España - About the Country

Spain covers most of the Iberian Peninsula in south west Europe, the other country on the peninsula is Portugal along the western coast. This peninsula looks rather rectangular, with the Pyrenees running east west along the northern coast and at the border to France. Some islands also belong to Spain, the Baleares in the Mediterranen Sea, the Canares west of Africa and the Azores and Madeira right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Spain has numerous caves and karst areas, and a long mining tradition. Many caves are famous for prehistoric remains, especially the world famous paintings of Altamira cave. Paintings are common, most of them are found in caves in the north all over the Pyrenees. It seems the oldest paintings, found in ShowcaveCueva del Tesoro, are 30,000 years old.

Several caves show remains of Neandertal Man, and recent theories tell us, that Neanderthal Man was forced by Modern Man to leave his homeland in Central Europe and Spain was his last refuge. This would explain, why Spain has the youngest remains of the Neanderthals ever found. However, the number of findings is far too small to give a clear image, and future findings may change our interpretation totally.

Spain is a hot and dry country. Most of the center is mountainous, whith high plains and snow in winter. The climate is mediterranean winter rain climate.

Unlike other countries, Spain does not use the 0 as first digit for long distance. The phone numbers are given in the +34-number notation, which means to dial 0034-number from outside the country and 9-number inside the country.

The most important language in Spain is of course Español Español - Spanish (Spanish), also called Castilian. It is spoken by almost any inhabitant of Spain, but there are several minorities with different languages.

The biggest minority in Spain are the Català Català - Catalan (Catalan) speakers, which live mostly in Catalonia. There are about 10 million people speaking Catalan in Catalonia. In all other counties, Andorra, southern France and the city of Alghero on Sardinia in Italy, two more million people speak Catalan. In Andorra Catalan is the official language, but Andorra is a very small country.

Castilian and Catalan are Roman languages, which means they are descended from Latin. There are various other Roman languages which are spoken in small areas like Galician and Aranese (Occitan).

The third important language of Spain is spoken by a minority in the north and called Euskara (Basque). This is a unique language, as Basque is not known to be related to any other language. Basque Country (Euskadi or País Vasco) is an area along the French border and the northern coast, and famous for many caves and cave paintings.

For Gibraltar see Great Britain.