Published 22nd August 2019

13 Things about Spain You Probably Didn’t Know

Fiesta. Flamenco. Football. That’s what most of us think of when we think of Spain, but if you think that’s all there is to the country, then you’re sorely mistaken. Spain is vibrant, cultural, exciting and famous for many things, but it also has a few hidden secrets not many of us know about. Here are thirteen things about Spain you probably didn’t know which will only make you love the country even more. Here are 13 things about Spain you probably didn’t know.

Spain is not a country

Actually, it is a kingdom. The official name of Spain is the Kingdom of Spain, which is ruled by King Felipe VI. This role is, however, largely ceremonial and there is also a prime minister and a government.

Spain has five official languages

Though Spanish is the first official language, there are four co-official languages, namely Catalan, Basque, Galician and Aranese. As you can imagine, these four languages are spoken in different parts of the country and have differing levels of dominance. There are a number of other languages too, but these are not considered official.

Spain is UNESCO’s third largest heritage country

Italy and China are the countries with the most and second most UNESCO heritage sites – both with 55 – but Spain comes a close third with 48 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the Sagrada Familia, a church in Barcelona which has been under construction for over 130 years and it’s still not finished! Other sights worth visiting are the Alhambra in Granada and the Old Town in Santiago de Compostela.

Here are 13 things about Spain you probably didn’t know which will only make you love the country even more.

Spanish is the second-most spoken language

If we are talking about native speakers, Chinese has the most native speakers in the world, but Spanish is in second place. There are over 400 million native speakers of Spanish worldwide, including in Spain, the United States, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Uruguay, Panama, Equatorial Guinea and a number of other countries. 

Spanish people have more than one surname

In Spain it’s customary for people to have two surnames. The first surname is from their father and the second from their mother. For example, if your name is Juan and your mother’s name is Luisa Rodriguez and your father’s name is Luis Zapatero, your full name would be Juan Zapatero Rodriguez.

The first novel is Spanish

Don Quixote was written in 1605 and is considered the first modern novel. Written by Spaniard Miguel de Cervantes it has been translated into 145 languages. In 2002 it was voted “the most meaningful book of all time”.

Every day is a fiesta

That’s no joke! You can celebrate a festival on any given day of the year in Spain, and there are even a few more. Most festivals include a lot of food and drink, fireworks and late-night partying. Rest assured, no matter where you are in Spain or what day it is, there’ll be a festival near you.

Spain has the world’s biggest food fight

Speaking of festivals, every year twenty thousand people gather in Valencia to celebrate the festival of La Tomatina. During the festival, festival-goers throw 120 tonnes of tomatoes at each other, making it one massive food fight. To make it better, everyone wears white!

Spain has the oldest restaurant in the world

The oldest restaurant in the world which is still trading can be found in Madrid. It’s called Restaurante Botin and it was opened in 1725. Its specialities include suckling pig and roast lamb. 

Spain produces a lot of olive oil

Almost half of the world’s olive oil, in fact, comes from Spain. Not surprisingly, when you consider their love of bread, the Spanish also consume 20% of the world’s olive oil. In fact, the average Spaniard consumes 14 litres of olive oil a year!

You can zipline to Portugal

For a quick trip across the border, you can pay €12, hop on the 2 300 foot zipline, and fly over into Portugal. 

There is no tooth fairy in Spain

Instead, Spanish children leave their teeth for a rat named Ratoncito Perez, who leaves a gift under their pillows in return.

Spain is home to the most valuable football team in Europe

If we’re talking about football-crazy nations, then we must be talking about Spain! Football is life in this country, and it’s big business too. Real Madrid is now considered the most valuable football team in Europe, worth about €3.2 billion. 

For more interesting facts like this, you’ll have to go to Spain yourself! 

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