Viva Espana! It’s no wonder people sing about the delights of sunny Spain. It has one of the most diverse landscapes and climates in Europe. It has wonderful food – think tapas, local hams, great seafood – and a laid back feel that simply makes people feel happy. Why not try it for yourself?
Occupying most of the Iberian Peninsula in southwest Europe, Spain shares its borders with Portugal and France. Its diverse landscapes extend from the region of Almeria in the southeast that resembles a desert in places, to the northwest where you can expect rain around 20 days every month during winter.
It is Europe’s most popular coastal holiday destination. That’s not just because of the sun and the best seafood in the world, but is also due to its rich culture, architecture, beaches, festivals and the warmth of its people.
Spain also has some dazzling cities, including Barcelona and the capital Madrid, where good shopping, nightlife and a slew of attractions are always on tap. But don’t limit yourself to these two best-known cities: all Spanish cities are wonderful and each offers a very different experience depending on its location and cultural influences.
Following Franco’s death in 1975 and after his regime, when Spain was making its way towards democracy, certain regions of Spain began to voice their desire to be autonomous regions within the country. Two of the regions which campaign ardently for this are the Basque country and Catalonia. In the Autumn of 2014, there continue to be pro autonomy demonstrations in Catalonia. In November 2014 there was due to be a referendum which would ask two questions – Do you want Catalonia to be a State ? and Do you want that State to be independent? In turn, the Spanish government applied to the country’s constitutional court to block this referendum. The court unanimously voted to suspend the referendum for up to five months. The non binding vote went ahead on 9th November 2014 and over 2 million votes were cast – 80.8% of voters opted for the yes-yes option – ie they voted yes to both questions. Catalonia voted on independence in a referendum which took place on 1st October 2017 – the result was 92.01% in favour of independence and 7.99% against. King Felipe declared the referendum illegal
The flavours of Spain are increasingly well known further abroad, so very little will come as a surprise to visiting students. We’ve now got tapas restaurants in many other European cities and every supermarket these days stocks the famous Serrano and Iberica hams. Paella (tasty rice-based seafood and chicken dish) and tortilla (potato omelette) are invariably on the menu across Spain, while you can kick start your day with the traditional Spanish breakfast of chocolate con churros (long doughnuts) with rich drinking chocolate.
Spain is a highly attractive option for international students keen to come for the Spanish language, architecture, design arts and other popular courses.
At a glance facts
- Languages: Castilian Spanish (Castellano – the official language,) Catalan, Gallego, Basque
- Population: 46,397,452 (2018)
- International dialling code: 34
- Time zone: GMT+1
Europe, Member of the EU