Spain






Culture Name

Spanish

Alternative Names

Los españoles

Orientation

Identification. The name España is of uncertain origin; from it derived the Hispania of the roman Empire. Important regions within the modern nation are the Basque Country (País Vasco), the Catalan-Valencian-Balearic area, and Galicia—each of which has its own language and a strong regional identity. Others are Andalucía and the Canary Islands; Aragón; Asturias; Castile; Extremadura; León; Murcia; and Navarra, whose regional identities are strong but whose language, if in some places dialectic, is mutually intelligible with the official Castilian Spanish. The national territory is divided into fifty provinces, which date from 1833 and are grouped into seventeen autonomous regions, or comunidades autónomas.

Location and Geography. Spain occupies about 85 percent of the Iberian peninsula, with Portugal on its western border. Other entities in Iberia are the Principality of Andorra in the Pyrenees and Gibraltar, which is under British sovereignty and is located on the south coast. The Pyrenees range separates Spain from France. The Atlantic Ocean washes Spain's north coast, the far northwest corner adjacent to Portugal, and the far southwestern zone between the Portuguese border and the Strait of Gibraltar. Spain is separated from North Africa on the south by the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea, which also washes Spain's entire east coast. The Balearic Islands lie in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, off the coast of Africa. Spain also holds two cities, Ceuta and Melilla, on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco.

Spain's perimeter is mountainous, the mountains generally rising from relatively narrow coastal plains. The country's interior, while transected by various mountain ranges, is high plateau, or meseta, generally divided into the northern and southern mesetas.

Such general geographic distinctions as north/ south, coastal/interior, mountain/lowland/plateau, and Mediterranean/Atlantic are overwhelmed by the variety of local geographies that exist within all of the larger natural and historical regions. Great local diversity flourishes on Spanish terrain and is part of Spain's essence. The people of hamlets, villages, towns, and cities—the basic political units of the Spanish population—and sometimes even neighborhoods ( barrios ) hold local identities that are rooted not only in differences of local geography and microclimate but also in perceived cultural differences made concrete in folklore and symbolic usages. Throughout rural Spain, despite the strength of localism, there is also a perception of shared culture in rural zones called comarcas. The comarca is a purely cultural and economic unit, without political or any other official identity. In what are known as market communities in other parts of the world, villages or towns in a Spanish comarca patronize the same markets and fairs, worship at the same regional shrines in times of shared need (such as drought), wear similar traditional dress, speak the language similarly, intermarry, and celebrate some of the same festivals at places commonly regarded as central or important.

The comarca is a community of concrete relationships; larger regional identities are more easily characterized as imagined but emerge from a tradition of local difference and acquire some of their strength from that tradition. A recognition of difference among Spaniards is woven into the very fabric of Spanish identity; most Spaniards begin any discussion of their country with a recitation of Spain's diversity, and this is generally a matter of pride. Spaniards' commitment to Spain's essential

Spain
Spain
diversity is the benchmark from which any student of things Spanish must depart. It is essential to realize that outsiders can legitimately consider some of Spain's diversity as imagined every bit as much as its unity might be—that is, Spaniards sort their differences with a fine-toothed comb and create measures of local and regional differences which might fail tests of general significance by other measures. The majority of Spaniards endorse the significance of local differences together with an overarching unity, which makes them regard Spain's inhabitants as Spanish despite their variety. This image of variety is itself a shared element of Spanish identity.

The populations least likely to feel Spanish are Catalans and Basques, although these large, complex regional populations are by no means unanimous in their views. The Basque language is unrelated to any living language or known extinct ones; this fact is the principal touchstone of a Basque sense of separateness. Even though many other measures of difference can be questioned, Basque separatism, where it is endorsed, is fueled by the experience of political repression in the twentieth century in particular. There has never been an independent Basque state apart from Spain or France.

Cataluña has had greater autonomy in the past and had, at different times, as close ties with southwestern France as with Spain. The Catalan language, like Spanish, is a Romance language, lacking the mysterious distinction that Basque has. But other measures of difference, in addition to a separate language, distinguish Cataluña from the rest of Spain. Among these is Cataluña's deeply commercial and mercantile bent, which has underlain Catalan economic development and power in both past and present. Perhaps because of this power, Cataluña has suffered longer from periodic repression at the hands of the central Castilian state than has any other of modern Spain's regions; this underlies a separatist movement of note in contemporary Cataluña.

The state now known as Spanish has long been dominated by Castile, the region that covers much of the Spanish meseta and the marriage of whose future queen, Isabel, to Fernando of Aragón in 1469 brought about the consolidation of powers that underlay the development of modern Spain. This growing power was soon to be enhanced by the Crown's monopoly (vis-a-vis other regions and the rest of Europe) on all that accrued from Christopher Columbus's discovery of the New World, which occurred under Crown sponsorship.

Madrid, already at the time an ancient Castilian town, was selected as Spain's capital in 1561, replacing the court's former home, Valladolid. The motive of this move was Madrid's centrality: it lies at Spain's geographic center and thus embodies the central power of the Crown and gives the court geographic centrality in relation to its realm as a whole. At the plaza known as Puerta del Sol in the heart of Madrid stand not only Madrid's legendary symbol—a sculpted bear under a strawberry tree ( madroño )—but also a signpost pointing in all directions to various of Spain's provincial capitals, a further statement of Madrid's centrality. The Puerta del Sol is at kilometer zero for Spain's road system.

Demography. Spain's population of 39,852,651 in early 1999 represented a slight decline from levels earlier in the decade. The population had increased significantly in every previous decade of the twentieth century, rising from under nineteen million in 1900. Spain's declining birthrate, which in 1999 was the lowest in the world, has been the cause of official concern. The bulk of Spain's population is in the Castilian provinces (including Madrid), the Andalusian provinces, and the other, smaller regions of generalized Castilian culture and speech. The Catalan and Valencian provinces (including the major cities of Barcelona and Valencia), along with the Balearic Islands, account for about 30 percent of the population, Galicia for about 7 percent, and Basque Country for about 5 percent. These are not numbers of speakers of the minority languages, however, as the Catalan, Gallego, and Basque provinces all hold diverse populations and speech communities.

Linguistic Affiliation. Spain's national language is Spanish, or Castilian Spanish, a Romance language derived from the Latin implanted in Iberia following the conquest by Rome at the end of the third century B.C.E. Two of the minority languages of the nation—Gallego and Catalan—are also Romance languages, derived from Latin in their respective regions just as Castilian Spanish (hereafter "Spanish") was. These Romance languages supplanted earlier tribal ones which, except for Basque, have not survived. The Basque language was spoken in Spain prior to the colonization by Rome and has remained in use into the twenty-first century. It is, as noted earlier, unique among known languages.

Virtually everyone in the nation today speaks Spanish, most as a first but some as a second language. The regions with native non-Spanish languages are also internally the most linguistically diverse of Spain's regions. In them, people who do not speak Spanish even as a second language are predictably older and live in remote areas. Most adults with even modest schooling are trained in Spanish, especially as the official use of the Catalan and Basque languages has suffered repression by centrist interests as recently as Francisco Franco's régime (1939–1975), as well as in earlier periods. None of the regional languages has ever been in official use outside its home region and their speakers have used Spanish in national-level exchanges and in wide-scale commerce throughout modern times.

Under the democratic government that followed Franco's death in 1975, Gallego, Basque, and Catalan have come into official use in their respective regions and are therefore experiencing a renaissance at home as well as enhanced recognition in the rest of the nation. Proper names, place-names, and street names are no longer translated automatically into Spanish. The unique nature of Basque has always brought personal, family, and place-names into the general consciousness, but Gallego and Catalan words had been easily rendered in Spanish and their native versions left unannounced. This is no longer so. There is evidence now—as has long been the case in Cataluña—that speakers of the regional languages are increasing in number. In Cataluña, where Catalan is spoken by Catalans up and down the social structure and in urban and rural areas alike, immigrants and their children become Catalan speakers, Spanish even falling to second place among the young. In Basque Country, the easy use of Basque is increasing among Basques themselves as the language regains status in official use. The same is true in Galicia in circles whose language of choice might until recently have been Spanish. An important literary renaissance expectedly accompanies these developments.

In those parts of Spain in which Spanish is the only language, dialectical patterns can remain significant. As with monolingualism in Basque, Catalan, or Gallego, deeply dialectic speech varies with age, formal schooling, and remoteness from major population centers. However, in some regions—Asturias is one—there has been a revival of traditional language forms and these are a focus of local pride and historical consciousness. Asturias, which in pre-modern times covered a wider area of the Atlantic north than the modern province of Asturias, was a major seat of early Christian uprising against Islam, which was established in southern Spain in 711 C.E. Events in Asturian history are thus emblematic of the persistence and reemergence of the Christian Spanish nation; the heir to the Spanish throne bears the title of Prince of Asturias. The Asturian dialect belongs to the Old Leonese ( Antiguo Leonés ) dialect area; this dialect was spoken and written by the kings of the early Christian kingdoms of the north (Asturias, León, Castile) and is ancestral to modern Spanish. Thus the Asturian dialect, like the province itself, is emblematic of the birth of the modern nation.

Symbolism. Spain's different regions, or smaller entities within them, depict themselves richly through references to local legend and custom; classical references to places and their character; Christian heroic tales and events; and the regions' roles in Spain's complex history, especially during the eight-century presence of Islam. Examples already cited here are the association of Madrid with a site at which a bear and a strawberry tree were found together, of Asturias with tales of local Christian resistance early in the Islamic period, and of Basque country with a pre-Roman language and a defiant resistance to Rome. Many such images are stable in time; others less so as new touchstones of identity emerge.

Current symbolism at the national level respects the mosaic of more local depictions of identity and joins Spain's regions in a flag that bears the fleurs-de-lis of the Bourbon Crown and the arms or emblems of the several historical kingdoms that covered the present nation in its entirety. The colors, yellow and red, of what was to become the national flag were first adopted in 1785 for their high visibility at sea. The presence of an eagle, either double- or single-headed, has been historically variable. So has the legend (under the crowned columns that represent the pillars of Hercules) based on the older motto nec plus ultra ("nothing beyond") that now reads plus ultra in recognition of Spain's discovery of new lands. The presence of a crown symbol, of course, has been absent in republican periods. The national flag is thus quite recent—it has only been displayed on public buildings since 1908—and its iconography much manipulated, as is that on the coins of the realm. Many regional and local symbols have been more stable in time. This in itself suggests the depth of localism and regionalism and the seriousness of giving them due weight in symbolizing the nation as a whole. In some instances the iconography or language of monarchy and the use of the adjective "royal" ( real ) takes precedence over the term "national." The national anthem is called the Marcha real, or Royal March, and has no words; at least one attempt to attach words met with public apathy.

