What comes to your mind when you hear of Spain? For most people, it’s usually football and music, thanks to some of the most celebrated clubs to have come out of the country.
For others, it’s the mouthwatering cuisine, but what holds the country together? It is the elements of diversity, culture, food, sports, fashion, and much more that intertwine to form the identity of an average Spaniard.
Whether you’re yearning for majestic beaches to explore, are longing to see the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or simply wish to grab a sangria and enjoy a vibrant nightlife, Spain has it all. From its sunny beaches and gorgeous cities to a rich culture that has fascinated people for centuries, the country truly has what it takes to be at the forefront of the tourism industry.
What’s more? Well, if you’re a “Money Heist” fan, there’s no better time than now to grab that popcorn, sit back and relax because we’re about to reveal some of the fascinating facts about the land of flamenco and fiesta!
Located in South Western Europe, the country is known for its snow capped mountains, stone castles, vast monuments, and, most importantly, cultural diversity. Here are some of the least known facts about Spain.
14 Wonderful Facts About Spain
1. Spain Isn’t Entirely “Spanish.”
Despite what the name of the country suggests, Spain is more diverse than what most people think. It may just be the most mind-blowing fact about Spain right now, but the country is home to many Autonomous Communities that also practice some form of self-government.
For instance, Basque, which is different from any other European Language, is widely spoken in the Basque Country. Then, Galicia is majorly Celtic, and Catalonia and Valencia are Catalan and Occitan.
2. Madrid Is Home to the World’s Oldest Restaurant
Speaking of interesting Spain facts, how can we not talk about restaurants?
Did you know that Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is home to the world’s oldest restaurant, “El Restaurante Botin”? The Iberian nation is not only famous for its tortillas and churros but also for the architecture that makes its restaurants all the more worthy of a visit, at least once in a lifetime.
Inaugurated in the year 1725, this restaurant has held on to its original shape and architecture for almost three centuries. Moreover, if you’re on the lookout for some traditional Spanish food, don’t forget to check this place out.
3. Spanish People Live the Longest Lives
As opposed to the rest of the world, where life expectancy ranges from 65-75 years, Spain is one of the very few countries where it falls at 79 years for men and 85 years for women. Japan, Italy, and Switzerland are also some of the big hitters in the race.
So don’t be too surprised if you come across a huge chunk of the older population across the country. It only speaks volumes about the diet and lifestyle the country has practiced for centuries.
4. Spanish Is the Second Most Spoken Language In The World
While Mandarin is the first most spoken language in the world, it’s succeeded by Spanish right on the second spot.
With more than 570 million Hispanophones worldwide, it’s only reasonable to give the crown to the language.
In fact, it’s not only spoken widely in Spain but also in Equitorial Guinea and most countries in Latin America. Hence, approximately 21 nations across the world speak Spanish on a daily basis.
5. The Country Throws Over 150,000 Tomatoes Every Year
When you hear the word “Spain,” you automatically link it to the “La Tomatina” festival and for all the right reasons.
This unique festival is held in August every year takes place near Valencia. As the name already gives it away, the festival allows the participants to throw as many tomatoes at their fellow participants as possible.
However, the only rule is to throw them once they have been squashed to avoid serious injuries.
6. The Highest Peak of Spain Is Not In Spain
Well, to put it out more correctly, the highest Spanish mountain is just not in the Iberian Peninsula. Mount Teide, almost 3710 meters high, is located in the Canary Islands, and interestingly, it’s also a very active volcano.
As a result of countless eruptions over the years, the surrounding islands and beaches have black sand instead of white.
7. It’s one of the Most Sought-After UNESCO Heritage Sites.
There are several countries around the world with numerous UNESCO heritage sites to their name. However, after China and Italy, Spain has the most number of World Heritage Sites, totaling to about 44.
