Spain is one of the largest countries in western Europe and one of the most popular for tourism. Formed by the mainland and two island groupings, the correct term is the “Kingdom of Spain”. There are also two small Spanish colonies in Morocco. Ceuta is opposite Gibraltar and Melilla lies further to the east.
Map of Spain
The map of Spain below shows the 17 main regions which includes the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands. You can click to enlarge the image.
The entire landmass of Spain covers 505,990 km2 with a population of 47 million inhabitants. This includes the Canary Islands and the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.
There are 17 autonomous regions of Spain spread across it’s huge landmass. Andalucia accounts for most of southern Spain with the biggest population of 8.5 million. This is close to 18% of the total population of the country. Castille and Leon covers the biggest area of 94,221 km2, 18.6% of the country. More notable regions include the Community of Madrid, Catalonia and the Valencian Community.
Madrid is the capital and the most populated city in Spain. Madrid lies inland, pretty much the centre point of this vast country. Given it’s small size, the autonomous community of Madrid still has a 6.5 million population. This is 13.75% of the total population living in 1.6% of the total landmass.
Spanish Coastal Areas
Mainland Spain comprises of many diverse coastal areas known as the Spanish Costas. Many of these coasts lie in the southern and eastern areas of the country. These parts of mainland Spain also tend to be the most popular for tourism. The Mediterranean Sea surrounds many of the top coastal areas which see the most tourism.
Lying on the southern coast is the Costa del Sol which is a leading Spanish Costa. On the eastern coast are the Costa Blanca, Costa Brava and Costa Dorada.
Canary Islands & Balearic Islands
Both the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands are autonomous regions of Spain. These archipelagos have a distance of over 2000 km’s separating them. Both groupings of islands are top tourism locations and have been for decades now.
The Balearic Islands lie off the eastern coastline of mainland Spain. Forming the Balearic’s are the main islands of Majorca, Ibiza, Formentera and Menorca. There are also over 100 islets, none of which have inhabitants. The population of these islands is 1.1 million, 2.4% of the Spanish population. This is the smallest of the 17 regions for landmass. The Balearic Islands cover an area of 4992 km2, 0.98% of the countries total landmass.
The Canary Islands are a group of 7 main islands with several smaller islets. Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura see the most tourism. Completing the 7 are La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The population of the Canaries is 2.1 million or 4.5% of the total population. These islands cover an area of 7447 km2 which is 1.47% of the total landmass.
Languages of Spain
It may surprise some to know that there are 16 languages spoken across the different areas of Spain. Many of the 17 regions have their own languages, some are official languages and some are not. Castilian or Spanish is the official language spoken by 45 million people.
Catalan comes from Catalonia which is spoken by close to 5 million people. Parts of the Community of Valencia and the Balearic Islands also speak Catalan. Valencian and Galician are two more languages with at least 2 million speakers.
The regions of Asturias, Basque Country and Cantabria also have their own languages. One of the more interesting is Silbo gomero which is a form of whistling. The aborigines of La Gomera use this to whistle their message up to 5 km’s in distance. The deep valleys help to carry to whistling long distances.
Spanish Food & Drink
When talking about some of the things this country is famous for, the excellent cuisine is near the top. There are so many popular dishes here that most of the world will know about them. Paella is without doubt the number one national dish but there are many more. Tortilla Española, Sopa Castellana, Gazpacho and Pulpo are a few more super dishes. Churros with chocolate is one of the top desserts if you enjoy sweet things.
Spain does not disappoint when it comes to drinks either. This country is the third biggest producer of wine in the world behind Italy and France. Two of the most famous wine drinks here are Sangria and Tinto de Verano (summer wine). Both you would associate with summer when the sun is at it’s hottest. Different types of brandy are more examples of drinks that are produced here.
Airports in Spain
There are around 50 airports in Spain with 25 which carry over 1 million passengers per year. Many are military airports and not in commercial use but some serve both purposes. Barajas airport in Madrid carries over 50 million passengers per year. The second busiest airport is El Prat in Barcelona which carries around 47 million.
Palma de Mallorca is next with 27 million passengers per year. Malaga, Tenerife South, Alicante and Gran Canaria all have over 10 million carries each year. Ibiza, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura all carry between 6 -8 million passengers. Some of the other busy airports include Seville, Bilbao and Tenerife North. You can check this resource for a full list of the busiest Spanish airports.
The Spanish climate is quite diverse because of how vast the country is. No matter where you go in summer, you are sure to have warm weather. The winters is when things change depending on where you are. Most of the southern areas remain mild during winters. The northern areas of Spain can get very cold during winters. This is especially true for the areas close to the Pyrenees mountains and the French border. While parts of the south will drop to 10 Celsius in winter, the north could be -10 Celsius.
The Canary Islands are different from the rest of Spain due to their location. This part of the Atlantic has a sub-tropical climate where it never gets too cold. In fact, the Canaries are also known as the islands of eternal spring because it always seems like spring. These islands are well known for having some of the warmest weather in Europe in winter. During the summer the temperature can reach close to 40 Celsius like the mainland. In winter the temperature rarely drops to anything lower than around 15 Celsius.
Spain Points of Interest & Attractions
Below are some of the top attractions and points of interest in Spain.
The Allhambra Palace is a huge fortress in Granada. It’s construction dates back to 1232-1492 during the Nasrid Dynasty who were the last of the Moors to rule the kingdom of Granada.
Super Water Parks
We have compiled a list of the top 10 water parks in Spain. This includes aqua parks in the Canaries, Balearic Isles and the Spanish mainland.
In 2017, Spain passed France as the number one tourism location in the world. On average, tourism generates over 40 billion euros every year. Way back in the 1950’s the country began a radical project to encourage tourism. Many of the islands and coastal areas underwent major changes to make them tourist friendly. Many of the beaches here are man-made, some even have their sand imported from places such as the Sahara Desert.