If you’re planning on living in Spain it makes perfect sense to learn a few fun facts about your new home from home.
Spain isn’t just sun, sea, sand and siestas you know. It has so much more to offer to those who are willing to submerge themselves into this rich, vibrant and colourful culture.
Below we list some of the most interesting, cultural, historical and fun facts about Spain that you may not know.
So how many of the 30 facts below were you aware of?
1. Spain is the second biggest country in the EU
Including its two archipelagos, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, Spain (Kingdom of Spain) occupies a total of 505,990 square kilometres. This makes it the second-largest country in the EU behind France.
2. Spain has the fifth-largest population in Europe
With a population of 46,785,134, Spain has the European Union’s fifth-largest population behind Germany, France, the UK and Italy.
3. Spanish is the world’s second-most spoken language
According to a recent study by the Cervantes Institute, around 580 million people speak Spanish worldwide or around 7.6% of the world’s population.
After Mandarin Chinese, Spanish is the second most spoken language on the planet with over 477 million native speakers.
4. Spain is actually a kingdom
Spain is officially a Kingdom with its official name, Reino de España.
Spain was originally made up of numerous smaller kingdoms, however, in 1479 the Kingdom of Spain was formed when Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon married uniting their respective kingdoms.
5. Spaniards have one of the longest life expectancies in the world
If you want to live a ripe old age then moving to Spain and adopting some of the Spanish eating habits could help you live longer than the vast majority of people.
Until now, it has been the Japanese who have enjoyed the longest life expectancy. However, by 2040, they are expected to lose their crown to the Spanish who will have an average lifespan of 85.8 years.
6. Produces 43% of the worlds olive oil
Spain is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of olive oil, producing around 1.77 million tonnes each year. Around 46% of the country’s olive oil is exported each year with the Andalucia region responsible for around 75% of it.
7. Spain has Europe’s second-highest unemployment rate
Despite the long life expectancy, Spain performs badly in the unemployment stakes with the highest unemployment rate within the EU 27. As of August 2020, over 3.77 million people were unemployed. Spain also boasts the highest youth unemployment rate in Europe at over 40%.
8. Spain has a constitutional monarchy and a king
After the death of the dictator, General Francisco Franco in 1975, Spain became a democracy with King Juan Carlos I returning to the throne. However, during his reign, Juan Carlos was embroiled in a number of scandals and in 2014 made the decision to abdicate to preserve constitutional stability, handing over power to his son, King Felipe VI.
9. Spain has 48 World Heritage sites
As of July 2019, Spain boasts 48 World Heritage sites third to only China and Italy both with 55. Some of the most well known include the Alhambra in Granada, the Dolmens site in Antequera and the works of Antoni Gaudi. See the following UNESCO site for the full list https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/es
10. Spain is one of the biggest producers of saffron
Saffron is a spice and one of the most important ingredients in Spain’s most famous dish, paella. The country is the world’s biggest producer of saffron with the region of La Mancha responsible for around 70% of all production.
11. Almost 80% of Spaniards own their own homes
Owning their own is important to the vast majority of the country’s citizens. In 2019, 76.2% of Spaniards owned their own home with two-thirds of these residing in flats/apartments.
12. Spain has hundreds of Blue Flag beaches
With around 5,000 km of stunning coastline, it goes without saying that Spain boasts some of the finest beaches in the Mediterranean. When it comes to quality, Spain is right up there. As of June 2020, Spain had 589 that were rated as Blue Flag beaches due to their levels of safety and cleanliness.
13. Same-sex marriages have been legal since 2005
On July 3, 2005, Spain became the third country in the world to make same-sex marriage legal following a campaign by the then PSOE leader, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
14. One of the world’s most popular tourist destinations
You may already be aware that Spain is popular when it comes to tourism, but did you know that in 2019, the country attracted over 83.7 million visitors, making it the second most visited country in the world?
15. Home to the world’s oldest restaurant
If you ever visit Madrid, you may want to stop for a bite to eat at Restaurante Botín. First opened back in 1725, the restaurant is set over four floors and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest restaurant.
