Want to know some fun facts about Spain? Well, you’ve come to the right place as I’ve put together a solid list of Spain Facts and fun trivia that amaze you!
Spain is a stunning European country with a rich history and plenty to offer those who visit. It’s one of the most-visited countries in the world, and it’s easy to see why. It boasts monumental cities with ancient roots, thousands of miles of glorious coastline, and some of the best weather in Europe.
Spain was one of the most powerful empires on Earth for centuries and it still holds great global significance. Most people know a thing or two about Spain, but few realize how interesting it actually is. Did you know that nudity is legal in Spain? Or that it’s home to the oldest restaurant in the world?
There’s plenty to discover about this awesome country. From the fascinating and surprising, to the completely absurd, this post dives into the top interesting facts about Spain.
Important Facts About Spain
Before we get into the juicy stuff, let’s get familiar with Spain as a country. This section covers all of the basic, must-know facts and information.
Here are 12 quickfire Spanish facts to get you comfortable.
- Mainland Spain is situated in Southwestern Europe.
- Spain extends further than its continental European territory. It includes several archipelagos, such as the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, the Balearic Islands, and some uninhabited islands in the Mediterranean.
- It is the second-largest country in the European Union (after France) and the fourth-largest country on the European continent.
- The country’s population is just under 48 million people, making it the sixth most populous country in Europe.
- Spain’s official name is the ‘Kingdom of Spain’.
- Madrid is Spain’s capital and the most populated city in the country.
- Spain is a constitutional monarchy. The reigning monarch is King Felipe VI. He has a wife called Queen Letizia and two daughters.
- As one might expect, Spain’s national animal is the bull.
- Five countries share a border with Spain. Namely: France, Portugal, Morocco, Andorra, and Gibraltar.
- The Euro is the official currency of Spain.
- Spain has the fourteenth-largest economy in the world by GDP.
- Spain’s motto is ‘Plus Ultra’. A Latin phrase meaning ‘further beyond’.
Fun Facts About Spain
Now that we’ve got the formal stuff out of the way, it’s time to lighten things up. Here are some Spain fun facts that will leave you with a smile.
- Nudity is entirely legal in Spain. Technically, you can go anywhere in the country wearing nothing but your birthday suit, and you won’t get into trouble with the law. This is providing you’re not acting obscenely, of course.
- However, public nudity is mainly socially acceptable on the beaches. So you’re better off not going nude in the supermarket.
- In 2018, Spain had the joint-highest number of cannabis smokers in Europe, alongside France. Around 11% of the population use it in one form or another.
- In Spain, it is legal to grow and smoke cannabis for your own personal use. So long as you keep your antics to your own private property. If you’re growing cannabis at home, it’s not allowed to be in public view.
- That said, selling, buying, and trafficking cannabis is illegal – so don’t let your hair down all the way.
- Spain’s national anthem, the ‘Marcha Real’ is one of the only national anthems in the world that has no words. The anthem was once paired with official lyrics, but they are no longer used today.
- The ‘Marcha Real’ is also one of the oldest national anthems in the world, with the earliest record of its notation dating back to 1761.
- Not all Spanish people speak Spanish as their first language. Also known as Castillian, Spanish is the only official language of Spain. But the country also has some co-official languages that are widely spoken.
- Spain’s co-official languages include Catalan, which is spoken by 19% of the population. As well as Galician and Basque which are spoken by 5% and 2% respectively.
- The highest Spanish mountain, Mount Tiede, is over 12,000 feet tall. But it is not on the mainland of Spain. Rather, it is on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco. The islands are an autonomous community of Spain.
- ‘La Tomatina’ is a unique, tomato throwing festival that occurs yearly in the east of Spain. Thousands of people flock to the small town of Buñol in Valencia to throw tomatoes in the streets. Tourists and locals alike fling about 150,000 tomatoes, literally painting the town red. The purpose? Pure, wild, and joyful fun.
