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Practical information - Spain

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Continent: Europe
Capital: Madrid
Direction: +34
Currrency: Euro
Population: 46,9 mln (2013)
Language: Spanish
Time zone: UTC+1 (winter) and UTC+2 (summer)

Spain is located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands. Spain neighbours with France, Andorra, Gibraltar and Portugal. It is surrounded by the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay

COUNTRY

Czech Republic - Practical informationSpain occupies the area of 504,750 km2 . Mt. Teide is the highest peak of Spain – 3,718m (12,198 ft) above sea level in the Canary Islands, the longest river in Spain is Tag. The population of Spain is more than 46 mln people. Madrid is the capital of Spain, other big cities include Barcelona, Valencia and Seville. Spain is a constitutional monarchy, with a bicameral parliament, the official language is Castilian (Spanish) and other languages such as Catalan, Basque, Galician. Ethnic structure of Spain – Native Spaniards make up 72,3% of the total population, the Catalan people – 16,3%, the Galicians – 8,1%, the Basque – 2,3%, other groups -1,0%. As far as religion is concerned, the Catholics dominate – 97%. Official currency is Euro. The average life expectancy for Spanish males is 75,6 years of age – females – 82,8 years of age. Main resources of Spain include minerals, wine, olives, hydro-power, tourism.

Massive tourism in seaside resorts is one of the main country’s sources of income. Spain is visited by more than 65 million tourists every year (which is the biggest number in the world). At 505,955 km2 Spain is one of the 50 biggest countries in the world. The biggest part of its territory covers the Iberian Peninsula, the remaining 12,500 km2 belongs to the islands – the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands plus 32 km2 which constitute the territory of two cities: Ceuta and Melilla which are situated on the coast of Africa.

CLIMATE

The climate of Spain varies across the country, from cool and wet in the northern west to hot and dry in the Andalusian plains. It is a consequence of the landform features. The central part of the country is characterized by the continental climate. It is a terrain surrounded by the mountain range, which results in dryness and no humidity. There are also high daily and annual temperature amplitudes . In the summer it is hot and sunny in the whole country apart from the northern coast. The average temperatures are 12°C in January and 25 °C in July, annual rainfall reaches 250 mm. Average temperatures in Madrid, located at 660m, range from 5°C in January to 24°C in July. The southern part of the country is definitely humid. It is characterized by considerable rainfall and moderate temperatures. Slight monthly amplitudes indicate mild winters (from 6°C to 10°C) and cool summers (below 22°C). The coastal area in the east and south of the country has some mediterranean climate characteristics with the influence of the maritime climate, the more south, the hotter it gets. It is rather a dry terrain with the hot summer (over 22°C) and mild winter (from 6°C on the northern east coast to over 10°C in the south).

Climate zones in Spain:
Climate zone: subtropical and moderate
Climate: Mediterranean, continental and maritime

POPULATION

The population of Spain was 40,499,799 as on 1st of January, 2000. It reached 46,661,950 on 1st of January, 2009. Spain’s population density, which is 91,4people/km² (235/sq mi), is lower than that of most Western European countries and its distribution across the country is very unequal. The most populated areas lie around the coast and around the Madrid Metropolitan Area while the rest of the interior is sparsely populated. Population density varies depending on the province. The biggest population density occurs in the area of big cities.

POLITICAL SYSTEM

Spain is a constitutional monarchy.  Currently ruling monarchs are king Juan Carlos and queen Sofia from the Bourbon Dynasty. A bicameral parliament has legislative capacity: 350 members of the Congress of Deputies and 255 members of a Senate. Spain joined NATO in 1982 and in 1986 became a member of the European Economic Community (which later turned into European Union).

LANGUAGE

Castilian, commonly referred to as Spanish, is the official language of Spain, but around 20% of people speaks Catalan, 6% – Galician, and 1,5% Basque.

RELIGION

The main religion in Spain is Catholicism (95%).

MONEY:

Since 01.01.2002 Euro has been the official monetary unit of Spain. 1 Euro equals to 100 euro cents. Banknotes are issued in €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, €5 and coins are issued in €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c denominations. Banks are usually open from Monday to Friday 9am-2pm (they close in the afternoon!). EC cash machines can be found in most banks. 5-10% of the total bill is usually tipped for the service.

SHOPS AND PRICES

waiter is drafting a beer from a golden spigot

 

Outlets are usually open Monday to Saturday, 9am-1pm and 4pm-8pm. Some shops are open till 10pm in a season and on Sundays with a break for a siesta from 1pm to 4:30pm
Rough prices: Beer € 1-2, coffee €0,8-1,5, dinner in a restaurant €5-10, paella €10, wine €3-6, fruit juice €1,2-2,5, drinks: fanta, coke, sprite (0,25l) €0,9-1,2, mineral water (0,25l) €0,6-0,9, ice-cream €3-5.
City taxi fare is €3,60-6. You can find taxi ranks in a lot of locations. For a surcharge a taxi can be ordered to the hotel. Fixed taxi rates apply on longer routes. A bus ticket within a city costs around €1,15 and to a city 15km away- €1,30. A train ticket to the same place is a bit more expensive (1,35 on weekdays and 1,45 on weekends),but it is always on time and you avoid crowds.

HOLIDAYS:

  • 1st of January –New Year
  • 6th of January– Epiphany (Very important public holiday. Parades representing the arrival of the Kings are arranged in many towns and cities. Spanish children do not get presents on the 24th of December but 6th of January)
  • February/March – Carnival (Carnival preceding the Lent. Processions mainly in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Cadiz and Sitges)
  • 19th of March – St. Joseph’s Day – Fire Day (Fallas (or falles) are ceremonially burnt in Valencia)
  • March/April – Holy Week (Processions of hooded penitents in all the bigger cities in Spain starting from the Palm Sunday till Easter Sunday with the most famous procession in Seville – Holy Week in Seville)
  • 25th of March – Annunciation Day
  • April –Spring Festival (Famous Seville Fair with colourful costumes parades, sevillana music and bullfighting)
  • May – Patios Festival in Cordoba and Horse Fair in Jerez de la Frontera
  • 15th of May – Isidore the Labourer Day (It is a holiday of Madrid’s patron. Bullfighting, processions, concerts and fairs in Madrid).
  • June – Corpus Christi (Celebrations all around the country, the biggest processions in Granada, Toledo, Sitges and Canary Islands)
  • 7th of June – 14th of July – Sanfermines (running of the bulls, bullfighting and celebrations in Pamplona. Music festival in Granada)
  • 25th of July– Feast of Saint James the Apostle (Holiday of Patron Saint of Spain, thousands of pilgrims celebrating in Santiago de Compostela)
  • 15th of August – the Assumption of Mary (public holiday, celebrations in many cities, traditional celebrations in La Alberca (Salamanca) and summer fair in Malaga, famous Elx Mystery Play)
  • September – Wine Festival in Logrono, wine festival in Jerez de la Frontera, Mercé Feria de San Miguel in Torremolinos, Meced Festival
  • October – The Pilar Festival (processions, bullfighting and folklore in Saragossa)
  • 12th of October– Columbus Day (public holiday)
  • 1st of November – All Saints Day
  • 24th of December – Nochebuena – Christmas Eve
  • 25th of December – Christmas Day
  • 28th of December – The Massacre of the Innocents Night/ Day of the Holy Innocents (In Spain and Spanish speaking countries, December 28th is a day of practical jokes, similar to April Fool’s Day in Poland)
  • 31st of December – New Year’s Eve

Sources:
http://www.spain.info/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain
http://www.tourspain.org/

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