Where is Spain located?

What countries border Spain?

Spain Weather

What is the current weather in Spain?

Spain Facts and Culture

What is Spain famous for?

  • Cultural Attributes: The Spanish are generally friendly, helpful, and individualistic. They enjoy conversation and giving advice. The Spanish often consider it their... More
  • Family: The average Spanish family today has 0.7 children., the Spanish birth rate is one of the lowest in the European... More
  • Personal Apperance: The Spanish are concerned with their public appearance, even when just running errands. A person's social standing is often... More
  • Recreation: Football (soccer) is the national sport in Spain.  Nearly all children learn how to play the sport, and watching important... More
  • Diet: Typical Spanish food includes fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, chicken, and fish. Most fried foods are cooked in olive oil. Breakfast... More
  • Food and Recipes: At a formal dinner, the host or hostess indicates seating arrangements for guests. For example, ladies, older people, and guests... More
  • Visiting: In former times, there used to be some protocol rules in Spain which are not longer in application: e.g. the... More
  • Dating: Dating often begins around age fourteen with group activities. Many young men and women begin dating at about age... More

Spain Facts

What is the capital of Spain?

Capital Madrid
Government Type parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Currency Euro (EUR)
Total Area 195,123 Square Miles
505,370 Square Kilometers
Location Southwestern Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Biscay, and Pyrenees Mountains; southwest of France
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
GDP - real growth rate 3.1%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $35,200.00 (USD)

Spain Demographics

What is the population of Spain?

Ethnic Group - note data represent population by country of birth
Ethnic Groups Spanish 84.8%, Moroccan 1.7%, Romanian 1.2%, other 12.3%
Languages Castilian Spanish (official nationwide) 74%, Catalan (official in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and the Valencian Community (where it is known as Valencian)) 17%, Galician (official in Galicia) 7%, Basque (official in the Basque Country and in the Basque-speaking area of Navarre) 2%, Aranese (official in the northwest corner of Catalonia (Vall d'Aran) along with Catalan, <5,000 speakers); note - Aragonese, Aranese Asturian, Basque, Calo, Catalan, Galician, and Valencian are recognized as regional languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
Nationality Noun noun: Spaniard(s)

adjective: Spanish
Population 47,280,433
Population Growth Rate 0.12%
Population in Major Urban Areas 6.751 million MADRID (capital), 5.687 million Barcelona, 838,000 Valencia
Urban Population urban population: 81.6% of total population

rate of urbanization: 0.24% annual rate of change
Population: Male/Female male: 23,069,327

female: 24,211,106

Spain Government

What type of government does Spain have?

Executive Branch chief of state: King FELIPE VI (since 19 June 2014); Heir Apparent Princess LEONOR, Princess of Asturias (daughter of the monarch, born 31 October 2005)

head of government: President of the Government of Spain (prime minister-equivalent) Pedro SANCHEZ PEREZ-CASTEJON (since 2 June 2018); Vice President Nadia Maria CALVINO Santamaria (since 12 July 2021)

cabinet: Council of Ministers designated by the president

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the monarch usually proposes as president the leader of the majority party or coalition, who is then indirectly elected by the Congress of Deputies; election last held on 23 July 2023 (next to be held on 31 July 2027); vice president and Council of Ministers appointed by the president

election results: Congress of Deputies vote - NA

note: there is also a Council of State that is the supreme consultative organ of the government, but its recommendations are non-binding
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Citizenship citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Spain

dual citizenship recognized: only with select Latin American countries

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years for persons with no ties to Spain
National Holiday National Day (Hispanic Day), 12 October (1492); note - commemorates the arrival of COLUMBUS in the Americas
Constitution history: several previous; latest approved by the General Courts 31 October 1978, passed by referendum 6 December 1978, signed by the king 27 December 1978, effective 29 December 1978

amendments: proposed by the government, by the General Courts (the Congress or the Senate), or by the self-governing communities submitted through the government; passage requires three-fifths majority vote by both houses and passage by referendum if requested by one tenth of the members of either house; proposals disapproved by both houses are submitted to a joint committee, which submits an agreed upon text for another vote; passage requires two-thirds majority vote in Congress and simple majority vote in the Senate; amended 1992, 2011
Independence 1492; the Iberian peninsula was characterized by a variety of independent kingdoms prior to the Muslim occupation that began in the early 8th century A.D. and lasted nearly seven centuries; the small Christian redoubts of the north began the reconquest almost immediately, culminating in the seizure of Granada in 1492; this event completed the unification of several kingdoms and is traditionally considered the forging of present-day Spain

Spain Video

YouTube: Rick Steves' Europe Rick Steves' Andalucía: The Best of Southern Spain

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Spain Geography

What environmental issues does Spain have?

