• Spain’s land area is around half a million square kilometres – about twice the size of the UK or Oregon. The population is around 46 million – some eighty percent of whom declare themselves nominally Catholic, though religious observance is patchy.

Politically, Spain is a parliamentary monarchy; democracy was restored in 1977, after the death of General Franco, the dictator who seized power in the Civil War of 1936–39.

• Spaniards read fewer newspapers than almost any other Europeans – tellingly, the best-selling daily is Marca, devoted purely to football.

Spanish (Castilian) is the main official language, but sizeable percentages also speak variants of Catalan (in Catalunya, parts of Valencia and Alicante provinces, and on the Balearic Islands), Galician and Basque, all of which are also officially recognised languages.

• A minority of Spaniards attend bullfights; it doesn’t rain much on the plains; and they only dance flamenco in the southern region of Andalucía.

The highest mountain on the Spanish peninsula is Mulhacén (3483m), the longest river is the Rio Tajo (716km).

• Spain has 43 sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list – more than twice as many as the USA.

Between them Real Madrid and Barcelona have won the Spanish league title over fifty times and the European Cup (Champions League) thirteen times and counting.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Beyond tapas: the Spanish food and drink you need to devour

Beyond tapas: the Spanish food and drink you need to devour

Spain is known throughout the world for its Mediterranean diet, heavily featuring seafood, meat and fresh vegetables, all splashed with a healthy dose of olive …

15 Aug 2016 • Esme Fox insert_drive_file Article
A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid

A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid

One of the sunniest and liveliest capital cities in Europe, Madrid has a lot to take pride in. Indeed, its inhabitants, the Madrileños, are so proud of their …

09 Aug 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Slow travel: exploring Catalunya’s back roads

Slow travel: exploring Catalunya’s back roads

Barcelona is one of the world’s most visited cities, but relatively few tourists venture beyond the suburbs. Yet, just a couple of hours’ drive from the met…

04 Aug 2016 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month