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Spain at a Glance

  • River Guadalquivir. Barqueta Bridge. Seville. Fernando Briones / © ICEX
  • Albarracin walls. Juan Manuel Sanz / © ICEX
  • Santa María del Naranco, Oviedo. Arnaud Späni / © Infoasturias
  • Catedral de Palma. © Conselleria de Turisme
  • Guggenheim museum, Bilbao. Alejandra Garrido / © ICEX
  • Caldera de Taburiente (La Palma). Miguel Ángel Pérez / © ICEX
  • La Magdalena palace in Santander. Luis Carré / © ICEX
  • Toledo Monumental. Pablo Neustadt / © ICEX
  • Detail of the cloister of Silos. Carlos Tejero / © ICEX
  • Monasterio de Santa María, Ripoll. Pablo Neustadt / © ICEX
  • Moat of the city walls. © Oficina de Turismo de Ceuta
  • Meadows in Cáceres, home of the ibérico pig. Pablo Neustadt / © ICEX
  • Roman bridge in Orense. © Oficina de Turismo Galicia
  • Ópera district, Madrid. Pablo Neustadt / © ICEX
  • García Lorca Cultural Center. © Patronato de Turismo de Melilla
  • Moratalla de la Sierra. Pablo Neustadt / © ICEX
  • Castillo Square, Pamplona. Matías Costa / © ICEX
  • Landscape around San Vicente de la Sonsierra. © Oficina de Turismo de La Rioja
  • Santa Bárbara castle in Alicante. Pablo Neustadt / © ICEX

Spain at a Glance

Spain is a millenary country with a strong food and wine history; we provide you here with today’s main data in a nutshell. We also invite you to discover in a few minutes the diversity of Spain thru its 17 regions and 2 autonomous towns. And the richness of their culture, tourist sights, food production and gastronomy.

Last Update: 2016 August

Political & Social Features

Form of State: Parliamentary monarchy.

Head of State: King Felipe VI.

Head of Government : Mariano Rajoy Brey has been Prime Minister since 2011.

Territorial Organization of the State: There are 17 Autonomous Communities and two Autonomous Cities which have their own basic institutional statutes which are recognized and protected by the State as an integral part of its set of laws.

Spain is a member of the European Union since 1986.

Religion: 67.86% of Spaniards self-identify as Roman Catholics (July 2016).

Official Languages: Spanish is the official language for the entire country. There are also four official languages in the respective autonomous communities, in accordance with their Statutes: Basque, Catalan, Galician and Valencian.

Geograhic Features

Extension: 505,968 square kilometres (195,356 sq mile) over the Iberian peninsula to the southwest of Europe.

The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, and the North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla are included in the Spanish territory.

Population: 46,438,422 (Census 2016 National Statistics Institute - INE).

Main Cities (2015 INE): Madrid: 3,142 (capital); Barcelona: 1,605; Valencia: 786; Seville: 694; Zaragoza: 665; Málaga: 569. (thousands)

Spain is the most mountainous country in Europe after Switzerland and the average height is 660 meters (2,165 ft).

The peninsula’s main rivers flow slowly from east to west in to the Atlantic Ocean. The River Ebro flows into the Mediterranean. The only navigable river is the Guadalquivir, which can handle sea-going vessels up to Seville.

The country is divided into four broad types of climatic regions. Atlantic areas have cool winters, mild summers and abundant rainfall throughout the year. In the Mediterranean, the winters are mild, summers dry and hot and there is little rainfall. On mainland Spain temperatures in winter can fall below zero degrees centigrade and summers are dry and very hot. A mountain climate prevails in areas above 1,200 meters. The Canary Islands enjoy a sub-tropical climate.

Economic Features

Gross Domestic Product (Millions of Euros, 2014): 1,081,090 (EUROSTAT)

Gross Domestic Product per capita (Euros, 2015): 23,300 (EUROSTAT)


Around 75.3 million visitors (2016) come to Spain annually, thus being the third world power in the tourist sector. The headquarters of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) are located in Madrid.

In 2016, The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) based in Denmark, has qualified 586 Spanish beaches and 100 marinas as Blue Flag quality, the highest number in the European Union. Spain was one of the first European countries to introduce the concept of National Parks in 1918 (Montaña de Covadonga in Asturias and Ordesa in Aragón were the first ones). Today, there are 15 National Parks, in addition to a wide variety of protected areas in all of the Spanish Autonomous Communities.

One interesting feature for a tourist in Spain is Paradores. This state owned chain of hotels, mostly in refurbished castles, convents and other historical buildings offers a unique opportunity to spend an unforgettable stay in monuments full of history. The first Parador was opened in 1928 in the mountain range of Gredos. Enjoy Moorish Spain at the 15th century convent, within the Alhambra palace or spend a weekend within the Teide National Park on the Canary Islands. Recently the Paradores have also renewed their menus, giving special importance to local gastronomy.

