42 Interesting and Significant Facts About Spain

Spain is a beautiful (and sunny) country, where culture, fun, social life, and education system simply thrive. And the increasing number of international students in Spain? Remarkable. It is undoubtedly a fascinating country with an exciting history. While many might not know that Spain has a King (yes, King Felipe VI), there are other facts about Spain you have probably never heard about. In the age of the internet, things are quite quickly figured out, and this has inspired us to compile this list of 42 interesting facts about Spain. Now, whether you are an upcoming international student in Spain, a resident, or a tourist, these facts are an enjoyable read. Take a look at the section below. 

Here are 42 interesting facts about Spain: 

  1. Twelve Grapes for New Year’s. While different countries have different New Year’s traditions, Spain might just top them all (of course, that’s subjective). At midnight, the clock on Madrid’s Puerta del Sol starts to chime 12 times, meaning one for each month of the new year. Some like to make sure they eat a grape for each chime, but you have to be quick. There is only a little pause before each chime, and each grape has to be chewed and swallowed. Fun, huh? 
  2. The Tomato Fight. Once a year, every August, Spain hosts an exciting festival, La Tomatina. In the small Valencian town of Buñol, around 40,000 people gather to fight with tomatoes for about an hour. In this hour, over 150,000 tomatoes are used, ensuring the streets of Buñol are all red and squishy. 
  3. Mouse for a Tooth Fairy. You might have heard about the mouse-tooth-fairy by the name of Ratoncito Pérez. A real gentleman and a designated tooth fairy in many places in Spain. This adorable mouse became part of the Spanish folklore in 1894 when Luis Coloma wrote a story for King Alfonso XIII (aged 8) losing a tooth.
  4. UNESCO-rich. Spain ranks second in Europe and third in the world when it comes to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, counting a total of 48! Such sites include Antoni Gaudi’s works in Barcelona, the Alhambra fortress in Granada, etc.
  5. World’s Second Most Widely Spoken Language. Spanish is the second most widely spoken language globally (after Mandarin) if we count native speakers. There are approximately 460 million native Spanish speakers around the world. 
  6. Constitutional Monarchy. The ‘Kingdom of Spain’ is a constitutional monarchy, which means the monarch shares power with a constitutionally organised government. The monarchy of Spain is known as La Corona (The Crown). Currently, King Felipe VI reigns with his wife, Queen Letizia, who used to work as a journalist and news anchor. 
  7. World’s Oldest Restaurant. Restaurante Botín in Spain is known to be the world’s oldest restaurant, a title awarded by the Guinness World Records. It has been up and running since 1725. 
  8. Country of Artists. Spain has given the world some of the greatest artists throughout the centuries. From Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, El Greco, to Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali. 
  9. Saffron Producers. Spain is one of the biggest producers of saffron in the world. This ingredient is an integral part of the paella, the famous Valencian dish. 
  10. Roman Catholic. The majority of Spaniards are known to be Roman Catholic, but there are also other religious beliefs.
  11. Over 8,000 Kilometres of Beaches. If you combine all Spanish beaches, you get a stretch of over 8,000 kilometres or approximately 4,970 miles.
  12. No National Law Against Public Nudity. Currently, there is no national law against public nudity in Spain. However, it is considered inappropriate in plenty of public places.
  13. Thoughtful Guests. If you get invited to the home of a Spaniard, you can bring the hostess either chocolates, cakes, pastries, brandy, or even flowers. 
  14. Tipping is Uncommon. Tipping is entirely optional in Spain, and it is not that common. Although it is more common at expensive restaurants, people at cafes or bars tend to leave only a small change.
  15. One-Time Olympic Host. Spain has hosted the Olympic games only once, the Summer Olympic Games in 1992, in Barcelona.
  16. Open-Minded Society. Spaniards are known to be a very tolerant society. A European Social Survey in 2010 found that the majority of respondents agreed that ‘gay men and lesbians should be free to live their own lives.’ Also, same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since July 3, 2005.
  17. Spain’s National Anthem Has No Lyrics. In reality, most anthems have lyrics. Spain’s national anthem is one of four anthems in the world that does not have any words. Others are the anthems of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosova, and San Marino.
