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10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Spain (or Maybe You Did)

by AIFS Abroad

Our friends over at the AIFS Barcelona office included these facts about Spain in their monthly newsletter and we thought it was so cool we wanted to share! Maybe you know a few of these, but bet you don’t know them all!

10. España is the world’s largest producer of olive oil. Andalucia produces so much aceite de oliva that they sell it to other countries, like Italy, who in turn bottle it and market it as their own.

9. Antoni Guadí dedicated 43 years of his life to building La Sagrada Familia– the legendary, unfinished church in Barcelona. The famed and eccentric Catalan architect, considered the master of modernism, spent the last 10 years of his life living in a little room next to the Sagrada Familia. After he died, there was a fire and all of Gaudí’s plans for the building burned.

8. Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world, with over 60 million tourists in 2013. The actual population of Spain is just over 46 million. Tourism is such an important industry that it has its own Ministry. Turismo is a university major and tour guides are licensed- you can be fined in Spain for explaining a monument or site without a permit.

7. Euskera has puzzled linguists for hundreds of years. The language is spoken by the Vascos (Basque) in the north and no one can positively identify its origins. Yet the language is remarkable for another reason: It has no swear words. Even those completely fluent in Euskera have to dip into Castellano when they want to curse their heads off. ¡Jo-er!

6. Spain is the second largest per-capita consumer of seafood in the world behind Japan. It is the largest per-capita consumer of bleach.

5. Picasso refused to allow Guernica to be exhibited in Spain until after Franco died. Named for the small Basque town of the same name, Pablo Picasso painted his searing black and white portrait of war in protest of the 1937 Nationalist bombing, carried out by Nazi warplanes. Guernica remained in New York’s MoMA until 1980, when it was returned to Madrid.

4. At 194,884 square miles, Spain is Europe’s fourth largest country after Russia, Ukraine and France. This is about the size of Arizona and Utah combined.

3. Spain maintains sovereignty disputes with neighboring nations over several territories: Spain considers Gibraltar Spanish but according to the natives “Gibraltar is British because Gibraltar wants to be British,” the towns of Olivenza and Badajoz on the border with Portugal are disputed by Portugal, and the island of Perejil in the Mediterranean is disputed by Morocco.

2. Spain’s greatest author Miguel de Cervantes died on the same date as Shakespeare – April 23, 1616. William Shakespeare also died on that date, but technically not on the same day. Britain was still using the Julian calendar, whereas Spain had already adopted the Gregorian calendar. In honor of this coincidence, UNESCO established April 23 as the International Day of the Book.

1. The best selling newspaper in the country is Marca– dedicated to fútbol! The most important newspapers in Spain are El Pais and El Mundo, but Spaniards read fewer papers than almost all other Europeans.

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