Overview Spain is comprised of portions of the Iberian mainland, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, and the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast. Spain’s most striking topographical features are its elevated central plateau and its internal division by mountain and river barriers. The peninsula rises sharply from the sea with only a narrow coastal plain except in the Andalusian lowlands. Most of the peninsula is a vast plateau broken by mountains, deep gorges, and broad, shallow depressions. Spain has few bays, virtually no coastal islands, and a scarcity of natural harbors. Knowledge of the geography of Spain is important to an understanding of the nation’s history.
Climate Madrid's climate is predominantly dry, sunny, and agreeable. Because of its elevation (about 2,000 feet above sea level) and its proximity to mountains, Madrid often experiences wide variations in temperature between winter and high summer. In winter, temperatures drop slightly below freezing and many winter days can be uncomfortably cold. Summers are quite warm with average midday temperatures of 95°F to 100°F. Except at the height of summer, evenings and nights are cool. Daily mean temperature ranges from 50°F to 68°F during 8 months of the year. Rainfall is scarce, except during a brief rainy season in October and November and again in spring. Snow, uncommon in Madrid, usually becomes rain and slush within hours.
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
Environment - Current Issues pollution of the Mediterranean Sea from raw sewage and effluents from the offshore production of oil and gas; water quality and quantity nationwide; air pollution; deforestation; desertification
Environment - International Agreements party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Terrain large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees Mountains in north

Spain Economy

How big is the Spain economy?

Economic Overview GDP and Growth: Spain is one of the largest economies in Europe and the world. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Spain had experienced several years of economic growth. However, the pandemic had a significant impact on the country's economy, causing a contraction in GDP in 2020. Recovery efforts were underway in 2021.

Unemployment: Spain has historically struggled with high unemployment rates, particularly among its youth. In 2020, the pandemic worsened this issue, but the government introduced measures to support employment and job retention.

Tourism: Tourism is a critical sector of the Spanish economy. Spain is a top tourist destination globally, but the pandemic severely affected this industry in 2020 and 2021. As international travel gradually resumes, Spain's tourism sector is expected to recover, although the timing and pace may vary.

Exports and Imports: Spain is a significant exporter of goods and services, with key exports including machinery, vehicles, agricultural products, and chemicals. The European Union is a major trading partner. Imports consist of machinery, equipment, fuels, and consumer goods.

Government Debt: Spain's government debt had increased due to stimulus measures taken during the pandemic. The government has focused on fiscal consolidation and implementing structural reforms to improve economic resilience.

Banking Sector: The Spanish banking sector underwent significant reforms after the 2008 financial crisis. It has become more stable and resilient, with stronger regulations in place.

Foreign Investment: Spain has attracted foreign investment in various sectors, including renewable energy, real estate, and technology. The country's location, infrastructure, and a skilled workforce make it appealing to foreign investors.

Energy Transition: Spain has been investing in renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. The government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a more sustainable energy system.

Political Stability: Spain is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. While political stability has generally been maintained, regional issues, like the Catalonia independence movement, have occasionally caused tensions.

COVID-19 Impact: Like many countries, Spain faced challenges due to the pandemic, including economic disruption, job losses, and increased government spending on healthcare and stimulus measures. Vaccination campaigns have been underway to mitigate the impact.

EU Recovery Fund: Spain is a recipient of funds from the European Union's Recovery and Resilience Facility, which is intended to support post-pandemic economic recovery and long-term resilience. These funds are expected to be used for various projects and reforms.
Industries textiles and apparel (including footwear), food and beverages, metals and metal manufactures, chemicals, shipbuilding, automobiles, machine tools, tourism, clay and refractory products, footwear, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment
Currency Name and Code Euro (EUR)
Export Partners France 17.8%, Germany 10.6%, Portugal 8.3%, Italy 8.3%, UK 6.7%
Import Partners Germany 13%, France 11.8%, Italy 6.7%, China 5.8%, Netherlands 5%, UK 4.5%

Spain News and Current Events

What current events are happening in Spain?
Source: Google News

Spain Travel Information

What makes Spain a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Spain and Andorra are both advanced, stable democracies with modern economies. Spain is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union.


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.

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.


Castilian Spanish (official nationwide) 74%, Catalan (official in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and the Valencian Community (where it is known as Valencian)) 17%, Galician (official in Galicia) 7%, Basque (official in the Basque Country and in the Basque-speaking area of Navarre) 2%, Aranese (official in the northwest corner of Catalonia (Vall d'Aran) along with Catalan, <5,000 speakers); note - Aragonese, Aranese Asturian, Basque, Calo, Catalan, Galician, and Valencian are recognized as regional languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

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.