  18. Most Blue Flag Beaches. According to the Foundation for Environmental Education, Spain has the largest number of Blue Flag Beaches, a total of 566 beaches. The Blue Flag means that the beach meets the standard for water quality, safety, and public environmental education. 
  19. Quill Pen Origin. The quill pen’s origin is thought to be Spain, some 1,400 years ago.
  20. Largest Olive Oil Producer. Spain is the world’s largest olive oil producer, producing around 40% of the world’s total amount of olive oil. Other top producers include Morocco, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
  21. Highest Density of Bars. Spain is known to have more bars per inhabitant than any other country in Europe. Finding your perfect bar will not be an issue in Spain. There is plenty to choose from. 
  22. Two Surnames Are a Tradition in Spain. It is traditional for a person in Spain to have two surnames. The first one is the father’s surname, while the second one is the mother’s surname. Although they have two surnames, custom dictates them to be referred to by one of the surnames in everyday life, typically the first one. 
  23. Most Famous UNESCO Site. Out of all UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is likely to be one of the most famous. Designed by the Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí, this Roman Catholic church started in 1882 and is still under construction. It is estimated to be finished in 2026, marking 100 years of Gaudí’s death.
  24. Four Official Languages. The four official languages in Spain are Castilian, Catalan, Galician and Basque.
  25. The Eiffel Tower Was Almost Built in Spain. It is widely suggested that the Eiffel Tower was originally planned to be built in Barcelona, but Spain rejected the proposal.
  26. Spanish Siesta. Spaniards value their time off. The Spanish siesta is a short nap taken in the afternoon, usually after the midday meal. It is a one or two-hour nap in the afternoon’s heat, and it is quite common in countries where the weather is warm.
  27. The National Animal is the Bull. 
  28. Bullfighting is Still Legal in Some Parts of Spain. Although Catalonia has banned bullfighting, it is still legal in some parts of the country.
  29. The Running of the Bulls. This festival, known by its official Spanish name ‘Sanfermin’, includes the bulls’ physical running in the streets of Pamplona, Spain, between the 6th and the 14th of July. Thousands of people go to the festival every year to experience the thrill of the running of the bulls. 
  30. Spanish Flan. The Spanish flan is a national dessert of Spain, first created in 1518.
  31. Red Carnation. The Red Carnation is known to be Spain’s national flower, grown in the south of Spain in Andalusia and Aragon.
  32. First “Modern” Novel. Spain is known to be the home of the first-ever ‘modern’ novel, Don Quixote, written by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, published initially in 1605.
  33. Flamenco Dancing Was Born in Andalusia. This famous art form has its origins in the 18th-century Spanish autonomous community, Andalusia.
  34. Peseta Was the Former Currency of Spain. Spain’s currency is Euro; however, before the Euro, the Spanish Peseta was Spain’s monetary unit. It ceased to be legal tender in 2002. 
  35. Spain Did Not Officially Participate in the World Wars. Although one might believe that most European nations were involved in these conflicts, Spain, among others, held a neutral position. The ones who fought include volunteers and exiles.
  36. One of the World’s Most Diverse Cultures. Spain has a vast and diverse culture, considering Spaniards come from different groups united into one nation. 
  37. Separate Kingdoms Unified. Spain used to be a number of separate kingdoms who had different languages. These kingdoms were unified when Ferdinand II of Aragon (King) married Isabella I of Castile (Queen), in the 15th century. 
  38. Football is Spain’s National Sport. Spanish football fans are some of the most dedicated fans in Europe.
  39. Spanish is the Official or National Language of 21 Countries. Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
  40. The Biggest Lottery Draw Worldwide. The Spanish Christmas Lottery, El Gordo (‘the fat one’) is considered the largest lottery draw worldwide, as measured by the total prize payout (€2,240,000,000).
  41. Over 300 Days of Sunshine. From the Costa Blanca to the Costa del Sol in Spain, the Mediterranean coastline enjoys an average of over 300 days of sunshine each year. The Costa del Sol in southern Spain is known to be the sunniest place in Spain, enjoying more than 320 sunny days each year. 
  42. Plenty of Beaches but Plenty of Mountains as well. Spain is known to be the second most mountainous country in Europe, after Switzerland.