Some of the most compelling and widespread national symbols and events are those rooted in the religious calendar. The patron saint of Spain is Santiago, the Apostle Saint James the Greater, with his shrine at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, the focus of medieval pilgrimages that connected Christian Spain to the rest of Christian Europe. The feast of Santiago on 25 July is a national holiday, as is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December, which is also Spain's Mother's Day. Other national holidays include Christmas, New Year's Day, Epiphany, and Easter. The feast of Saint Joseph, 19 March, is Father's Day. The ancient folk festival of Midsummer's Eve, 21 June, is conflated with the feast of Saint John (San Juan) on 24 June and is also the current king's name day. Our Columbus Day, 12 October, is the Día de Hispanidad, also a national holiday.

There are also secular figures that transcend place and have become iconic of Spain as a whole. The most important are the bull, from the complex of bullfighting traditions across Spain, and the figures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, from Miguel de Cervantes's novel of 1605. These share a place in Spaniards' consciousness along with the Holy Family, emblems of locality (including locally celebrated saints), and a deep sense of participation in a history that has set Spain apart from the rest of Europe.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Early unification of Spain's tribal groups occurred under Roman rule (circa 200 B.C.E. to circa 475 C.E. ) when the Latin ancestral language was implanted, eventually giving rise to all of the Iberian languages except Basque. Other aspects of administration, military and legal organization, and sundry cultural and social processes and institutions derived from the Roman presence. Christianity was introduced to Spain in Roman times, and the Christianization of the populace continued into the Visigothic period (475 to 711 C.E. ). Spain's major contacts were Mediterranean (Phoenician, Greek, Roman, and North African) until the entry of the Visigoths from across the Pyrenees. The Visigoths were the first foreign power to establish their centers in the northern rather than the southern half of the peninsula. Visigothic rule saw the implantation of new forms of local governance, new legal codes, and the Christianization of the peoples of Spain's mountainous north. A Jewish population was present in Spain from about 300 B.C.E. , before Roman colonization, and throughout Spain's subsequent history until the expulsion in 1492 of those Jews who did not choose to convert to Christianity.

The Visigoths fell to Muslim invasion from North Africa in 711 C.E. and subsequently took refuge in the far north, while the south came under Islamic rule, most notably from the caliphate established at the southern city of Córdoba and ruling from 969 until 1031. The presence of Islam inspired from the beginning a Christian insurgency from the northern refuge areas, and this built over the centuries. Much of the northern meseta was a frontier between Christian kingdoms and the caliphate—or smaller Muslim kingdoms ( taifas ) after the caliphate's fall. Christians pushed this frontier increasingly southward until their final victory over the last Islamic stronghold, Granada, in 1492. During this period, Christian power was continually consolidated with Castile at its center. Also in 1492, under the sponsorship of the Catholic Kings, Fernando and Isabel, Columbus encountered the New World. Thus began the formation of Spain's great overseas empire at exactly the time at which Christian Spain triumphed over Islam and expelled unconverted Muslims and Jews from Spanish soil.

Spain has been a committed Roman Catholic nation throughout modern times. This commitment has informed many of Spain's relations with other nations. Internally, while the populace is almost wholly Catholic, there has been much philosophical, social-class, and regional variance over time regarding the position of the church and clergy. These issues have joined other secular ones, some regarding succession to the Crown, to produce a dynamic national political history. Twice the monarchy has given way to a republic—the first from 1873 to 1875, the second from 1931 to 1936. The Second Republic was overthrown in 1936 by a military uprising. Following a bloody civil war, General Francisco Franco, in 1939, established a conservative, Catholic, and fascist dictatorship that lasted until his death in 1975. Franco regarded himself as a regent for a future king and selected the grandson of the last ruler (Alfonso XIII, who left Spain in 1931) as the king to succeed him. Franco died in 1975 and King Juan Carlos I then gained the helm of a constitutional monarchy, which took a democratic Spain into the twenty-first century.

National Identity. Spanish national sentiment and a sense of unity rest on shared experience and institutions and have been strengthened by Spain's relative separation from the rest of Europe by the forbidding barrier of the Pyrenees range. Processes promoting unification were begun under Rome and the Visigoths, and the Christianization of the populace was particularly important. Christian identity was strengthened in the centuries of confrontation with Islam and again with the Spaniards' establishment of Christianity in the New World. The events of 1492 brought senses of both a renewed and an emergent nation through the reestablishment of Christian hegemony on Spanish soil and the achievement of new power in the New World, which placed Spain in the avant garde of all Europe.

Ethnic Relations. One legacy of Spain's medieval convivencia (living together) of Christians, Jews, and Muslims is a universal consciousness of that history and the presence in folklore, language, and popular thought of images of Jews and "Moors" and of characteristics and activities imputed to or associated with them. The notion of cultural difference or ethnicity is often submerged by facts of religious difference (except in the case of Spanish Gypsies, who are Catholics). Through most of the twentieth century, Spanish society (unlike Spain's former colonies in the New World, Africa, and Asia) was not ethnically diverse, except for the presence of Gypsies, who arrived in Spain in the fifteenth century. Other non-European presences were relatively few, except for growing tourism in the last decades of the century, a United States military presence at a small number of bases in Spain, a modest Latin American presence, and the beginning of the passage through Spain of North African workers, especially Moroccans (who by late in the century would become a labor presence in Spain itself). Small communities of Jews, mostly European and not necessarily of Sephardic origin, were reestablished in Spain following World War II, particularly in Madrid and Barcelona. Despite these late twentieth century trends, Spaniards' most consistent and abiding sense of difference between themselves and others on their own soil is in regard to

Spanish families tend to consist of nuclear family only, with older couples or unmarried adults living on their own rather than with kin.
Spanish families tend to consist of nuclear family only, with older couples or unmarried adults living on their own rather than with kin.
Gypsies, who occupy the same marginal place in Spanish society to which they are relegated in most European countries.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Spanish settlements are typically tightly clustered. The concentration of structures in space lends an urban quality even to small villages. The Spanish word pueblo, often narrowly translated as "village," actually refers equally to a populace, a people, or a populated place, either large or small, so a pueblo can be a village, a city, or a national populace. Size, once again, is secondary to the fact of a concentration of people. In most rural areas, dwellings, barns, storage houses, businesses, schoolhouses, town halls, and churches are close to one another, with fields, orchards, gardens, woods, meadows, and pastures lying outside the inhabited center. These latter are "the countryside" ( campo ), but the built center, no matter how large or small, is a distinct space: the urban center with a populace. Campo and pueblo are essentially separate kinds of space.

In some areas, human habitation is dispersed in the countryside; this is not the norm, and many Spaniards express pity for those who live isolated in the countryside. Dispersed settlement is most systematically associated with areas of mixed cultivation and cattle breeding, mostly in humid Spain along the Atlantic north coast. The latifundios (extensive estates) of the south also see some isolated complexes of dwelling and out-buildings ( cortijos ), and the Catalan masía is an isolated farmstead outside pueblo limits, but by and large, rural Spain is a place of multi-family pueblos.

Spain's major cities—Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and Zaragoza—and the many lesser cities, mostly provincial capitals, are major attractions for the rural populace. The qualities of urban life are sought after; in addition, nonagrarian work, market opportunities, and numerous important services are heavily concentrated in cities.

Dwelling types are varied, and what are sometimes called regional types are often in reality associated with local geographies or, within a single zone, with rustic versus more modern styles. Many parts of rural Spain display dwelling types that are rapidly becoming archaic and in which people and animals share space in ways that most Spaniards view with distaste. Most houses that meet with wider approval relegate animals to well-insulated stables within the dwelling structures, but with separate entries. Increasingly, however, animals are stalled entirely in outbuildings, and motor transport and the mechanization of agriculture have, of course, caused a significant decrease in the number and kinds of animals kept by rural families.

Houses themselves are usually sturdily built, often with meter-thick walls to insure stability, insulation, and privacy. Preferred materials are stone and adobe brick fortified by heavy timbers. Privacy is crucial because dwellings are closely clustered and often abut, even if their walls are structurally separate. Southern Spain, in particular, is home to houses built around off-street patios that may show mostly windowless walls to the public street. Urban apartment buildings throughout Spain may use the patio principle to create inner, off-street spaces for such domestic uses as hanging laundry. Building patios also constitute informal social space for exchange between neighbors.

Outside of dwellings and within a population center, most spaces are very public, particularly those areas that are used for public events. Village, town, and city streets, plazas, and open spaces are common property and subject to regulation by civic authority. The very public nature of outdoor space heightens the concern with the separation of domestic from public space and the maintenance of domestic privacy. Yet family members who share dwelling space may enjoy less privacy from one another than their American counterparts: most urban families, in particular, live in fairly cramped spaces in which the sharing of bedrooms and the multifunctional uses of common rooms are frequent.

Beyond the homes of rural or middle-class urban Spaniards, there are palaces, mansions, and monuments of both civil and sacred architecture that display some distinctions but much similarity to comparable structures in other parts of Europe. Spain also boasts such unique monuments of Islamic architecture as the Alhambra in Granada and the great Mosque of Córdoba; monuments of Roman building such as the aqueduct of Segovia and the tripartite arch at Medinaceli; and religious architecture of early Christian through Renaissance times. These—along with prehistoric art and sites—are important in the array of emblems of local and regional identities.

Food and Economy

Read more about the Food and Cuisine of Spain.

Food in Daily Life. The traditional Spanish diet is rooted in the products of an agrarian, pastoral, and horticultural society. Principal staples are bread (wheat is preferred); legumes (chickpeas, Old and New World beans, lentils); rice; garden vegetables; cured pork products; lamb and veal (and beef, in many regions only recently sought after); eggs; barnyard animals (chickens, rabbits, squabs); locally available wild herbs, game, fish, and shellfish; saltfish (especially cod and congereel); olives and olive oil; orchard fruits and nuts; grapes and wine made from grapes; milk of cows, sheep, and/or goats and cured milk products and dishes (cured cheeses and fresh curd); honey and Spanish-grown condiments (parsley, thyme, oregano, paprika, saffron, onions, garlic). Home production of honey is today mostly eclipsed by use of sugarcane and sugar-beet products, which have been commercialized in a few areas.