16. Spaniards eat 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve
Spaniards have a number of customs including eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
The aim is to eat one grape for each stroke of the bell. If you’re successful you are said to enjoy good luck for the rest of the year!
17. Spain has one of the world’s biggest national lotteries
Every Christmas, millions of Spaniard’s part with their hard-earned euros and take a chance on winning the country’s national lottery commonly known as ‘El Gordo’ or ‘The Big One’.
With a total prize fund of over €2.2 billion in 2019, El Gordo is officially the world’s biggest national lottery.
18. Spaniards adore the beautiful game
Most Spaniards love the ‘beautiful game’ and will be more than happy to discuss the subject with you. As a country, Spain is pretty good at footy winning the European Championships in 1964, 2008 and 2012 and most recently, the 2010 World Cup!
Spain’s biggest ever win was against Bulgaria in 1933 which saw them win 13-0. However, you may want to refrain from discussing their biggest loss which came at the hands of England way back in 1931 where they lost 7-1. They’ve come a long way since, although the same can’t be said for England...
19. Speaking of football
The table football game commonly known as ‘Foosball’ was actually invented by a Spaniard by the name of Alejandro Campos Ramírez who was a poet, publisher and inventor.
Word has it that Ramírez was injured during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and had to spend some time in hospital.
During his time there, he met children who complained that they were unable to play football. So Ramírez went about inventing a game they could enjoy without breaking any windows...
20. Growing and smoking cannabis is legal in Spain
In Spain, the production and use of cannabis are legal although not when produced for commercial purposes. In fact, there are a number of established ‘user associations’ and ‘consumption clubs’ up and down the country where members can grow their own and sell to their friends at cost.
21. Spain’s national anthem has no words
Spain’s national anthem, the Marcha Real has no words, one of only four in the world along with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and San Marino.
22. There is no law on public nudity!
There is no law against public nudity in Spain, although Barcelona is an exception banning nudity or semi-nudity on its streets.
23. Sorry kids, there is no tooth fairy
The kids may be aghast to learn that there is no such thing as the tooth fairy here in Spain. Instead, there is a little rodent (Ratoncito) who goes by the name of Pérez who replaces any teeth he finds with money or a small gift.
24. Spain has one of the largest underground subways
The Madrid Metro rapid transit system runs for 182 miles and is the second-largest underground system in Europe and sixth largest in the world. Trains run from 6 am to 1:30 am transporting over 650 million passengers every year.
25. One of the most famous novels was written in Spanish
Written back in 1605 by Miguel de Cervantes, the book Don Quixote is widely considered to be the world’s first modern novel and one of the greatest literary works ever written.
26. Spain is one of the most mountainous countries
It’s a contentious issue, however, Spain is thought to be the second most mountainous country in Europe second only to Switzerland. If you’ve ever flown over Spain, you will have undoubtedly noticed the large number of mountains. A beautiful sight for sure!
27. Madrid is the country’s capital and largest city
With 6.642 million inhabitants Madrid is not only the country’s capital city, it is also the largest metropolitan area. The popular city of Barcelona is runner up with 5.575 million and Valencia third with 1.645 million citizens.
28. Spaniards like a late dinner
Spaniards typically enjoy eating later in the day. As a guide, lunch is between 1 pm and 3 pm with dinner often taking place at around 10 pm.
29. Home to the La Tomatina festival
The La Tomatina festival is an annual event held in the Valencian town of Buñol.
Held on the last Wednesday of August the Tomatina festival has been running since 1945 and sees participants enjoying tomato throwing fights just for the pure fun of it.
In 2015, it is thought that around 145,000 kilos of tomatoes were used!
30. Spain used to be known as the ‘Land of Rabbits’
When the Carthaginians landed on Spain in the 5th Century BC it was literally full of rabbits. In fact, the Roman Empire referred to Spain as the land of olive oil and rabbits.
España comes from the name Hispania which in turn came from the word Ispania which meant ‘Land of Rabbits’ in Carthaginian.
January 10, 2024
Updated: February 07, 2024 CET