Spain Demographics

What is the population of Spain?

Population 50,015,792
Population Growth Rate 0.73%
Urban Population 77.4%
Population in Major Urban Areas MADRID (capital) 6.574 million; Barcelona 5.57 million; Valencia 797,000
Nationality Noun Spaniard(s)
Nationality Adjective Spanish
Ethnic Groups composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types
Languages Spoken Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, and Basque 2%

note: Catalan is official 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 official along with Catalan; Galician is official in Galicia; Basque is official in the Basque Country

Spain Learning

What is school like in Spain?


The school system in Spain is free to all children, but families must buy the text books, school supplies, and other materials that might be required for school courses or extracurricular activities. Although the state helps to support all public schools and many private and religious schools, families are required to play a significant role in educating the children.

When it comes to lunch, Spanish schools will follow one of two schedules. One option begins at about 8:00 in the morning and goes through to 1:30 or 2:00. These schools do not provide lunch for their students. Instead, children return home to eat in the early afternoon. Throughout Spain, the midday meal is traditionally the main family meal. Most secondary schools follow this schedule.

However, some schools, including most nursery and primary schools, begin later in the morning (usually 9:00) and then break for lunch at noon. Those schools will offer lunch (which are low-cost but must be paid for by the family), along with some extracurricular activities during the break, and then begin school again at 3:00 in the afternoon, finishing at 5:00. Some families will have their children come home for lunch; others have their children purchase school lunch or send them with a packed lunch from home.

Education Culture

Children in Spain are required to attend school between the ages of 5 and 16. Approximately 30% of all children attend private rather than the state-funded public schools. However, the lines between public, private, and religious schools are not as clear as in many countries, and many private and religious schools also receive financial support from the state.

The school year runs from September to June, followed by a summer break of about 10 to 12 weeks that begins around the end of June. Parents must register their children each May for the next year of school.

Children usually begin their formal education at age 3, although they can wait until age 5, and some schools accommodate children as young as 9 months.  These early years of schooling are called nursery education.  By the end of the third year (age 5), nursery children will know at least the alphabet and other basic skills. At age 4, they begin to learn to read and write.

Primary education covers ages 6 to 12, and is divided into three two-year stages. If a student does not master the material taught at the end of the second year in any phase, he or she might have to repeat that year of schooling. Parents are expected to support their children, and they can visit with the teachers as often as once a week to ensure their children are progressing or to help solve problems that might arise.


Very few public schools require school uniforms, although infants in nursery school are expected to wear a blue-and-white checked overall. Beyond that, students may dress as they wish.

The atmosphere in Spanish schools can be quite relaxed.  For instance, it is not unusual for children in primary schools to call their teachers by their first names. However, subjects are often challenging, and regular homework might be assigned as early as the first grade (age 6). Nursery schools focus on the basics of learning the alphabet and basic skills. Primary schools teach Spanish, math, history, biography, science, physical education, art, and a second language (often English). Most schools will also teach a religion course in Catholicism.

Secondary schools serve children between the ages of 12-16, with courses of study becoming more specialized as is typical of most school systems. For example, technology, natural sciences, literature, music, and additional language studies are available to these older students. At the end of secondary school, students take a comprehensive test covering 14 subjects. They must pass at least 12 of the subjects in order to receive a certificate of graduation.

To School

Students often walk, ride bikes, or ride special school buses or public transportation, depending on the distance from the school and individual circumstances. Students in rural areas generally ride the school bus. Wealthier families might take their children to school, especially if they attend a private school. At the end of the school day, children return home the same way. Students who attend a school with a long lunch break will sometimes go home for lunch and then return for the afternoon session of school if their family gathers for a traditional midday meal.

Spain Health Information

What are the health conditions in Spain?