Most important among the garden vegetables are potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cabbages and chard, green peas, asparagus, artichokes and vegetable thistle ( cardo ), zucchini squash, and eggplant. Most of these are ubiquitous but some, like artichokes and asparagus, are also highly commercialized, especially in conserve. Important orchard fruits besides olives are oranges and lemons, quinces, figs, cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, pears, apples, almonds, and walnuts. Of these, oranges, almonds, and quinces, in particular, are commercialized, as are olives and their oil. The most important vine fruits are grapes and melons, and in some regions there is caper cultivation. The heavily commercialized herbs are paprika and saffron, both of which are in heavy use in Spanish cookery.

The Spanish midday stew, of which every region has at least one version, is a brothy dish of legumes with potatoes, condimented with cured pork products and fresh meat(s) in small quantity, and with greens in season at the side or in the stew. This is known as a cocido or olla (or olla podrida ) and in some homes is eaten, in one or another version, every day. On days of abstinence from meat, cocido will be made with saltcod ( bacalao ) or salted congereel ( cóngrio ). In the eastern rice-producing areas around Valencia and Murcia, the midday meal may instead be one of the paella family of dishes (rice with vegetables, meat, poultry, and/or seafood). These rice dishes are eaten everywhere but in some areas are often reserved for Sundays.

The midday meal ( comida ) around 2:00 P.M. is the day's principal meal, usually taken by families together at home. This follows a small breakfast ( desayuno ) of coffee or chocolate and bread or other dough products—purchased breakfast cakes, packaged cookies, or dough fritters ( churros ). Family members may breakfast at different times. A mid-morning

A flamenco dancer in Madrid. This idiom of song, dance, and musical accompaniment is regarded as uniquely Spanish.
A flamenco dancer in Madrid. This idiom of song, dance, and musical accompaniment is regarded as uniquely Spanish.
snack ( almuerzo )—which is a heavy one for farmers in the fields or physical laborers—may also be taken more individually. In the late afternoon, between 6:00 and 8:00 P.M. , people may eat a substantial snack ( merienda ) at or away from home—or snack on tapas (appetizers) with a drink at a bar; for some families the merienda replaces the later supper. When taken, the supper ( cena ) is a light meal—often of soup, eggs, fish, or cold meats—and is eaten by families together around 10:00 P.M. This meal pattern is national except that in the Catalan area main meal hours are earlier, somewhat as in France (1:00 P.M. and 8:00 P.M. ).

The family meals, comida and cena, are important gathering times. Even in congested urban areas, most working people travel home to the comida and return to work afterwards. Commercial and office hours are designed around the comida hours: most businesses are closed by 1:00 or 2:00 P.M. and do not reopen for afternoon business until 4:00 or 5:00 P.M. at the earliest, depending upon the season—winter bringing earlier afternoon hours than summer. Banks and many offices have no afternoon hours. Food stores, butchers, and fishmongers may remain open longer in the mornings and not reopen until at least 6:00 (or not reopen at all) and then remain open until about 9:00 P.M. to accommodate late shoppers. Virtually all commerce is closed by the family supper hour of 10:00 P.M. , except of course taverns, bars, and restaurants.

Restaurant dining has become common in the urban middle, professional, and upper classes, where restaurants have made a few inroads on the home meals of some families; in general, however, family comida and cena hours are crucial aspects of family life throughout the nation. Restaurants in urban areas date only from the mid-nineteenth century: the Swiss restaurateur opened his eponymous Lhardy in Madrid in 1839. Other kinds of establishments—taverns, houses specializing in specific kinds of drinks (such as chocolate), and inns ( fondas ) offering meals to travelers are of course much older. But urban restaurants offering meals to those who could eat at home instead represented a new kind of social activity to those who could afford the price. Into the 1970s, Spaniards who ate in restaurants did so mostly in families and mostly to eat together, at leisure and in public, and not to try new foods. Menus were mostly of Spanish dishes from the same inventory home cooks also produced.

Spain's principal national dishes and foodstuffs are the various cocidos and the paella family of dishes, stuffed peppers, the tortilla española or Spanish omelette (a thick cake of eggs and sliced potatoes), and cured hams and sausages. A dish like gazpacho is most closely associated with Andalucía and is usually seasonal but today has national recognition, even though most of its varieties are little known outside their home zones. Tomato gazpacho is one of the Spanish dishes that has an international presence, as do paellas and mountain ( serrano ) hams.

Spain's contemporary version of the ancient refreshments barley-water (French orgeat ) or almond-water is made from the tuber chufa and is called horchata. This beverage is produced mostly for Spanish consumption. Another beverage, sherry wine, which is produced around the southern town of Jerez de la Frontera, has international fame. And it was Spaniards who first introduced Europeans to drinking chocolate. Chocolate parlors, like coffee-houses and wine cellars, are public gathering places that purvey and attract customers to drink specific beverages. In the apple country of the north, especially in Asturias, sidrerías, or cider lagers, are important gathering places. Their product, hard cider, is also bottled and exported to other regions and abroad. Wine, however, is the most common accompaniment to meals in most of the nation, and beer is drunk mostly before or between meals.

A number of desserts and sweets have a national presence, principally a group of milk desserts of the flan or caramel custard family. Cheese figures strongly as a dessert and is often served with quince paste. Almond or almond-paste confections made with honey and egg whites ( turrón, almond nougat or brittle) and marzipan ( mazapán ) are eaten everywhere during the Christmas season and are shipped across the nation and abroad from eastern almond-growing centers around Alicante (especially the town of Jijona).

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Eating and drinking together are Spaniards' principal ways of spending time together, either at everyday leisure moments, weekly on Sundays, or on special occasions. Special occasions include both general religious feast days such as Easter and Christmas and such family celebrations as birthdays, personal saints' days, baptisms, First Communions, and weddings. Many of these involve invited guests, and in small villages there may be at least token food offerings to the whole populace. Food is the principal currency of social exchange. Everywhere people with enough leisure form groups whose main purpose is the periodic enjoyment together of food and/ or drink. These sociable groups of friends are called cuadrillas, peñas, or by other terms, and their number is by no means confined to the well-known men's eating societies of Basque Country.

The contents of special meals vary. Some feature dishes from the daily inventory at their most elaborate and numerous, with the most select ingredients. Some respond to the Church's required abstentions (principally from meat) on particular days such as Christmas Eve and during Lent. Salt cod and eel are especially important in meatless dishes. Some purely secular festivals of rural families accompany the execution of major tasks: the sheepshearing, the pig slaughter, or the threshing of the grain harvest. In some regions, a funeral meal follows a burial; this is hosted by the family of the deceased for their kin and other invited guests. This (meatless) meal is in most places a thing of the past, and the Church has discouraged funeral banquets, but it was an important tradition in the north, in Basque, and in other regions.

Basic Economy. Spain has been a heavily agrarian, pastoral, and mercantile nation. As of the middle of the twentieth century the nation was principally rural. Today, industry is more highly developed, and Spain is a member of the European Economic Community and participates substantially in the global economy. Farmers' voluntary reorganization of the land base and the mechanization of agriculture (both accomplished with government assistance) have combined to modernize farming in much of the nation; these developments have in turn promoted migration from rural areas into Spain's cities, which grew significantly in the twentieth century. With the development of industry following World War II, cities offer industrial and other blue- and white-collar employment to the descendants of farm families.

The Spanish countryside as a whole has been largely self-sufficient. Local production varies greatly, even within regions, so regional and inter-regional markets are important vehicles of exchange, as has been a long tradition of interregional peddling by rural groups who came to specialize in purveying goods of different kinds away from their homes.

Land Tenure and Property. The chief factors that differentiate Spanish property and land tenure regimes are estate size and their partibility or impartibility.

Much of the southern half of Spain, roughly south of the River Tajo, is characterized by latifundios, or large estates, on which a single owner employs farm laborers who have little or no property of their own. Large estates date at least from Roman times and have given rise to a significant separation of social classes: one class consisting of the relatively leisured latifundio owners and the other class comprising the landless agrarian laborers who work for them, usually on short-term contracts, and live most of the time in the fairly large centers known as agro-towns. In the north, by contrast, properties are small ( minifundios ) and are lived on—usually in pueblo communities—and worked principally by the families of their owners or secondarily by families who live on and work the estates on long-term leases.

The north of Spain, dominated by minifundios, is crosscut by a difference in inheritance laws whereby in some areas estates are impartible and in others are divisible among heirs. Most of the nation is governed by Castilian law, which fosters the division of the bulk of an estate among all heirs, male and female, with a general (though variable) stress on equality of shares. There is a deep tradition in the northeast, however, whereby estates are passed undivided to a single heir (not everywhere or always necessarily a male or the firstborn), while other heirs receive only some settlement at marriage or have to remain single in order to stay on the familial property. This tradition characterizes the entire Pyrenean region, both Basque and Catalan, and adjacent zones of Cataluña, Navarra, and Aragón. The passage of estates undivided down the generations is a touchstone of cultural identity where it is practiced (just as estate division is deeply valued elsewhere), and as part of a separate and ancient legal system, the protection of impartibility has been central to these regions' contentions with Castile over the centuries. Spanish civil law recognizes stem-family succession in the regions where it is traditional through codified exceptions to the Castilian law followed in the rest of the nation. Nonetheless, the tradition of estate impartibility along the linguistic distinctions of the Basque and Catalan regions have long combined with other issues to make the political union of these two regions with the rest of Spain the most fragile seam in the national fabric.

Commercial Activities. Among Spain's traditional export products are olive oil, canned artichokes and asparagus, conserved fish (sardines, anchovies, tuna, saltcod), oranges (including the bitter or "Seville" oranges used in marmalade), wines (including sherry), paprika made from peppers in various regions, almonds, saffron, and cured pork products. Cured serrano ham and the paprika-and-garlic sausage called chorizo have particular renown in Europe.

