SpainCopyright: Nataliia Anisimova 123rf.com

Spain

Capital: Madrid
Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
Language Spanish
Listen to the national anthem

The name Spain comes from the word Ispania which means 'the land of rabbits' and was first inhabited some 1.2 million years ago. The Altamira cave system is the most famous of all caves, showing local fauna and human hands. The oldest painting is believed to be about 35,600 years old and are thought to have been created by Cro-Magnon! The cave system was discovered in 1880 and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Around the end of the 15th century, Spain became the worlds first super power , at the time when Sir Christopher Columbus discovered and started the first European exploration of the Americas. By the 16th and 17th centuries, Spain was a powerful nation with her numerous colonies and growing maritime power. Spanish is the second most spoken language with 330 million native speakers, primarily as a direct result of its colonisation.

Between 1519 and 1522, Spain further enhanced her maritime power as Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano made the first circumnavigation of the globe. Ferdinand Magellan died in 1521 making the historic journey.

Spain includes 15 islands, many of which for example Majorca, Ibiza, Gran Canaria and Tenerife are now very popular tourist destinations.

Spain has a special passion for bulls and Bull Fighting is a popular sport with many festivals throughout the year. The most famous of the festivals is at San Fermínes, held in Pompona. The festival starts at midday on 6th July and continues until midnight of 14th July and the highlight is the Running of The Bulls which sees hundreds of people running in front of 6 bulls.

Running of The Bulls, PamplonaCopyright: Jose Hernaiz 123rf.com

The origin comes from the need to get the bulls from the fields to the bullring where they would be killed. The bulls are corralled through the streets and brave (or silly) men try to show off their bravado. Often there are serious injuries caused by the panicking bulls, with as many as 200 per year often from goring to broken bones. The culmination is then bull fight at the end of the day.

On May 15th every year, single women visit Ermita de San Isidro, a small chapel in Madrid, where they prick their finger with a pin and then put it into a small container in the hope of attracting a husband. On St. Georges Day (23rd April) it was custom to exchange a book and a rose with the person they loved.

Did you know that the tooth fairy in Spain is replaced by the tooth mouse named Ratoncito Perez?

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