Contraceptive Prevalence Rate - female 15-49 65.7%
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 8.94
Drinking Water Source - percent of rural population improved 100%
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved 99.9%
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 9.6%
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.4%
HIV/Aids Deaths 1,600
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 3.2
Infant Mortality Rate - female deaths/1,000 live births 2.99
Infant Mortality Rate - male deaths/1,000 live births 3.68
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births 3.35
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 6
Mean Age for Mother's First Birth 29.3
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 26.6%
People Living with HIV/AIDS 130,000
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population 3.96
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved 100%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of rural population improved 100%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.48

Spain Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Spain?

Life Expectancy at Birth 81 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - female 84 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - male 78 Years
Median Age 41 Years
Median Age - female 42 Years
Median Age - male 40 Years

Spain Infant Mortality - per 1,000 live births

Spain median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 10
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 8.94
Median Age 41 Years
Median Age - female 42 Years
Median Age - male 40 Years
Net Migration Rate - migrant(s)/1,000 population 6.14
Population Growth Rate 0.73%
Sex Ratio 0-14 Years - male/female 1.06
Sex Ratio 15-24 Years - male/female 1.07
Sex Ratio 25-54 Years - male/female 1.04
Sex Ratio 55-64 Years - male/female .98
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female 1.07
Sex Ratio of Total Population - male/female .97
Sex Ratio Over 64 Years - male/female .74

Spain Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Spain?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Good medical care is available in both Spain and Andorra. Regulations regarding medications may vary from those in the United States. Spanish regulations do not permit the international shipment of medication, so please do not ship medication from the United States to Spain. U.S. citizens who plan a lengthy trip to Spain should bring their medication or obtain a prescription for that medication from a Spanish physician.

Spain Education

What is school like in Spain?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 5%
Literacy - female 97%
Literacy - male 98.5%
Literacy - total population 97.7%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
School Life Expectancy - female 18 Years
School Life Expectancy - male 17 Years
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) 17 Years

Spain Literacy

Can people in Spain read?

Literacy - female 97%
Literacy - male 98.5%
Literacy - total population 97.7%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
Predominant Language Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, and Basque 2%

note: Catalan is official 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 official along with Catalan; Galician is official in Galicia; Basque is official in the Basque Country

Spain Crime

Is Spain a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

Andorra has a low rate of crime. While most of Spain has a moderate rate of crime and most of the estimated one million U.S. citizen tourists have trouble-free visits to Spain each year, street crimes against tourists occur in the principal tourist areas. Madrid and Barcelona, in particular, report incidents of pick-pocketing, mugging, and occasional violent attacks, some of which require the victim to seek medical attention. Criminals tend to frequent tourist areas and major attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, outdoor cafes, Internet cafes, hotel lobbies, beach resorts, city buses, subways, trains, train stations, airports, and ATMs.

In Madrid, incidents have been reported in all major tourist areas, including the area near the Prado Museum, near Atocha train station, in Retiro Park, in areas of old Madrid including near the Royal Palace, and in Plaza Mayor. There have been a number of passport and bag thefts reported at Barajas Airport, local hotels, as well as in El Rastro (Madrid’s flea market) and in the Metro.

In Barcelona, the largest number of incidents reported also occurred in major tourist areas--on Las Ramblas, El Prat Airport, Sants train station, inside Metro stations, in the Sagrada Familia Area, in the Gothic Quarter, in Park Güell, in Plaza Real, and along Barcelona’s beaches. There have been a number of thefts reported at the Port Olimpic Area and nearby beaches.

Travelers should remain alert to their personal security and exercise caution. We suggest that travelers carry limited cash, only one credit card, and a copy of their passport; leaving extra cash, extra credit cards, passports and personal documents in a safe location.

Be especially careful in crowds. Avoid placing passports, cash or other valuables in the outer pockets of backpacks or purses. Pickpockets often use the cover of a crowd to rob unsuspecting tourists and visitors. Do not leave belongings unattended in public areas. Do not put purses on the floor or on the backs of chairs at restaurants. Keep valuable belongings within sight and within easy reach at all times in public areas to reduce the risk of theft.

