Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country in southwestern Europe. When one thinks about Spain, many people tend to think about the national soccer team. However, the truth is that Spain is known for so much more than just a simple, yet undefeated soccer team.

Spain is surrounded by a rich culture, interesting people, and various touristy places that will capture any one’s attention no matter their age. Here are 84 interesting facts about Spain that tend to be either unknown or are ignored by many.

Historical Facts about Spain

1. Constitutional Monarchy: As history would dictate it, Spain is one of the oldest constitutional monarchies in the world. Spain’s former king, King Juan Carlos I came to power after General Franco – a ruthless dictator, died in 1975. Presently, former King Juan Carlos I abdicated his throne to his son. As of 2014, King Felipe VI is the new king of Spain.

2. The first ‘novel’ is attributed to a Spaniard: Spanish author, Cervantes’ is known for his Don Quixote novel which was written in 1605. Don Quixote is considered to be one of the first modern novels.

3. Spain has 44 World Heritage Sites: all throughout Spain, there are several pre-historic rock art, historic cities and buildings. Additionally, there are also bridges, national parks and landscapes. Originally, Spain was known as Iber.

4. Spain’s connection to the modern stapler: According to records, the first known stapler was made in the 18th century in the Basque country for the French King Louis XV.

5. Contribution to modern society: Spain is responsible for giving the world the mop and bucket. This occurred in 1856.

6. Developed cigarettes: the precedent to the modern cigarettes, which was developed around the 17th century was first developed in Spain.

7. Spain’s contribution to space exploration: The first astronaut’s space suit was developed in Spain in 1935.

8. Wind power and electricity: Red Eléctrica de España (REE), is one of the main operators of the electrical system in Spain.

9. Spain’s contribution to the arts: Some of the most renowned artist that have impacted today’s knowledge in the arts include Valázquez from the 17th century, Goya from the 18th and 19th centuries to Picasso, Miró and Dali throughout the 20th century.

10. Spain attraction to old cuisine: Guinness World Records awarded the title of oldest restaurant to El Restaurante Botín, which originally opened in 1725 and continues to be open today.

11. The Spanish civil war (1936-1939)–was an armed conflict between the Republicans and Nationalists led by General Francisco Franco–killed over 500,000 people.

12.  In A.D. 711 Muslims from Africa invaded Spain.

13. Valencia – the third-largest city in Spain, was once under Muslim control for five centuries.

Map of Spain with bordering countries
Map of Spain with bordering countries.

10 Facts about Spanish Culture

14. Nudity is legal in Spain: Unlike other countries in the Mediterranean coast, Spain is known for providing nude beaches for those who do not want to wear bathing suits or bikinis while attending the beach on hot summer days.

15. Spain’s high life expectancy: Those who live in Spain are said to have a life expectancy of 82 years. This is after Switzerland, Italy and Japan. Overall Spain ranks 15th in the world for longest life expectancy. Additionally, Spanish women are said to live longer than men: 85 compared to 79 years.

16. Will Spain be the world’s oldest country by 2050? According to census statistics, Spain has 40 percent of the population aged over 60 years.

17. Limited after-school care: In Spain, about 25% of all grandparents are known to take care of their grandchildren every day since there are not that many after-school care opportunities.

18. Spaniards love to hang out: On average, Spaniards are known to spend approximately 16 out of every 24 hours laying around, eating, drinking (including alcoholic beverages) and sleeping. There is nothing better than taking a Siesta! After lunch.

19. No tooth fairy in Spain: Just as any other child in the world, Spanish kids place their fallen teeth under their pillow right before they go to sleep. However, unlike American children who are visited by the tooth fairy, Spanish children are visited by El Ratoncito Perez, who brings them a gift in exchange for their tooth. In Spain, kids typically have their father’s and mother’s last names.

20. Age of consent lowest in the world: Back in the day, Spanish law claimed that the age of consent for sexual intercourse was 13 while the legal age for marriage was 14. As of today, Spanish law has changed. That being said, the age of consent and legal marriage age have been changed to 16.

21. The Spanish and their views on same sex marriage: As of 2010, 80 percent of Spanish citizens claimed that gay, lesbian, and any other individual who does not fall under the “norm” when it comes to gender identity and sexual orientation, has the right to live their lives as they please without being controlled by those in power.

22. The Spanish national football team: La Roja, La Furia Roja, La Furia Española, or La Furia, are some of the many names awarded to the Spanish National Team. From 2008 to 2013, Spain holds a total of 28 wins, which makes it the longest world record for winning the most consecutive competitive matches.

