Spain (Spanish: España), officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a constitutional monarchy located in southwestern Europe. It occupies the major portion of the Iberian peninsula, which it shares with Portugal. Spain covers an area of 504,030 sq km (195,364 sq mi), making it the second largest country in Western Europe after France. The country is bounded to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the north by the Bay of Biscay. It shares a border with Portugal to the west, and France and Andorra to the north.
Guide to Spain Hotels
Here's a list of hotels in Spain that you can book online, listed by city, with full description, star rating, address, location map, evaluation, and prices as offered by different booking sites.
Spain has a population of 46 million people. It is the second most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico and ahead of Argentina. Its capital, Madrid, is a city with a metropolitan population of nearly 6 million people. It is the biggest city in Spain and the third biggest municipality in the European Union after London and Berlin.
Spain is a developed country with the 9th largest economy in terms of nominal GDP and enjoys the 15th highest Human Development Index. The country is a member of the United Nations, the European union, NATO, OECD and WTO.
Spain is composed of regional divisions called 17 autonomous communities which are subdivided to 50 provinces. The present administrative division dates back to 1833, with the only major change being the subdivision of the Canary Islands from one province into two. The autonomous communities, as their name suggests, exercise a high degree of autonomy. They have their own parliament and regional government.
The people of Spain, in reflection of the autonomy of each region that forms it, tend to identify themselves more strongly to their region than the nation. Within Spain itself are regional identities such as the Basques, the Catalans, the Galicians, the Castilians, and others. In addition, there is also a sizable community of Asian immigrants that have settled in Spain, among them Chinese, Indians, Filipinos and South Asians. There are also a sizeable community of Britons, numbering some 760,000 people with permanent residence status in Spain, along with a good number of Germans.
The official language of Spain is Spanish, or Castilian. It is the standard dialect used on the radio and television in Spain. Castilian bears a slight difference in terms of pronunciation to the Spanish spoken in Latin America. In addition to standard Spanish, other regional languages in Spain include Catalan, Galician and Basques.
The currency used in Spain is the Euro (EUR). The following are the latest rates for Euro in the last 24-hours.
Planning your visit to Spain
Spain is a major tourist destination in Europe. It is especially popular with European tourists seeking its beaches, nightlife, food, culture and festivities. Spain has much to offer, whether your idea of a vacation means touring historical sights, clubbing through the night, or lazing on the beach. Long noted for its traditional architecture, of cathedrals, fortresses and mosques, of late the country has also become well known for exciting, cutting-edge architecture.
There are many airports in Spain with international connections to other cities in Europe. The biggest among them is Madrid International Airport (MAD), which is the fourth busiest airport in Europe. It serves as the gateway to all the major cities on the Iberian peninsula. It is the home base of national flag carrier, Iberia, which accounts for 60% of its air traffic.
Nationals of the European Union and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) only need to bring along their ID card to enter Spain. Spain is a member of the Schengen Agreement. A flight from EU and EFTA is counted as a domestic flight, so there is no custom clearance.
The best way to travel within Spain is to take the train. Spain today has one of the most modern trains in Europe. However, as almost all the lines radiates out of Madrid, unless your journey starts or ends at the Spanish capital, it may some times be more convenient to take the bus if you are exploring from one city to another. For details and time tables, check the website the Spanish national railway, Renfe.
Going by bus is probably the fastest way for you to explore Spain. At the same time, you get to enjoy the scenery of the Spanish countryside. Usually each route is operated by just one company. To check the schedules and fares, visit the Movelia website.
Recommended Travel Guidebook
My favorite travel guidebook for further reading in preparation of your trip is the Spain Eyewitness Guide, because it follows a format that I find useful to users, not to mention I have also contributed to some of the titles in the Eyewitness series of guidebooks.