The Spanish mainland is bordered to the south and east almost entirely by the MediterraneanSea, to the north by France, Andorra, and the BayofBiscay; and to the west by the AtlanticOcean and Portugal.
With an area of 504,030 km², Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe (behind France) and with an average altitude of 650m, the second highest country in Europe (behind Switzerland).
The Capital of Spain is Madrid with a population of 3,092,759. The official language is Spanish (español, throughout the whole territory of Spain). Other dialects of Spanish are, Catalan (castellano, in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and in the Valencian Community, known in the latter officially as Valencian), Basque (euskera, in the Basque Country and Navarre), Galician (galego) in Galicia, Valencian (valenciano, in Valencian region).
Because of the many dialects in the different regions, one may understand the language in one region, but have trouble understanding in another.
The currency, since 2004, is the Euro.
Spain’s mixed capitalist economy supports a GDP that on a per capita basis is 87% that of the four leading West European economies. The center-right government of former Prime Minister Aznar successfully worked to gain admission to the first group of countries launching the European single currency, the euro, on 1 January 1999. The Aznar administration continued to advocate liberalization, privatization, and deregulation of the economy and introduced some tax reforms to that end. Unemployment fell steadily under the Aznar administration but remains high at 9.8% as of August 2005. Growth of 2.4% in 2003 was satisfactory given the background of a faltering European economy. The Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero, whose party won the election three days after the Madrid train bombings in March 2004, plans to reduce government intervention in business, combat tax fraud, and support innovation, research and development, but also intends to reintroduce labour market regulations that had been previously scrapped by the Aznar government. Adjusting to the monetary and other economic policies of an integrated Europe - and reducing unemployment - will pose challenges to Spain over the next few years. According to World Bank GDP figures from 2004, Spain has the 8th largest economy in the world. There is general concern that Spain’s model of economic growth (based largely on tourism, the construction industry, and manufacturing sectors) is faltering and may prove unsustainable over the long term. The first report of the Observatory on Sustainability (Observatorio de Sostenibilidad), published in 2005 and funded by Spain’s Ministry of the Environment and Alcalá University, reveals that the country’s per capita GDP grew by 25% over the last ten years, while greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 45% since 1990. Although Spain’s population grew by less than 5% between 1990 and 2000, during that time period, urban areas expanded by 25%. Meanwhile, Spain’s energy consumption has doubled over the last 20 years and is currently rising by 6% per annum. This is particularly worrying for a country whose dependence on imported oil (meeting roughly 80% of Spain’s energy needs) is one of the greatest in the EU. Large-scale unsustainable development is clearly visible along Spain’s Mediterranean coast in the form of housing and tourist complexes, which are placing severe strain on local land and water resources.
Spain has a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament, the Cortes Generales or National Assembly. The executive branch consists of a Council of Ministers presided over by the President of Government (comparable to a prime minister), proposed by the monarch and elected by the National Assembly following legislative elections.
The legislative branch is made up of the Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados) with 350 members, elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation to serve four-year terms, and a Senate or Senado with 259 seats of which 208 are directly elected by popular vote and the other 51 appointed by the regional legislatures to also serve four-year terms.
Head of State: Juan Carlos I. - King, Head of Government: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (PSOE) - Prime Minister, Governing Party: PSOE
Last national elections 2008
Last European Parliament election June 2009 See: • http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/archive/elections2009/en/spain_en.html • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament_election,_2009_(Spain)
|The Spanish Senate - source|
Spain is, at present, what is called a State of Autonomies, formally unitary but, in fact, functioning as a Federation of Autonomous Communities, each one with different powers (for instance, some have their own educational and health systems, others do not) and laws. There are some differences within this system, since power has been devolved from the centre to the periphery asymmetrically. With some autonomous governments (especially those dominated by nationalist parties) seeking a more federalist—or even confederate—kind of relationship with Spain, the Central Government is dealing with these autonomous governments for the transference of more autonomy. This novel system of asymmetrical devolution has been described as "co-constitutionalism" and has similarities with the devolution process adopted and being used by the United Kingdom since 1997.
The culture of Spain has roots in Iberian and Latin influences, Catholicism, Moorish Islam, tension between the centralized Castilian state and its regions, and its minority peoples. In addition, the history of the nation and its Mediterranean climate and geography have played strong roles in shaping its culture.
Roman Catholicism is, by far, the most popular religion in the country. About 94.0% Spaniards self-identify as Catholics, whereas 6% identify with either other religions or none at all. It is important to note, however, that many Spaniards identify themselves as Catholics even though they are not very religious at all. Only around 18 percent of Spaniards regularly attend mass.
Spain has an extraordinary artistic heritage in every way. There were a lot of influences of foreign cultures like Romans and Arabians. The most obvious impression have being been left by architecture.
Most of the sights are in Andalusia: mosque in Cordoba, palaces like the complex Medina Azahara, Gardens Generalife in Granada and the Golden tower and Giralda in Seville.
Visit Cordoba on: www.virtourist.com/europe/cordoba/
Gardens Generalife: www.virtualtourist.com
A lot of monumental cathedrals were built in the gothic style, which are located all over Spain, for example the Cathedrals in León, Toledo, and Girona; with the biggest cathedral being in Seville.
