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Facts about Spain



Mainland Spain covers a total area of half a million square kilometres; it has a coastline of 2,100 kilometres, incorporating both the Canary and Balearic Islands. It is the second largest country in terms of size in Europe after France. The interior of Spain is a plateau named the Meseta tied to the north east by the Pyrenees, extending to the south west by the Sierra Morena, and again into the south by the Sierra Nevada. Across the Meseta itself, many rivers have cut many deep valleys. The majority of the coastline is steep and rocky but a narrow coastal plain borders the Mediterranean.

The population of 45 million is less than many European countries. Spain, despite being mainly a Catholic country, has one of Europe’s’ lowest birth rates and an above average life expectancy of 75 years for men and 80 for women. The five biggest cities are Madrid (6,000,000) Barcelona (5,000,000) Valencia (1,700,000) Seville (1,300,000) and Malaga (1,000,000). Spain has the second highest immigration rate in the EU and recent estimates have put the total number of foreign residents at 4,700,000.
Spain's largest city is also it’s capital, Madrid, which is situated in the geographical centre of the country; followed by Barcelona, which is both a commercial and industrial city, famed for its wonderful port and the site for the 1992 Olympics.  There is an intense rivalry between these two cities, both political and sporting.

The economy of Spain has grown significantly the past 10 years; it now has the 8th largest Economy worldwide, something of which it is fiercely proud. Industry in Spain is growing rapidly, fuelled by continued investment from overseas; the Spanish Tourism industry is the 2nd largest in the world, worth approximately €40,000 million revenue.  More recently, the Spanish economy has benefited greatly from the global real estate boom, with construction representing 16% of GDP and 12% of all employment.

Castilian Spanish is spoken widely throughout the country, with Catalan being the widely spoken in the North East, in other regions you may hear locals talk in Galician, Basque or Aranese, however by speaking Castilian you will certainly be understood wherever you go. Two hundred million people speak Spanish worldwide, making it the third most spoken language after English and Chinese. English is understood in major cities, but rarely spoken or understood in rural areas. English is continuing to gain in popularity in the state schools, invariably Spanish children have a very good command of English by the time they finish school.

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