Historically, Spain held a world monopoly on merino sheep and their wool; Spain's wool and textile production (including cotton) is still important, as is that of lumber, cork, and the age-old work of shipbuilding. There is coal mining in the north, especially in the region of Asturias, and metal and other mineral extraction in different regions. The Canary Islands' production of tobacco and bananas is important, as is that of esparto grass on the eastern meseta for the manufacture of traditional footgear and other items. Even though Spain no longer participates in Atlantic cod fishery, Spain's fisheries are nonetheless important for both national consumption and for export, and canneries are present in coastal areas. There is increasingly rapid transport of seafood to the nation's interior to satisfy Spaniards' high demand for quality fresh fish and shellfish.

Leather and leather goods have longstanding and continuing importance, as do furniture and paper manufacture. Several different regions supply both utilitarian and decorative ceramics and ceramic tiles, along with art ceramics; others supply traditional cloth handiwork, both lace and embroidery, while others are known for specific metal crafts—such as the knife manufacture associated with Albacete and the decorative damascene work on metal for which Toledo is famed.

Major Industries. Spain's heavy industry has developed since the end of the Civil War, with investments by Germany and Italy, and after the middle of the twentieth century with investments by the United States. The basis for these developments is old, however: iron mining and arms and munitions manufacture have been important for centuries, principally in the north. Spain's arms and munitions production is still important today, along with the manufacture of agricultural machinery, automobiles, and other kinds of equipment. Most industry is concentrated around major cities in the north and east—Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, and Zaragoza. These industries have attracted migrants from the largely agrarian south, where there are sharp inequalities in land ownership not characteristic of the north, while other landless southerners have made systematic labor migrations into industrial areas of Europe—France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland.

The most far-reaching development in Spain's economy since the 1950s has been in the multifaceted tourist industry. The number of tourists who visit Spain each year is roughly equal to Spain's resident population. Much of the influx is seasonal, between March and October, but the winter season is important in a number of areas—for winter sports in mountain zones and for the warmth of the southern coasts and the Balearic and Canary Islands. The hotel, restaurant, and other service sectors related to tourism constitute Spain's most significant industry, and it is one whose effects are felt in every corner of the nation. This has to do not only with the actual presence of tourists and the opening of areas of touristic interest, but also with expanded markets for Spanish products abroad as well as at home. A growing international acquaintance with Spanish foodways has enhanced the demand for certain Spanish foodstuffs and wines. Spanish leather goods, ceramics, and other crafts have a heightened and increasingly global market. Additionally, the consciousness of touristic interest even in remote regions (and not always with the help of professional promoters) has broadened local people's awareness of the interest in their own cultural heritage. Consequently, a variety of festivals and local products now enjoy expanded markets that often make real differences in local economies. The market for Spain's local and regional folk culture is not dependent just on international tourism; internal tourism, once reserved for the wealthy, is now promoted by television and the growth of automobile

A cart outside a rural building in Castillo. Stone is a popular building material in Spain, providing strength, insulation, and privacy.
A cart outside a rural building in Castillo. Stone is a popular building material in Spain, providing strength, insulation, and privacy.
travel since the 1960s and has added Spaniards to the mass of foreign tourists spending their vacation money in Spain.

Trade. Spain is a member of the European Economic Community (Common Market) and has its heaviest trading relationship there, especially with Britain, and with the United States, Japan and the Ibero-American nations with which Spain also has deep historical ties and some trade relationships which date from the period of her New World empire. Among Spain's major exports are leather and textile goods; the commercialized foodstuffs named earlier; items of stone, ceramic, and tile; metals; and various kinds of manufactured equipment. Probably Spain's most significant dependence on outside sources is for crude oil, and energy costs are high for Spanish consumers.

Division of Labor. Once a predominantly agrarian and commercial nation, Spain was transformed during the twentieth century into a modern, industrial member of the global economic community. With land reform and mechanization, the agrarian sector has shrunk and the commercial, industrial, and service sectors of the economy have grown in size, significance, and global interconnection. Because the tourist industry is Spain's greatest and this rests on various forms of services, the service sector of the economy has seen particular growth since the 1950s.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. The apex of Spain's social pyramid is occupied by the royal family, followed by the titled nobility and aristocratic families. The Franco régime maintained a conservative appearance in this respect, even in the absence of a royal family (for which Franco substituted his own). But through history, Spaniards have been critical of their rulers. The anonymous medieval poet said of the soldier-hero El Cid, (Ruy Díaz de Vivar), "God, what a good vassal! If only he had a good lord!" and the populations of large territories in the north known in the Middle Ages as behetrías had the right to shift their collective allegiance from one lord to another if the first was found wanting.

In today's modern and democratic Spain, the circles around the royal family, titled nobility, and old aristocrats are ever widened by individuals who are endowed with social standing by virtue of achievements in business, public life, or cultural activity. Wealth, including new wealth, and family connections to contemporary forms of power count for a great deal, but so do older concepts of family eminence. Spain's middle class has burgeoned, its development having not suffered under Franco, and because the disdain for commercial activity that marked the ancien regime, and made nobles who kept their titles refrain from manual labor and most kinds of commerce, is long gone. Many heirs to noble titles choose not to pay the cost of claiming and maintaining them, but this does not deny them social esteem. Many titled nobles make their livings in middle-class professions without loss of social esteem. The bases on which Spaniards accord esteem have expanded enormously since the demise of the feudal regime in the mid-nineteenth century. Entrepreneurial and professional success are admired, as are new and old money, rags-to-riches success, and descent from and connection to eminent families.

Spain's class system is marked by modern Euro-American models of success; upward mobility is possible for most aspirants. Education through at least the lowest levels of university training are today a principal vehicle of mobility, and Spain's national system of public universities expanded greatly to accommodate demand in the last third of the twentieth century. After family eminence combined with some level of inherited wealth, education is increasingly the sine qua non of social advancement. The models of social success that are emulated are various, but all involve the trappings of material comfort and leisure as well as styles that are urbane and sometimes have global referents rather than simply Spanish ones. While Spain has a landed gentry—particularly in the southern latifundio regions where landlords are leisured employers rather than farmers themselves—the gentry itself values urbanity; increasingly these families have removed themselves to the urban settings of provincial or national capitals.

The wide base of the social pyramid is composed, as in western societies generally, of manual laborers, rural or urban workers in the lower echelons of the service sector, and petty tradesmen. The rural-urban difference is important here. Self-employed farming has always been an honored trade (others that do not involve food production were once seen as more dubious), but rusticity is not highly valued. Therefore, Spanish farmers, along with country tradesmen, share the disadvantage of having a rustic rather than an urbane image; urbanity must be gained with some effort (through education and emulative self-styling) if one is to move upward in society from rural beginnings.

At the margins of Spanish society are individuals and groups whose trades involve itinerancy, proximity to animals, and the lack of a fixed base in a pueblo community. Chief in this category are Spain's Roma or Gypsies (though some settle permanently) and other groups who are not necessarily of foreign origin but who shun the values Spaniards cherish and follow more of the model that contemporary Spaniards associate with Gypsies.

Symbols of Social Stratification. The outward signs of social differences are embodied in the degrees to which people can display their material worth through their homes (especially fashionable addresses) and furnishings, dress, jewelry and other possessions, fashionable forms of leisure, and the degrees to which their behavior reflects education, urbane sophistication, and travel. A Spanish family's ability to take a month's vacation is famously important as a sign of economic well-being and social status. Comfortable, even luxurious, modes of travel—not necessarily by one's own automobile—also enhance people's social images.

Political Life

Government. Spain is a parliamentary monarchy with a bicameral legislature. The current king, Juan Carlos I (the grandson of Alfonso XIII, who was displaced by the Second Republic) is the first monarch to reign following the Franco period. His succession (rather than that of his father, Juan de Borbón) was determined by Franco: Juan Carlos ascended to the throne in 1975 following Franco's death. In 1978 the constitution that would govern Spain in its new era took effect. While organizing a parliamentary democracy, it also holds the king inviolable at the pinnacle of Spain's distribution of powers. In 1981 the king helped to maintain the constitution in force in the face of an attempted right-wing coup; this promoted the continuance of orderly governance under the constitution despite other kinds of disruptions—separatist terrorism in the Basque and Catalan areas and a variety of political scandals involving government corruption. Spain has repeatedly seen orderly elections and changes of government and ruling party. The head of state, the prime minister, is a member of the majority party in a multiparty system. The years under the constitutional regime have brought Spain into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Community—and therefore, politically and economically closer to Europe—as well as into ever wider circles of global involvement.

The major change that has come about in Spain's political organization under the modern

Apartments next to a marina in Malaga. Urban families often share bedrooms, and common rooms may be used for multiple purposes.
Apartments next to a marina in Malaga. Urban families often share bedrooms, and common rooms may be used for multiple purposes.
constitution is the creation of seventeen "autonomous regions" into which the fifty provinces are distributed. Each of the autonomous regions has its own regional government, budget, and ministries; these replicate those at the national level. Some provinces are now separated from or grouped differently from their groupings in the historical kingdoms of traditional reference and so regional identities are in many cases being newly forged. This process has its only parallel in modern times in the original formation of the provinces themselves in 1833.

Leadership and Political Officials. Leadership is a personal achievement but can be aided by family connections. In Spain's multiparty system, shifts in party governance tend to bring about changes in officialdom at deeper levels in official entities and agencies than occur in the United States; that is, party membership is a correlate of government employment at deeper levels and in a greater number of spheres in Spain than in the United States. Spain's political culture in the post-Franco period, however, is still developing.

The most local representative of national government is the secretario local, or civil recorder, in each municipality. Municipalities might cover one or more villages, depending on local geography, and there is a recent trend toward consolidation. Every locality as well has its municipal head of government, its alcalde (mayor), or—where a village has become a dependency of a larger seat in the municipality—an alcalde pedáneo (dependent mayor). Alcaldes are local residents who are elected locally while the secretarios are government appointees who have undergone training and passed civil service examinations. The secretario is the local recorder of property transactions and keeper of the population rolls that feed the nation's decennial census.

Social Problems and Control. Spain's justice system serves citizens from local levels, with justices of the peace and district courts, through the level of the nation's Supreme Court (and a separate Supreme Court for constitutional interpretations). The system is governed by civil and criminal law codes.

Every Spanish locality is served by one or another police force. Urban areas have municipal police forces, while rural areas and small pueblos are covered by the Guardia Civil, or Civil Guard. The Civil Guard, which is a national police corps, also handles the policing of highway and other transit systems and deals with national security, smuggling and customs, national boundary security, and terrorism.

