We hope you’ll find it interesting to check our tips on Helpful Knowledge for Travelers, or General Culinary Info in Spain, but in the meantime, here’s some basic general informationon the country itself…
Regions: Spain is divided into autonomous regions, listed here in alphabetical order:
- Balearic Islands
- Basque Country
- Canary Islands
- Castile and Leon
- La Rioja
- Valencian Community
Click here to see maps of Spain and its regions
Languages: Apart from Spanish, there are three other languages in Spain, Catalan (Catalá, Catalonia), Basque (Euskera, Basque Country) and Galician (Galego, Galicia). It may seem a bit confusing at times, because you’ll find it is true that, especially in Catalonia, people tend to use their native language rather than Spanish, but as a foreigner, you should have absolutely no trouble getting by on just the Spanish you may know. You’ll find that street signs and all public information are generally made bilingual in these areas.
Religion: Spain is, by its Constitution, a non-confessional state. However, Catholicism is by far the most widespread religion, with visible remains of its traditions and historical legacy throughout the country.
Currency: as a member of the European Union, Spain has been functioning with the euro since January 1st, 2002. For up-to-date exchange rates see the European Central Bank site.
Holidays can be local, regional or nationalin Spain. Here’s a list of the national holidays for 2009:
- 1 January, New Year’s Day.
- 6 January, the Epiphany (holiday in most of the country)
- 10 April, Good Friday
- 1 May, Labor Day
- 15 August, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
- 12 October, Fiesta Nacional and Feast of El Pilar
- 1 November, All Saints Day
- 6 December, Constitution Day (holiday in most of the country)
- 8 December, the Immaculate Conception
- 25 December, Christmas Day
Climate: In general, it can be said that Spain has a predominantly warm Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and winters with balanced temperatures. The country boasts more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year. However, in view of the significant geographical variations of different areas, diversity is probably one of Spain’s main characteristics. In other words, you can definitely expect different weather conditions, depending on where you travel.
- The Canary Islands stands apart in this sense, due to its location near the coast of Africa. It has a delightful climate of mild temperatures (22ºC year-round average for the coasts), with little variation in temperatures between day and night, all four seasons.
- If you’re traveling to the North, you’ll find a mild climate with high rainfall. Winters can get chilly (specially in the mountains) and summers come with temperatures rarely exceeding 25ºC. In mountainous areas (the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, the Central and Iberian ranges, and the Cantabrian Mountains, among others), it can get very cold, and snow is not uncommon from the beginning of winter to the end of spring.
- Central Spain tends to be extreme in weather, with very cold winters and very hot summers, but it is generally not as rainy as the North.
- The South is generally warm and sunny, and winters are blessed with many days of 15-20ºC weather, but please don’t forget two things: it does rain every now and then, and everything is built for the heat, so it can get very cold inside places with no central heating.