Spain is known to be one of the great empires with a continuing legacy. There still exists a king as head of state along with his heir apparent. There is a parliamentary democracy in place to govern. It is a country which suffered in the early 20th century through a civil war that depleted the spirit of its people. Freedom has been an important mandate recently for the country as it had to modernize very quickly after being under military rule till the early 1970s. Economically, it remains at a stable point relying mainly on tourism, however is behind others in terms of wealth in the European community as there is considerable unemployment.
The population of Spain is estimated at over 40 million people. Nationality is homogenous with two classifications of Spaniards ones from the north and ones who live along the Mediterranean shores. There are different dialects spoken of the language, however Castilian is the official one. The geography of Spain is delightfully varied from, to the north being bordered by the Pyrenees mountain range, to the west the Mediterranean Sea, to the south the North Atlantic Ocean and finally the east on the Bay of Biscay. There are three different climates in the country, one being continental with hot summer, cold winters, another being maritime moist weather and the last being Mediterranean which is mostly mild and temperate. Temperatures range from 30 F minimum to 101 F maximum throughout. The currency is the Euro which trades at approximately 1 to .80 US.
Religion remains of integral, utmost importance in the culture as for the foundation of family and state. There are many festivalsthat take place throughout which stretch back to a long heritage. Many of these involve dance, art, music, intricate reenactments, pilgrimages, bull fighting, running of the bulls; all in the name of enjoyment of life, community, faith and family. Some of the most influential artists of our century were born in Spain, Goya, El Greco, Salvador Dali and of course, not to forget the great Pablo Picasso. The world would be a lesser place without the Spanish influences of all types of music, literature, architecture and especially dance that originated in this highly enriched country. It is very easy to visit; the people are relaxed and friendly, the culture authentic, the food tasty and unique from region to region.
The most favorable time of year to travel in Spain is during May, June and September to avoid the huge summer crowds. Places of interest to explore must include: Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Granada and Ibiza. Barcelona has become one of the most happening, trendy, artistic cities in the world.It abounds with Goth style medieval churches, palaces and buildings as well as the greatest vibrating buildings all over, put there by the eccentric larger than fiction architect Gaudi. The sites, music, food, fashion and excitement of Barcelona stays with the visitor for a life time. Madrid, the capital tells the history of Spain in all its formality with an exploration ofthe royal residence, and has a world class dining scene, galleries and night life. For those in search of the Holy Grail, Valencia the city of the citrus is worth seeing. The main palace is in the “over the top” Baroque style which is unbelievably busy to our human eye; certainly, there has never been an era like it since. There are many parties to be welcomed to, some very special art exhibits to feast one’s eyes on and the best times of year to travel are during the festival months. Granada is situated in the south near the strait of Gibraltar just on the pathway to the African continent. It is a laid back small city in the Sierra Nevada rolling hills which displays the historical significance of the Moorish people who had lived there centuries ago. The atmosphere is charming, tranquil and the people are warm. Ibiza is inhabited by tourists year round as it is known for its non-stop party palaces in a night club scene where the dancing never ends. The beaches are long, with soft white sand and the town itself is full of beautiful architecture. It is a club culture to be experienced at least once.
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