Informal social controls are powerful forces in Spanish communities of all sizes. In tightly clustered villages, residents are always under their neighbors' observation, and potential criticism is a strong deterrent against culturally defined misconduct and the failure to adhere to expected standards. Many village communities rarely if ever activate the official systems of justice and law enforcement; gossip and censure within the community, and surveillance of all by all, are often sufficient. This is true even in urban neighborhoods (though not in entire large towns and cities) because Spaniards are socialized to observe and comment upon one another and to establish neighborly consciousness and relationships wherever they live. The anonymity of an American high-rise community, for example, is relatively foreign to Spain. But it is also true that larger Spanish populations resort to their police forces frequently and, today, are additionally plagued by the increased street crime and burglary that characterize modern times in much of the world.

Military Activity. Spain's armed forces—trained for land, sea, and air—are today engaged primarily in peacetime duties and internationally in such peacekeeping forces as those of the United Nations and in NATO actions.

Spain entered the twentieth century having lost its colonies in the New World and the Pacific in the Spanish-American War or, as it is known in Spain, the War of 1898. Troubles in Morocco and deep unrest at home engaged the military from 1909 into the 1920s. Spain did not enter World War I. The Civil War raged from 1936 to 1939. Exhausted and depleted, Spain did not enter World War II, although its Blue Division ( División Azul ) joined Hitler's campaign in Russia. The remainder of the twentieth century has seen years of recovery, rebuilding, the maintenance by Franco of a strong military presence at home, and—after his death—of the increasing internationalization of Spain's involvements and cooperation, military and otherwise, with the rest of western Europe.

Military officers have enjoyed high social status in Spain and, indeed, are usually drawn from the higher social classes, while the countryside and lower classes give their men to service when drafted. In many places, men who reach draft age together form recognized social groups in their hometowns. At the end of the twentieth century, although young men are still subject to the draft, military service is open to women as well, and the armed forces are becoming increasingly voluntary. Spain's final draft lottery was held in the year 2000.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Most of Spain's programs of social welfare, service, and development are in the hands of the state—including agencies of the regional governments—and of the Roman Catholic Church. Church and state are separate today, but Catholicism is the religion of the great majority. The Church itself—and Catholic agencies—have a weighty presence in organizing social welfare and in sponsoring hospitals, schools, and aid projects of all sorts. Local, national, and international secular agencies are active as well, but none covers the spectrum of activities covered by the Church and the religious orders. The state offers social security, extensive health care, and disability benefits to most Spaniards. Actual ministration to the sick and disadvantaged, however, often falls to Church agencies or institutions staffed by religious personnel.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

The importance of the Catholic Church in the spectrum of nongovernmental associations is great, both at parish levels and above. A hallmark of Spanish social organization in purely secular as well as in religious matters, however, is the formation of small groups on the basis of shared locality and/or other interests—sometimes in a guildlike manner—to pool resources, extend mutual aid, complete large tasks, or simply to share sociability. When based on shared locality, these groups are found from small villages to neighborhoods of large cities; nonlocal groups are based on common occupations or other shared experiences and interests. They offer intimacy beyond the family and join individuals within or between neighborhoods and localities. The spectrum of secular groups of this kind is extended—but by no means dominated—by such religious groups as saints' confraternities, other kinds of brotherhoods, and voluntary church-based associations dedicated to a variety of social as well as devotional ends. In addition, large-scale regional, national, and international organizations have an increasing importance in Spanish society in the field of nongovernmental associations, an area that was once more completely dominated by Church-related organizations.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. The sexual division of labor varies by region and social class. In rural areas with a plow culture, men do most of the

Tightly clustered towns are typical in Spain, where isolation in the countryside is often pitied.
Tightly clustered towns are typical in Spain, where isolation in the countryside is often pitied.
agricultural tasks, and women garden and keep house. In areas such as the humid north coast, where one finds a greater emphasis on animal husbandry and horticulture, both sexes garden and tend cattle, sheep, and goats. Professional herding (i.e., for hire), however, normally falls to men, and in regions of sheep—rather than cattle—herding, men do most of the herding. Women perform men's tasks when necessary but are least likely to drive a plow or tractor. Men do women's tasks when necessary—and many men like to cook—but are least likely to do mending and, above all, laundry. Married men and women run their domestic economies and raise their children in partnership. It is traditional throughout Spain, however, that men and women pursue leisure separately, particularly in public places, where they gather with friends and neighbors of like sex and the same general age. The kinds of groups that enjoy leisure together form early in life.

The separation of the sexes in leisure establishes the pattern on which the division of labor is enacted among the elite. Where economic circumstances permit, men and women lead more separate lives than occurs among the peasantry, and then the traditional divisions of male from female tasks are less often breached. In public life, men more often pursue politics, and women maintain the family's religious observance and spend more time in child rearing and household management than men do. Where they have hired household help, the servants are likely women, and these are an old part of the nation's female work force, which is now expanding in new directions. The traditional ideal of a sexual division of labor is best achieved by the leisured classes, whom peasants emulate when they can. Domestic servants have always played a vital role in communicating élite models to the peasantry and working classes.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Spanish women under Castilian law inherit property equally with their brothers. They may also manage and dispose of it freely. This independence of control was traditionally relinquished to the husband upon marriage, but unmarried women or widows could wield the power of their properties independently. Today spouses are absolutely equal under the law.

Royal and noble women succeed to family titles if they have no brothers. In some areas of Spain, a woman may be heir to the family estate, but if she is not and instead marries an heir, she lives under the roof and rule of her husband and his parents. Nonetheless, women do not change their birth surnames at marriage in any part of Spain and can have public identities quite separate from those of their husbands.

Women were traditionally homemakers. Today they are found throughout the business, professional, and political worlds. In rural and working-class families, too, married women now often work outside the home and so experience both the independence and the frustrations of working women in countries where the female workforce emerged earlier. Spanish couples began controlling their family size long ago, and Spain now permits divorce, so more Spanish women are finding new kinds of freedom from their traditional roles as wives and mothers of large families. There seem to be relatively few barriers to their advancement in most kinds of work. Despite women's traditional association with home-making, Spaniards have long accepted the independence of women and the prominence of some of them (including their queens and noble women). Women's present emergence in the workforce, in the professions, and in government occurred in Spain without a marked feminist rebellion.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Spaniards today marry for mutual attraction and shun the idea of arranged marriages. Class consciousness and material self-interest, however, lead people to socialize and marry largely within their own social classes or to aim for a match with a spouse who is better off. Traditionally, access to property was an important concern for farmers, with well-being often counting for more than love. But marriage ties traditionally could not be broken and long courtships helped couples find compatibility before they took their marriage vows. Marriage is a partnership, although different input is expected of the two sexes, and the rearing of a family is regarded as central to it. Remarriage for widowed individuals beyond childbearing age was traditionally greeted with community ribaldry, since a sexual relationship was being entered into without the end of family-building. These views and customs are becoming archaic. Divorce is now permitted; liaisons outside of marriage are increasingly common and accepted; and the economics of marriage for most people are freed from the ties to landed property that obtained when Spain was more heavily rural and agrarian.

Domestic Unit. Most Spaniards live in nuclear-family households of parents and unmarried children, and this is widely held as ideal. A Spanish saying goes "casado casa quiere " ("a married person wants a house"). Older couples or unmarried adults tend to live on their own.

Two kinds of household formations produce stem families. Where estates are impartible, the married heir lives and raises his children on the parental estate and expects his heir to do likewise. In areas where estates are divided, an adult heir may nonetheless stay on with his or her parents on their house site. This is often the youngest child, who agrees to stay on in the aging parents' household, but such arrangements are not necessarily replicated generation after generation. Where two generations of married adults co-reside, it is often on impartible farms, and many heirs forsake farming these days in order to live independently and earn a salaried living in urban comfort. The acknowledged strains between co-resident married couples suggest that indeed casado casa quiere, and demographers find the stem-family régime to be waning. This does not mean that the philosophy of estate impartibility is any weaker, however, in areas where it is traditional.

Inheritance. In addition to land, rural estates include houses and outbuildings; animals; farm machinery; household goods, utensils, and tools; larder contents; furniture and clothing; jewelry; and cash. Nonfarm estates might include fewer types of property. Where estates go to a single heir, this usually includes animals, equipment, house and outbuildings, and most furnishings—the things that are essential for the farm effort. Some amounts of other types of property, especially liquid cash, can be separated and go to noninheriting children. This kind of settlement with nonheirs is ordinary when a young heir takes over an estate at his parents' death. Sometimes—in any part of Spain—parents make premortem donations to their heirs, dividing estates according to custom and either keeping enough for their own maintenance or contracting for maintenance with the heirs. Maintenance is less a question in stem family households in which aging parents continue to live. Where there are multiple heirs, as in most of Spain, the majority of an estate is divided equally among them. This may involve lots containing very different types of property—some with more land and animals, others with more cash or other goods—all items are assigned a cash value so that lots are of equal value even if their contents differ. In other local traditions, every kind of item, including a house, is divided equally. Castilian law allows for the free disposition of a portion of estates: some families use this to benefit disabled children, for example, but regions differ (as do families) as to how willing people are to dispense with the equal division of the entire estate. Some are meticulous about equal shares down to the last cent.

Kin Groups. All Spaniards, including Basques, reckon kinship in effectively the same way: bilaterally and using an Eskimo-type terminology—the same as most Europeans and Americans. Basques, however, have a concept of the kindred that joins certain relatives (including some in-laws) beyond the nuclear or extended family for particular purposes, notably funerary observances. This notion of the kindred is lacking elsewhere in Spain, where kinship relations beyond the household are nonetheless supremely important in social life.

Family ( familia ) and relatives ( parientes ) are defined broadly (without genealogical limits) and inclusively (embracing in-laws as well as blood relatives) to create a large pool of relations beyond the limits of any single household or locality. Within this pool, people socialize as much by choice as by obligation, and obligations to relatives beyond the nuclear family are more moral than legal ones. Although this field of relations is at best loosely structured and relations between kinsmen from different households must be viewed as voluntary, kinship networks are extraordinarily important in Spaniards' lives and serve as vital connectors in many realms, influencing such choices as those of residence, occupation, migration, and even marriage. Despite diminishing family size, the Spanish family as an instituted set of relationships remains extremely strong.