Since we’re on the subject, it’s only reasonable to bring up Sagrada Familia Cathedral, which is situated in Barcelona. As one of the oldest heritage sites in the world, this Cathedral’s history goes back to the 19th century when construction began on the site. Now, it’s believed to be finished five years from now, in 2026.
8. Thanks to Spain, Europe Now Has Access to Chocolate
Europeans were pretty much oblivious to the existence of sugar, potatoes, cacao, avocados, and even oranges up until the 15th century.
If it wasn’t for the Spaniards creating colonies in the American continent, Europe might never have been introduced to several sugary varieties, including chocolate.
Part of the reason the Americans had access to chocolate, fruits, and several other delectables was because of their direct relations with North Africa.
9. The World’s First Modern Novel Is Spanish
If you’re a reading enthusiast and particularly amazed by novels of different genres, you must already be aware of “Don Quixote.”
This marvelous piece of literary work first came out in 1605. Written by a Spanish novelist, Miguel de Cervantes, the book has so far been the most translated one after the Bible.
10. Nudity Has Long Been Declared Legal
Nudity tends to be a sensitive subject for many. While some see it as culturally inappropriate, others see it in a more religious light.
However, that may not necessarily be the case with Spain. While it comes as a shock to many, Spaniards have lived with the rule of “legal nudity” for a number of years now.
Since the country enjoys wet winters, dry summers, and generally a hot Mediterranean climate with over 3000 hours of sunshine in a single year, many people find the rule quite ordinary. There are also many places across the country to top up your tan.
However, the practice is still considered inappropriate in some areas. So if you’re a budding naturist, you may want to visit the country and see it for yourself.
11. The Spanish Political System Is Unlike Any Other
As a parliamentary monarchy, the country as a whole is under the rule of King Felipe II.
However, on a more micro level, people tend to take part in public affairs, mostly through the representatives they elect in free elections.
As per the norm, the elections are held after every four years. As a result of the most recent one held in 2019, the country’s current Prime Minister is Pedro Sanchez from the PSOE, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party.
12. Spanish Chefs Enjoy Great International Recognition
Spain may not be the world’s center of attention yet, but the country’s culinary art sure is. Over the last few decades, the chefs that have sprawled from the country have not only gained greater momentum but have also left the world in awe of their art.
In fact, some of the most prestigious publications in the world have given many culinary awards to Spain. As of now, there are over 250 Michelin stars boasted by the country’s restaurants, and you can also find almost ten of them on the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list.
13. “Tiki-Taka”-The Football Tradition
“Tiki-Taka” defines the distinctive style of Spanish football players when it comes to playing the game.
This unique approach consists of maintaining possession for the longest time, making short passes, and applying other techniques in the game.
Many people believe that this approach is the reason behind the country’s phenomenal success in the field of football in recent years.
14. The Celebration Trend Varies From City to City
Now that we are on the subject of football, it’s only fair to discuss how this country of football fanatics celebrates each victory in a distinctive style. It has been the norm for Spanish people to run to the streets whenever the national team wins.
While fans in Madrid go to fountains like Cibeles to celebrate the victory of Real Madrid, those in Barcelona make a run towards the Canaletas Fountain. So don’t be too startled if you see a bunch of football fans hitting the streets and taking on bus after bus.
10 Best Cities to Live In Spain
If you are interested in learning more about the best cities to live in Spain, this video will help you get started. Not only will it allow you to get a greater insight into the country, but it will also serve as a visual guide to keep your concentration intact throughout.
Spain is one of the most diverse countries in Europe. From culinary art and entertainment to food and historical sites, there’s something to enjoy for everybody.
Thousands of tourists visit the country every year, and as home to over 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the country always manages to get travelers’ attention from across the world.
Hi I’m Jay. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and live in Los Angeles, California. I have travelled to 23 countries so far and planning to go explore more countries soon! My Favorite trips so far have been to Israel, Japan, Rome, Iceland and Australia. I started this site to share my love of travel with everyone and build a community of like-minded, free thinking, free exploring people.