages.
An important Spanish food or recipe is Jamon Serrano, a special ham which is not smoked. Sausages make up a part of the Spanish diet as well. Salads and fried potatoes come as appetizers in a typical Spanish food menu. Desserts are usually made of eggs, ground almonds, flour and milk.
The cuisines of Spain differ widely from one region to another, even though there are some common characteristics. some basic characteristics of Spanish food would include: the use of olive oil as a cooking fat in items such as fritters, the use of sofrito to start the preparation of many dishes, the use of garlic and onions as major seasonings, the custom of drinking during meals, serving bread with the vast majority of meals, consumption of salads, especially in the summer and the consumption of a piece of fruit or a dairy product as dessert. Desserts like tarts and cakes are usually reserved for special occasions.
January 1: New Year’s Day May 1: Labor Day August 15: Assumption of Mary October 12: Hispanic Day November 1: All Saints Day December 6: Constitution Day December 8: Immaculate Conception December 25: Christmas Day
The biggest industry in Spain is tourism. Benidorm, a beach town nearby Alicante has got the third most hotel rooms in Europe after London and Paris.
More than men, it is women who are presently enrolled in Spain's universities.
Spain has one of Europe's highest rates of AIDS.
The locals of Spain have lunch at 2 pm and dinner at around 9 to 10 pm.
Spain is just a little more than twice the size of Oregon. Spain comprises 85 per cent of the Iberian Peninsula.
Spain kept a position of neutrality in World War I. In 1923, Gen. Miguel Primo de Rivera became dictator. Spain gained freedom from the Moors in Granada (the last stronghold of the Moors) in 1492.
Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain in order to find the New World.
In Spain, 94 per cent of its population is Roman Catholic.
In Spain, prescription medications can be acquired ‘over-the-counter’ at medicine shops.
Alejandro Sanz (born Alejandro Sánchez Pizarro on December 18, 1968), is an award winning, Spanish pop/ballad musician and singer-songwriter. Sanz has won 17 Latin Grammy Awards and two Grammy Awards.
Penélope Cruz Sánchez (born April 28, 1974), better known as Penélope Cruz, is a Spanish actress. She gathered critical acclaim as a young actress for films such as Jamón, Jamón, La Niña de tus ojos, and Belle époque. She has also starred in several American films such as Blow, Vanilla Sky, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She is perhaps best known for her work with acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, in Broken Embraces, Volver and All About My Mother. Cruz has been awarded three Goyas, two European Film Awards, and the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2009, she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Goya, and a BAFTA for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She is Spain's first female Oscar winner and also becomes the sixth Hispanic person to win an Oscar.
Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquis of Púbol (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989) was a Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born in Figueres. Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in 1931. Dalí's expansive artistic repertoire includes film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.
Juan Ponce de León y Figueroa, (1474 – July 1521) was a Spanish explorer. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish Crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named. He is associated with the legend of the Fountain of Youth, reputed to be in Florida.
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca (1485 – December 2, 1547) was a Spanish conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the King of Castile, in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
Francisco Pizarro González, 1st Marqués de los Atabillos (c. 1471 or 1476 – 26 June 1541) was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of Peru.
Pelagius (died 737) was the founder of the Kingdom of Asturias, ruling from 718 until his death. He is credited with beginning the Reconquista, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors, insofar as he established an independent Christian state in opposition to Moorish hegemony, but there is no strong evidence that he either intended to resuscitate the old Visigothic kingdom or was motivated by any religious desire.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (September 29, 1547 – April 23, 1616) was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. His magnum opus, Don Quixote, often considered the first modern novel, is a classic of Western literature and is regularly regarded among the best novels ever written. His work is considered among the most important in all of literature. His influence on the Spanish language has been so great that Spanish is often called la lengua de Cervantes (The language of Cervantes). He has been dubbed el Príncipe de los Ingenios - the Prince of Wits.
Fernando José Torres Sanz (born 20 March 1984) is a Spanish footballer who plays for Premier League club Liverpool and the Spanish national team as a striker.
A native of Córdoba, Cortés showed interest in dancing from an early age. Cortés and his family moved to Madrid in 1981. Soon after moving to Madrid, he began to take formal dancing lessons and studying seriously.
Tamara Rojo (born in 1974) is a Spanish prima ballerina, and is currently a Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet in London. Tamara was born in Montreal, Canada to Spanish parents who moved back to Spain when she was four months old. She started dancing at the age of 10 in Víctor Ullate Dance Centre in Madrid (1983-1991), and completed her training under David Howard and Renatto Paroni. Tamara continued to work with the Ullate Company from 1991 to 1996. At the age of 20 she was offered a contract with the Scottish Ballet, by Galina Samsova. On her arrival at Scottish Ballet Tamara has jokingly said "I spoke no English at this time but it did not matter; neither did they." She would dance with them until her move to the English National Ballet in June 1997. There she was promoted to Principal Dancer in January 1998. She officially joined Royal Ballet as a Principal Dancer at the start of the 2000/2001 season, although she danced Giselle with the Royal Ballet at the end of the previous season in July 2000, at short notice and as a replacement for Darcey Bussell, who was injured.