Socialization

Infant Care. Infants are breast- or bottle fed and weaned on cereal pap and other soft or mashed solid foods. Neither feeding patterns nor weaning and toilet training are rigid. Infants are treated with affection and good humor and scoldings are often accompanied by kisses. The threat of social shame is a tool in teaching desirable conduct, but adults do not actually shame children in public. Teasing and taunting are not normal parts of adults' exchange with children. men and women alike hold and shower affection on babies, although in the urban middle classes fathers may—or once did—treat their growing children more formally than their mothers do.

Infants of both sexes are carefully, even ornately, dressed. Sometimes strangers can detect their sex only by the presence of earrings on girl babies, whose ears are usually pierced in their first weeks of life. As they become toddlers, babies' clothes come to reflect their sex, as boys wear short pants and girls wear dresses. Toddlers of both sexes may sleep together at home and in public form mixed play groups. Their play becomes separate as they reach the ages of five or six, and they are also likely then to sleep in separate rooms or with older siblings of the same sex. At this stage, sex-appropriate behavior models are presented to them.

Child Rearing and Education. The birth of children is seen as the chief purpose of marriage. Children of both sexes are valued and raised with affection, even adoration, by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and older siblings. Children are expected to be loving in return; a modicum of obedience is expected, but displays of obstinacy or temper are not sternly punished. Upbringing is not rigid, but as they grow children are expected to understand the constraints upon the adults around them and to learn respect and helpfulness as they approach the age at which they begin school (six). Children's environments are intensely social, not usually enhanced by large numbers of toys or children's furniture. Children are expected to take their pleasures (and also learn) from inclusion in the adult world, where they are involved in and witness to interactions from their earliest days. They are almost constantly surrounded by others and often also sleep as infants with their parents and later with older siblings. Parents may depend on schoolteachers for discipline and use teachers' judgments—or those of priests—as part of their own approach to child training once children are of school age. Most Spaniards see schooling as crucial to their children's life chances, particularly if they are to leave traditional rural occupations as most do. The urban working classes, like most rural food producers, place high value on basic literacy and on schooling beyond the obligatory age of fourteen to ensure entry into the world of employed or self-employed modern Spaniards.

Higher Education. For most Spaniards, vocational and academic secondary schooling is crucial, but they also hope to send their children to college if not for higher degrees as well. The professions are much admired, as is knowledge in general. Most of Spain's university system is public and governed in accord with nationwide regulations; it is heavily enrolled and was vastly expanded in the last decades of the twentieth century.

Etiquette

Basic norms of civility and propriety, such as definitions of accepted levels of dress or undress, are comparable to the rest of Europe and the West in general. A crucial aspect of spoken exchange in Spanish is selective use of the formal you ( usted, pl. ustedes ) or the familiar (pl. vosotros ). The formal form was once used by the young to their seniors even in the family but this is now uncommon. Outside of the family, the formal is used in situations of social distance and inequality, including age inequalities, and it is often used reciprocally by both parties as a sign of respect for social distance rather than a mark of one party's superiority. There is some regional and social-class variance in patterns of formal versus familiar address and the ease or rapidity with which people who are no longer strangers shift to the familiar tú.

Table etiquette for most occasions is informal by many European standards. People who eat together do so with relative intimacy and unpretension. Even in many restaurants, but especially at home, diners share certain kinds of dishes from a common platter: certain appetizers, salads, and traditionally paella. Verbal etiquette—to say to others "que aproveche " ("may it benefit you")—is reserved for people who are not sharing food at the same table: it is an etiquette of separation rather than inclusion. Eaters may say to an outsider "Si le guste" ("would you like some?"), to which the response

Several women in the flower section of the Rastro Market in Madrid. Spaniards have long accepted the independence of women.
Several women in the flower section of the Rastro Market in Madrid. Spaniards have long accepted the independence of women.
is "que aproveche," but this exchange does not occur when the outsider is expected to join the table. Instead, in the latter case, the outsider would simply be told, "come and eat."

Religion

Religious Beliefs. Spain has been a profoundly Catholic country for centuries, and Catholicism was the official religion for most of recent history until after the death of Franco. Church and state were separated briefly under both the First and Second Republics, but their lasting separation did not begin until the 1978 constitution took effect. Even though their numbers have grown, non-Catholics in Spain today probably number less than 2 percent of the populace. Under Franco, regulations concerning the practice of other religions relegated them to near invisibility even while they were not outlawed. Today non-Catholics practice openly.

Although the vast majority of Spaniards are Catholics, there is great variance in the degree to which baptized Spaniards are observant and in the style of their devotions. The economic and political powers of the Church have promoted deep anticlericalism among many believing Catholics, often setting regions, smaller localities, or households, as well as different social classes, against one another. The differing politics of Spanish Catholicism give different sectors of the population different profiles even when basic religiosity itself is not at issue. The complex Catholic tradition admits private forms of devotion along with the more public and collective forms, so that even small populations see and tolerate some internal diversity in religious practice.

There are also nonbelievers. The current environment encourages a freer expression of nonbelief than has been usual except briefly in the last centuries, and some young parents do not baptize their children. This is not necessarily very common; the number of baptisms performed in Spain has shown some decline, but so has the birthrate.

All Spaniards of whatever faith live in a Catholic environment—a landscape filled with shrines and churches; an artistic heritage rich in religious reference; language and customs in which folklore and religious lore converge; chiefly secular festivals that are enacted on a religious calendar; and a national history accurately construed as the defense of Christianity, with the Catholic Church a central presence from century to century. Students of Spain, visitors, and practitioners of other faiths must all understand this Catholic environment if they are to understand Spanish national culture.

Religious Practitioners. In an overwhelmingly Catholic country, the religious practitioners are members of the Church hierarchy, the ordinary clergy, and members of the monastic orders (both monks and nuns). The monastic orders are very important in sponsoring institutions of primary and secondary education. The clergy, of course, serve the entire population beginning at parish level. The hierarchy of religious officialdom has its pinnacle in the Vatican and the office of Pope. The clergy and officialdom of minority religions—Jewish, Muslim, various Protestant denominations, and others—are also present to openly serve their adherents. They are, however, very few in number.

Rituals and Holy Places. Spanish pueblos, from hamlets to large cities, and many neighborhoods within population centers, all have patron saints each of whose days occasions a public festival, or fiesta. These fiestas punctuate the year and, along with weddings, comprised the principal events of traditional social life, especially in rural areas. Fiestas are both religious and secular in nature and usually involve feasting on both public and household levels as well as the celebration of masses. Some populations sponsor bullfights or other public entertainments on major fiestas. Shrines, which are associated with miracles, are often located outside of population centers and are visited (as are churches) by individual devotés or by large groups on the days associated with the holy figures to whom they are dedicated. Collective pilgrimages to shrines in the countryside on their special days are called romerías and typically involve picnicking as well as masses and prayer.

Shrines, from caves or country huts to elaborate structures, and churches, from village parish churches to cathedrals, are the holy places of Spanish Catholicism. Their fiestas are scattered through the year and do not involve the nation or necessarily even a whole town or region. Overarching Church fiestas that engage the whole populace are such official Church holidays as Easter, Christmas, or Corpus Cristi, for a few examples, and the day of Santiago (the Apostle Saint James the Greater), the national patron, on 25 July. These national religious holidays are celebrated by formal masses but also with varied local traditions throughout the nation. Catholic masses themselves are largely universal rituals not subject to significant local variance.

Medicine and Health Care

Spaniards are covered by a national health care system which today serves virtually the entire population. Folklorists and ethnographers have studied a wealth of folk beliefs regarding causes and cures of illness, but it is rare that people in any corner of the nation forego their free medical coverage to depend solely on folk cures or curers. The use of herbal remedies and knowledgeable but medically untrained midwives or bonesetters may persist, but only alongside the widespread patronage of pharmacies and medical practitioners. Scholars of folk medical systems and beliefs can find rich material in Spain, but this in no way marks Spaniards as primitive users unaware of the benefits of mainstream modern medicine.

Secular Celebrations

Many of Spain's major festivals have a dual quality whereby essentially secular festivals are enacted at times that have religious meaning as well. Every day of the year is associated with one or more saints or holy meanings in the Catholic calendar, yet some of the events that take place on specified religious holidays have a distinctly secular quality—bullfights on fiesta days; the king's official birthday

A family enjoys vin cau, or mulled wine, after a large family meal. Meals, especially the midday comida and late-evening cena, are important gathering times in Spain.
A family enjoys vin cau, or mulled wine, after a large family meal. Meals, especially the midday comida and late-evening cena, are important gathering times in Spain.
(a national holiday) on 24 June, the Feast of San Juan (Saint John); village business accounting meetings held after mass on designated days. Spain's most secular national holiday is 12 October, the celebration of Hispanidad, or the Hispanization of the New World following Columbus's landfall on that day in 1492. But true to form, many Spaniards also celebrate the very popular Virgin of El Pilar on 12 October, either because they are named for her, live around Zaragoza (of which she is patroness), or belong to a guild or other group (such as the Civil Guard) of which she is the designated patroness.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Spain's artistic production has recovered rapidly from the stultifying Franco years when many artists, writers, and musicians worked in exile. There is enormous public interest in works of art and architecture (where Antoni Gaudí's name must be listed), in Spain's art museums, as well as in its architectural monuments of various periods and in its important archeological sites, widely visited by Spaniards along with foreign tourists. Madrid and Barcelona both count among Europe's stellar museum cities. The arts receive both government and private support; major artists are treated as celebrities, and the humanities and fine arts are all firmly instituted in universities and professional academies, along with a multitude of local, regional, and national museums.

Literature. Spanish writers from the Middle Ages to the present have contributed to the inventory of literary masterpieces of the West. Cervantes's (1547–1616) Don Quixote; the works of Lope de Vega Carpio (1562–1635) and Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–1681); the poetry and plays of Federico García Lorca (1898–1936); and the works of five Nobel laureates in literature are but a few from different periods. There are early monuments of vernacular literature from the Middle Ages, as well, that enlighten the study of medieval Europe as a whole.