Safety and Security

Spain and Andorra share with the rest of the world an increased threat of international terrorist incidents. Like other countries in the Schengen area, Spain's open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering and exiting the country with anonymity. Spain’s proximity to North Africa makes it vulnerable to attack from al-Qa’ida terrorists in the Maghreb region. We remind U.S. citizens to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution at all times.

In March 2004, Islamist extremists bombed four commuter trains entering Madrid, causing 191 deaths and over 1,400 injuries. Spanish authorities tried the suspected terrorists and their co-conspirators in February 2007 and they were convicted in October 2007.

In 2011, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist organization publicly announced a “definitive cessation of armed activity.” While recent arrests have seriously weakened the organization, and despite the announcement, ETA remains a threat and has not disarmed or disbanded. ETA has historically avoided targeting foreigners, instead directing their attacks against the police, military, local politicians, and Spanish government targets as well as towards disrupting transportation and daily life. However, foreigners have been killed or injured collaterally in ETA attacks, and the risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in event of an ETA action is a concern for foreign visitors and tourists. Two Ecuadorian nationals were killed in a bombing at the Barajas Airport in Madrid in 2006, and 17 students were injured, including one U.S. citizen, in a bombing at the University of Navarre in 2008. U.S. citizen tourists traveling to Spain should remain vigilant, exercise caution, monitor local developments, and avoid demonstrations and other potentially violent situations. Bombings outside the Basque Country in Burgos and Palma de Mallorca in July 2009 underscore the importance of being vigilant. Though extortion threats have recently ceased in the Basque region, bombs have been used as part of criminal extortion of businesses in the past.

Prior police approval is required for all public demonstrations in Spain, and police are present to ensure adequate security for participants and passers-by. Nonetheless, spontaneous demonstrations do take place in Spain from time to time in response to world events or local developments. Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become unpredictable and even violent; you should avoid them if at all possible. Be alert and aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to what the local news media have to say. In general, larger public demonstrations are announced on the Demonstrations page on the U.S. Embassy Madrid website.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Spain and Andorra, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

Traffic in Madrid and Barcelona is faster paced than in U.S. cities and can be unnerving because of unfamiliar signs or motorbikes weaving between traffic lanes. Drivers should always obey the traffic light located at their stop line, as there are separate traffic lights for each side of the intersection. For example, the traffic light at the stop line of an intersection may be red, but across the intersection the light may be green, allowing for right/left hand turns only. An amber flashing light indicates that drivers must yield to pedestrians. Drivers should be alert when driving at night in urban areas because of the possibility of encountering drivers or pedestrians under the influence of alcohol. Night driving in isolated rural areas can be dangerous because of farm animals and poorly marked roads. Rural traffic is generally heavier in July and August as well as during the Christmas and Easter seasons.

Traffic regulations in effect in Spain include the prohibition on the use of a mobile phone without a hands-free device while driving a car. There is a fine of 300 euros for violation of this regulation and loss of driving privileges. In addition, all drivers and passengers are required to carry a reflective vest and put it on if they need to stop on the roadside. A reflective triangle warning sign for a vehicle stopped on the side of the road is also mandatory. Liability insurance, at a minimum, is also required to legally operate any car or motorcycle. Those renting vehicles are encouraged to check with the rental company about traffic regulations and safety equipment. U.S. citizen tourists must obtain International Driving Permits prior to their arrival if they plan to drive in Spain. Those Permits are only valid for one year. You are not allowed to drive on your U.S. license. While rental car companies may rent a vehicle to you without the International Driving Permit, this is illegal and, if pulled over for a traffic violation, your rental car may be detained and towed to the nearest impound lot. Pedestrians should use designated crossing areas when crossing streets and obey traffic lights.

One of the facets of Spanish traffic laws that many U.S. citizens find troublesome is traffic stops by the Spanish National Police or the Guardia Civil. Unlike in the United States, where drivers receive traffic tickets and then pay the court via mail or in person, Spanish police authorities may levy fines on the spot and issue a receipt for the payment. This is done to ensure the traffic fine is paid by foreigners who rarely come back to Spain to pay the fine.

Public transportation in large Spanish cities is generally excellent. All major cities have metered taxis, in which extra charges must be posted in the vehicle. We advise travelers to use only clearly identified cabs and to ensure that taxi drivers always switch on the meter. A green light on the roof indicates that the taxi is available. If you have a problem or suspect you are being over charged, ask for an official receipt. The license number for the taxi should be located in a metal plaque by the passenger window. This number identifies a specific taxi and can prove useful in the event of forgotten property or if you decide to file a complaint. Rail service is comfortable and reliable, but varies in quality and speed. Intercity buses are usually comfortable and inexpensive.

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