23. The ‘Tomatina’ (the world’s biggest food fight) and the ‘Running of the Bulls’ (six bulls chase people) are two of the most famous Spanish festivals.

Fun Facts about Spain

24. The Puerta del Sol “Gate of the Sun” located in Madrid, is directly in the center of the country.

25. The national anthem of Spain has no words.

26. Would you believe that a 47-story skyscraper in Spain has no elevator?

27. Spanish rice is unknown in Spain.

28. Roman walls surround the old Spanish city of Tarragona on three of its four sides.

29. Spain was accidentally invaded by Britain in 2002 when the British marines disembarked in Spain instead of Gibraltar. However, the invasion happened briefly for a period of 5 minutes and no harm was done.

30. Prostitution in Spain is not illegal but profiting from the sale of sex by another is. Moreover, prostitutes in Spain were ordered to wear florescent vests for their safety on road while touting for customers.

31. During the New Year, Spaniards typically eat twelve grapes as the bell is going down on the midnight of December 31. Some believe that this leads to a year of prosperity while others say that the tradition wards away witches and general evil.

32. In 2000, Spain’s Paralympic basketball team had to return their gold medals after it was found that 10 of the 12-strong squad suffered no handicap.

33. Almost 700 people in a town of Spain share their surname “Japon”.

34. There are two names given in Spanish to the Spanish language: español (“Spanish”) and castellano (“Castilian”).

35. The U.S. has more Spanish speakers than Spain.

36. Did you know that Spain did not participate in either the first or second world war.

37. A Zipline connects Spain and Portugal. It only takes 60 seconds to cross the border on this Zipline. It is built on a river, 150 meters wide, between the two countries.

The Zipline connecting Spain and Portugal
View of the Zipline connecting Spain and Portugal. Image credit – F Delventhal

38. Remember that there are at least 410 million native Spanish speaking people in Spain.

39. It is illegal in Spain to name a kid: Judas, Cain or Mandarina. These are the names of fruits and hence not suitable for a human being.

40. Anyone daring to walk the streets of downtown Palma de Mallorca without a shirt can be slapped with a fine of €600.

41. It is illegal to dog walk in the streets of Madrid with more than 8 dogs.

Bordering country: Andorra – some interesting facts.

Madrid facts for kids

42. Madrid is one of the most environmentally friendly places in the world.

43. The official symbol or mascot is the bear.

44. People who live in Madrid are often called “gatos” meaning cats because they sleep all day and are out all night.

45. One of the most famous art museums is located in Madrid. It is known as Museo del Prado.

46. Madrid is located on a plateau 650 meters above sea level.

47. The Madrid subway is the second largest underground system in Europe

Spain’s Economy

48. It is the 14th largest economy in the world.

49. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and the U.K. are Spain’s major export partners.

50. Spain’s original monetary unit was the pesetas.

51. Currently, just like the majority of European countries, Spain uses the Euro.

Tourism in Spain

52. The Sagrada familia, a cathedral that is still under construction is one of the most visited buildings in Spain. It is under construction for over 130 years. 

The Sagrada familia
The Sagrada familia, iewed from Parc Guell, Barcelona. Image credit – David Merrett

53. Spain was the 3rd most visited country in the world in 2013.

54. Gaudi’s architectural places are some of the most visited.

55. Spain has the second highest number of bars per inhabitants in the world. Cyprus leads the tally. 

56. Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain, is one of the most visited places in the country.

57. Majorca, is also a very visited destination with over 2,500 restaurants. It sees 6 million tourists every year. It is also visited by 35,000 cyclists each year.

58. About 60,000 animals die every year because of more than 16,000 religious festivals across Spain that are based on animal cruelty.

59. Spain attracts more tourists than any other European country except France.

Portugal and Spain

60. Portugal and Spain share not only a border, but also a peninsula.

61. José Manuel Durão Barroso was the former Prime Minister of Portugal.

62. Even though Spain is not known for having many earthquakes, one of the most severe earthquakes occurred in Lisbon, Portugal.

63. Portuguese is often spoken in northern Spain, in the Galician region.

64. In a festival, people are allowed to hit other people with garlic. Can you imagine the smell?!

65. Just like in Spain, same sex-marriage is completely legal in Portugal.

Spanish food facts

66. Tortilla de patatas: a potato omelet. It is often in a circular shape.

67. Paella: a rice, vegetables and seafood dish. This dish is very common in the Mediterranean coast of Spain. In many occasions, paella is often made up of different ingredients including chicken and beef.