Graphic Arts. Spain's graphic artists are also world renowned and also span centuries—El Greco (Doménikos Theotokópoulos; 1541–1614), Diego de Velázquez (1599–1660), Francisco de Goya (1746–1828), Joaquín Sorolla (1863–1923), Joan Miró (1893–1983), Salvador Dalí (1904–1989), and Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), among many others, can be studied in museums and universities anywhere. Contemporary painters and sculptors have an avid following in Spain and elsewhere.

The decorative arts also form a rich part of Spain's national heritage and are well displayed in museums in Spain and elsewhere. Ceramic tile, other ceramic forms, lace work, weavings, embroidery, and other craft art often form the chief adornments in Spanish homes, are part of the traditional trousseau (personal possessions of a bride), and are the treasures passed down the generations. More than painting and sculpture, these are forms to which even humble Spaniards have intense attachments and whose style and motifs often serve as emblems of national or regional identity.

Performance Arts. The flamenco idiom of song, dance, and musical accompaniment is generally seen as uniquely Spanish and, while appreciated everywhere, is most closely associated with Andalucía. The elevation of the classical guitar to wide recognition as a concert instrument in the twentieth century is also closely identified with Spain and with Spanish composers and performers (for example, Joaquín Rodrigo [1901–1999] and Andrés Segovia [1893?–1987] respectively). Spanish composers generally—such as Enrique Granados (1867–1916), Isaac Albéniz (1860–1909), and Manuel de Falla (1876–1946)—have brought the Spanish folk musical idiom onto world concert stages. Appreciation of Spanish light opera, the zarzuela , is more dependent on Spanish-language competence. Nevertheless, the zarzuela has recognition beyond the Spanish-speaking world, especially through the person of such a performer as Plácido Domingo (1941–).

Spain has had an active film industry since the 1890s. The great popularity in Spain of the film medium has made it a vehicle of social and political commentary and, therefore, opened it to the censorship under which film production has labored in some periods. Movie makers worked under restrictive censureship during different periods between about 1913 and 1978, and therefore some Spaniards produced their films clandestinely or outside of Spain. Luís Buñuel is one example who gained international renown. Others, like Luís García Berlanga managed to gain wide recognition with films made in Spain. Contemporary Spanish directors whose names are familiar to Americans are Carlos Saura and Pedro Almodóvar. Almodóvar won the 1999 Oscar for best foreign film for his "All About My Mother." Spaniards are avid movie-goers and the history of their film industry has been the subject of serious study by cultural analysts.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The physical sciences, along with the engineering sciences, have all long been instituted in the Spanish educational system. Some of the social sciences as they are instituted in the United States are younger in Spain. Social-cultural anthropology is one of these, dating from the 1960s, although ethnography, folklore, archaeology, philology, and physical anthropology are older, and there are national, regional, and local museums dedicated to these topics as well. Today, such younger fields as cultural anthropology and psychology are thriving and are taught throughout the university system. Sociologists are importantly engaged in the self-study of Spain as well as the study of other societies.

Spanish researchers are in active and increasing exchange with their counterparts around the world. Professional journals abound. The most important establishment that publishes books and journals, funds research, and employs scholars in research positions across the entire span of academic disciplines, including the humanities, is the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (the Higher Council for Scientific Research), founded in 1939. The Consejo has its seat in Madrid but its various sections and institutes sponsor research and publication of books and journals in and about the various regions and provinces and on a wide range of topics.

In all fields of scientific endeavor, funding is from both governmental and private sources, and also from Spain's major banks, but with an emphasis on the governmental.

Bibliography

Aceves, Joseph B., and William A. Douglass, eds. The Changing Faces of Rural Spain, 1976.

Amador de los Ríos, José. Historia social, política, y religiosa de los Judíos de España y Portugal, 1875–1876, reprinted 1960.

Anonymous. Poema del Cid. Edition of Ramón Menéndez Pidal and Alfonso Reyes, 1960.

Bettagno, Alessandro, et al. The Prado Museum, 1996.

Boyd, Carolyn P. Historia Patria: Politics, History, and National Identity in Spain, 1875–1975, 1997.

Brenan, Gerald. The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War, 1943.

Callahan, William J. Honor, Commerce, and Industry in Eighteenth-Century Spain, 1972.

Caro Baroja, Julio. Los pueblos de España, 1946.

Chase, Gilbert. The Music of Spain, 1941, 2nd ed., 1959.

Christian, William A., Jr. Person and God in a Spanish Valley, 1972.

Collier, Jane Fishburne. From Duty to Desire: Remaking Families in a Spanish Village, 1997.

Douglass, Carrie B. Bulls, Bullfighting, and Spanish Identities, 1997.

Douglass, William A. Death in Murélaga: Funerary Ritual in a Spanish Basque Village, 1969.

Flores, Carlos. Arquitectura popular española, 5 vols, 1977–1981.

Freeman, Susan Tax. Neighbors: The Social Contract in a Castilian Hamlet, 1970.

——. The Pasiegos: Spaniards in No Man's Land, 1979.

Glick, Thomas F. Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages: Comparative Perspectives on Social and Cultural Formation, 1979.

Greenwood, Davydd J. "Continuity in Change: Spanish Basque Ethnicity as a Historical Process." In Milton J. Esman, ed., Ethnic Conflict in the Western World, 1977.

——. Unrewarding Wealth: The Commercialization and Collapse of Agriculture in a Spanish Basque Town, 1976.

Herr, Richard. An Historical Essay on Modern Spain, 1971.

Hooper, John. The New Spaniards, 1995.

Instituto Nacional de Estadística. España: Anuario Estadístico, 1997, 1998.

Kaprow, Miriam Lee. "Gitanos." Encyclopedia of World Cultures, 4: 127–130. Boston, 1992.

Linz, Juan, and Amando de Miguel. "Within-Nation Differences and Comparisons: The Eight Spains." In Richard L. Merritt and Stein Rokkan, eds., Comparing Nations: The Use of Quantitative Data in Cross-National Research, 1966.

Liss, Peggy K. Isabel the Queen: Life and Times, 1992.

Payne, Stanley G. Falange: A History of Spanish Fascism, 1961.

Pitt-Rivers, Julian A. The People of the Sierra, 1954.

Press, Irwin. The City as Context: Urbanism and Behavioral Constraints in Seville, 1979.

Reher, David S. Perspectives on the Family in Spain Past and Present, 1997.

Terán, Manuel de, L. Solé Sabarís, et al. Geografía regional de España, 1969.

Torres, Augusto M., supervisor. Spanish Cinema 1896–1983, 1986.

Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War, rev. ed., 1977.

Ullman, Joan Connelly. The Tragic Week: A Study of Anticlericalism in Spain, 1875–1912, 1968.

—S USAN T AX F REEMAN



User Contributions:

Ray
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Jun 5, 2006 @ 10:22 pm
THANK YOU SO MUCH
it saved me lots
i would have failed if i never found this site
tyler
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Jun 13, 2006 @ 8:08 am
this info is SO great! thanks whoever found all of it!
Lucas Meparto
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Nov 3, 2006 @ 7:19 pm
Thank you so much, the pictures look very nice. I have learned a lot about Spain and its global position in the "European Economic Community".

Excellent job!
Bradley Flinchbaugh
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Nov 29, 2006 @ 9:09 am
i liked the article! =]

asdfdfafa
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Jan 8, 2007 @ 9:09 am
Great job this is awsemorty THANK YOU SO MUCH!
how ever put this site here is GREAT because it saved my butt.I would of FAILED thanks to this site. THANK YOU!
shilpa agarwal
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Mar 9, 2007 @ 11:23 pm
Thank you! This site on Spain is a wonderful one. An overview of Spain regarding its culture is remarkable. It helped me in preparing for my test on the Life cycle of Spain.
Kaitlin
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Mar 21, 2007 @ 2:14 pm
Oh my goodness!! thank you SOOOOOO much this site was soooo helpful!! it had EVERYTHING THAT I NEEDED!!!!!!!
kewl
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Jun 3, 2007 @ 8:20 pm
OMGG....thank u sooooooooooo muchhh.....the info is greaaat here...there is everything that i need....thaanks once again...!!! it is really helpful..!!
ritesh khandelwal
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Jun 10, 2007 @ 12:00 am
IT HAS NOTHING BUT SOMETHING, THAT CLEARS MY VISION ON SPAIN. thanks.... AND I WILL TELL EVERYONE @ THIS SITE.
John Wilkes Booth
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Aug 28, 2007 @ 9:09 am
Hello:
I have been to Spain so many times in my life and I am impressed that there is not a statement in your page that is not correct. The website provides some very clear and useful insights on local ways. The country is just what this site pictures it to be.

Great job... i wish all the websites were just this good.
Casey
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Sep 24, 2007 @ 6:18 pm
Dude thank you for making this page.
if you didnt i would fail and that would be bad.

thanks =]
Mark
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Oct 8, 2007 @ 9:21 pm
Thanks this is brilliant and informative and gives me greater insite even thought I lived in Spain for some two years and I just got back. I am looking forward to go back, but despite "Semana Santa".
Thomas
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Jun 29, 2008 @ 9:21 pm
This site is totally awesome!

You've helped greatly in improving my knowledge for my Society and Culture assignment on "Intercultural Communication."

Cheers!
.............
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Sep 30, 2008 @ 5:17 pm
i liked this site much better than any site ive been to. this was very informative.
Mollie Gleason
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Nov 12, 2008 @ 11:11 am
thank you so much you gave me a lot of infermation and i was way behind on my project and i got all the infirmation needed in less than 45 min thank you sooo much i love this site its great!
Ruben
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Dec 7, 2008 @ 8:08 am
Thanks for all this information I am Spanish and I had to work for English.
chelcie
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Mar 31, 2009 @ 8:20 pm
WOW! This article helped me with NOT fail my class!! I appreciate this very much!!
Amazing job!THANK YOU
Andrea Gendron
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Apr 15, 2009 @ 12:12 pm
Greetings and salutations.I am doing a Spanish project on Spain and I need traditions, typical food, important celebretions, important historic info, and other important and interesting info. This is a great sie. Is anyone else familar with other good websites???????
stephanie
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Nov 15, 2009 @ 3:15 pm
I love this site sooo much whoever made it thank you lots now i cant fail...
Jacob Noah
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Dec 12, 2009 @ 2:02 am
As a Hispanic american, I found this article both interesting and as a point of pride for my cultural and ancestral heritage. Many of the idiosynchracies I already knew about. The piety is something that penetrates to the 20 generation removed from Spanish society as well. We have made holy pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the Almudaina, Zaragosa and Sevilla. There is nothing quite like a Semana Santa in Sevilla or Las Fallas.
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Feb 23, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
YAY!! That helped me with this stupid research paper!!! I was :C (sad) but now I'm C: (happy)!!! THNX GUYS
C:
@*^%$!@#$%^*
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Mar 9, 2010 @ 11:23 pm
WAs there anything about clothes in there i only skimmed it but i found A lot of good stuff THANX
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Apr 18, 2010 @ 6:18 pm
I liked the part about the flamenco dancer i liked how they dance and dress up for the culturle dance.(: pretty cool(:.
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May 12, 2010 @ 11:11 am
Hi!

