Country name: Spain ( Espana) or Kingdom of Spain ( Reino de Espana)
Nationality: Spaniard, Spanish
Ethnic groups: Mediterranean and Nordic types
Religions: Roman Catholic
Languages: Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque; note - Castilian is the official language nationwide; the other languages are official regionally.
Facts and Figures:
Spain is a country in southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France. Spain consists of 19 autonomous communities including the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, and three small Spanish possessions off the coast
of Morocco - Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera.
The total area of Spain is 504,782 sq km.
Spain has borders with 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).
Brief History of Spain
The Iberian Peninsula was first inhabited around 8000,000 BC and has long been subject to foreign influences. The history of Spain starts from 11th century BC, it was colonized by sophisticated Eastern Mediterranean civilizations, starting with the Phoenicians then the Greeks and the Carthaginians. The Romans arrived in Spain in 218BC to fight the Carthaginians, this sparked off the Second Punic War. They harvested the peninsulas agricultural and mineral wealth and established cities with aqueducts, temples and theaters.
In the early 5th century AD with the fall of the Roman Empire, Visigothic invaders from the North assumed power. They were off poor political organization but this made it easy prey to the Moors from North Africa. In the 8th century of the history of Spain
the peninsula came almost entirely under Moorish rule. Europes only major Muslim territory, the civilization of Al Andalus excelled in mathematics, geography, astronomy and poetry. In the 9th and 10th centuries Cordoba was Europes leading City.
From the 11th century, northern Christian kingdoms initiated a military reconquest of Al Andalus. The marriage of Fernando Aragon and Isabel of Castile in 1469, the so called Catholic Monarchs, led to Spanish unity. They took Granada, the last
Moorish kingdom in 1492. In the same year Columbus discovered America, opening the way for the Spanish conquistadors,
who plundered the civilization of the New World of the history in Spain.
The succeeding Habsburg dynasty spent the riches from the New World in endless foreign war. Spain's decline was exacer-
bated by high inflation and religious oppression. Although, in the history of Spain the enlightenment in the late 18th century created a climate of learning, Spain's misfortunes continued into the next century with an invasion by Napoleon's troops and
the loss of the American colonies. A new radicalism began to emerge, creating a strong Anarchist movement.
The political instability of the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to dictatorship in the history of Spain and a republic in
the 1930's which was destroyed by the Spanish civil war. General Franco ruled by repression until his death in 1975, since then Spain has been a democratic state.
Images: From left to right. Madrid, Barcelona, Seville
Torrevieja and the Costa Blanca in Spain are popular tourist destinations.
Catalonia is a wonderful region with its own identity and language. The most beautiful city in Catalonia is Barcelona.
It's is the second-largest city in Spain and known world-wide for the architectural creations of José Antonio Gaudi.
It is located in northeastern Spain, approximately 160 KM from the French border. The population is roughly 1,509,500.
Barcelona has 53 museums and galleries, 41 theatres, 143 cinemas, 6 beaches, 62 parks and gardens, and well over 2,300 restaurants.
The greatest attraction is Bullfighting. Bullfighting season in Madrid is between March and October. During this period, bullfights are organized every Sunday at 7 PM at Las Ventas, but during the Feria de San Isidro and the Feria de Otoo, there are bullfights everyday. The Mecca of bullfighting is the Plaza Monumental de Toros de las Ventas.
Andalucia – this is another region in Spain. Andalucia had been conquered by the Arabs in the past. As a result, nowadays
you can see beautiful Islamic castles and palaces almost everywhere in Andalucia. The towns of Granada, Cordoba, and Seville can make you lose your breath.
Andalusia is the largest region of Spain. Andalusia is made up of 8 different regions.
Almeria, famous as the location for many spaghetti westerns is a region dominated by dry, barren, rocky and almost lunar landscapes.
Granada is the next region along the coast and is blessed with a variety of landscapes and architecture. It is home to the
famous Alhambra Palace in its capital city but also offers beautiful beaches, the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains, and
is home to a unique area of cave dwellings situated in a prehistoric basin, which can be visited when passing through the
villages of Orce, Galera and Castillejar.
Malaga is the gateway to the Costa del Sol which is the part of Andalusia.Malaga is the second largest city in Andalucia.
The city is the capital of the Malaga province. It's also the birthplace of Pablo Picasso.
In the province of Cadiz, is the town of Jerez de la Frontera famous for its sherry, indeed it is from this town that the name sherry originates. As a consequence, many recipes from this area are cooked using this local brew such as “riñones al Jerez” which is kidneys in sherry sauce and “rabo de toro al jerez” oxtail in sherry.
Bordering Cadiz to the north is Seville, whose main city is the capital and cosmopolitan heart of Andalusia. Seville is famous
for its “ferias” and the atmosphere here is exotic and colourful. So too is the food here with the Moorish influence especially
strong in sweet dishes such as “yemas” sweet eggs. There is a traditional dessert or type of confectionary for almost every
fiesta which are made following recipes almost unchanged throughout centuries. The famous “manzanilla
” olives originate from Seville and are very popular in salads or added to other dishes such as “pato a la sevillana” which is
duck with olives. A very popular local dish here is “huevos a la flamenco” which is a baked egg dish with chorizo, peppers, peas and asparagus.
Huelva on the coast bordering Seville and Cadiz is mountainous and has lovely coastlines and a thriving fishing port.
The shrimps from this area are very famous and continue to command high prices throughout Spain. Not surprising then that
here as with many other andalusian regions seafood is of a very high quality and used in many local dishes. Amongst the most popular are “raya al pimiento” skate in a pimento sauce and “atun con tomate” fresh tuna cooked in a tomato sauce.
Cordoba makes up the northern most region in Andalusia and was once the seat of the Moorish Kingdom. One if this regions most famous speciality resulting from these times is “cordero a la miel” lamb or kid cooked in a honey sauce. The wines of this region which are similar to sherry are used in many game dishes such as “conejo en salmorejo” which is rabbit in a wine marinade. These types of dishes still testament to the Moors love of combining sweet with savoury flavours.
Jaen is surrounded by vast olive groves and its backdrop is a range of beautiful mountains. It is situated on a steep hill with narrow streets leading up to a very imposing cathedral. The land in this area is for grazing and there are many wheat fields.
A surprising food from this region is partridge pate and the locals here serve up a delicious dish of potatoes in a garlic sauce known as “ajoharina.” Article by: Gayle Margaret Hartley