68. Churros: a typical dessert and breakfast pastry that is made in a circular shape and sprinkled with sugar.

69. Jamon Serrano: a cured piece of ham that is set to dry for several days. It is salted and cut into very thin strips.

70. Flan: a type of dessert that has the consistency of a tart. It is typically made with either eggs or vanilla and has a top made up of caramel syrup.

71. Gazpacho: a summertime drink that is made up of tomato soup in addition to bread, peppers, onions, and garlic.

Famous People from Spain

Enrique Iglesias: singer and songwriter. He was born in Madrid and is warmly regarded as the king of Latin pop.

Penelope Cruz: actress and model. She made her debut into the acting world at the age of 16 and starred in her first movie the next year.

Javier Bardem: actor and director. He was born in the Canary Islands and is most known for his role in ‘No Country for Old Men’ and ‘Eat Pray Love’.

Ricky Martin: singer and songwriter. He began his successful career at the early age of 13 singing with Menudo, an all boy group.

Pablo Picasso: artist, painter. He completed his first painting, Le picador, at the age of 9 and his first academic painting at the age of 15.

Francisco Franco: dictator. He was born in El Ferrol and was a career soldier that rose his way through the ranks to become a leader.

Interesting facts about Spain for kids

72. The Bull is the national animal of Spain.

73. Spain also has the world’s oldest existing lighthouse — the Tower of Hercules. It was built in the first century and is operational still today.

The Tower of Hercules
Interesting facts about Spain: The Tower of Hercules. Image credit – Contando Estrelas

74. Did you know that Spain produces 43% of the world’s Olive. This fact makes the country, leading producer of Olives in the world. It also produces saffron in large quantities.

75. It is illegal to slander or defame Spain’s royal family. The punishment could lead to two years of imprisonment.

76. Spain is home to one of the oldest living languages in the world–Euskera. 

77. Spain also has a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus.

78. Spain leads the world in regards to organ donation.

79. Spain once ruled 21 countries that are independent today.

80. A tooth belonging to human ancestors dating back to more than a million years was found in Spain in 2007.

81. The Eiffel Tower that is in Paris, France, was originally planned to be built in Barcelona, Spain.

82. Pyrenees, Sierra de Guadarrama, Sierra de Gredos, Sierra Nevada are the major mountains in Spain.

83. Rio Ebro with 910 km of length is the longest river in Spain.

84. Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Spain.

Some useful Spanish words:

  • Buenos dias: Good day
  • ¡Hola!  Hello
  • ¿Que tal?  How are you?
  • adios: bye bye
  • gracias: thank you
  • Te quiero: I love you

Want to learn Spanish? Visit this incredible resource here.

In conclusion, Spain is known for being one of the most diverse countries in the world. Not only is Spain filled with beautiful and amazing architecture, but it is known for also being filled with various types of art that go back in history.

Also, despite the controversies that have surrounded Spain in general over the past couple of years, Spain is still one of the top leaders in not only education, but also in political and education leaders. Furthermore, due to the variety in music and art, Spain is also a top contender for various music and art festivals.

Related: Fun facts about Germany

Quick/fast facts about Spain

Capital CityMadrid
40°26′N 3°42′W
Largest CityMadrid
40°26′N 3°42′W
Total area505,370 sq km
Population48,146,134 (July 2015 est.)
Official LanguageSpanish
BordersPortugal, France, Andorra, Morocco and Gibraltar
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Life expectancy81.57 Years (2012)
Climate temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast
Terrainlarge, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees Mountains in north
Natural resourcescoal, lignite, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, tungsten, mercury, pyrites, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land
Agricultural land54.1%
Birth rate9.64 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate9.04 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.98 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
National symbolsPillars of Hercules; national colors: red, yellow
National anthem"Himno Nacional Espanol" (National Anthem of Spain)
Industriestextiles and apparel (including footwear), food and beverages, metals and metal manufactures, chemicals, shipbuilding, automobiles, machine tools, tourism, clay and refractory products, footwear, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment
Exports$277.3 billion (2015 est.)
machinery, motor vehicles; foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, medicines, other consumer goods
Imports$298.3 billion (2015 est.)
machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, semi-finished goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, measuring and medical control instruments
GDP - per capita (PPP)$34,800 (2015 est.)
Internet country
Internet users37.886 million
percent of population: 78.7% (July 2015 est.)
Time ZoneCET (UTC+1)
Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on theRight
Calling Code+34