- Evidently, the Spanish like to drink. Spain has more bars per person than any other country in the EU. With 280,000 bars across the country, there’s one for every 165 people.
- In Spain, you can get fined for driving in flip flops. Likewise, the same fine applies to drivers who are barefoot or not wearing a shirt.
- You can also get fined for using your car horn for anything other than an emergency. In some countries, a polite ‘beep’ can be used as a gentle nudge or a greeting. But I don’t recommend using it this way in Spain – unless you’ve got €80 to burn.
- Madrid, the Spanish capital, is one of the sunniest cities in all of Europe. With a wonderful 2,769 hours of sweet sunshine each year, it is only surpassed by Athens, Lisbon, and Valletta.
- Spain has produced some of the world’s best-known celebrities. Among them are the Stranger Things star, Millie Bobby Brown, and the King of Latin Pop, Enrique Iglesias. Not to mention Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz of Hollywood fame.
- It is a tradition in Spain for people to have two last names – one from each parent. And as of 2017, the parents can decide which one comes first.
- The official residence of the royal family is el Palacio Real de Madrid. But they don’t actually live there. Rather, they stay on the outskirts of Madrid and only use the Royal Palace for certain ceremonies and state visits.
- Spain hosts a plethora of amazing music festivals. From the heavy happenings of Download Festival to the sweet sounds of the Madrid International Jazz Festival, musos are very well catered for.
Interesting Facts About Spain
So, you’ve warmed up with some background information and a few smiles. Now it’s time to get into some heavier chunks of information. The following section breaks down some of the most fascinating and surprising facts about Spain.
- Spain has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, at 13.7%. In the European Union, only Greece has a higher rate of unemployment.
- Spanish people tend to live long lives. In fact, Spain has one of the longest life expectancies in the world at around 83.6 years old. Experts claim that this long life expectancy is largely due to the country’s eating habits.
- As a result, Spain has an aging population. At present, around 20% of the country’s population is over 65 years old, with that number growing year on year. Experts estimate that a 3rd of the population will be elderly by 2050.
- Spain is home to a very large number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – 48 to be exact. Only China and Italy have more, with 55 each. There are only 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites on Earth, meaning that Spain houses more than 4% of them.
- It makes sense, then, that Spain is the second-most visited tourist country in the world. Surpassed only by France. Almost 83 million international tourists flock to Spain every single year.
- This means that more people visit Spain each year than there are people who live there. As you’ll recall, the population of Spain is only around 47 million – just over half of the number of annual tourists.
- Spain only became a unified kingdom in the 15th century. During the middle ages, it was a patchwork of smaller kingdoms.
- After Mandarin, Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world. Almost half a billion people speak it as their native tongue. This means that there are more native Spanish speakers in the world than there are native English speakers.
- Spanish is spoken far beyond the borders of Spain. In fact, it is the official language of 21 countries around the world.
- Spain’s coastline stretches for almost 3,000 miles – and much of this coastline is peppered with beautiful beaches.
- A testament to this is the fact that the Spanish city of Barcelona has been voted as one of the top 10 beach cities in the world.
- However, despite Barcelona’s beach-haven status, the city didn’t have a beach until 1992. The beach is in fact, entirely man-made. Sand was imported from Egypt and added to the coastline in preparation for the 1992 Olympic Games. Thus, transforming the once-industrial shore into a spectacular, tourist-attracting beachfront.
- Don Quixote, a book by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, is considered by many literary scholars to be the ‘world’s first modern novel’. It was originally published in 1605 with a second part published 10 years later.
- With around 94 people per km squared, Spain has a relatively low population density when compared to other European countries.
- The Tower of Hercules in north-western Spain is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the world. While the exact construction date is unknown, experts believe it was built in the 2nd century by the ancient Romans.
- The Sagrada Familia is a unique Roman Catholic church in Barcelona. Construction of the basilica began in 1882, and it is only due to be complete in 2026. That’s 144 years and more than five generations in the making!