I am Spanish and I wanted to know how Spain is seen on the eyes of a foreigner, and I have to say that this site is quite accurate! but I just wanted to say that the Mother's Day is on the first Sunday of May, thus the day's number is different every year.

But the rest is great

Cheers!
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May 12, 2010 @ 1:13 pm
i learn a lot of spain that i didn't know. I learn how spain live, i learn about their past.
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Jun 4, 2010 @ 12:00 am
I'm doing a project on Spain and this website really helped me get through and get my "A+"!
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Jul 7, 2010 @ 10:10 am
thank you for giving me a lot of information i needed..this article helped me a lot in doing my project..THANKS!!
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Aug 27, 2010 @ 8:08 am
wow this is very nice,,,thank you i've learned a lot
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Sep 28, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
Awsome!! the first article that I read to the end , I lived there for 4 years and I am doing an study about the Health care system which I knew was free (1976), to all citizens. It makes me happy to know that now they advance so much and are part of the common wealth . I wish I live there now! Thank you a job very nice done. Ana
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Oct 2, 2010 @ 10:10 am
It was very informative. The only thing is that it did not give more details on the role of grandparents in Spanish family lifestyle. I hope to see more information on this topic.
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Nov 8, 2010 @ 9:09 am
this is so cool and who found this it help me so much
Christian
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Dec 10, 2010 @ 1:01 am
This article has helped me so much in my journey to write my cultural report for my latin cuisine class!
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Dec 28, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
Please note that it is very, very controversial to refer to "regions" in Spain. There are autonomies, and Galicia, and others are considered historical nationalities. Be careful as well about referring to languages and dialects.
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Feb 17, 2011 @ 8:08 am
Thank you very much, it helped with a Spanish project.
daniel
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Feb 21, 2011 @ 12:00 am
I AM SO GLAD THAT I RAN INTO THIS SITE. I DON'T KNOW WHERE I WOULD HAVE FOUND ALL THIS INFO. THANK YOU VERY MUCH :D
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Feb 21, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
what is the native customs and somthing representataive( if any)
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Feb 25, 2011 @ 9:09 am
I want to know how to learn how many people are in spain. Could you help me out and put that on here please???!!!thanks
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Mar 10, 2011 @ 9:09 am
This helped me with a project thats entering the school news:P:P:P
thank you for helping me>
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Mar 13, 2011 @ 12:00 am
I really use this awsome website a lot for my Spanish history study in my IB advanced social studies class.
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Mar 14, 2011 @ 10:10 am
Thanks a lot to admin . . Visca El Barca ! ;) Love Spain so much , and maybe ll be there ibn this summer .
maria
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Mar 15, 2011 @ 1:01 am
This is an incredible site if you want to learn any aspect of Spanish society and history. As a Spaniard, I did not find one single statement that was innacurate in this website. It is perfectly written and entirely accurate. Great work on this site! Excellent source for any student or anyone that wants to learn about Spain.
Juli
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Mar 22, 2011 @ 9:21 pm
Good article, it was very helpful. Thank you very much for putting this together.
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Apr 11, 2011 @ 9:21 pm
Thank you for the amazing info
its great for research papers!!!
a tomlinson
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Jun 1, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
Please can you tell me about the history and meanings of symbols in the centre of placa eliseu sale maials. thank-you
emily m
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Jun 8, 2011 @ 11:11 am
thank you very much i really enjoy this article very helpful
phoebbiehlynne
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Aug 6, 2011 @ 2:02 am
I like this INFO...its so clear and i learn more about Spain..
Eric
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Sep 1, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
I lived in spain for twenty years and none of this is true. I don't understand why anyone would believe this crap.
Juan Freire
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Sep 13, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
I'm originally from Spain and I find the pictures kind of old. I miss seeing pictures that show the current Spain.
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Sep 30, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
thnx a lot. This site helped me a lot for the preparation of my exam and saved me from the failure
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Oct 8, 2011 @ 4:04 am
im looking a nice costume for my son.send me pictures of different style, tnx
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Oct 8, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
The information was very educative and it helped me to learn alot about the spanish culture THANK YOU SO MUCH
hjjh
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Oct 9, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
I Need To Know something about wHAT tHE traditional Derss is ! Please
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Nov 1, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
great information for the reasearch for my project
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Nov 14, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
Thanks who ever wrote this is was very informative and helpful. I would have failed my reseaech project if it wasn't for you.;)
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Nov 19, 2011 @ 5:05 am
It`s Amazing !!
I never knew all this info if it wasn`t for this site. I had a presentation about spain and i brought full marks so... thx a lot :))
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Nov 20, 2011 @ 7:07 am
This website has the most useful information for any project. If you use t and read all the info you are sure to get an A+ on you project. It has any nformation yo ucan ask for on a country (LITERALLY!!!) I reccomend this website to anyone who has a project to do on a specific country. Thank you to whoever created this website!
Taco De Los Santos
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Dec 1, 2011 @ 10:10 am
Good site THANK YOU i really like this site its great and very educational i am gonna show my kids this site
arezoo
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Feb 29, 2012 @ 8:08 am
hi.im iranian person,im girl and i have 21years old. i wanna to know about your country. i love youre country an my major is turism managment,so youre info help me that i get more info and its good for me... finally im wait that you send me some info... thanks dear friend.
waupaca high school
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Mar 30, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
thank you for making this weboage it was so helpful!
Al
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May 14, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
Catholics can eat meat during Christmas Eve. Is that only a tradition for Spanish Catholics?
Rizwan Babar
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May 15, 2012 @ 3:15 pm
Thanku so Much.i appriciate you sir for write this great articale.thanx again.
joanne
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May 15, 2012 @ 5:17 pm
i live in spain have a spanish partner but this has helped me understand more of his culture brill
diego Jacquez
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May 17, 2012 @ 1:13 pm
It was cool to learn about what happen in spain and what went on in spain.
anthony wong
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May 25, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
this was a real help to my prject on spain and so educational
Dayna Lloyd
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Jun 12, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
Thank you so much, this really helped me on my last minute project on Spain. Thank you :) I didn't have to search on more then one site. Thank God, because honestly I am a lazy teenager. :D
pasha
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Jul 11, 2012 @ 5:05 am
thank u .i love this site.

i am a student of aerospace engineering ,i love Spain. and i love to visit Spain ,so now i am also learning Spanish language.i love Spain culture and the people of Spain, love u .
nae
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Aug 31, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
Thank you! This helped me learn alot more things about Spain in the past and now until this day. I have learn about the different foods in Spain. I had actually compared some of the food to the US. Again I thank you. :)
Badr
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Sep 4, 2012 @ 7:07 am
THIS IS SO GREAT THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THIS SITE GOOD JOB !! =]
James C. Lee
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Sep 14, 2012 @ 7:07 am
I must thank the author of this article and all who contributed. This information has been invauable for my cultural research on Spain. Once again, thank you.
kizito joseph
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Oct 20, 2012 @ 4:04 am
Thank u for presenting such a message to us,continue delivering information about every aspect that happens in spain
Amani
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Oct 21, 2012 @ 1:13 pm
Thank you but i want a profile about lifestyle in Spain in the past,present and future: clothes food and entertainment and thank you very much :D
India Maria
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Oct 22, 2012 @ 3:15 pm
Thank you so much for the information if I didn't find this website I wouldn't gotten my project done
SpanishGuy
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Nov 1, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
It's very informative and mostly acurate (coming from a Spaniard), but you really need to work on your capitalization, etc. Thanks though!
Patrick
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Nov 20, 2012 @ 3:15 pm
Really good job! complete and accurate. Congratulations to the writer of this report, you make all spaniard even more proud of their culture and foremost you arouse interest in foreigners in discovering Spain! Thanks a lot!
Bethany
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Dec 2, 2012 @ 3:15 pm
terrific website! Very impressed on how accurate everything is! without this website the project i had due would have been turned in blank!!
abbey
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Jan 22, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
love the report great job. This was very helpful i wouldnt have finished my probject with out it.
Morgan
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Mar 5, 2013 @ 7:19 pm
this website sucks i cant find anything on here you need this organized because i cant find a thing on here
Kira
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Apr 22, 2013 @ 12:00 am
This was so helpful!!! Thank you I would have totally fail without this.
Hussein
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May 23, 2013 @ 5:05 am
Nice info for next vacation..Nice info for next vacation
Mary Anne
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Sep 23, 2013 @ 4:04 am
This will help me with my assignment on Spanish culture!!
kate
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Oct 10, 2013 @ 4:16 pm
This did not help me with clothing so yeah thanks.
Elanah Wilson
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Nov 25, 2013 @ 6:18 pm
This article really helped me on my homework assignment
John
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Dec 5, 2013 @ 2:14 pm
What about Spanish clothing in Barcelona? please help I have looked everywhere...? :(
Jose Diaz
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May 2, 2014 @ 8:08 am
I love this website because I had a project to get done on time and it was the last night of it being due so I looked up Spain on Google and it gave me this website and I got it done in no time
ashleigh
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May 7, 2014 @ 1:13 pm
aesome website so much information so thanks you very much
Vatsal
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Jun 30, 2014 @ 1:13 pm
This site helped me alot in my project on Spanish culture, Thank you so much.
rowena saramosing
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Sep 1, 2014 @ 1:01 am
it gives me a lot of information. now im ready for my exam , thank you very much ,good job.
amber
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Sep 10, 2014 @ 5:17 pm
There is a lot of information and it will tell u everything u know
Kitiyo
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Sep 12, 2014 @ 1:13 pm
I'm doing a paper for Spanish I and this has been very helpful, and for who ever made this page, I am very grateful to you for publishing such information.
Thanks again. :D

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