1. Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world by native speakers, according to this. Behind Chinese and before English.
2. But no one really speaks Spanish in Spain. Spaniards speak Castellano, which is the same thing. But there are other 3 co-official languages: Catalan, Galician, Basque, and plenty of dialects.
3. Spanish has also many Arabic sounding words, since it was conquered by the Islamic Moorish armies for many years.
4. It’s said that Christopher Columbus was Italian, but he conquered the Indies under the orders of the Spanish Catholic Monarchs. Not that Spaniards are very proud of South America colonisation or marrying their princesses with other convenient Royal Families in Europe, but the Spanish Empire used to be known as “the empire on which the sun never sets”.
5. Despite that past, Spain didn’t officially participate in either the First or the Second World War.
6. But things got pretty bad for them too and Spain had a military dictatorship, that in fact, ideologically aligned with Germany and Italy during World War II. Franco ruled the country as a dictator until his death in 1975.
7. Spain is now a Constitutional Monarchy. The King is Felipe VI, the Queen is Letizia and the President of the Country… still to be decided (after a second election).
8. The Spanish territory is divided in 17 different Comunidades Autónomas or counties and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Each of them is partially ruled independently and they are culturally pretty different from each other, till the point of some of them wanting to be independent, like Catalonia or Basque Country.
9. Behind France and the United States, Spain is the third most visited country in the world.
10. And the world’s largest olive oil region, producing more than 45% of all olive oil in the world, mainly in the south of the country, Andalucía. And Spaniards do use it for EVERYTHING.
11. Spain has more festivals than there are days in the year and they are rather peculiar: throwing tomatoes on the streets, chasing bulls to the ring, bullfighting, dancing with horses, making human towers, sawing wood logs as quick as possible or walking bare foot in tears in a parade…
12. And it’s a religious matter. Most of Spain’s population identifies itself as catholic. However, football is the only one followed with the fervour of a religion and churches are pretty empty.
13. But it’s convenient for everybody. Besides having plenty of holiday, each Spaniard has two special days; their birthday and their Patron Saints day.
14. They also have two surnames; the first surname from the father, and the second from the mother.
15. Other traditions might puzzle you. A smiley-faced piece of wood called Tió or the “Shitting Log” poops out the presents in Christmas eve in Catalonia, only after you hit it well with a stick. Or the mouse named Pérez that does job of the tooth fairy in Spain, but only if you are well-behaved.
16. Spaniards might be known to be friendly and generous, but tipping isn’t common in Spain.
17. Having a siesta is not that common either. Ok, well, just when it’s pretty hot.
18. But Spain is not always hot. In fact, there are places where it never stops raining, in the north, and others covered in snow, like the Pyrenees or Sierra Nevada in Granada.
19. Spain has some of the best restaurants in the world. You’ll find the second world’s best restaurant in Girona, El Celler de Can Roca, which has previously been the first.
20. Because, yes, let’s be honest. Spaniards eat and drink A LOT. It is the main national sport or the main social activity.
21. But not everyone eats paella. In fact, it’s a Valencian dish that very few can master.
22. And not everyone drinks sangría, either. There are pretty good wines and cavas in Spain. And with the leftover grapes, Spaniards celebrate New Year’s Eve, by eating a grape with each bell strike at 12 am.
23. And around that time is when the party gets started. Late nights in Spain are real. Clubs and discos only start to get busy around 1 or 2am.
24. Because Spaniards really love fiesta and dancing. But flamenco is not the national dance. It’s only one of the traditional dances of Andalucía. Each county has theirs.
25. The timings, therefore, are slightly delayed. You’ll need to get a mid-morning snack to get you to lunch. A café con leche and bocadillo de jamón, maybe?
26. And you also may find some places closed between 2 and 4pm. People are not sleeping. They are in fact having lunch.
27. Anything that could be done today, they will do it the next day. No rush, amigo.
28. A good example is La Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Under construction for the past 133 years. Expected to be finished by… 2026?
29. But, could you imagine having The Eiffel Tower instead? It was originally planned for Barcelona, but the city rejected it. And Gustave Eiffel made his mark in Girona before changing the skyline of Paris.
30. But, hey, the best thing Spaniards have is that they know how to enjoy life. And that’s what they’re probably doing right now…