- Antoni Gaudi, the Spanish architect behind the Sagrada Familia, is considered to be one of the greatest architects who ever lived.
- Gaudi was the architect of many impressive buildings, most of which one can find in Barcelona. His final, and perhaps most famous creation was Casa Milà, a unique private residence with strange, curving walls. UNESCO declared the building a World Heritage Site in 1984.
- In 2013, Spain became the first country in the world where wind-generated power was the largest source of electricity for a whole year.
- Some of history’s most famous and celebrated artists hailed from Spain. Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya, Salvador Dali, and El Greco are among them.
- The Museo del Prado in Madrid is arguably the best art gallery in which to admire the work of these Spanish artists. Founded in 1819, the museum is home to some of Spain’s most revered artworks.
- Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005. This change in legislation made Spain the third country in the world to permit same-sex marriage nation-wide. Belgium and the Netherlands were the only countries to get there before.
- A Spanish man by the name of Emilio Herrera invented the spacesuit in 1935. He designed it for an attempt to reach the stratosphere in a hot air balloon. But NASA later drew inspiration from it in the creation of their own spacesuits.
- Almost 70% of Spaniards consider themselves Roman Catholic, yet only 20% go to church on a weekly basis. And over half of the population hardly ever go to church.
- The stapler was invented in Spain’s Basque Country in the 18th century. It was created for King, Louis XV who was the king of France at the time.
- Madrid only became the capital of Spain in the 1500s. Before then, the southwestern city of Toledo was the Spanish capital.
- However, Madrid’s reign as the capital city was briefly interrupted in the 20th century. Between November 1937 and January 1939, Barcelona took over as the capital of the Republic of Spain.
- Spain had the world’s youngest age of consent for marriage and sex until very recently. Before 2013, the age of consent was 14 for marriage and only 13 for sex. It has since been changed to a more sensible 16 years old for both.
- It is rumored that Paris’s Eiffel tower was almost built in Spain, rather than France. The theory suggests that Gustave Eiffel originally pitched the tower’s design to Barcelona. But it was rejected by the local authorities as they believed it would be found unattractive and unpopular – how very wrong they were!
- Spain’s capital, Madrid, is the third-largest city in the European Union both by population and by metropolitan area. It is only surpassed by London and Berlin.
- It is likely that the name Madrid dates back more than 2,000 years. It is thought to stem from when the Romans occupied the area in the 2nd century BC. They founded a small settlement called ‘Matrice’ on the banks of the Manzanares River, near to where the city now stands.
- Bullfighting is a popular sport and performance art throughout Spain, and has been for many centuries. It involves a physical fight in which a human attempts to subdue or kill a bull (typically a ‘Toro Bravo’ bull). Fortunately, the sport’s popularity has declined in recent years as a result of animal welfare concerns.
- Spanish mealtimes are a little alien when compared to most other countries. You’ll often find restaurants at their busiest around 10pm, when restaurants in many other countries have shut their doors.
- Spain’s late mealtimes are in part due to the Spanish General, Francisco Franco, changing the clocks during WWII. This shift meant that the sun started rising and setting an hour later, and it hasn’t changed back since. So Spaniards adjusted to the new daylight hours by shifting their evening activities further into the night.
- The Spaniards’ late-night activities are one of the primary reasons for their 2-hour lunch breaks. Known as ‘siesta time’, these long lunch breaks are designed to accommodate a short nap called a siesta. Many shops and businesses close down for a couple of hours during the day in line with the siesta time tradition.
Spain Facts for Kids
Seeking some Spain trivia for the little ones? Here are some awesome, family-friendly facts about Spain for kids. But don’t feel restricted to this section – many of the facts on this list are great for kids of varying ages.