The title of the most famous Spanish architecture belongs to Antonio Gaudí, who is world renown due to Sagrada familia in Barcelona and his examples of his work, Güell’s park, La Pedrera house, etc.
|Cathedral of Seville and the Archivo de Indias - source|
The website of Barcelona city: www.bcn.es
|Sagrada familia - source|
All about Antonio Gaudí on: www.gaudidesigner.com
Spain art is represented by several great painters like Francisco de Goya (beautiful fresco paintings made for the church of San Antonio of Florida in Madrid, in 1798; Two of his most famous paintings: Maja Naked (1800-1803), Maja Clothed (1800-1803)), Pablo Picasso (African season (1907-09): Young ladies of Avignon), Salvador Dalí (Galatea of the spheres).
|Pablo Picasso - source|
Virtual gallery of Salvador Dali’s artwork, including hundreds of his paintings, a biography of his life is to see on website www.virtualdali.com
Biography and paintings of Francisco Goya: www.biography.free-people.net
Pablo Picasso paintings, prints and biography: www.picasso.com
Have you ever heard of the most internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar? His most famous films are Volver (2007), Bad Education (2004), and Talk To Her (2002).
The official website of Pedro Almodóvar: www.clubcultura.com
Museums and Galleries
Teatre-Museu Dalí in Figueres (www.dali-estate-org)
Museu Picasso in Barcelona (www.museupicasso.bcn.es)
Museo Nacional y Centro de Investigación de Altamira (www.museodealtamira.mcu.es)
Museu d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona (www.mnac.es)
Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Madrid (www.mnantropologia.mcu.es)
Museo Arqueológico Nacional in Madrid (www.man.es)
International and foreign schools are the only schools which use English as the teaching language. If your children attend any other schools they will be taught their lessons in Spanish. www.spain-info.com
The Spanish way of life is somewhat slower than the rest of Europe, especially in the south. But when Spaniards work, they work hard. They have adapted to the weather, that’s why they have three hours siestas for a lunch and relax. It is quite common for life to begin when the sun goes down, especially in the summer.
Spaniards are very opened, friendly and kind. They have no problem to cooperate with foreigners. Spaniards have their own mind. They are unpunctual. People never should push them to work.
- The Spanish prefer to do business with those they know and trust.
- It is important that you spend sufficient time letting your business colleagues get to know you.
- Once you develop a relationship, it will prevail even if you switch companies, since your Spanish business colleagues’ allegiance will be to you rather than the company you represent.
- Face-to-face contact is preferred to written or telephone communication.
- The way you present yourself is of critical importance when dealing with Spaniards.
- It is best to display modesty when describing your achievements and accomplishments.
- Communication is formal and follows rules of protocol.
- Avoid confrontation if at all possible. Spaniards do not like to publicly admit that they are incorrect.
- Trust and personal relationships are the cornerstone of business.
- Spaniards, like many societies, are concerned that they look good in the eyes of others and try to avoid looking foolish at all times.
- Spaniards place great importance on the character of the person with whom they do business.
- Hierarchy and rank are important. You should deal with people of similar rank to your own.
- Decision-making is held at the top of the company, since this is a hierarchical country. You may never actually meet the person who ultimately makes the decision.
- You may be interrupted while you are speaking. This is not an insult, it merely means the person is interested in what you are saying.
- Spaniards do not like to lose face, so they will not necessarily say that they do not understand something, particularly if you are not speaking Spanish. You must be adept at discerning body language.
- Spaniards are very thorough. They will review every minute detail to make certain it is understood.
- First you must reach an oral understanding. A formal contract will be drawn up at a later date.
- Spaniards expect both sides to strictly adhere to the terms of a contract.
Business Meeting Etiquette
- Appointments are mandatory and should be made in advance, preferably by telephone or fax. Reconfirm in writing or by telephone the week before.
- You should try to arrive on time for meetings.
- The first meeting is generally formal and is used to get to know each other. Do not be surprised if no business is actually conducted during the first meeting.
- Agendas are often used but not always needed to be followed too strict.
- Make sure all your printed material is available in both English and Spanish.
- Not all businesspeople speak English, so it is wise to check if you should hire an interpreter.
- Several people may speak at once. You may be interrupted while you are speaking.
- Decisions are not reached at meetings. Meetings are for discussion and to exchange ideas.
- Most Spaniards do not give their opinion at meetings. Therefore, it is important to watch their non-verbal communication
Useful information, which you can find on websites:
Bullfights are deep-rooted tradition in history of Spain. Many Spaniards can’t imagine their culture without bullfights, but several of them are beginning to contest this tradition.
Every year during July in the city of Pamplona, wild bulls are run through the streets while brave thrill seekers, both young and old, join them and try to avoid being trampled or gored. The running of the bulls is very famous, but one shouldn’t miss the festival and feast that follows, including dance, music, fireworks.
Information about bullfights in Spain: www.spanish-fiestas.com
|Bullfights - source|
Flamenco is a music-dancing culture, which has its centre in Andalusia in the south of Spain. It appeared with Romanies when they came from India across Pakistan and Egypt. That’s why flamenco is comprised of Romany culture with Spanish, Indian, Jewish and Arabian culture intertwined.
What is flamenco and everything about it on the website:
Spain tourist info for your travel to Spain: www.spain.info
Photos of the world: www.panoramio.com
Interactive maps: www.maps.google.com
Information about Madrid: www.allmadrid.com
Features a map and brief descriptions of geography, economy, government, and information of the people of Spain: www.cia.gov
A rich website rich containing information about Spanish culture, history and ethnic relations, Urbanism, architecture, and the use of space: www.everyculture.com