An introduction to Spain

An introduction to Spain

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Last update on July 31, 2018

Get a quick introduction to Spain, with tons of facts about your new country and its people, culture, cuisine and history.


Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Biscay, and Pyrenees Mountains; southwest of France.

Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 4 00 W

Area: 505,370 sq km
Country comparison to the world: 52

Land: 498,980 sq km
Water: 6,390 sq km

N.B. There are 17 autonomous communities including the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands in addition to two autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla, part of the North African mainland adjacent to Morocco and three small Spanish possessions situated off the coast of Morocco, namely Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera.

Land boundaries: 1,917.8 km
Border countries: Andorra 63.7 km, France 623 km, Gibraltar 1.2 km, Portugal 1,214 km, Morocco (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Morocco (Melilla) 9.6 km.

Coastline: 4,964 km

Climate: Temperate; clear, hot summers in the interior, more moderate and cloudy along the coast; cloudy, cold winters in the interior, partly cloudy and cool along the coast.

Terrain: Large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees Mountains in the north.

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Pico de Teide on the Canary Island of Tenerife 3,718 m

Natural resources: Coal, lignite, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, tungsten, mercury, pyrites, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, kaolin, potash, hydropower and arable land.

People and Society

Noun: Spaniard(s)
Adjective: Spanish

Ethnic groups: Composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types.

Languages: Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, and Basque 2%.
N.B. Catalan is an official language in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community where it is known as Valencian.  In the northwest corner of Catalonia (Vall d’Aran), Aranese is an official language along with Catalan.  Galician is an official language in Galicia and Basque is an official language in the Basque Country.

Religions: Roman Catholic 94% and other 6%.

Population: 47,042,984 (July 2012 ext.)
Country comparison to the world: 27

Age structure:
0-14 years: 15.1% (male 3,646,614/female 3,435,311)
15-64 years: 67.7% (male 16,036,556/female 15,637,090)
65 years and over: 17.1% (male 3,389,681/female 4,609,532)

Median age:
Total: 40.5 years
Male: 39.3 years
Female: 41.9 years

Population growth rate: 0.654%
Country comparison to the world: 142

Birth rate: 10.4 births/1,000 population
Country comparison to the world: 182

Death rate: 8.88 deaths/1,000 population
Country comparison to the world: 71

Major cities – population: Madrid (capital) 5,762 million; Barcelona 5.029 million; Valencia 812,000

Health expenditures: 9.7% of GDP
Country comparison to the world: 34

Doctors’ density: 3.075 doctors/1,000 population
Country comparison to the world: 20

Hospital bed density: 3.22 beds/1,000 population
Country comparison to the world: 66

Education expenditures: 4.3% of GDP
Country comparison to the world: 94

CIA World Factbook / Expatica