- The tooth fairy doesn’t visit the kids in Spain. Instead, they’re visited by a friendly tooth mouse called El Ratoncito Pérez. When you lose a baby tooth in Spain, you put it under their pillow and Ratancito Pérez replaces it with a gift.
- Naptime is a tradition in Spain, for both kids and adults. Spanish people are famous for enjoying siestas – a short 20 to 30-minute nap taken after lunch. The tradition started long ago when many Spanish people worked on farms. A short nap proved to be a great way of getting out of the sun during the hottest part of the day!
- These days, not many Spanish people have time to enjoy a traditional siesta. Fewer than half of them nap during the week. But you’ll still find a good number of Spaniards savoring a siesta on the weekends.
- It gets really warm in some parts of Spain. The highest recorded temperature was a mind-blowing 116°F in Cordoba.
- It also gets freezing cold in other parts of the country. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Spain was -25°F. That’s quite a bit colder than the inside of most freezers!
Spanish Food Facts
Food fanatic? Cuisine connoisseur? This section is for you. The following Spanish culture facts shed some light on Spain’s famous foodie scene. Tuck in.
- Spain produces more olives than any other country in the world. You might have assumed that the olive-producing crown would belong to Italy. But, in fact, Spain produces almost five times as many olives as Italy – a staggering 9.1 million tonnes of them.
- In Spain, tapas are an incredibly popular way of eating. A tapa is a small dish or bite to eat of any kind, generally eaten with several other tapas to make up a meal. It allows you to try several types of food in the same meal.
- According to the Guinness Book of Records, Spain is home to the oldest surviving restaurant in the world. Sobrino de Botín, originally called Casa Botín, was established in 1725 and has been serving customers ever since.
- Francisco Goya, one of Spain’s most famous historic artists, is said to have been a waiter at Casa Botín as a young man. And Ernest Hemingway speaks of the restaurant in one of his novels.
- While seafood Paella is popular in modern times, it is not traditional. Originally, the dish was made with chicken, pork, or rabbit.
- Out of all the countries in the world, only two produce more wine than Spain. The two countries that exceed it are Italy and France – grapes just love that Mediterranean climate!
- Around 15% of the world’s vineyards are in Spain. This makes it home to more vineyard-covered area than any other country in the world.
- Mexico has cast an image of tortillas into the minds of people around the world. But in Spain, the term ‘tortilla’ refers to a different food altogether. Spanish Tortillas are made from egg and are more similar to an omelet or frittata than to a Mexican tortilla.
Final Thoughts on these Cool Facts about Spain
Spain is deeper than what’s on the surface and more compelling than most people know. It’s an incredible country with a captivating culture, a complex history, and an endless supply of quirky traits. And it’s a gold mine for funny facts, serious statistics, and interesting information.
When you start to understand the curiosities of Spain, it becomes hard not to love it in all of its unique splendor.
Spain holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Barcelona for 6 months and I consider it to be one of my favorite cities in the world. Still not convinced? Check out these quotes about Spain to get even closer to the magic.
Planning a trip to Spain?
Spain is a second home of sorts to me, and a place I always recommend exploring to those heading to European shores. I have a lot of Spain blogs, guides and lists to check out, which will give you many ideas of things to do, places to see and hotels and Airbnb’s to stay in.
- The 20 Best Day Trips from Barcelona, Spain
- The 22 Best Airbnbs in Spain Across Cities, Islands & Villages
- The 19 Coolest & Best Airbnb’s in Madrid, Spain | Airbnb Madrid Guide
- 2 Days in Madrid | How to Spend 48 Hours Exploring Madrid
- 20 Music Festivals in Madrid to Experience Before You Die
- 12 Music Festivals in Spain To Experience Before You Die
- The Top 10 Best Things To Do in Barcelona, Spain
- 85+ Amazing Barcelona Quotes To Inspire Your Catalonia Adventure
- Fun and Interesting Facts about Barcelona, Spain
- The 25 Best Things To Do in Granada, Spain