History & Culture

The Spanish Crown (Isabella the Catholic) financed Christopher Columbus’ voyage to discover a new route to the Indies, but what Columbus discovered was the American Continent in 1492. The Spanish Crown also finances the later exploration and colonisation of that continent. In addition to South America, the Spanish explorers travelled through large areas of southeast Asia and North America, founding such important cities as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Over 500 million people speak Spanish (nearly all of South and Central America, as well as a significant proportion of the population of the United States, are Spanish-speaking). Spanish is the second language in the world by number of speakers and second language of international communication. In 2030, 7.5% of the world population will speak Spanish (a total of 535 million people)

Spain is the country with the third largest number of sites declared as World Heritage by the UNESCO (45).

Among its museums, the Museo del Prado (Madrid) is particularly outstanding, considered by some experts to be one of the most complete art galleries in the world.

A selection of Spaniards who have contributed to the development of universal thought, arts and sciences:

Alfonso X the Wise (1221-1284, king and writer)
Raimundo Lulio - Ramón Llull (1232-1315, philosopher, writer)
Santa Teresa de Jesús (1515-1582, nun and poetess)
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616, writer)
Luis de Góngora (1561-1627, writer)
Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio (1562-1635 writer)
Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645, writer)
Diego Velázquez (1599-1660, painter)
Calderón de la Barca (1600-1681, playwright)
Francisco de Goya (1746-1828, painter)
José Echegaray (1832-1916, writer, 1904 Nobel Prize winner)
Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870, poet)
Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920, writer)
Antonio Gaudí (1852-1926, architect)
Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934, doctor and researcher, 1906 Nobel Prize winner)
Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909, composer)
Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936, philosopher and writer)
Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958 writer, 1956 Nobel Prize winner)
José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955, philosopher)
Jacinto Benavente (1866-1954, writer, 1922 Nobel Prize winner)
Manuel de Falla (1876-1946, composer)
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973, painter)
Juan Gris (1887-1927, painter)
Joan Miró (1893-1983, painter)
Federico García Lorca (1898-1936, poet)
Vicente Aleixandre (1898-1984, poet, 1977 Nobel Prize winner)
Luis Buñuel (1900-1983, film director).
Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999, composer)
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989, painter)
Severo Ochoa (1905-1993, doctor, 1959 Nobel Prize winner)
Camilo José Cela (1916-2002, writer, 1989 Nobel Prize winner)
Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002, sculptor)
Monserrat Caballé (1933, soprano)
Rafael Moneo (1937, architect)
Plácido Domingo (1941, tenor)
Valentín Fuster (1943, scientist and cardiologist)
Pedro Almodóvar (1949, film director)
Miquel Barceló (1957, artist)


Spain is indisputably the country in which vineyards occupy the greatest land area (est. 2015 1,021 million ha / 2,523 million acres: 13,55% of the world’s total) and is the first largest exporter of wine worldwide, exporting 24,1 million hectolitres of the 37.2 million it produces. Spain is the third largest producer of wine worldwide.

The value of Spanish wine exports is calculated to be 2.638 million Euros, 84.7% of which are wines under Denominations of Origin (DO). United Kingdom is the principal market for our wine exports, importing 17% of the total, followed by Germany, the United States, France, Switzerland, Italy and The Netherlands.

Spain has 90 zones which produce PDO wines, of which 69 are Denomination of Origin (DO), 2 are Qualified Denomination of Origin. (DOCa), 7 are Quality Wine with a Geographical Indication (Vino de Calidad) and 14 are Single Estate Wine (Vino de Pago), which cover a surface area of 641,784 hectares, and group a total of 165,943 wine growers and 6,355 wineries.


More Information: WINE


The Spanish agricultural and food industry is sixth in the European Union, with a production valued at 94,935 million Euros, of which 26.78% is exported (FIAB - 2015).

In 2016 (August), according to the European Commission, Spain has registered 101 products under Protected Designations of Origin (PDO), 88 under Protected Geographic Indications (PGI) and 4 products under Traditional Spaciality Guaranteed (TSG).

Worldwide (FAO Stats), Spain is:

The number one producer and exporter of olive oil and extra virgin olive oil.
The number one producer and exporter of table olives.
Second in production of almonds (with shell).
Second in production of tangerines, mandarins and clementines.
Second in production and exportation of preserved fish and seafood.
Second in production and exportation of Second in production of mussels.
Third in production of artichokes.
Fourth in production of lettuce and chicory.
Fourth in production of strawberries.
Fourth in production of pork.
Fifth in production of cherries.
Fifth in production of grapes.
Fifth in production of peaches and nectarines.

Within the European Union, Spain is:

The number one producer and number three exporter of fruit.
The number one producer of farmed fish.
The number one producer of preserved fruit, and the third largest of preserved vegetables.
The number one producer of honey.
The number one producer and exporter of pomegranates.
Second in the production of pigs, sheep and goats.
Third largest producer of meat.
Third in production of walnuts.
Fourth in production of processed meat products.
Fourth in egg production.
Fourth largest producer of bottled water.
Fifth largest producer of vinegar.

Organic Food

With nearly 1,756,548 ha / 4,340,524 acres of land and 30,462 arable farms dedicated to this type of agriculture (2012), Spain is the largest producer of ecologically grown foods in the European Union and the sixth in the world.


More Information: MAGRAMA

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