Thieves often work in teams of two or more people using tactics limited only by their own creativity and imagination. In many cases, one person distracts a victim while the accomplices perform the robbery. For example, someone might wave a map in your face and ask for directions, ”inadvertently” spill something on you, or help you clean up bird droppings thrown on you by a third unseen accomplice. While your attention is diverted, an accomplice makes off with your valuables. Thieves may drop coins or keys at your feet to distract you and try to take your belongings while you are trying to help. Physical assaults rarely happen. In the past, such attacks were initiated from behind, with the victim being grabbed around the neck and choked by one assailant while others rifle through or grab the belongings.

A group of assailants may surround the victim in a crowded popular tourist area or on public transportation, and only after the group has departed does the person discover he/she has been robbed. Purse snatchers may grab purses or wallets and run away, or immediately pass the stolen item to an accomplice. A passenger on a passing motorcycle sometimes robs pedestrians. There have been reports of thieves posing as plainclothes police officers, beckoning to pedestrians from cars and sometimes confronting them on the street asking for documents, or to inspect their cash for counterfeit bills, which they ultimately confiscate as “evidence.” The U.S. Embassy in Madrid has received reports of cars on limited access motorways being pulled over by supposed unmarked police cars. The Spanish police do not operate in this fashion. We encourage U.S. citizens to ask for a uniformed law enforcement officer if approached.

Theft from vehicles is also common. “Good Samaritan" scams are unfortunately common, where a passing car or helpful stranger will attempt to divert the driver’s attention by indicating there is a flat tire or mechanical problem. When the driver stops to check the vehicle, the “Good Samaritan” will appear to help the driver and passengers while the accomplice steals from the unlocked car. Drivers should be cautious about accepting help from anyone other than a uniformed Spanish police officer or Civil Guard. Items high in value like luggage, cameras, laptop computers, or briefcases are often stolen from cars. We recommend that travelers not leave baggage in open view inside parked cars, and keep doors locked, windows rolled up, and valuables out of sight when driving.

While the incidence of sexual assault is statistically very low, attacks do occur. We recommend that U.S. citizens remain aware of their surroundings at all times, and travel with a companion if possible, especially at night. Spanish authorities warn of the availability of so-called "date-rape" drugs and other drugs, including GBH and liquid ecstasy. U.S. citizens should not lower their personal security awareness because they are on vacation. Be cautious in bars and clubs where alcohol is served, never leave your drink unattended and never accept an open drink from a stranger. Incidents have been reported of people falling victim to serious crime after having drugs slipped into their drinks.

A number of U.S. citizens have been victims of various scams in Spain. One scheme involves a U.S. citizen receiving an email or telephone call requesting money to assist a relative or acquaintance who has allegedly been arrested, detained, robbed, or injured in Spain. Often, it starts with a call impersonating a grandchild supposedly arrested in Spain, asking the grandparents not to inform the parents. If you receive such an email, we recommend that you not send money. Other scams include lottery or advance-fee scams in which a person is lured to Spain to finalize a financial transaction. Often the victims are initially contacted via Internet or fax and informed they have won the Spanish Lottery (El Gordo), inherited money from a distant relative, or are needed to assist in a major financial transaction from one country to another.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them you are also breaking local law.

Spain Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Spain and Andorra, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own and criminal penalties will vary from country to country. In Spain, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Spain and Andorra, your U.S. passport or citizenship won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.

Persons violating the laws of Spain and Andorra, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Spain and Andorra are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. The cities of Madrid and Barcelona and the Balearic Islands regional government have banned the consumption of alcohol in the street, other than in registered street cafes and bars. Visitors to Madrid, Barcelona, Mallorca, Ibiza, and Menorca should be aware that failure to respect this law might result in the imposition of fines. Throughout Spain and Andorra, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail.

Spain takes illegal immigration seriously and police may stop people to ask for identification and proof of legal status. We recommend that you carry a copy of your U.S. passport at all times.

While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case here. To ensure that the United States Government is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

Spain Population Comparison

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